The story behind the images of the crying boy

Posted: August 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Haaretz’s Gidon Levy brings the Jaberi family’s account of the events that led to the images showing Khaled Jabari, aged 4, trying to prevent his father from being taken away by the army. Israel accused the Palestinians of “staging” the scene

Khaled jabari trying to prevent his father from getting arrested

Last week I posted here the now famous clip of Khaled Jabari, a Palestinian child, desperately trying to prevent Israeli border police soldiers from arresting his Father, Fadel Jabari, on charge of water theft.

A few days later, Haaretz’s Gidon Levy met with the Jabari family and heard their account of the arrest [Hebrew]. As it turned, the soldiers actually came for Fadel’s father, 65 years old Badran Jabari, who used a local settlement’s water pipe to water his vegetables field.

As I explained in my previous post, water is a major issue in the region of South Hebron, where the Jabari family lives. The Israeli authorities construct pipes mostly for the use of the settlers, and the Palestinian Authority has limited control in the region, so it can’t build its own system.

As it turned, the pipe Badran Jabari used was a joint Israeli-Palestinian one, and according to his account, he actually had an authorization from the Palestinian Authority to connect to the water system. The IDF Civil Administration, however, did not authorize the use of the pipe, which was supposed to serve a local settlement only.

It will be wrong to understand this story in the terms of relations between a local municipality and a farmer – a perception that might lead us to believe that while the Jabari family might have suffered some injustice, ultimately, they simply stole the water. The IDF is the sole authority in the West Bank, and it gives very little attention to the Palestinians’ daily problems. The Jabaris, and many like them, have no other options. Stories like the one which happened at their field take place all the time around Hebron; the only difference this time was the presence of a crying boy and a cameraman at the scene.

This is from Gidon Levy’s report of the arrest (my translation):

Last Sunday the Jabaris went to visit the family’s grandfather, Badran Jaberi. Palestine, Khaled’s mother is a teacher. Fadel, his father, is a peddler of clothes and curtains. The couple has three small children. Khaled [the boy seen in the clip], aged four and two months, is the older. Grandfather Badran, Palestine’s mother, was a professor of sociology and active member in the Pupolar Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He spent 12 years in Israeli prison, nine of them without trial, until he became a farmer. Israel has never allowed him to leave the West Bank.

Badran, aged 65, has 11 acres east of Kiryat Arba – a vegetables garden and a vineyard. The family of his youngest daughter, who lives in the north of Hebron, went there last week to spend a few days of the summer vacation. On the first day of their visit, Khaled joined his grandfather and together they went to work in the field where the zucchini, tomatoes and cucumbers are grown. A dog the child adopted accompanied them. Grandpa is calling Khaled by his nicknames: Jabber and Abbud. The family remained awake till late, eating, drinking and playing together.

Badran talks about what happened in good Hebrew, which he learned at Damascus University in 1965.

The next day, around six in the morning, the grandfather woke up to the sound of military vehicles approaching the house. He says it was a convoy of 20 vehicles: trucks, jeeps and bulldozers, border police forces, Police, Civil Administration and IDF. An entire army has raided his fields.

He went outside to ask what this was all about, but the policemen ordered him to return home immediately. He asked to speak with the officer in charge, but an officer told him the Civil Administration’s infrastructure officer has not arrived yet. “This is my field, what are you doing here? Rome will burn before Nero arrives,” he answered the policemen and soldiers, though it is doubtful if they knew what he was talking about. Badran had already experienced such raids: the affair regarding him tapping into the water network that crosses his fields has been going on for a long time, and included many such raids by the Civil Administration, which upholds the law only when Palestinians are concerned.

The noise made the grandmother come out as well. She was pushed by the soldiers and fell on the ground. They [the soldiers and policemen] began to dismantle the plumbing and to load the pipes on the truck. In doing so, they tore the plastic sheets and hurt the crops. Badran says that whenever he tried to speak with the officer in charge, they pushed him and cursed him: “Go home, old bastard.” To his daughter, Wissam, they referred as “a slut.”

