Trump bans Congresswomen from Palestine


This 15 August 2019 Bloomberg news agency video from the USA says about itself:

Israel Bans Entry to Representatives Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar After Trump’s Tweet …

Shortly before the decision [by the Israeli government] was announced, Trump had tweeted that “it would show great weakness” if Israel allowed them to visit.

Last month, however, Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer had said Israel would not deny entry to any member of Congress. …

Tlaib and Omar have also been the target of repeated attacks by President Donald Trump in recent months, including a series of racist tweets on July 14 in which he said they should “go back” to the “broken” countries they came from. Both are U.S. citizens and Tlaib was born in the United States. The two are members of the so-called “Squad” of newly-elected left-wing Democrats, along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. …

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro wrote on Twitter that the decision to bar their entry “harms Israel’s standing in the U.S., boosts BDS.”

Israeli lawmaker Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List of Arab parties, criticized the move, writing that “Israel has always banned Palestinians from their land and separated us from other Palestinians, but this time the Palestinian is a U.S. Congresswoman.”

Arthur Lenk, formerly Israel’s ambassador to South Africa, said barring Omar and Tlaib “would be sinking us deeper into U.S. domestic political quagmire.”

It is the job of members of the United States Congress to monitor the foreign policy of the president.

Two congresswomen, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib of the left wing of the Democratic party, wanted to do just that by going to Israel and the Palestine territories.

The right-wing Israeli government of Netanyahu gave them permission for that.

However, then President Donald Trump of the USA pressured them to annul that permission. And Netanyahu’s government showed that they are slavish puppets …, sorry, I forgot that I have to use euphemisms … reliable allies of Donald Trump.

Jewish daily The Forward in the USA writes about it today:

Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were supposed to travel to the West Bank this weekend. Now Israel won’t let them in. Why?

After all, even American Jewish groups and politicians like AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer – none of them fans of Omar and Tlaib – said Thursday that Israel had made the wrong decision. Forward Opinion writer Emma Goldberg said it doesn’t bode well for Israeli democracy.

Some background: Omar and Tlaib are the only two representatives to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
Israel has a law on the books that it uses to turn away BDS supporters, even Jewish ones. Yet last month, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said the Jewish state would allow the duo in.

Tlaib, who is Palestinian-American, has been trying for months to organize a congressional delegation to the area. Only Omar signed up. More than 40 other Democrats went on AIPAC’s annual Israel trip, where they met with Israeli and Palestinian government officials.

Omar and Tlaib were planning to meet with activists, and with American diplomats. They were planning on staying in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank, which Israel controls and Palestinians claim as their state. They called the trip a visit to “Palestine”; neither Israel nor the U.S. recognizes such a place.

Still, the trip was moving forward until Thursday. That was when President [no; Prime Minister] Netanyahu stopped the trip, because “the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.” What changed?

Well, President Trump tweeted that letting Omar and Tlaib into Israel would “show great weakness”.

Netanyahu is a few weeks away from elections, and he’s staked his reputation on two things: toughness, and close ties with the White House.

Omar responded saying:

“The irony of the ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East making such a decision is that it is both an insult to democratic values and a chilling response to a visit by government officials from an allied nation.”

The Forward will continue to monitor the situation.

Thank you for reading

Aiden Pink
Deputy news editor

The Israeli government’s decision Thursday to bar a visit to Israel and the West Bank by US congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar is an authoritarian attack on democratic rights, carried out by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the direction of US President Donald Trump against two critics in the legislative branch, in violation of US constitutional norms. … The Israeli media has already noted the brazen hypocrisy of Netanyahu denying entry to Omar and Tlaib when he has effusively welcomed right-wing anti-Semites like Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban and Italian Deputy Prime Minister—and would-be Mussolini—Matteo Salvini. The chain of events has ominous implications. The president of the United States has no authority over members of Congress, which under the Constitution is a co-equal branch of government. No US president has ever before sought to bar travel by senators or representatives.: here.

