Tag Archives: Israel

Israel News | Ethnic & Religious Minorities

Israeli parliament passes law formally establishing country as Jewish nation-state
  • The new basic law codifies a number of ultranationalist principles, including Hebrew as the sole national language, the expansion of Jewish settlement as a national priority, Jewish symbols as national symbols, and a unified Jerusalem as the nation’s capital.
  • Previously, Israel existed formally as a multiethnic democratic state, with Arabic as the second national language and the concerns of Arab Israelis—who comprise a fifth of the population—at least nominally afforded equal weight in matters of national identity and self-determination.
  • While some observers have dismissed the law as largely symbolic, Arab lawmakers and progressive advocates argue it provides the legal ground for segregation and discrimination and reduces ethnic and religious minorities to a second-class citizenship.
Read

Israel Passes Controversial Jewish Nation-state Bill After Stormy Debate” (Haaretz | July 2018)

Israeli Law Declares the Country the ‘Nation-State of the Jewish People’” (The New York Times | July 2018)

Israel passes controversial ‘Jewish nation-state’ law” (Al Jazeera | July 2018)

Israel & Palestinian Territories News | Palestinians

Israeli troops kill dozens, injure more than 2,000 Palestinians as U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem opens
  • More than 50 Palestinian protesters—most unarmed and including children—have been killed and more than 2,200 injured by Israeli forces after tens of thousands of Palestinians arrived at the fence between Gaza and Israel to protest.
  • Multiple nations and international organizations condemned Israel’s use of lethal force as a violation of international law.
  • Nearly 100 have died since the Great March of Return began in late March, when Palestinians initiated demonstrations demanding the right to return to their homeland ahead of the 70th anniversary of their expulsion.
Read

Israel Kills Dozens at Gaza Border as U.S. Embassy Opens in Jerusalem” (The New York Times | May 2018)

Israeli forces kill dozens in Gaza as U.S. Embassy opens in Jerusalem” (Reuters | May 2018)

Gaza clashes: 52 Palestinians killed on deadliest day since 2014” (BBC News | May 2018)

Israel News | African Asylum-seekers

Israel announces deportation plan for tens of thousands of African asylum-seekers
  • Some 40,000 African asylum-seekers—many activists and other dissidents from Sudan and Eritrea—are facing expulsion or imprisonment in Israel, with fewer than 1% of applicants having been granted refugee status.
  • The Israeli government announced that asylum-seekers will have 90 days to accept $3,500 and a plane ticket to a classified third country (speculated to be Rwanda or Uganda) or face incarceration.
  • In response, a network of more than a hundred rabbis called the Anne Frank Home Sanctuary Movement has formed and pledged to protect asylum-seekers from deportation.
Read

Israel to tell African migrants: leave or face indefinite imprisonment” (The Guardian | January 2018)

Mass expulsion under way as Israel begins deporting 40,000 Africans” (Middle East Eye | January 2018)

Inspired by Anne Frank, Rabbis in Israel Plan to Hide African Asylum Seekers Facing Deportation” (Haaretz | January 2018)

Read More

Inside Israel’s Secret Program to Get Rid of African Refugees” (Foreign Policy | June 2017)

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The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants

Israel News | Incarcerated Palestinians

Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli facilities win increased visitation rights following hunger strike
  • Incarcerated Palestinians were granted a second visitation day per month following a 41-day hunger strike in the lead up to Ramadan and the 50th anniversary of Israel’s seizure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
  • Nearly 1,000 protesters took part in the strike, which ended following a deal struck by Israeli prison officials, the Palestinian Authority, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
  • More than 6,000 Palestinians are incarcerated in Israeli prisons for offenses ranging from throwing stones to murder.
Read

Mass Palestinian hunger strike in Israeli jails ends after visitation deal” (The Guardian | May 2017)

Palestinian Prisoners End Hunger Strike in Israel After 40 Days” (The New York Times | May 2017)

Palestinian prisoners end hunger strike, Israel says it met none of their demands” (The Times of Israel | May 2017)

(Image Credit: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters, via The New York Times)

Israel News | Israelis & Palestinians

Israel revokes travel permits for tens of thousands of Palestinians following Tel Aviv killings
  • Four Israelis were killed and six wounded after two Palestinian gunmen opened fire in a Tel Aviv market.
  • In response, the government cancelled entry permits for some 83,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza for three days, revoked work permits for more than 200 of the attackers’ relatives, and increased its security presence in the occupied West Bank.
  • Following a condemnation of the homicides, the U.N. warned Israel that their response could be classified as collective punishment, illegal under the Geneva Conventions.