Badran was handcuffed, while the action continued. Meanwhile, the younger son Wadee woke up. Badran says he told his son to get back to the house, but one of the officers ordered: “The SOB has boys, arrest the son.”

Wadee entered the house and run away from the back door, chased by the border police soldiers. “We were afraid for the child,” says Badran. Later, Wadee was caught [picture below] and his father tried to rescue him from the soldiers (Badran says his son was beaten). Then woke the eldest son, Fadel, little Khaled’s father. He went outside barefoot, wearing only his pajamas, and was beaten as well.

Badran says his son was knocked down three or four times. “We tried to talk to the officer, but it did not help. He just said [to the soldiers]: ‘arrest all those disturbing you. The old man too.’” Badran says he tried to calm his sons. He remembered how in a previous raid on his fields, on July 6, soldiers threw stun grenades and fired rubber coated bullets.

“After that, they took my child, Fadel, and Khaled woke up and tried to rescue his father,” Badran continues. “The boy was barefoot, he wept and shouted and fell several times between the legs of soldiers and the policemen. Khaled tried to defend his father and his uncle Wadee. ‘I want my father,’ he cried. When they took Fadel to the Jeep I told them: ‘Arrest me as well. What shall we live from? You took everything.’ I couldn’t take it any more. I sat and wept and told the border police officer: ‘You are harder than the stones here. You have no heart; you have no brain, look at what you are doing. You took everything’”.

A Palestinian photographer working for Reuters captured the events and passed the images on.

Fadel and Wadee were taken to the Kiryat Arba police station. Their father immediately sent a lawyer to the station, but he wasn’t allowed to meet them. The police told the father that they were taken to the Etzion detention facility. At Etzion he was told that Fadel remained there and that Wadee was taken to Ofer facility, near Ramallah. Last Thursday the two brothers were detained for six more days, in which they will be charged with assaulting five soldiers.

The border police spokesperson told Haaretz that “during enforcement action against water thieves in the southern Hebron hills, the police and army force was attacked with stones. Two people involved in the riot were arrested. During the arrest, as can be seen in the photos, the family chose to make a cynical use of a child, which was staged and directed [by them]. Instead of acting responsibly and removing the child from the scene, they chose to engage in cheap Anti-Israeli propaganda, deliberately aimed at presenting us in a negative way in the world.”

wadee Jabari arrested by border police soldiers near Hebron

Regarding the context of the affair, Levy writes:

In 1995 a water pipeline was constructed through the fields of Badran from the town Banni Na’im to the settlement of Tkoa. Badran asked the Israeli water company to connect him the pipeline passing through his field (…) and was referred to the municipality of Banni Na’im. Badran claims he received a permit from the municipality to connect to the water line. After a few days the army came and confiscated the plumbing. Badran turned to the Palestinian Water Authority in Ramallah, where they gave him and three of his neighbors a permit to connect to the water line.

After a month, the Israeli Civil Administration came back, deemed the connection illegal, and confiscated the pipes [for the first time]. Badran says that a Civil Administration officer once told him: “I do not want to see something green on your fields. I want to see everything yellow.”

Fadel and Wadee Jabari are still in Israeli prison, awaiting trial.

Sheldon Adelson’s pro-Netanyahu tabloid now the most widely read paper in Israel

Posted: July 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, media, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

israel hayomThe rightwing free tabloid “Israel Hayom” (ישראל היום, Israel today) is now the most widely read daily paper in Israel, with, for the first time, a slight lead over Yedioth Ahronoth on weekdays.

Israel Hayon is known for his support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The paper’s publisher, gambling billionaire Sheldon Adelson, is a close friend and political ally of Netanyahu, and according to reports, the papers editor, Amos Regev, was part of Netanyahu’s inner circle for some time.

Most papers in Israel don’t disclose the number of copies they distribute, so their share of the market is evaluated by the TGI poll, taken twice a year by TNS Tlgal surveying company. Advertising prices are also determined according to the TGI poll.

The Jan-June 2010 TGI survey, released yesterday, had Israel Hayom leading with 35.2 percent of daily papers readers, comparing to Yedioth’s 34.9%. Readers’ exposure Ma’ariv is at 12.5% (median 14.4% last year), exposure to Haaretz is 6.4%. The free paper Post has 7.9% exposure.

