Netanyahu’s Real Crimes

Dr. James J. Zogby, Arab American Institute, NOVEMBER 23, 2019

After years of investigation and months of delay, Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit formally indicted Benjamin Netanyahu for crimes ranging from his violation of public trust to bribery and fraud. Israel’s apologists will argue that the fact that a sitting Prime Minister has been charged with crimes against the state and people presents compelling evidence of the country’s democracy and commitment to the rule of law. This is the very point that Mandelblit made in announcing the indictments – “The public interest requires that we live in a country where no one is above the law.” However, this is only partially true since it appears that in Israel the principles of democracy or the rule of law only apply to Israeli Jews or the interests of the state, itself. In fact, Netanyahu’s entire sordid career is evidence of the selectiveness of Israelis’ sense of justice.

In the past the Netanyahu household has been charged with some of the pettiest forms of corruption imaginable. For example, his wife was found guilty of taking the empty bottles from beverages consumed at official state functions and keeping the money she received for turning them for recycling. The Netanyahus were also known to bring three weeks of dirty laundry on two-day official state trips and sending them to the hotel in which they were staying for a night so that the cleaning bill would be charged to the state’s budget. This is the sort of past petty thievery for which the Netanyahus were famous.

Looking at the recent indictments, it is clear that the Prime Minister has graduated to bigger and better forms of fraud and corruption. What’s striking, however, is that all of the crimes with which he is charged were focused on feeding his ego or his appetites. In some instances, they were favors done for a businessman in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts, in others they were the corrupt deals he made with various media tycoons in which he promised them benefits in exchange for their guaranteeing him positive coverage in their news outlets.

There is no doubt, that in all of these cases, Netanyahu’s behavior has been clearly criminal and reprehensible, and, as described by the Attorney General, a breach of the public’s trust. But what I find so striking and disturbing, is that these crimes pale in significance when compared to what Netanyahu has done to the Palestinian people and the prospect for Israeli-Palestinian peace – crimes for which he will not be called to account.

After Oslo, Netanyahu organized a back-door lobby to mobilize US Congressional opposition to the peace accords. This was the first time an Israeli lobby worked in the US to oppose their own government. He should have been charged with treason.

Back in Israel, during the same period, he organized with Ariel Sharon and a few others a smear campaign of incitement against Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The campaign was so virulent and threatening that many Israelis, including Rabin’s wife, held Netanyahu responsible for Rabin’s assassination. Netanyahu should have been charged with incitement.

In 1996, he was elected Prime Minister on a platform dedicated to ending the peace process and he did everything he could to slow down, distort, and ultimately sabotage the Oslo Peace Process. Even the agreement he signed with the Palestinians at Wye so encumbered the process that by the end of his first term in office, peace was on life support. He should have been charged with destroying the prospects for peace and putting at risk the lives of millions.

During his last three terms in office, he incited violence and hatred against Palestinians, both those who are citizens of Israel and those living under occupation. This has fueled extremist settler movements that have engaged in daily acts of violence, destruction of property, and murder. He also encouraged soldiers in the Israeli army to murder defenseless Palestinians and supported them when they were charged with crimes. In addition, as he did with Rabin, he has falsely accused his Israeli opponents of being too close to the Arabs and accused the Palestinian citizens of Israel of being enemies of the state. He should have been charged with hate crimes.

During his time in office he has: expanded settlements on stolen Palestinian land and the demolition of Palestinian property; overseen a number of devastating assaults on Gaza resulting in the indiscriminate massacre of thousands of innocent civilians and the destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure; instituted and maintained a cruel blockade of Gaza’s population, as an act of collective punishment, in which, for long periods of time, food, medicine, and other essential items were restricted or severely regulated – resulting in death, disease, and impoverishment of millions of innocents. He should have been charged with war crimes.

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Dreams in the Crosshairs

We Are Not Numbers video being shown in Washington, DC

When Israeli snipers target people participating in or even located near Gaza’s Great Return March, it’s not just their bodies they kill or maim, it’s their dreams. This is the story of Alaa al-Dali. Thank you to the Freedom Flotilla Coalition for its support and funding.

What you need to know about the bombings in Gaza


Palestinian children in Gaza. (Lucy Duncan/AFSC)

Mike Merryman-Lotze, American Friends Service Committee, Nov 13, 2019

On Nov. 12, 2019 the Israeli military assassinated Baha Abu al-Ata, a leading member of Islamic Jehad in Gaza, and his wife—sparking more violence in Gaza. Shortly after the killing, Islamic Jehad fired rockets into Israel. In response, Israel has launched extensive bombing attacks on Gaza, killing at least 34 Palestinians and injuring many others. One Israeli has been injured as a result of Palestinian rockets fire. So far, Hamas has refrained from engaging in violence during this latest attack. A ceasefire was announced on Nov. 14, but bombing continued on the night of Nov. 14. If the ceasefire does not hold and Israel continues its disproportionate and deadly attacks on Gaza, there is significant risk of continued escalation.

Political action is needed now in the U.S. to protect this ceasefire and to ensure a halt to attacks on Gaza. But simply ending violence is not enough—there must be an end to the 12-year blockade of Gaza, the systematic inequality and human rights abuses faced by Palestinians, and Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Take action by contacting Congress today! 

Here’s what you need to know about the recent bombings:

Israel’s assassination of Baha Abu al-Ata was the start of the latest violence.

Israel has accused Abu al-Ata for a number of rocket attacks on Israel over the last several months, justifying his assassination as retaliation for those attacks. However, those attacks were carried out in the context of daily Israeli attacks on Gaza, including shooting across the boundary fence, shooting at protesters, ground incursions, shooting at fishermen, and shelling/bombing.

