#CinemaHebron – An Initial Roundup

The Leftern Wall

More to come, but as some of you already know, this past weekend, I was detained in Hebron, along with five other activists from All That’s Left and the Center for Jewish Nonviolence (and 30+ more who were prepared to be detained, but weren’t: More on that below). We went at the invitation of the Youth Against Settlements group to help found the first cinema in Hebron. I am working on putting together my thoughts on the action and its aftermath, but in the meantime, here are 10 excellent pieces already written about it:

  1. Peter Beinart’s reflections on the action in Haaretz

Peter’s piece, published yesterday in Haaretz, included part of the conversation I had with Peter in the site of the future cinema:

”Standing in Abu Aisha’s yard, the American-Israeli activist Moriel Rothman-Zecher explained it this way. The Israeli left, he argued, contains many people alienated by Judaism. They’re alienated because…

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Breaking Ground at Cinema Hebron

Shalom Rav

This past Friday, I had the honor to participate in an incredible, unprecedented mass action of civil disobedience in the H2 section of Hebron – in the heart of Israel’s unjust and illegal occupation.

I’ll start with a little bit of history:

In 1968, a year after Israel conquered the West Bank, a group of radical religious settlers led by Rabbi Moshe Levinger, led a group of followers to a hotel in Hebron – with the government’s support – to observe a Passover seder. When it was over, they refused to leave; and following a negotiation with the government, they were allowed to create a settlement to the east of Hebron that they named Kiryat Arba  Since that time, Jewish settlers gradually moved into Hebron proper. Over the years tension gradually increased in Hebron. Things changed drastically in 1995 after Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Muslim worshippers in the Ibrahimi mosque. Fearful of reprisals, the…

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Dareen Tatour Solidarity Gaining Momentum

Free Haifa

But will it make a difference?

It is more than 9 months since Dareen Tatour, the Palestinian poet from Reineh, was arrested and accused of inciting violence… all for one poem, two statuses and sharing thepoetry-not-a-crime-875x458 image of Israa Abed. She spent three months in three different prisons and is now confined to a small apartment in a suburb of Tel Aviv, more than a hundred kilometers away from her home and friends.

When I wrote the first article about Dareen’s detention (in Hebrew), published in “Siha Mekomit” (local call), on April 16, I concluded:

“The fact that a poet was arrested and tried under such baseless accusations is the result not only of the racist system (police, prosecution, judiciary), but also of the indifference of public opinion. Where are the poets and writers when we need them to protect the freedom of expression?”

To be honest, the…

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The War of the Israeli Historians

/* I give you 3 short extracts but I highly recommend you read the whole text with the link provided at the end */

By Pr Avi Schlaim

For many years the standard Zionist account of the causes, character, and course of the Arab-Israeli conflict remained largely unchallenged outside the Arab world. The fortieth anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, however, was accompanied by the publication of four books by Israeli scholars who challenged the traditional historiography of the birth of the State of Israel and the first Arab-Israeli war. The four books are Simha Flapan’s The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities, Benny Morris’s The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949, Ilan Pappé’s Britain and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-51, and my own Collusion across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine. Collectively the authors came to be called the Israeli revisionist, or new historians.

Two factors account for the emergence of the new historiography: the release f the official documents on 1948 by the government of Israel, and the change in the political climate in Israel in the aftermath of the Lebanon War of 1982. Israel adopted the British thirty-year rule for the review and declassification of foreign policy documents. Under this rule, a vast amount of primary source material was released for research in the Central Zionist Archives, the Israel State Archives, the Haganah Archive, the IDF Archive, the Labour Party Archive, and the Ben-Gurion Archive. Arab countries have nothing remotely resembling a thirty-year rule. Arab governments only give access to their records, if they give any access at all, in a limited, haphazard, and arbitrary manner. It is very much to Israel’s credit that it allows researchers access to its internal documents thereby making possible critical studies of its own conduct such as those written by the new historians.


Towards the end of 1999 another round began in the war of the Israeli historians with the publication of two books: Benny Morris’s Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1999 and my own The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. Both books are wide in scope: the first traces the turbulent history of the conflict from its origins in the late 19th century to the end of the 20th century while the second examines Israel’s policy towards the Arab world during the first fifty years of statehood.

The title of my book requires a word of explanation. It refers to a strategy which was first formulated by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism. In 1923 Jabotinsky published an article entitled ‘On the Iron Wall.’ He argued that it was naïve to expect Arab nationalists to welcome a Jewish state in Palestine. Negotiations with the Arabs in the early stages would be futile. The only way to realize the Zionist project was behind an iron wall of Jewish military strength. In other words, the Zionist project could only be realized unilaterally and by military force.

The crux of Jabotinsky’s strategy was thus to deal with the Arabs from a position of unassailable strength. But his article also incorporated a sophisticated theory of change – a change in Arab attitudes to a Jewish state. He envisaged two stages. The first stage was to build the iron wall. This was expected to compel the Arabs to abandon any hope of destroying the Jewish state. The shift towards moderation or realism on the Arab side was to be followed by stage II, negotiations – negotiations with the Palestinian Arabs about their status and national rights in Palestine.


