RSS-Update: Challenge - A Magazine covering the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict CHALLENGE is a leftist magazine focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within a global context. Published in Tel Aviv, it features political analysis, investigative reporting, interviews, eye-witness reports, gender studies, arts, and more. Its editorial staff includes Jews and Arabs. en Sat, 04 Mar 2017 00:00:00 +0200 Sat, 04 Mar 2017 00:00:00 +0200 s.CMS 2017 CHALLENGE, Tel Aviv Comptroller's report on the last Gaza war: More is hidden than revealed With the words "There is no clear policy toward Gaza," the Israeli State Comptroller summed up his criticisms against the Netanyahu government in a recent report on Operation Protective Edge. This claim is baseless. The humanitarian disaster in Gaza testifies to a very well-calculated policy, which is played out daily. The strategy guiding the Netanyahu government is to prevent at all costs the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank. The way to reach this sacred goal is to preserve the split between Fatah and Hamas. Operation Protective Edge, which began in July 2014, was the result of a clear policy to thwart the unity government that Fatah and Hamas had recently established. Yacov Ben Efrat Sat, 04 Mar 2017 00:00:00 +0200 The law to legalize settlements: Inching toward a one-state solution On Feb. 6, 2017, Israel's Knesset enacted the “Legalization Law,” dubbed by its opponents the "Theft Law." The vote was 60 to 52. The law "legalizes" housing units built by settlers on private Palestinian land. This was after enforcement of a High Court decision to raze homes built on such land in the Amona outpost (and some in the settlement of Ofra are slated for similar treatment). The decision could affect more than 2000 settler homes built—say settler leaders—accidentally on private land. Yacov Ben Efrat Sat, 11 Feb 2017 00:00:00 +0200 Stuck with Bibi, stuck with Occupation “There will be nothing because there is nothing.” That is Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s response to the ongoing investigations against him. Well, there will be something because there is something. Gifts received by Bibi Netanyahu and his family were “given” because he demanded them. In addition, the corrupt deal initiated by Netanyahu with [i]Yediot Aharonot’s[/i] publisher, Arnon “Noni” Mozes (“you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”) is not kosher. But it is doubtful whether there’s enough in the two investigations to topple Netanyahu. Bibi has a firewall not because he lacks opponents (actually there are many within and outside of his party, and the media are not letting him off the hook), but because his opponents see no credible alternative to his rule. Also, his government is stable, the economy is doing well, and security tensions are bearable; as a result, Netanyahu is not getting flack from his base. Yacov Ben Efrat Sat, 14 Jan 2017 00:00:00 +0200 The fate of Syria will be decided in Astana On Friday, a "diplomatic assault" occurred when the United States abstained rather than veto a UN Security Council Resolution on the Israel/Palestine question. This resolution says that settlement activity constitutes a "flagrant violation" of international law and has "no legal validity." Netanyahu was quick to accuse Obama of coordinating moves with the Palestinians. He slammed the Security Council, charging hypocrisy in light of the UN’s utter helplessness to end the genocide in Syria and South Sudan. Netanyahu is right. The settlement enterprise and the Israeli occupation are overshadowed by the terrible events perpetrated in Syria by Assad, Iran and Russia. But Netanyahu’s hypocrisy was exposed. In the Israeli daily [i]Yediot Ahronot[/i] (December 27, 2016), Ronen Bergman reported that Israel was absent from the UN General Assembly vote on a resolution calling for the establishment of an international mechanism for collecting evidence of war crimes in Syria. It was Netanyahu who gave the order to skip the vote despite the recommendation of the Israel Foreign Ministry to favor it, saying it was a moral issue of the first order. Yacov Ben Efrat Fri, 30 Dec 2016 00:00:00 +0200 Aleppo Falls, Syria Weeps The fall of Aleppo is viewed in Israel as a great victory for Bashar Assad, and as the first step towards the resumption of his control