The Israeli government has noted that it expected a response from Gaza to the assassination, making clear that this particular escalation was purposefully started by the Israeli military.

The bombings follow more than a year of violence against Palestinians in Gaza.

Between January and September 2019, the Israeli military killed a total of 70 Palestinians in Gaza and injured 11,000 more. No Israelis were killed by Palestinians from Gaza during the same period.

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October 27, 2019
DREAMING OF FREEDOM Update



Palestinian Youth Under Siege and Occupation
with Yousef Aljamal, Gaza Writer and Activist

Sunday, October 27, 2019
2-4 pm
Christ Presbyterian Church,
944 E Gorham St, Madison, WI

Meet Yousef Aljamal, a young writer who grew up in a refugee camp in Gaza and lived through the three devastating Israeli military assaults between 2008 and 2014. He will share his experiences and insights about the lives of youth there and elsewhere in Palestine, including tens of thousands imprisoned by Israel’s military regime in the West Bank since 1967.

A contributor to the anthology Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza Palestine, Aljamal has recently translated into English the book Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak.

Both books will be available for purchase at the event. Yousef’s talk will be preceded by brief remarks from Rep. Mark Pocan.

Refreshments including baklawa will be served, and Fair Trade Palestinian olive oil, olive oil soap and crafts will be sold. This event is free and open to the public, but donations will be gratefully accepted to fund another clean water project for Gaza kids.

Local Sponsors: Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Jewish Voice for Peace-Madison, UW-Madison Students for Justice in Palestine, and Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison. This is a national tour sponsored by Just World Educational.


Welcomed by WORT Radio. More information here and on Facebook. Listen to Yousef on WORT’s A Public Affair with host Allen Ruff:


Yousef Aljamal to speak on Gaza, detention of Palestinian kids, in USA, October

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Now – Nov 17: Gaza in Color: Stories from Behind the Wall Online Art Auction

Original artwork and signed prints that were hand-carried out of Gaza. This auction offers over 100 pieces by seven artists who are struggling to share their vision and their stories with the outside world.

Despite the ongoing eleven year-long blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt on the Gaza Strip and the violence and human rights tragedies that surround them, artists in Gaza are using creativity to translate their hope and a stark reality into art.

The Gaza artists directly benefit from the sale of their work, which include originals and signed, limited edition prints. Funds will also support the work of Rebuilding Alliance. We hand-carried many of these pieces out of Gaza, and we’re so proud to be working with the artists to bring this to you!

View and bid at this Rebuilding Alliance site.

Since registering as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2003, Rebuilding Alliance has been working with coalitions around the world who are dedicated to helping war-torn neighborhoods rebuild and promoting citizen and diplomatic engagement, worldwide, to make them safe.

Israeli Construction Workers, Soldiers Assault Left-wing Activists on Gaza Border

Activists, who had arranged a joint event along the two sides of the border with Gazans, were confronted by employees of a firm building a security barrier on the Israeli side


A construction worker tries to grab a demonstrator’s Palestinian flag along the Gaza border, Oct. 16, 2019.

Almog Ben Zikri, Haaretz, Oct 17, 2019

Several employees of the Israeli construction firm building a security barrier along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip attacked a group of left-wing activists in the area on Wednesday.

The employees of Danya Cebus’ Geo Danya subsidiary pushed the activists, cursed at them and grabbed and burned Palestinian flags that they were carrying. The activists had arrived in the area for a joint event with a group of Gazans on the other side of the border, in which they planned to speak to each other by phone.

The confrontation took place a few hundred meters from the border in an area designated as a closed military zone, which civilian workers are not authorized to enforce. After the incident, soldiers arrived at the scene. Two of them pushed one of the activists to the ground. A video of the incident shows the responsible officer stopping them and ordering the activists to leave the area.

According to Yossi Makaitan, organizer of the joint event, when activists came to the area near the Danya Cebus operating site, several workers came out and started to yell at them, curse and grab their flags. Some of the activists filmed the attack on video. Activists said a few soldiers looked on from a distance and did not intervene, and that another group of soldiers came and removed them from the site.

On Thursday morning, Haaretz identified two of the workers in the video at one of the offices at the site. They refused to discuss the incident and referred questions to the construction company spokesman’s office.

Settlers beat rabbi, 80, during Palestinian olive harvest

Octogenarian Israeli activist and four foreigners injured when assailants arrived with crowbars and went on to burn hundreds of trees


Rabbis for Human Rights activist Moshe Yehudai, who the NGO says was assaulted by a group of masked settlers in the northern West Bank on October 16, 2019. (Rabbis for Human Rights)

JACOB MAGID, The Times of Israel, 16 October 2019

An 80-year-old Israeli activist said he “feared for his life” on Wednesday when a group of masked settler youth armed with crowbars charged at him and a group of largely foreign volunteers assisting Palestinian farmers with the annual olive harvest in the northern West Bank.

Rabbi Moshe Yehudai made the comments to Army Radio hours after he and fellow volunteers endured a brutal assault documented by rights groups at the scene.

Of the five volunteers who were injured, four were visiting from the US, UK and other European countries, said a field worker for the Yesh Din NGO. Yehudai, an Israeli activist from Rabbis for Human Rights, was the fifth person targeted, suffering blows to the arm and head. He was evacuated to the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba with a broken arm.

Rabbis for Human Rights recruits Israeli and foreign volunteers to accompany Palestinians, who say they face regular intimidation and violence while tending to crops located near settlements throughout the West Bank.

On Wednesday morning, roughly ten volunteers were assisting Palestinian farmers from the villages of Burin and Haware when a group of over 30 masked settlers descended from Yitzhar, a settlement identified by the Israeli security establishment as a hotbed for extremism, according to a Yesh Din field worker.