On weekend Yedioth has a share of 43.7, and Israel Hayom, who just began distributing a weekend edition, 25.7%.

Yedioth Ahronoth has been the most widely read paper in Israel since the 70′s. At times, it controlled more than 50 percent of the market.

Since its first appearance, the paper has taken an extreme pro-Netanyahu line. Mr. Adelson has rejected claims of his paper’s political bias.

The introduction of Israel Hayom sparked a war between Israel’s daily papers. Yedioth and Maariv, who were rivals for half a century, are now joining hands in fighting Adelson’s paper (with little success so far). The two papers were said to be behind the unsuccessful attempt to introduce an anti-dumping law that would have forced Israel Hayom to start charging money for its copies. PM Netanyahu had the Likud party oppose the bill, which failed to pass in the Knesset.

Ironically, Israel Hayom is printed and distributed by Israel’s Liberal paper, Haaretz. Estimates are that the high prices Haaretz’s publisher, Mr. Amos Schoken, is charging for these services, are part of the reason for his paper’s ability to survive these days.

Needless to say, Haaretz opposed the dumping bill.

The Israeli Right going one-state? My Haaretz piece

Posted: July 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Right, The Settlements, this is personal | Tags: , , , , , , | 26 Comments »

Haaretz published my report on the growing support for what seems like a one-state solution in the Israeli Right.

“The prospects of the negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas do not look promising. President Obama undoubtedly thinks otherwise, but if Abbas speaks for anyone, it’s barely half the Palestinians. The chances of anything good coming of this are not great. Another possibility is Jordan. If Jordan were ready to absorb both more territories and more people, things would be much easier and more natural. But Jordan does not agree to this. Therefore, I say that we can look at another option: for Israel to apply its law to Judea and Samaria and grant citizenship to 1.5 million Palestinians.”

These remarks, which to many sound subversive, were not voiced by a left-wing advocate of a binational state. The speaker is from the Betar movement, a former top leader in Likud and political patron of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a former defense and foreign affairs minister – Moshe Arens. On June 2, Arens published an op-ed in Haaretz (“Is there another option?” ) in which he urged consideration of a political alternative to the existing situation and the political negotiations. He wants to break the great taboo of Israeli policy making by granting Israeli citizenship to the Palestinians in the West Bank. Arens is not put off by those who accuse him of promoting the idea of a binational Jewish-Palestinian state. “We are already a binational state,” he says, “and also a multicultural and multi-sector state. The minorities [meaning Arabs] here make up 20 percent of the population – that’s a fact and you can’t argue with facts.”

As Washington, Ramallah and Jerusalem slouch toward what seems like a well-known, self-evident solution – two states for two nations, on the basis of the 1967 borders and a small-scale territorial swap – a conceptual breakthrough is taking place in the right wing. Its ideologues are no longer content with rejecting withdrawal and evacuation of settlements, citing security arguments calculated to strike fear into the hearts of the Israeli mainstream. Their new idea addresses the shortcomings of the status quo, takes account of the isolation in which Israel finds itself and acknowledges the need to break the political deadlock.

Once the sole preserve of the political margins, the approach is now being advocated by leading figures in Likud and among the settlers – people who are not necessarily considered extremists or oddballs. About a month before Arens published his article, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud ) said, “It’s preferable for the Palestinians to become citizens of the state than for us to divide the country.” In an interview this week (see box ), Rivlin reiterates and elaborates this viewpoint. In May 2009, Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely organized a conference in the Knesset titled “Alternatives to Two States.” Since then, on a couple of occasions, she has called publicly for citizenship to be granted to the Palestinians “in gradual fashion.” Now she is planning to publish a position paper on the subject. Uri Elitzur, former chairman of the Yesha Council of Settlements and Netanyahu’s bureau chief in his first term as prime minister, last year published an article in the settlers’ journal Nekuda calling for the onset of a process, at the conclusion of which the Palestinians will have “a blue ID card [like Israelis], yellow license plates [like Israelis], National Insurance and the right to vote for the Knesset.” Emily Amrousi, a former spokesperson for the Yesha Council, takes part in meetings between settlers and Palestinians and speaks explicitly of “one land in which the children of settlers and the children of Palestinians will be bused to school together.”