UPDATE: after this letter, Ms Tlaib admitted after all.

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Israeli minister supports gay conversion quackery


This 14 July 2019 video says about itself:

Israelis call to sack education minister over gay therapy comments | AFP

Israelis hold protest against Israeli Education Minister Rafi Peretz who has spoken of his belief in therapy to convert gays to heterosexuality and claimed he has engaged in the practice, leading to calls for him to be sacked.

From Associated Press, 15 July 2019:

Israel’s Education Minister Defends Gay‘ Conversion’ Therapy

Hundreds called for Rafi Peretz’s resignation after he made the controversial remarks in a weekend interview

By Shahar Golan

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s new education minister’s remarks in favor of “conversion therapy”, a controversial technique that seeks to turn gays into heterosexuals, came under widespread criticism and led hundreds to protest Sunday.

Rafi Peretz, who leads a small religious nationalist party, said in a televised interview over the weekend that he supports
conversion therapy and has performed it. …

It was Peretz’s second major controversy in just a month on the job. Last week, he elicited uproar, particularly from overseas Jews, when he compared intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews to a second “Holocaust”. …

Health officials have said that conversion therapy is scientifically dubious and possibly even dangerous.

Etai Pinkas-Arad, a Tel Aviv city councilman in charge of LGBT affairs, said that conversation therapy can “in some cases cause death by suicidal attempts” and called on Peretz to be fired.

Cynically, one might say that Mr Peretz is not even the worst homophobe in Israel. While this government minister advocates subjecting LGBTQ people to quackery which may kill them (but which they also may survive), Jerusalem’s Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar advocates killing them.

Peretz, a former chief rabbi in the Israeli military, “shouldn’t be holding this position any longer, or relevant position in the future,” he said.

Hundreds protested in Tel-Aviv on Sunday, calling on Peretz to resign. …

While [Prime Minister] Netanyahu likes to boast about Israel’s broad acceptance of gays, he has been attacked by LGBT activists for homophobic comments by members of his coalition, which is dominated by religious and conservative politicians. Last year he was also criticized for voting against surrogacy for gay fathers, presumably under pressure from his Ultra-orthodox coalition partners.

Ethiopian-Israeli rap music against police brutality


Associated Press news agency, 12 July 2019, writes about this video about music:

Ethiopian rappers challenging Israel police through song

In his song “Handcuffed”, rapper Teddy Neguse addresses police brutality against young Israeli men of Ethiopian descent.

Although the song came out in 2017, it has recently reached new heights in the wake of street protests across the country following the killing of an Ethiopian Israeli teen by an off-duty police officer last month.

This week the 23-year-old artist was invited to perform his song live on the popular news website Ynet.

Neguse’s appearance on Ynet illustrates the growing Ethiopian Israeli presence in the local music scene.

But it also reflects the ongoing struggles against alleged racism and discrimination, some three decades after Ethiopian Jews began arriving in Israel.

Large numbers of Ethiopian Jews began arriving in Israel via secret airlifts in the 1980s.

The new arrivals from a rural, developing African country struggled to find their footing in an increasingly high-tech Israel.

Throughout the decades, Ethiopians have suffered discrimination.

In the late 1990s, it was discovered that Israel’s health services were throwing out Ethiopian blood donations over fears of diseases contracted in Africa.

Accusations have also been raised that Israel has deliberately tried to curb birth rates in its Ethiopian communities.

Today there’s around 150,000 people in the Israel Ethiopian community, some 2% of the country’s 9 million citizens.

While some Israelis of Ethiopian descent have made gains in areas like the military, the police force and politics, the community continues to struggle with a lack of opportunity and high poverty rate.

Against this backdrop, Israeli artists of Ethiopian heritage are breaking out in the entertainment world, especially in the growing hip hop and dancehall scenes.

In his music video for “Handcuffed”, Neguse is dressed up as a soldier, riding a bicycle, when he encounters two policemen.