The ideology underlying Oslo was the direct opposite of the ‘Iron Wall’ strategy, which had guided the policy of Israel’s leaders since the establishment of the state. Jabotinsky only stated the obvious when he claimed that the Arabs will never willingly accept the existence of a Jewish state in their midst, but that only an ‘Iron Wall’ of deterrence and military strength would lower their aspiration to destroy Israel.

Ms Livnat goes on to warn against ‘the false belief that preaching pacifism and abandoning some of Zionism’s national claims would be enough to end the Arab-Israeli conflict.’ The doctrine of the permanent conflict is stated even more forcefully in the conclusion:

”It is time for Israel to rebuild the ‘Iron Wall’ that will once again convince the Arabs that neither military threats nor terrorism will weaken Israel’s determination to protect the rights and freedom of the Jewish people. The ‘Iron Wall’, however, will not be rebuilt as long as Prime Minister Ehud Barak is in power.”


Ms Livnat’s summary of the strategy of the iron wall is so crude and simplistic that one is bound to wonder whether she ever read the writings of Ze’ev Jabotinsky. Had she read Jabotinsky’s work, she might have realised that he was not a proponent of the doctrine of permanent conflict between the Zionists and the Palestinians but an advocate of negotiations from strength in order to end the conflict. Like other prominent members of her party, Ms Livnat treats the iron wall as an end in itself rather than as a means to an end – a satisfactory resolution of the conflict between Zionism and Palestinian nationalism. The policies she advocates can only lead to more violence and more bloodshed. As long as she, and people who think like her, remain in power, Jabotinsky’s strategy is unlikely to be carried to its logical conclusion. One of the obstacles to reconciliation through strength with the Palestinians is precisely the kind of over-reliance on military force and disdain for diplomacy that Ms Livnat exemplifies. In this respect, the new history is not part of the problem but part of the solution.”

To read the whole article: The War of the Israeli Historians
Simha Flapan’s book Summary
Simha Flapan’s book Review


The People of Susiya Return

Shalom Rav

DSC_1007 copy

This morning  the Palestinians of Susiya returned to their original home, if only for a brief moment.

Khirbet Susiya is a village in the South Hebron Hills where until recently, Palestinians lived for at least a century. The people of Susiya originally lived in caves and maintained a simple agrarian life, cultivating fields and shepherding their flocks. Everything changed when Israel began to archaeologically excavate their land in the 1970s, eventually uncovering an ancient synagogue underneath a mosque on the land. In 1983 a new Jewish settlement, also called Susiya was established nearby. In 1986, Israel expelled Palestinian villagers and expropriated their land. They moved to an area close to the settlement of Susiya and the original site of the village; in 1991 they were expelled from this site as well. They eventually went to live elsewhere on their cultivated farmland, where they still live today.

The people of Susiya have been engaged in…

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Umm al-Kheir: Rebuilding Beauty out of Destruction

Shalom Rav


Today we spent a second morning/afternoon in Umm al-Kheir. While one half of our group continued to clear the field for zatar planting, the rest of us went to the other side of the village to rebuild one of the thirty five homes that was destroyed this past April.

Our group was led by a village leader named Eid Suleiman Hathaleen, who did his best to explain the complex, Kafka-esque bureaucracy behind the IDF’s practice of home demolitions and land confiscation. The IDF’s Civil Authority relies on an arcane mix of land laws from the Ottoman, British and/or Jordanian administrations – the three legal systems that once governed what is called today the West Bank. One such law states that those who claim rights in rocky land must prove that they cultivated at least 50 percent of the entire parcel – otherwise, the entire parcel will be deemed state land and Palestinians…

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Our Afternoon in Umm Al-Kheir

Shalom Rav

IMG_2464For our delegation’s first day in the field we traveled to the Bedouin village of Umm al-Kheir in the South Hebron Hills.The Bedouin residents of Umm al-Kheir  came to the South Hebron Hills over 60 years ago, after they were expelled from Tel Arad (in the Negev desert) by the Israeli military. After coming north, they purchased this land from the Palestinian village of Yatta and lived there peacefully until the mid-1980’s, when the Jewish settlement of Carmel was built directly next to it.

Since that time every structure in Umm al-Kheir has endured a series of home and structural demolitions.Meanwhile, since Umm al-Kheir is not officially recognized by the Civil Authority of IDF, it has no access to electricity or water and must depend on solar panels and trucked-in water to survive. The entire town is essentially remains under demolition order; the reality of this constant threat has become a part of daily…

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How The Settlers Won – Antony Loewenstein

Independent Australian Jewish Voices

How The Settlers Won

Netanel herds his sheep in a field near his home in the unauthorised Jewish settler outpost of Havat Gilad, south of the West Bank city of Nablus January 5, 2016. Steeped in messianic Jewish mysticism and rebelling against what they see as adulterated modern Zionism, the “Hilltop Youth,” a new generation of ultra-religious settlers whose resentment of the secular Israeli state rivals their hostility toward Arabs.

50 years of unrelenting Jewish settlements in the West Bank have changed the landscape of the peace process. But the interlopers aren’t going anywhere.

By Antony Loewenstein

Har Bracha is a Jewish business situated near Nablus in the occupied West Bank. Established in 2004, its location offers spectacular views. With an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) jeep parked outside, owner Nir Lavi recently told me that he was proud of his livelihood cultivating grapes, because it proved that anti-Semitism…

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