Friday, January 10, 2014

Map: Israel’s Housing Ministry announces new settlement tenders

The Housing Ministry announced Friday morning new tenders for 1,400 housing units in settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.

The announcement was made three weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he intends to launch a new wave of settlement construction parallel to the third step of Palestinian prisoner release.

Tenders were released for the construction of 600 housing units in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in Jerusalem, which lies over the Green Line, and a further 801 units in settlement blocs in the West Bank.

Israel will build 227 housing units in Efrat, 78 in Alfei Menashe, 86 in Karnei Shomron, 40 in Ariel, 75 in Adam, 24 in Beitar Illit, 102 in Immanuel and 169 in Elkana.

In addition, tenders were released for the construction of 532 units in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, across the Green Line. The plots for these units were marketed in the past but found no buyers, and were now put back out on the market. These include 182 units in Pisgat Ze’ev, 294 in Ramot and 56 in Neve Yaakov.

(Source: Ha’aretz)

Friday, October 11, 2013

On Yair Lapid

In Ha’aretz, the indispensable Yossi Verter:

Lapid will come to the first session of the Knesset’s winter sitting next Monday not as someone whose target for the next election is the premiership. He is now fighting tooth-and-nail to restore his party to the top slot in the center-left bloc. In polls, Yesh Atid is consistently losing seats to Labor and Meretz.

Everyone who has been following Lapid’s pronouncements of late discerns a powerful need on his part to differentiate himself from Netanyahu. He came out against Jewish housing construction in East Jerusalem against the background of the release of Palestinian prisoners, and he spoke against the walkout by the Israeli delegation to the United Nations during the speech by Iranian President Rohani. This week, in his interview with Rose, he made it clear that he is against Netanyahu’s demand that an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians be conditional on the recognition by the latter of Israel as the state of the Jewish people.

Lapid is looking for something to run with. He is discovering that the social-justice banner is being tightly gripped by Yacimovich. The peace-process flag is being proudly hoisted by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, the leader of Hatnuah. Gal-On is the standard-bearer of human and civil rights. It’s only in the peace-process arena that he sees some opportunity to recoup some of his party’s lost votes. There he will position himself, in the winter session, or until he adopts a different agenda.

Monday, October 7, 2013


More than half a million mourners on Monday attended the funeral of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, religious scholar and kingmaker of Israeli politics.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Israel will never be a ‘normal’ nation

Whether it is desired or not, Israel will always be an exceptional nation.

It is in the nature of Israel’s birth – of Israel as the manifestation of a dream, or several dreams, and the yearning and investment those dreams hold. The awakening of a Jewish national consciousness within the galut, the revival of the Hebrew language, the founding of Tel Aviv and the kibbutzim, the greening of the land, the victories in existential wars fought on multiple fronts – it is a secular, pioneering achievement unparalleled in modern history.

But that’s not even the half of it. As a Jewish state, Israel will be exceptional simply because it is a state for Jews. On one level this is benign – every nation has its qualities that make it different or unique. In the case of my country of birth and residence, the United Kingdom, it would be the English language and our literature, as well as our contributions to the rule of law, good governance, and fair play. For the United States, it would be their documents – the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights – and the ideas of liberty and democracy embedded within them.

For Israel, it would be that Judaism and Jewish civilisation has sustained itself, as Amos Oz and Fania Oz-Salzberger have recently persuasively argued, not as a bloodline but a textline. “Jewish continuity has always hinged on uttered and written words, on an expanding maze of interpretations, debates, and disagreements,” they write in Jews and Words.  “In synagogue, at school, and most of all in the home, it has always involved two or three generations deep in conversation.”

The Jewish propensity for argument and self-criticism, interpretation and reinterpretation, is essential to the Israeli national character, the Israeli chutzpah, as well as Israel’s political culture, its social fabric, and its literature. Alive and ever-evolving, the textline makes Israel a subject of fascination for those who have an interest in such things as Jewish history and culture. Judeophilia will, since it affects Jews, inevitably impact upon the Jewish state as well. I can attest to this, writing as a non-Jewish Zionist who cannot help but find the idea of a textline both enchanting and enthralling.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013 Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gideon Levy, single-minded

Gideon Levy has long cut a melancholic figure within Israeli journalism, as if he is carrying the burden of all Israel’s indiscretions upon his shoulders. His work covering the indignities of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank for Ha’aretz has been admirable, and for it, Levy has become foreign media’s go-to guy for grim, matter-of-fact quotes about the state of the State, giving out bleak pronouncements on matters ranging from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the position of Tel Aviv within Israel as a bubble, separated from the main.

As a loyal reader of Ha’aretz, I adopted the same deference, and continued to read his columns even as the tone grew darker, the voice more monotonous, the claims bolder. Perhaps I was mistaken. Perhaps I should have stopped after October 23, 2012, when Ha’aretz published a frontpage splash of Levy’s under the headline, “Most Israelis Support Apartheid Regime in Israel,” even though as it transpired the polling data didn’t even back-up Levy’s premise. As Erez Tadmor covers in his essay in The TowerHa’aretz was compelled to issue the following retraction:

The wording of the main headline, “Most Israelis Support Apartheid Regime in Israel” (Haaretz, Oct. 23), did not precisely reflect the findings of the Dialog poll. The question to which a majority of respondents answered in the negative did not relate to any current state of affairs, but to a hypothetical future one: “If Israel were to annex the territories of Judea and Samaria [i.e., the West Bank], would you support granting 2.5 million Palestinians the right to vote in Knesset elections?”

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"What else should they call it? Forced Passover vacation for Arabs?"

Foreign Policy has a profile of Israeli Arab novelist and screenwriter Sayed Kashua that it worth your attention:

The show was commissioned to do a second season and then a third, when it really took off. Viewership in the third season jumped 40 percent over the previous run. Seventy-two percent of Jewish Israeli households tuned in at least once, and according to Keshet, Avoda Aravit's average share of viewers in its time slot was 40 percent. At the annual Israeli Academy of Film and Television awards in January, its third season picked up five trophies: best comedy, best lead actor in a comedy, best lead actress in a comedy, best director, and best screenplay. Kashua quipped at the fete, “We get about 20 percent of the prizes, just like our percentage of the population.”

He was referring, of course, to the 20 percent of Israeli citizens who define themselves as Palestinian. The vast majority of this community lives in Israel’s Galilee region and in an area known as the Triangle, a swath of clustered towns and villages in the eastern Plain of Sharon, straddling the Green Line that separates Israel proper from the Palestinian territories.

It was here, in the Triangle city of Tira, that Kashua grew up. In 1990, when Kashua was 15, he was accepted into the Israel Arts and Science Academy (IASA), a Jerusalem boarding school for highly gifted teens. Pushed by his parents, he left the Triangle and plunged into the heart of Jewish Israeli society, creating the existential paradox that confounds him to this day. He realized quickly that his very presence aroused suspicion.

"I hated the city as soon as I entered it." Kashua wrote of moving to Jerusalem. “On my first bus ride, a soldier got on and immediately pegged me as an Arab: a boy leaving his village for the first time, with an Arab’s clothes, an Arab’s thin moustache, and most tellingly, the frightened look of an Arab. That was the first time I was taken off the bus and searched. It took me a while to blur my external identity.”

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013 Monday, March 18, 2013