The officers then, seemingly unprovoked, beat him up.

The music video depicts a 2015 incident in which two policemen were filmed beating a uniformed Ethiopian Israeli soldier, sparking mass protests.

The most recent demonstrations erupted after the unarmed Solomon Teka, 18, was fatally shot by a police officer in a Haifa suburb on June 30.

Police say … at least 150 protesters were arrested.

The officer in question, who has claimed the youth was accidentally hit by a warning shot he had fired at the ground, is being investigated by internal affairs and remains under protective custody.

Another up-and-coming Ethiopian Israeli musician, Yael Mentesnot, says that in the past, the community has been “restrained” and “we end up coming off a bit naive.”

But this time she says the community is beginning to truly feel the despair.

“All the protests, they are not orchestrated, nothing there was organised,” she said.

“Everyone went to the streets frustrated and released their anger.”

While most of Mentesnot’s young solo career has been filled with upbeat party songs, she said the recent events have inspired her to address the Ethiopian Israelis’ struggle.

“Our whole life is a struggle, we face challenges, and we overcome them,” she said. “I want the public to see it. To understand what we feel.”

Neguse said he is pleased that Ethiopian musicians are on the rise, but said the recent protests should be seen as “a call for help, a cry of an entire community.”

Ethiopian Israeli speaks


This 4 July 2019 video is called Ethiopian Israelis and Systematic Discrimination.

By Avi Yalou in United States Jewish daily Forward, 3 July 2019:

My Fellow Israelis: Black Lives Matter Is Your Fight, Too

I grew up in Kiryat Malachi, Israel.

Scratch that.

I grew up black in Kiryat Malachi, Israel.

My family came to Israel from Ethiopia when I was somewhere between five and six years old. I was number eight of ten children, part of a veritable private tribe.

Generations of my family dreamed of making aliya. They dreamed that when they got to Israel, they would finally feel safe and welcome. In

mostly Christian, also Islamic

Ethiopia we were seen as foreign elements, strangers because of our Jewishness. In Israel, we thought, we would finally find acceptance. We would not be strangers. We would be Jews among other Jews.

We were wrong.

Monday’s killing of the unarmed eighteen-year-old Ethiopian Israeli Solomon Teka by an off-duty police officer shows us just how wrong we were.

After three days of mass protests, the Ethiopian Israeli community’s call is basic: We demand to be treated as equal among equals. We demand an end to racial profiling. We want full recognition of our community’s Jewishness.

These demands are simple, and they’re not just for us. When we fight for Ethiopian Israeli rights, we fight for every minority in Israel who has seen their rights trampled — Arab citizens, ultra-Orthodox citizens, LGBTQ citizens, and Israelis living in the periphery.

When I was invited to oppose the racist Nation State Law that demotes Palestinian citizens of Israel to second class status, I did so, loudly. I want to invite others in to join my fight, too. Because there is no other way to build an Israel where white, black or brown, the color of your skin does not determine the extent of your rights. We don’t have an Israel like that yet.

Ethiopian families like mine encountered racism from day one in Israel. Not just the kind of racism where people call you names in school, though we had that too. The built-in, systemic kind where, even if you’ve prayed all your life for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, you had to be “converted” to Judaism in the Orthodox fashion. Or where your elders, who had been the ritual leaders of our community for time immemorial, were now barred from performing circumcision, marriage, or any other significant Jewish ceremony.

But that was just the beginning. Then there were the gaps. Gaps in wages; gaps in education. And the higher rates. Rates of arrest, open police files, incarceration. And, on Monday, yet again, we saw an unarmed, Ethiopian Israeli citizen shot by police.

Solomon Teka’s name is only the latest in the growing list of Israeli youth of Ethiopian descent who are now dead because of police shootings. Earlier this year, another young man, Yehuda Biadga, was shot and killed by a police officer. He was twenty-four years old and suffering from mental illness. In 2015, footage of a police officer beating an Ethiopian Israeli soldier in his IDF uniform was caught on tape.