It’s still not a full-fledged political camp and there are still holes in the theory. But although its advocates do not seem to be working together, the plans they put forward are remarkably similar. They all reject totally the various ideas of ethnic separation and recognize that political rights accrue to the Palestinians. They talk about a process that will take between a decade and a generation to complete, at the end of which the Palestinians will enjoy full personal rights, but in a country whose symbols and spirit will remain Jewish. It is at this point that the one-state right wing diverges from the binational left. The right is not talking about a neutral “state of all its citizens” with no identity, nor about “Israstine” with a flag showing a crescent and a Shield of David. As envisaged by the right wing, one state still means a sovereign Jewish state, but in a more complex reality, and inspired by the vision of a democratic Jewish state without an occupation and without apartheid, without fences and separations. In such a state, Jews will be able to live in Hebron and pray at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and a Palestinian from Ramallah will be able to serve as an ambassador and live in Tel Aviv or simply enjoy ice cream on the city’s seashore. Sounds off the wall? “If every path seems to reach an impasse,’ Elitzur wrote in Nekuda, “usually the right path is one that was never even considered, the one that is universally acknowledged to be unacceptable, taboo.”

Read the rest here. There are also comments I got on the issue from Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Yossi Beilin and two Palestinians officials.

If you have any questions or comments, post them here and I’ll do the best to answer.

Why the Israeli case against boycott is so weak

Posted: May 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: The Left, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Regarding the discussion we had here on Gil-Scott Heron’s decision to cancel his show in Tel Aviv, here are some wise words from Gidon Levy. The real boycott, argues Levy, is the one that Israel is leading against the Palestinians and their supporters:

… entry into Israel and the West Bank is being affected by the recent frenzy of [Israeli] boycotts. Anyone who is suspected of supporting the Palestinians or expressing concern for their lot is boycotted and expelled. This group includes a clown who came to organize a conference; a peace activist who was due to appear at a symposium; and scientists, artists and intellectuals who arouse suspicions that they back the Palestinian cause. This is a cultural and academic boycott on all counts, the type of boycott that we reject when it is used against us.

Yet the anti-boycott country’s list of boycotted parties does not end there. Even a Jewish-American organization like J Street, which defines itself as pro-Israel, has felt the long arm of the Israeli boycott. It is permissible to boycott J Street because it champions peace, but we can’t tolerate a boycott of products made in settlements that were built on usurped land. Denying a visiting professor entry into Gaza for an appearance at a university does not qualify as a boycott, but cutting off ties with Israeli institutions that provide fast-track degree programs for army officers and interrogators in the Shin Bet security service – people who are often viewed around the world as complicit in war crimes – is viewed as verboten.

Read the full article on Haaretz.

The Persecution of Haaretz

Posted: April 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: media, The Left, The Right | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Haaretz, Israel’s oldest daily paper, has a status that exceeds its limited circulation. Israel’s supporters who whishes to portray it as a thriving democracy give Haaretz as an example; Critics of Israel use Haaretz when claiming that the US media is too easy on Israel (“The NYT would have never printed Gidon Levy’s op-ed“). Even after suffering loses during the financial crisis and going through major cuts the paper remains the best source for information on human right issues and on Israeli politics. It is also the only Israeli newspaper to have an internet site and printed editions in both Hebrew and English.

These days, Haaretz is under attack. Rightwing groups, pundits, politicians and competing media organizations go after the paper. They accuse it of being “too liberal”, “too lefty”, even “anti-Israeli”. The attack was triggered because of the Kamm-Blau affair, but the case against Haaretz is far wider and deeper, and has a lot to do with the dangerous nationalistic mood in Israel right now.

Two articles on the front page of Maariv’s weekend edition took shots at Haaretz: Ben Dror Yemini accused the paper of aiding “the industry which demonizes and delegitimizes the State of Israel,” and Columnist Menahem Ben simply called for the paper to be shut down and its editor and publisher arrested for treason.