over Syria. Idlib, still in rebel hands, is next in line. After Idlib is pounded to smithereens, Russian and Syrian aircraft and the Shiite militias will head south to restore order to the part of the Golan Heights that Bashar used to hold. Then the Redeemer will come to Zion. But if you take a closer look at how Aleppo fell, it is not clear that Assad is indeed on his way to regain control over Syria. On the contrary, at center stage in the unfolding picture are Putin, Khamenei, Nasrallah, Erdogan and Netanyahu, while Assad has been shunted to the background. The powers determining the future of Aleppo in particular, and of Syria in general, are the Russians and the Iranians. Assad legitimized their intervention along with that of various militias operating on their behalf. Yacov Ben Efrat Sun, 18 Dec 2016 00:00:00 +0200 The new axis of evil: Trump, Putin, Netanyahu The extreme right-wingers raised their arms in the traditional Nazi salute, chanting "Heil Trump!" The Tea Party recorded a historic achievement, but this was not only a triumph for the American right-wing. Benjamin Netanyahu and his extreme right-wing allies in Israel were also celebrating. On that fateful Tuesday, the Kremlin was biting its nails in anticipation of a Trump victory. Putin openly welcomed the prospect of Donald Trump in the White House. Yacov Ben Efrat Mon, 28 Nov 2016 00:00:00 +0200 Trump and the white minority's revenge Four months ago, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore forecast the victory of Donald Trump. He listed five main reasons to explain why Trump would win, and all of them have come true, one by one. Yacov Ben Efrat Fri, 11 Nov 2016 00:00:00 +0200 An empty chair at Peres' funeral As expected, when the Joint List of four Arab-dominated parties boycotted the funeral of Shimon Peres, the result was fanfare and headlines. Opinions about this conspicuous absence are divided in both the Arab and Jewish sectors. The arguments miss the real question, though: What is the political significance of this boycott? What did Ayman Odeh (head of the Joint List) hope to achieve? Peres had critics among both Arabs and Jews, from Likud supporters to some on the Left. There is little doubt that Odeh’s action increases the separation between Jews and Arabs. It is a gap that has already been widened by politicians on all sides: Netanyahu and Miri Regev excel at cultivating it, but Yair Lapid and Isaac Herzog have also been known to do so. Yacov Ben Efrat Sun, 09 Oct 2016 00:00:00 +0200 Between Guernica and Aleppo For more than a week, Syrian and Russian aircraft have bombarded and terrorized the city of Aleppo, killing men, women and children. Assad ordered an aerial and infantry assault to win the war. Ground troops composed of Iraqi militiamen, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah, Assad's militias, and Russian elite units besieged the city. In the last week, more than 200 people died in Aleppo, and over 2000 were injured. They are being treated by 30 doctors who chose to stay in the city. Hospitals, water pumps and rescue centers were mercilessly bombed by bunker busters and barrel bombs to bring about the final surrender of the city's 250,000 residents. Led by Assad, who championed the slogan "Assad, or the country burns", the war now has claimed half a million dead. Yacov Ben Efrat Fri, 30 Sep 2016 00:00:00 +0300 On Netanyahu, Trump, Putin, and Other Delusional People Following Netanyahu's Facebook video on September 9th, in which he dubbed as ethnic cleansing any attempt to remove Israeli settlements from the West Bank, he received thousands of likes and much commentary in the media. Pundits tried to guess what had motivated Netanyahu to make a video so surreal and irrational, in which he lashed out against the whole world, a world that opposes the occupation and settlements and views them as a crime against humanity. The problem is that the commentators and journalists are unable to ask the person elected by the public what motivated him. Netanyahu recently invited some of them to closed, private meetings, “briefed" them, but refused to answers questions or give interviews. On the other hand he acts as if he’s an ordinary citizen who shares his thoughts on social media, as implied at the end of the video - "It’s about time someone said it. I just did." Yacov Ben Efrat Sat, 17 Sep 2016 00:00:00 +0300