Read more:
Tel Aviv Terror: What We Know So Far About the Sarona Shooting” (Haaretz)
Palestinian Gunmen Open Fire in Tel Aviv, Leaving Four Dead” (The New York Times)
Palestinians barred from entering Israel after Tel Aviv killings” (The Guardian)
U.N. says Israeli move on Palestinian permits may be collective punishment” (Reuters)

(Image Credit: Tomer Appelbaum/Haaretz)

Israel Feature | Ethiopian Jews

Ethiopian Jews, from Operation Solomon to the Present


Video Credit: AJ+

On May 24, 1991, Israel launched an aerial operation that lifted more than 14,000 Ethiopian Jews (also known as Beta Israel) out of war-ravaged Ethiopia to begin a new life in Israel. Although similar operations (Moses and Joshua) had been carried out before, Operation Solomon, a coordination of Israeli, American, and Ethiopian efforts, was distinctive in its scale. It set the record for the largest number of passengers on a single flight as 1,087 registered Ethiopians boarded a single El Al plane, fleeing the country before an anticipated coup.

Twenty-five years later, the number of Israelis of Ethiopian descent has grown to more than 100,000, including a growing Israel-native generation. Last summer, the community was thrust into the international spotlight after anti-racism protests erupted following police officers’ assault on an Israeli soldier of Ethiopian descent. Discrimination, poverty, and relatively low educational attainment rates have continued to plague many Ethiopian Jews in Israel, but ongoing advocacy is pushing for increased public recognition of the vulnerabilities the community faces and steps to redress inequality.

Read:
On This Day in 1991, IDF Makes a Miracle With ‘Operation Solomon’” (The Jewish Press)
Operation Solomon: Airlifting 14,000 Jews out of Ethiopia” (BBC)
Tracking down the Ethiopian Jews who moved to Israel” (Haaretz)
Ethiopian Jews In Israel: 25 Years Later, A Mixed Report” (The Jewish Week)

Watch:
Operation Solomon to rescue 14,325 Ethiopian Jews (The Jewish Agency for Israel)
Saving the Forgotten Jews (BBC)

Connect:
The Ethiopian National Project
Friends of Ethiopian Jews
The Israel Association of Ethiopian Jews

(Image Credit: Doron Bacher, via Haaretz)

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia

The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia

Commemorating the day when homosexuality was de-pathologized by the World Health Organization in 1990, the 13th-annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia (IDAHOT) stands as an occasion for global mobilization towards LGBT visibility and security. The day, like many global celebrations, is also one many governments choose to speak out on global human rights and minority security, announcing initiatives to support their LGBT citizens and international projects.

Even today, ongoing disagreements between nations over LGBT rights have prompted diplomatic rows and roadblocks to international cooperation, including the recent objection of 51 Muslim countries to the participation of LGBT groups in a U.N. AIDS forum in June. The push to extinguish homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia at all geographic levels remains important to the global mobility of LGBT people worldwide.

Here are highlights from IDAHOT 2016:

Africa & the Middle East


Video Credit: Collectif Arc-en-Ciel

LGBT Nigerians have continued wrestling with conflicting legal messages, with the recent passage of the landmark HIV Anti-Discrimination Act doing little to undo the effects of a 2014 anti-homosexuality law.

While a moratorium on LGBT criminalization is officially in place in Malawi, individuals are subject to entrenched marginalization and stigmatization in healthcare services, with a national referendum on LGBT rights having stalled.

The Gay and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) organized events for IDAHOT in Bulawayo, focusing on mental health as ongoing social and healthcare difficulties plague the community.

Though homosexuality remains criminalized in Tunisia, activists have achieved increased visibility and pushed for legal reform amidst ongoing discrimination.

Israel reaffirmed its commitment to LGBT Israelis, announcing funding to support an emergency shelter for LGBT youth and a hostel for trans people who have recently undergone gender confirmation surgery.