After the exposure of the Kamm affair, MK Michael Ben-Ari, a former student of Rabbi Kahana, cancelled his Knesset subscription for Haaretz and called interior Minister Eli Yishay to use his authority and immediately forbid the printing of Haaretz. Surprisingly enough, Ben-Ari was joined by two MK’s from Kadima: MK Israel Hason, a former Shin Beit man, called for readers to boycott Haaretz, while MK Yulia Shmuelov wrote her own letter to minister Yishay demanding Haaretz to be shut down.

Radio Host Avri Gilad said last Sunday on the IDF station that “I mourn what happened to the Left and to the Left’s journal [Haaretz]… it is making the left irrelevant in Israel… every sensible person today understand that the Left has made the state of Israel its enemy.” There wasn’t even a slight protest heard.

And this is what rightwing columnist and editor for Jerusalem Post (who is rapidly becoming the Israeli Pravda), Caroline Glick, had to say:

By collaborating with Kamm first by publishing her stolen documents and hiring her as a reporter, and finally by covering up her crimes while suborning Blau’s perjury, Haaretz has demonstrated that leftist traitors have a powerful sponsor capable of exacting painful revenge on the State of Israel for daring to prosecute them.

In facilitating and supporting treason, Haaretz itself can depend on a massive network of supporters in Israel and internationally. Reporters, self-proclaimed human rights groups, and the leftist blogosphere in Israel and throughout the world as well as foreign governments happily swallow whole Haaretz’s manufactured stories about Israel’s purported venality.

I agree with Hanoch Maramri, Haaretz’s former editor, who wrote in The 7th Eye that Haaretz will survive this attack. The paper suffered boycott attempts during the first and second Intifada, when its editors insisted on reporting cases of abuse and illegal actions by IDF soldiers. But these were different times for journalism, and the real danger is that the delicate financial situation affecting all newspapers will make Haaretz change its line a bit so it wouldn’t bleed too many readers.

Even more important is what these events teach on the current moment in Israel. Most people outside this country fail to notice it, but we are at the dangerous turning point in which words and ideas, and not just acts, are becoming illegitimate in this country, even criminal. Haaretz won’t be the last victim.

What happened to the previous Anat Kamm?

Posted: April 11th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, media | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

History repeating itself, with slight changes.

8 years ago, a soldier who served as a secretary in an IDF regional HQ, handed some classified documents to (then) Kol Ha-Ir reporter (a local paper from Haaretz group), one Uri Blau. The documents had to do with a charge that was set off in Gaza and Killed 5 Palestinian children.

The army started an internal investigation and was able to trace the soldier who leaked the documents. She was tried by her CO and sentenced to 35 days in army prison.

Around the same time, an IDF Brigadier general was forced to retire from the service after leaking to reporters the content of a classified meeting with the Chief of Staff.

Read the report from 2002 on Ynet [Hebrew] (hat tip: Amitai Sandi).

Anat Kamm, a former secretary in an IDF HQ, was recently charged with espionage for leaking secret army documents to Haaretz’s reporter, Uri Blau. An article based on two of the documents suggested that senior IDF generals, including Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, knowingly violated our own Supreme Court ruling by ordering the assassinations of Palestinians even when it was possible to arrest them, and when it was known innocent people might be killed.


(illustration by Mish)

Yedioth challenges Israeli censorship, publishes Judith Miller’s article blacked out

Posted: April 6th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

This is how page 9 of Israel’s most popular tabloid, Yedioth Ahronoth, looked like today.


The item shown is a translation of Judith Millers’ account of the Anat Kamm affair in The Daily Beast (downloadable PDF version here). The blacked out parts make the Hebrew text meaningless, thus forcing readers ask themselves what is it exactly that they don’t know.

[The answer: that the state is trying to secretly punish the source of a front page story in Haaretz, which reveled that senior IDF generals, including Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, knowingly violated Supreme Court ruling by ordering the assassinations of Palestinians who could have been captured alive.]