We protested then, like we are protesting now. We held signs with the names of the unarmed black men killed in Israel by police, side-by-side with signs those of the unarmed black men killed in Baltimore by police. We knew then that the struggle was a global one: that the same racial profiling that police employ in America is what they practice here in Israel. That racism is an infection that doesn’t go away unless you treat it. And Israel is not immune.

In Israel we aren’t just angry; we are disappointed. We have been betrayed. Ethiopian Jews had come to Israel seeking freedom, not as slaves. We had yearned to come; we were returnees! And still, we were met with the ugliness of racism.

Here’s what I don’t want: I don’t want to an apology. An apology won’t bring back Solomon. It won’t bring back Yehuda. It won’t bring back any of the kids who died because they happened to encounter a police officer.

What we want now is to prevent the next murder, the next senseless killing. For that to happen, we need justice. We need to see this police officer held legally accountable so that the next police officer will think twice before he puts his hand in his holster and starts to shoot civilians. No, I don’t want an apology.

Here’s what else I don’t want: I don’t want to be a lone voice. I don’t want to look into the faces of teenagers protesting and see the fear of isolation and aloneness. I don’t want to hear them asking, “Why are only black people marching?”

I want you to join me and join us. I want this struggle – the fight for the future of our country — to be shared. Because it is shared. Because I share in your pain and you share in mine.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the Ethiopian Israeli community to show restraint and obey the law. But the law is not on our side. The law does not protect us. And so we are doing what is fully our democratic right: We are assembling. We are expressing our discontent. We are organizing.

We want you to join us. We won’t stop until the law works for all of us.

Avi Yalou is an Ethiopian Israeli activist who works on a variety of social justice issues in Israel. Follow him on Twitter @aviyalou.

While Monday’s demonstrators against police brutality and racism were largely Israelis of Ethiopian origin, on Tuesday and Wednesday workers and especially youth across all communities, as well as migrant workers, who have long faced racism and discrimination, were protesting in solidarity. Since the 2008 financial crisis, conditions for the working class have worsened as well-paying jobs have been erased and replaced with low-wage labour and wages eroded by the soaring cost of living: here.

Ethiopian Israelis protest against police killing


This 3 July 2019 video from Kenya says about itself:

An 18 year old young Ethiopian Jew has been killed in cold blood by an Israeli police[man]. According to the family, Solomon Teka was playing with his friends in a playground when an off duty policeman shot at him sniper style. Ethiopian Jews across Israel have been holding public demonstrations against the police.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Young Ethiopian Jews rebel against discrimination in Israel

In Israel, great unrest has arisen among the Ethiopian-Jewish community since a police officer shot an unarmed young man of Ethiopian descent. On Tuesday and Wednesday, there were fierce clashes with police in various cities in Israel. Some 150 people were injured …

At least 135 demonstrators were arrested.

The long-standing discontent among Ethiopian Jews erupted after the shooting incident in Haifa last Sunday. A police officer was there in his spare time … in a playground, when he noticed a group of … black youth. … He shot. 18-year-old Solomon Teka was fatally hit. …

According to eyewitnesses, there was no need to shoot, the officer was never in danger. The man was arrested and being interrogated.

Discrimination and police violence

Ethiopian Jews see the incident as the umpteenth expression of discrimination and police violence against the community.

The Ethiopians were secretly evacuated by Israel from Ethiopia to Israel in the late 1980s to protect them from hunger and war. In Israel, with a population of 9 million, they form a separate and largely impoverished community of 150,000 people. They suffer from racism, discrimination when looking for work and structural police violence. The younger generation of Jews of Ethiopian descent refuses to accept the situation and has rebelled more often. …

The Israeli government, after the riots, has admitted that the group is being disadvantaged.

Protest against the killing of DSolomon Teka in Tel Aviv, AFP photo