Tag Archives: Israel

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)

May Day || Global

Global May Day 2016

One of the few truly global holidays, International Workers’ Day (May Day) is both a worldwide celebration of the working classes as well as a day to draw attention to ongoing insecurities workers around the world face. May Day has historically had a twofold purpose: a day for workers to voice their concerns over contentious labor policies and for governments to reaffirm their commitments to workers’ rights and just labor practices. At times little more than public relations campaigns and at others violent clashes between governments and workers, global May Day events have highlighted the diverse relationships between labor, employers, and government around the world. Here are the highlights of May Day 2016 in more than 30 countries:


Asia Pacific

Bike rallies were held in Pune as Indian PM Narendra Modi saluted workers on Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas, a public holiday. Pakistan‘s major labor unions convened in Lahore to speak out against poor working conditions, violations of international labor conventions, and ongoing privatization in the country. As Bangladeshi officials addressed labor relations and welfare reforms amidst a day of union-organized programming, in Kathmandu, Nepali workers marched while awaiting the ratification of the Labour Act, which guarantees greater social security for workers. Across the Indian Ocean, Australian union leader singled out penalty rate protection and tax reform as major Labour Day issues, with the date of the holiday having been a point of contention as well.

Throughout East Asia, workers rallied to draw attention to labor conditions and call for reforms, from ending contractualization in the Philippines to protecting job security in South KoreaHong Kong saw thousands take to the streets to demand fair and standardized working hours along with a universal pension program. In Malaysia, PM Najib Razak took the day to announce an increase in the national minimum wage and an insurance scheme proposal.

Europe & Eurasia

In cities across France, tens of thousands marched in protest against proposed labor reforms that would loosen the country’s controversial employment and job security policies. Jeremy Corbyn became the first U.K. Labour party  leader to attend a May Day rally in a half-century when he spoke to a crowd of thousands in London, reaffirming solidarity against anti-immigrant sentiment and addressing anti-Semitism accusations that have plagued his party recently. Spain saw thousands across its cities gather, many protesting ongoing austerity measures. An estimated 800,000 gathered in Rome‘s San Giovanni Square, with this year’s event dedicated to slain Italian student Giulio Regeni.

Some 2,000 convened in rain-soaked Zagreb to hear labor leaders protest the increased retirement age and ongoing poverty in Croatia. Moscow hosted a mass demonstration in the city’s Red Square estimated in size from the tens of thousands to 100,000, while thousands gathered in Istanbul’s Bakirköy district under a heavy police presence in the wake of urban suicide attacks and ongoing violence across Turkey.

The Americas

From New York to Los Angeles, demonstrations in the U.S. highlighted widening economic inequality in the country and an election season marred by racist, xenophobic, and Islamophobic sentiment. While most protests took place without incident, a peaceful march turned violent in Seattle, leading to five injured officers and nine arrests. A similar outbreak in Montreal led to one injury and 10 arrests.

In Latin America, Brazil‘s embattled president and Workers’ Party leader Dilma Roussef rallied alongside hundreds of thousands across the country as her impeachment proceedings continue and workers fear the inauguration of her center-right vice president. Cuba‘s May Day parade continued the national tradition of expressing support for the Castro regime rather than directly celebrating labor or expressing concerns over labor conditions. In Argentina, President Mauricio Macro backed employers and touted labor proposals that had spurred mass demonstrations only days before. Elsewhere in the region, minimum wage increases were announced in Venezuela and Bolivia and a march took place in Santiago as Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced a review of her labor reforms after the Supreme Court rejected a key provision granting exclusive negotiating rights to unions.

Middle East & Africa

Police in Egypt blocked hundreds of workers from assembling in a Cairo office as labor leaders and international organizations called for the government to decriminalize independent union organization. In Israel, more than 5,000 youth marched in Tel Aviv, while a Palestinian trade union renewed its call for the establishment of a minimum wage and the dismantlement of the Gaza blockade. A government-sponsored event in Dubai reportedly drew nearly 200 workers, though labor practices in the UAE continue to draw international scrutiny.

South of the Sahara, events popped up across South Africa as politicians sought to address the country’s high unemployment rate and appeal to workers ahead of August elections. In Nigeria, President Mohammadu Buhari spoke to thousands of workers in Abuja, touting his anti-corruption campaign. A Mozambique labor leader addressed a crowd in Maputo about the debts of state-owned companies and the need for wage and workplace reform. As the decline of oil prices has created economic hardship throughout Angola, the country’s two labor unions marched to draw attention to deteriorating worker conditions and the need for infrastructure maintenance. Workers in Ghana protested the privatization of the management of the state-owned Electric Company of Ghana, while the government insisted the company was still run by the state. Meanwhile, Ethiopia sidestepped Sunday commemorations altogether by moving May Day to May 3, when labor leaders plan to highlight ongoing struggles to organize Ethiopian workers.

Israel & Palestinian Territories Feature | Palestinian Youth

Palestinian Youth, from Classroom to Jail Cell

Comprising nearly half of those who have attempted or carried out attacks against Israelis since October, Palestinian youth have found themselves imprisoned in increasing numbers as a result of Israel’s two-tier criminal justice system. Since October, the number of imprisoned youth has more than doubled to 430, including 103 under the age of 17. While Palestinian families and human rights advocates have called for rehabilitation over punishment, Israeli authorities have cited the severity of the crimes as cause for the imprisonments, which would be illegal were the youth Israeli. The New York Times investigates recent cases of youth imprisonment, from the impact of the media to the effects youth violence has had on Palestinian families and communities.

Read:
Surge in Palestinian Youths in Prison Tests Israel’s Justice System” (The New York Times)

Additional reading:
Israeli forces detain two Palestinian children over alleged stabbing plans” (Ma’an News Agency, via Al Bawaba)
Leaderless Palestinian Youth, Inspired by Social Media, Drive Rise in Violence in Israel” (The New York Times, October 2015)
Palestinian youth devise a new, personalized approach to the Intifada using social media” (Ma’an News Agency, via Al Bawaba, October 2015)

(Image Credit: Rina Castelnuovo/The New York Times)

Interregional Feature | Holocaust Survivors

Finding Healthcare Justice for Aging Holocaust Survivors

With the youngest among them now in their 70s, Holocaust survivors are facing late-in-life issues compounded by the traumas from the policies of targeted persecution just over seven decades ago. Dementia has returned some to the nightmares of their youth, while social isolation, physical ailments, and other mental health issues stemming from the violence of the period have left many with high care needs as they age.

In the U.S., home to more than 100,000 survivors (most Jewish), politicians have begun calling on the German government to do more for victims, arguing that current caps on assistance leave many survivors struggling. While reparations have expanded since the 1951 establishment of the Claims Conference, questions over who shoulders the burden for late-in-life care have yet to be resolved. The increasing needs that come with aging have reignited debates about Germany’s obligations to those its government systematically disenfranchised, impoverished, and subjected to physical and mental anguish that outlived the liberation of the final concentration camp.

Read:
As Holocaust Becomes More Distant, Survivors’ Needs Intensify“(The New York Times)
Federal grants to assist Holocaust survivors draw praise, concern” (The Sun-Sentinel)
Harrowing story of the Holocaust survivors still fighting for a dignified life 75 years on” (The Daily Mirror)
Romanian Holocaust survivors aging without benefits” (Ynetnews, July 2015)
Holocaust survivors deported from France can now apply for reparations” (The Washington Post, November 2015)
Germany to Pay 772 Million Euros to Survivors” (Der Spiegel, May 2013)

(Image Credit: Kacper Pempel/Reuters, via The New York Times)