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Bringing Down the House, King Bibi, Enabled


International Agencies Call Israeli Demolition of Palestinian Homes Illegal

Ruth Eglash, Washington Post, July 22nd 2019

Recap:

Israel drew sharp international criticism after it demolished residential buildings in an East Jerusalem neighborhood. The area is under Palestinian Authority (PA) control although the construction violates an Israeli ban on building within 250 meters of its security barrier.

The Context:

  • Ten unfinished buildings [1] were deemed a security risk because of their proximity to Israel’s barrier which separates Israel and the West Bank. Israel credits the wall with stemming Palestinian suicide bombings that originated from the area in the 2000’s [2].

  • Wadi al-Hummus received building permits from the PA’s Planning Ministry even though the Israeli Supreme Court ruled against it on the basis that the structures provide cover for potential attackers. Monday’s demolition capped a seven-year legal battle with Israeli authorities [3].

  • France, Jordan, Qatar, and the UN condemned Israel’s move [4] and a statement from the European Union said Israel’s actions “undermine the viability of a two-state solution.” Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan responded that Israel has the right to stop “illegal construction [when it] presents a security threat that can provide cover to terrorists hiding among the civilian population [5].”

  • Palestinians view East Jerusalem and the West Bank as integral parts of a future Palestinian state and perceive any Israeli activity in the area as a land grab [6]. Israel conquered East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and the Sinai following a war with its neighboring Arab states in 1967. Prior to 1967, the areas were under Jordanian, Syrian and Egyptian control. A national Palestinian state has never existed in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Conversation Points:

  • Are Israel’s security concerns founded?

  • What are the complexities caused by the absence of internationally recognized boundaries and competing authorities?

  • What is the viability of a two-state solution in today’s climate?

  • What is the likelihood of a two-state solution today?

Benjamin Netanyahu Becomes Longest-Serving Israeli PM

The Guardian, July 20th 2019

Recap:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has become Israel‘s longest-serving prime minister, overtaking the title from the country’s founding father and first leader, David Ben-Gurion.

The Context:

  • Netanyahu has spent more than 13 years in office. His legion of supporters point to effective management of a small country in a volatile region, a series of diplomatic breakthroughs and the country’s growing economy. Netanyahu’s critics say he has demonized political opponents and Israel’s Arab minority by embracing populism and has too often put his personal ambitions above the long-term good of the country [7].

  • Netanyahu became Israel’s youngest prime minister in 1996, running on a platform against flailing peace attempts, especially the Oslo accords. He later served as finance minister before retaking the helm as PM [8].

  • Netanyahu famously confronted President Barack Obama and his nuclear deal with Iran in a brazen 2015 speech to Congress but has since enjoyed unprecedented support following President Donald Trump's election in 2016. His efforts to overturn the Iranian nuclear accord were ultimately successful. Trump congratulated Netanyahu this week saying under his leadership “Israel has become a technology powerhouse and a world class economy with a commitment to the values of democracy [9].”

  • Despite passing the historic milestone, Netanyahu is fighting for his political future. One month after appearing to win the latest elections, he failed to form a coalition government. Fresh polls are set for September, the first time the country has held two elections in one year. Netanyahu also faces three sets of corruption charges.

Conversation Points:

  • Did Netanyahu debunk conventional wisdom that an Israeli leader could not survive an open clash with an American president?

  • Why are Trump and Netanyahu getting along better than Obama and Netanyahu?

  • Has Netanyahu managed to convince many Israeli voters that he is irreplaceable?

Israel To Arm Students on Autism Spectrum with Cybersecurity Skills

Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel, July 22nd 2019

Recap:

A cybersecurity training course for people with disabilities intends to expand the pool of talent in cybersecurity.

The Context:

  • Autism is a neurological and developmental disorder that can produce a broad range of problems with social interaction, language, cognitive or emotional abilities and behavior. The proportion of Israeli children diagnosed with autism jumped 169% in the past decade. In 2018, one out of every 78 children was diagnosed as autistic, compared to one out of 210 in 2007 [10].

  • The first cohort are aged 21 and older and have varying degrees of autism. Students will receive mentorship from employees at companies including IBM and Facebook [11]. The training program will last about two months and include 250 hours of theoretical and practical training. Graduates can intern at sponsoring firms with a potential path to employment.

Conversation Points

  • Why are the societal contributions of this program so strong?

Notes:

  1. Israel Begins Tearing Down Palestinian Housing on Edge of East Jerusalem, Isabel Kershner, New York Times, July 22nd 2019

  2. Israel demolishes Palestinian homes near separation wall, Al Jazeera, July 22nd 2019

  3. Ibid.

  4. Bahrain, Jordan, France among those condemning Jerusalem area demolitions, Times of Israel, July 22nd 2019

  5. Israel Begins Tearing Down Palestinian Housing on Edge of East Jerusalem, Isabel Kershner, New York Times, July 22nd 2019

  6. Ibid.

  7. Trump congratulates Netanyahu for becoming Israel’s longest-serving PM, Times of Israel, July 22nd 2019

  8. Netanyahu makes history as Israel's longest-serving leader, ARON HELLER, ASSOCIATED PRESS, July 17th 2019

  9. Trump congratulates Netanyahu for becoming Israel’s longest-serving PM, Times of Israel, July 22nd 2019

  10. Autism Diagnoses in Israel Jump 169 Percent in Past Decade, Ido Efrati, Haaretz, July 22nd 2019

  11. Israel Launches Cybersecurity Program for Students with Special Needs, Calcalistech, July 19th 2019


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