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Reason or Treason? Migrant Headache, No Bad Seed


Israeli President Accused of Treason After Refusing to Pardon Hebron Shooter Josh Breiner and Jonathan Lis, Haaretz, November 20th 2017

Recap:

President Reuven Rivlin was labeled a traitor after refusing to pardon Sgt. Elor Azaria. The Israeli soldier is currently serving 14 months for killing a wounded Palestinian attacker.

The Context:

  • In March 2016, Azaria shot and killed Abdel Fattah al-Sharif while he lay motionless on the ground after committing an attack on a checkpoint in Hebron. The Israeli government sentenced Azaria to 18 months in prison but ultimately reduced his sentence to 14 months.

  • Azaria justified his actions by claiming Sharif posed a threat however, a military court dismissed the testimony citing his composure in the moments leading up to the event as well as his comments to fellow soldiers that the assailant deserved to die [1].

  • This week, Israeli Police launched an investigation into photos of Rivlin wearing a keffiyeh [2]. Ahead of Yitzhak Rabin’s murder in November 1995, images of him wearing a kaffiyeh were spread to incite the public. Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to condemn the attacks [3], and Netanyahu proceeded to request that "criticism be made respectfully without kaffiyeh and Nazi uniforms."

  • Other lawmakers criticized Rivlin, including Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, for "abandoning Elor who should not be sitting one more day in prison.” A poll shows 70% of Israelis favor pardoning Azaria. Netanyahu and several senior ministers have likewise expressed support for such a move [4].

  • Under military law, a prisoner is eligible for parole after half the sentence has been served [5].

Conversation Points:

  • Does the Israeli public have a soft spot for Azaria since their sons and daughters are forced to serve in the army?

  • Is Israel’s mandatory army service a reason to soften a punishment for those that break the IDF code of conduct?

  • Is it appropriate for politicians to weigh in on court proceedings?

  • Where is the line between criticism and incitement?

Israel to Shut Down Detention Facility, Deport 40,000 Illegal African Migrants

Breaking Israel News, November 20th 2017

Recap:

Israel will close down the Holot migrant detention facility and deport 40,000 illegal migrants. According to the sponsor of the bill, Aryeh Deri, infiltrators “will have to choose between going to prison or leaving the country.”

The Context:

  • Before 2012, a flood of African migrants, mostly Eritreans, crossed into Israel illegally, at one point reaching around 64,000 annually. Most of the migrants live in Tel Aviv, Eilat & Ashdod [6], and Israeli residents have blamed them for rising crime rates in their cities [7].

  • Holot was inaugurated in 2013 and is operated by the Israel Prison Service. The facility accommodates 1,120 residents who must check in daily and abide by a curfew at night.

  • Israel has since stemmed the flow of African migrants by building a fence along its border with Egypt. It has since removed 20,000 illegal migrants and plans to expel the remaining 40,000 by offering a choice between prison or resettlement in a third country, believed to be Uganda or Rwanda.

  • Israel is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, which obligates it to protect refugees and other persons in need of international shelter although it is unclear whether Eritreans fled due to persecution or to improve their economic status [8].

  • In a rare showing of political unity, Israel’s main opposition party, the Zionist Union, backed the bill saying “we do not have to be more righteous than the High Court of Justice and pay a heavy price for opposing the bill [9].”

  • The government will keep Holot open for 3 months to encourage "voluntary departure [10]".

Conversation Points:

  • Should a country naturalize anyone that walks across its borders?

  • Is the Israeli government abdicating its moral and legal obligations by deporting the migrants?

  • Should economic refugees be offered asylum the same way persecuted refugees are? How does one determine the motive of a migrant?

Nick Cave Plays Israel in 'Principled Stand' Against Boycotters

Billboard, November 20th 2017

Recap:

Australian artist Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds accused BDS of bullying musicians and took a “principled stand” against the organization by performing two sold-out shows in Israel. Cave last played in Israel 20 years ago.

The Context:

  • BDS advocates boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel in what its supporters say is a nonviolent way to promote the Palestinian cause. BDS counts thousands of volunteers around the world including Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, Elvis Costello, and Lauren Hill. Waters is infamous for publicly harassing artists scheduled to visit the country [11].

  • Cave felt it “cowardly” not to play in Israel and added the country as a stop on his world tour. “There are two reasons why I am here. One is that I love Israel and I love Israeli people, and two is to make a principled stand against anyone who wants to censor and silence musicians. So really you could say that BDS made me play Israel,” Cave said.

  • A long list of artists including Metallica, Madonna, Elton John, Rihanna, Ozzy Osbourne and others have ignored BDS pressure and performed in Israel in recent years.

Conversation Points:

  • If Cave, an established international act, felt weighed down by BDS pressure, how many up and coming musicians might choose to steer clear of Israel to avert BDS bullying?

Notes:

  1. Rivlin rejects pardon request from Hebron shooter, Times of Israel, November 19th 2017

  2. AFTER AZARIA APPEAL REJECTION, SOCIAL MEDIA RIFE WITH ANTI-RIVLIN INCITEMENT, SHOSHANA KRANISH, JERUSALEM POST, NOVEMBER 20TH 2017

  3. Ibid.

  4. President Rivlin turns down pardon appeal of soldier who shot wounded terrorist, Aryeh Savir, World Israel News, November 20th 2017

  5. Rivlin rejects pardon request from Hebron shooter, Times of Israel, November 19th 2017

  6. NETANYAHU: IT IS TIME TO DEPORT AFRICAN MIGRANTS, YONAH JEREMY BOB, JERUSALEM POST, NOVEMBER 19TH 2017

  7. UN ‘seriously concerned’ by Israeli plan to deport African migrants, Times of Israel, November 18th 2017

  8. NETANYAHU: IT IS TIME TO DEPORT AFRICAN MIGRANTS, YONAH JEREMY BOB, JERUSALEM POST, NOVEMBER 19TH 2017

  9. In Backtrack, Israeli Opposition Party Now Supports Deportation of Asylum Seekers, Chaim Levinson and Jonathan Lis, Haaretz, Nov 20th 2017

  10. Government approves closure of Holot facility within 4 months, Moran Azulay & Amir Alon, Ynetnews, November 19th 2017

  11. Roger Waters accuses Nick Cave of ‘arrogant unconcern’ after Israel gig, David Sedley, Times of Israel, November 20th 2017


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