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Nakba Day, Eurovision, Vegan Fest


Nakba Day: Palestinians Mark 71st Anniversary of 'Catastrophe'

Al Jazeera, May 15th 2019

Recap:

This week, Palestinians marked the 71st anniversary of Nakba Day with demonstrations across the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians maintain these territories are integral to their future state.

The Context:

  • In 1947 Palestinians rejected an offer for statehood in the West Bank, Gaza & parts of modern-day Israel and, alongside its Arab neighbors, initiated a war to destroy the nascent Jewish state. Palestinians commemorate Nakba, or catastrophe, to remember Palestinians who were expelled from Israel during the war. Since 1947, numerous proposals for Palestinian statehood have been offered by Israel, each being rejected by the Palestinian leadership.

  • Palestinians marked the Nakba by marching to the grave of the Yasser Arafat in Ramallah [1]. In Israel, demonstrations are held annually on Independence Day at vacated Palestinian villages [2]. Amnesty International rebuked Israel for “its failure to respect the right to return for Palestinians who were forced to flee their homes in 1948 [3].”

  • 62 Palestinians were killed during last year’s Nakba protests. 53 were later claimed to be members of terror groups [4]. Recent weeks have seen skyrocketing tensions in Gaza, following a massive two-day flare-up earlier this month between Israel and terror groups in the strip. Terrorists fired nearly 700 projectiles at Israel, killing four people. The military struck back, hitting over 300 terrorist targets.

Recap:

  • Will Palestinians accept statehood in the West Bank or Gaza as long a Jewish state exists alongside it?

  • Was Israel in the wrong for expelling a hostile population during a defensive war? Is Israel responsible for offering a right of return to that population at war’s end?

  • Would Israeli-Palestinian hostilities cease if Palestinians had a state of their own?

Eurovision Arrives in Tel Aviv, in Range of Rockets and the Focus of Protests

Isabel Kershner, The New York Times, May 14th 2019

Recap:

The Eurovision Song Contest, an international pop music festival with one of the largest television audiences in the world, arrived in Tel Aviv this week.

The Context:

  • Israel won the right to host the event following Netta Barzilai’s victory in last year’s contest. The 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest features participants from 41 countries [5].

  • Dozens of European artists, led by former Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters, signed a letter calling for the contest to be moved to another country though the boycott movement failed to persuade any of the 41 nations to quit the competition [6]. Pop star Madonna, who will perform at Eurovision, rejected boycott calls, saying she will "never stop playing music to suit someone's political agenda [7]."

  • The Tel Aviv Hotel Association said the contest attracted 5,000 foreign visitors, far fewer than the 15,000 expected. Portugal claimed last year’s contest in Lisbon drew 90,000 people [8].

Conversation Points:

  • Is Eurovision an opportunity for Israel to rebrand itself as a tourist destination rather than a country defined by its conflict with the Palestinians?

  • Did boycotters succeed in drawing international attention to topics that Israel hoped to avoid?

  • What explains the fewer number of visitors to this year’s Eurovision contest?

Tel Aviv to Host World's Largest Vegan Food Festival

Jerusalem Post, May 14th 2019

Recap:

Vegan Fest will take place at Tel Aviv's Sarona complex in early June. The Independent crowned Tel Aviv the “vegan capital of the world” in 2017 [9].

The Context:

  • Tel Aviv has 400 restaurants that are either vegan or vegan friendly.

  • Over 50,000 people are expected to attend the festival which includes 37 stalls and 26 local restaurants. Live music, cooking workshops, and a children’s area will also be featured. Vegan Fest is the largest festival of its kind in the world.

  • Northern Israel is home to a vegan village called Amirim. Founded in 1958 by a small group of those pursuing a healthy lifestyle, Amirim is a vegetarian and vegan village of more than 800 residents [10].

  • Israeli politician and vegan Miki Haimovich helped bring the Meatless Monday movement to Israel and recently requested that her leather seat in the Knesset be replaced with one that is made with animal-free materials [11].

Conversation Points:

  • Many Israeli staples, like falafel and hummus, are vegetarian. Does that help explain why Israel is the largest vegan nation per capita in the world?

Notes:

  1. Arabs preparing for Nakba Day, Dalit Halevi, Israel National News, May 13th 2019.

  2. Thousands of Arab Israelis March on Empty Palestinian Village to Commemorate Nakba, Jack Khoury, Haaretz, May 9th 2019

  3. On Nakba Day, Amnesty International slams Israel’s refusal to allow Palestinian return Middle East Monitor, May 15th 2019

  4. Israeli military readies for potential violence during Nakba Day and Eurovision, Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, May 14th 2019

  5. Contestants from 41 countries stroll down orange carpet, as Eurovision kicks off, Times of Israel, May 12th 2019

  6. Nakba Day: Palestinians mark 71st anniversary of 'catastrophe', Al Jazeera, May 15th 2019

  7. Madonna rebuffs Israel Eurovision boycott calls, Fox News, May 15th 2019

  8. Contestants from 41 countries stroll down orange carpet, as Eurovision kicks off, Times of Israel, May 12th 2019

  9. Tel Aviv To Host World’s Largest Vegan Food Festival Next, NoCamels, May 13th 2019

  10. ISRAEL HAS A VEGAN VILLAGE OF 800 RESIDENTS, Kat Smith, LiveKindly, April 27th 2019

  11. VEGAN MEMBER OF ISRAELI GOVERNMENT ASKS FOR LEATHER-FREE CHAIRS, NICOLE AXWORTHY, Vegnews.com, MAY 3rd 2019