Days before IDAHOT, activists staged a sit-in outside of a Beirut gendarmerie, protesting Lebanon‘s anti-homosexuality legal holdovers from French occupation.  Similarly, the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) issued an appeal to the Lebanese government to decriminalize same-sex relations, arguing for recognition of homosexuality’s presence within the natural variation of human sexuality.

The Americas


Video Credit: teleSUR

U.S. President Barack Obama released a statement of support as his administration lended its voice to a national debate over the bathroom rights of trans people.

In Canada, PM Justin Trudeau announced an anti-discrimination bill protecting trans security as advocates organized a demonstration for trans healthcare rights following the firebombing of a trans health clinic.

Across Latin America, important gains in same-sex partnership and family rights and gender identity healthcare and legal protections have heartened LGBT Latin Americans, but the region continues to have some of the highest reported rates of violence against the LGBT community in the world.

LGBT organizations held cultural and political events throughout Argentina to highlight conditions facing the Argentine LGBT community, call for an anti-discrimination law, and press for federal recognition of the International Day Against Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination, as the day is known.

Cuba celebrated the day fresh off Pride events in Havana, where Mariela Castro, daughter of President Raúl Castro, led a parade of thousands through the city streets.

Asia Pacific


Video Credit: Out for Australia

As the country continues contentious battles including the push for marriage equality and erasure of “gay panic” legal defenses, rainbow flags and celebrations appeared across Australia, including over police stations in Canberra, in the streets of Brisbane, and in the senior-care facilities of Tasmania. In Victoria, officials announced a retreat for Aboriginal gender minorities to be held later in the year.

In China, a study conducted by the U.N. Development Programme, Peking University, and the Beijing LGBT Center, the largest of its kind to date, was released revealing that only 5% of LGBTI Chinese are fully out at school and work, but also showed encouraging levels of acceptance of LGBTI people among China’s youth. The head of Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission expressed support for anti-discrimination legislation at IDAHOT festivities in the city.

In Fiji, former President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau joined festivities at the French Ambassador’s residence to celebrate the island’s LGBTQI community.

Advocates took to op-ed columns in India to confront ongoing transphobia, reflect on gay representation in film, and highlight everyday homophobia in urban life.

A tug-of-war over LGBT rights between Islamic fundamentalists and pro-diversity moderates in Indonesia has led to mixed messages about LGBT security in the nation, spurring anti-discrimination protests.

A recent Human Rights Watch report on anti-LGBT bullying in Japan served as a reminder of the purpose of the day, highlighting rampant anti-LGBT sentiment even as the government has initiated broad efforts to combat bullying in schools.

Europe & Eurasia


Video Credit: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

The divergent prospects for LGBTI people across Europe, from Western Europe’s distinctive commitment to the protection of gender diversity to ongoing persecution in the East, was further confirmed through a UNESCO report highlighting anti-LGBT violence in schools released as global education ministers met in Paris.

Rainbow colors appeared in the shopping district of Cyprus‘s capital as 22 organizations came together to organize events to launch the country’s third Pride Festival, focusing on the need to increase legal recognition of both sexual and gender minorities in the country.

In Gibraltar, organizers canceled event plans in support of action on marriage equality legislation currently under consideration, arguing that holding a rally in front of the Parliament as uncertainty prevails would undermine pressure on MPs.

Kosovo‘s first Pride march brought out hundreds from the LGBT community to Pristina, including the U.S. and U.K. ambassadors.

Organizations in Luxembourg planned a silent march to call attention to the plight of LGBTI individuals worldwide and call for increased international protections (including asylum).

Organizers in Serbia took the day to announce the date of this year’s Pride parade (September 18) and address concerns of homophobia as right-wing parliamentary representation has increased.

Advocates, allies, and diplomats gathered around the rainbow flag raised at the US Embassy in Latvia.

On the island of Gozo in Malta, NGO leaders celebrated gender diversity in the country.

After advocates scrapped plans for IDAHOT activities in Georgia due to security concerns, a group of activists were arrested for painting pro-LGBT graffiti on administrative buildings. A “Family Day” protest against LGBT rights and visibility, the third such anti-LGBT demonstration, brought together members of Georgia’s conservative Orthodox community and international religious groups.

In the U.K., London’s new mayor promised to make the city a more just place for its LGBT residents as a rainbow flag flew over the Mayor’s Office.

(Image Credit: EPA, via The Straits Times)