Tel Aviv court is about to rule next week on a request by Haaretz and Channel 10 to lift the gag order on the affair, which also caused Haaretz’s correspondent Uri Blau to flee to London.

By publishing the blacked text, Israel’s leading tabloid is signaling the court that if the gag order isn’t lifted, the paper might publish more details, and force security authorities as well as the court to decide whether they want to go head to head with the media. My guess is that the court will give up, and the gag order will be lifted.

Talk radio host Nathan Zehavi revealed details of the affair on his show today.

In 1984 the tabloid Hadashot (published by Haaretz’s owner, Amos Shoken) was shut down for three days after publishing a picture which proved that two terrorists were killed cold-bloodedly by Shin Beit after being captured alive. The affair ended in the resignation of the head of Shin Beit. But these were different times.

Haaretz’s reporter flees to London after revealing illigal IDF tergeted killings

Posted: April 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, media, war | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

This is from the UK’s Independent:

An Israeli journalist is in hiding in Britain, The Independent can reveal, over fears that he may face charges in the Jewish state in connection with his investigation into the killing of a Palestinian in the West Bank.

Uri Blau, a reporter at Israel’s liberal newspaper, Haaretz, left town three months ago for Asia and is now in London. Haaretz is understood to be negotiating the terms of his return to Israel with prosecutors, according to an Israeli source, who declined to be identified, because of the sensitivity of the situation.

The news of Mr Blau’s extended absence comes just days after it emerged that another Israeli journalist, Anat Kam, has been held under house arrest for the last three months on charges that she leaked classified documents to the press while completing her military service.

More details here. I hope I will be able to write more on this story in two weeks.

A Knesset move against Sheldon Adelson will do more harm than good

Posted: December 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: media, The Right | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

The excellent Coteret blog, which futures translated articles from the Hebrew media with independent commentary, has a post dealing with the “journalism bill” in the Knesset, which is meant to block the growing influence of Israel Hayom – the rightwing daily free-paper published by gambling billionaire Sheldon Adelson. According to the new bill, license to publish daily papers will be giving only to Israeli citizens (Adelson is an American).

There are rumors of extensive lobbing on this issue by the owners of the two other tabloids, Maariv and Yedioth Ahronoth, so this legislation effort actually stands a chance.

Personally, I tend to oppose the “journalism bill”, for the following reasons:

1.    It would give politicians greater control over the papers, which will now be at their mercy. Just imagining the promises made in backrooms right now on this issue makes me worried.

2.    It won’t help to ease the legitimate concerns over Israel Hayom: the proposed bill states that it will be enforced on existing papers after an adjustment period of two years. By that time, Sheldon Adelson can transfer the paper to an Israeli citizen, or even better, become one himself. On the other hand, it might harm Haaretz, who’s under joint ownership of the Shoken family and a German partner.

3.    It might actually open the door for limitations on other “foreign influences” in the public arena, and most notably, the financial support human rights and peace groups receive.

4.    Journalism as we know it is doomed. Even the Knesset can’t save it.

Basically, you have to be a bit naïve to think that any kind of legislation that protects human rights or freedom of speech will come out of the current Knesset. In that sense, the opposition party of Kadima is just as bad as the ruling Likud (it was Kadima, for example, who pushed for the creation of national biometric database). It is more likely that any legislation on these issues will be either meaningless or abused, so I rather things will be left the way they are.

“Coteret”: selected articles from the Hebrew media

Posted: November 17th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: media | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

One of the reasons I write this blog in English is the shortage in first hand information on the Israeli society for those who don’t speak Hebrew. The two main publications in English, Haaretz and Jerusalem Post, represent only a fraction of what’s going on (they have a combined market share of less than 10 percent); has a site in English, but most of their articles aren’t posted there.

Now there is an important new addition: “Coteret”, a blog by Didi Remez, who translates selected stories and article from the Hebrew media, and most notably, from the tabloids Yedioth Ahronoth and Maariv. Usually, Didi posts a short introduction on the writer and the context of the story, followed by the full article.

If you want to know better what Israelis are thinking or saying, be sure to add his blog to your bookmarks.