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An Explosive Reception, BDS Grounded, Ulpan Indonesia

Palestinian PM Survives Assassination Attempt as Convoy Bombed During Gaza Visit

Khaled Abu Toameh, Times of Israel, March 13th 2018


Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah survived an assassination attempt during a visit to Gaza.

The Context:

  • Gaza is under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade since Hamas, a terrorist organization, took over the territory in 2007. Hamas’ recurring conflicts with Israel, Egypt and the PA, the representative body of Palestinians in the West Bank, has devastated Gaza’s economy [1].

  • An agreement to form a PA-Hamas unity government was signed in October but efforts to implement the deal have faltered [2], with the PA accusing Hamas of refusing to handover full control of Gaza and Hamas accusing the PA of failing to lift sanctions.

  • The list of potential suspects include anti-Hamas Jihadist’s seeking to derail the reconciliation as well as allies of Muhammad Dahlan, the exiled Fatah leader and nemesis of PA President Mahmoud Abbas [3]. The PA squared the blame solely on Hamas and warned of grievous consequences. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called Hamdallah and condemned the attack.

  • This week the White House convened a meeting to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The PA refused to attend, citing in protest of President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital [4], calling the summit “an attempt to exploit the humanitarian situation [5].”

  • The United Nations says $540 million is needed in 2018 for humanitarian relief in the Palestinian territories, 75% of which earmarked specifically for Gaza [6].

Conversation Points:

  • Is it a coincidence that the explosion occurred just hours before the White House conference?

  • Does the limited damage indicate that the attack was intended as a message rather than an assassination attempt?

  • Is it conceivable that the PA itself was behind the assassination attempt?

MK Suspended from Knesset for Calling IDF Soldiers 'Murderers'

Shahar Hay, Ynet News, March 14th 2018


The Knesset Ethics Committee suspended Arab Joint List MK Hanin Zoabi for calling IDF soldiers “murderers.”

The Context:

  • The request to ban Zoabi was brought by Likud MK Oren Hazan, who himself was banned from parliamentary activity for six months after intimidating fellow MK’s [7].

  • The Ethics Committee ruled that Knesset Members using provocative language to describe IDF soldiers are unworthy of the broad protections of freedom of political expression extended to MK’s.

  • Zoabi insisted she merely “spoke the truth” and that no committee retains “the right to shut people’s mouths because of opinions they are not comfortable with.” In July 2014, the committee banned Zoabi for six months after she said that the killers of three Israeli teens were not terrorists [8]. Zoabi is still permitted to enter the Knesset to participate in voting.

  • The Ethics Committee also ruled that MK’s are not allowed to travel using funds granted by the anti-Israel boycott movement. Zoabi is scheduled to fly to Ireland using BDS funding [9]. Lawmakers are required to receive Ethics Committee approval for trips that are not funded by the Knesset to ensure there is no conflict of interest. The Israeli government compiled a list of 20 organizations that are not allowed to fund MKs’ flights due to their connections with the boycott movement [10].

Conversation Points:

  • Should the Ethics Committee be permitted to censor MK’s?

  • Would the Ethics Committee have ruled similarly if a Jewish MK called IDF soldier’s terrorists?

Muslim Man Opens First-Ever Hebrew Course in Indonesia

Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, March 13th 2018


A Sunni Muslim man opened the first-ever Hebrew course in Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country with no formal ties to Israel.

The Context:

  • Sapri Sale’s courses are mostly aimed at Christians although Muslims are increasingly interested in the courses.

  • Sale runs two classes in central Jakarta for 20 students with the goal of understanding basic Hebrew at the end of an eight-week course. In Sale’s observation, “many Indonesians base their anti-Israel views solely on their solidarity with the Palestinian people.” The program’s ultimate objective is to “build a bridge of communication between Indonesia and Israel and promote mutual understanding.”

  • Sale recently published a Hebrew-Indonesian dictionary with 35,000 entries. The dictionary is currently used by churches, seminaries, and four Islamic universities.

  • An estimated 200 Jews reside amongst Indonesia’s 255 million people. The population peaked at 3,000 during World War II [11].

Conversation Points:

  • Will Sale’s efforts succeed without a reversal of Indonesia’s position towards Israel?


  1. UN seeks $540 million for Palestinian aid, mostly for Gaza, Washington Post, March 14th 2018

  2. Blast hits Palestinian PM Rami Hamdallah's convoy in Gaza, Al Jazeera, March 13th 2018

  3. Blast Hits Palestinian Prime Minister’s Convoy in Gaza, David Halbfinger, New York Times, March 13th 2018

  4. Palestinian Prime Minister survives assassination attempt in Gaza, PA says, Abeer Salman, Andrew Carey, and Oren Lieberman, CNN, March 13th 2018

  5. Washington meeting on Gaza an exploitation of a humanitarian issue – official, WAFA, March 13th 2018

  6. UN seeks $540 million for Palestinian aid, mostly for Gaza, Washington Post, March 14th 2018

  7. Firebrand Arab MK handed week-long Knesset ban for calling soldiers ‘murderers’, TOI STAFF, March 14th 2018

  8. Ibid.

  9. Committee blocks Arab MKs' BDS-funded flight, Arutz Sheva Staff, March 14th 2018

  10. In First, Israeli Lawmakers Barred From Traveling on BDS Groups’ Dime, Israel Hayom, March 14th 2018

  11. In Muslim Indonesia, tiny Jewish community keeps its head down, Olivia Rondonuwu, Times of Israel, April 27th 2017

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