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Sindyanna of Galilee

Basketry at Sindyanna

Address

P.O.B. 35252
Tel Aviv 61351
Israel

Visiting Address

Rehov Ha-Aliyah 43
Second Floor

phone +972-3-537-3268
fax +972-3-537-3269

Links

Workers' Advice Center
Sindyanna of Galilee
Etgar: our sister-publication in Hebrew
Al-Sabar: our sister-publication in Arabic
Video48: a documentary-film group

CHALLENGE is indexed by the Alternative Press Index.

Palestinian workers in Israeli settlements

Contending with a regime of work permits and limited rights

Assaf Adiv

Scarlet Johansson did not intend to, but when the Hollywood actress represented SodaStream, an Israeli company operating in the occupied territories, and claimed that the Palestinian workers receive the same full rights as their Israeli counterparts, she raised an international media storm. Responding to criticism that the plant’s location in occupied territory violates international law, SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum claimed, “We are very proud of our plant in Mishor Adumim. It must be understood, the plant employs both Israelis and Palestinians. All workers have equal rights. We call this an ‘island of peace’” (from Israel Hayom, 3 Feb. 2014). more...

online 07.02.14

The boycott: To what end?

by Yacov Ben Efrat

U

ntil 2008 the boycott against Israel, known also as the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), was a marginal phenomenon. It began on July 9, 2005 when 171 Palestinian NGOs called for a boycott at an economic and cultural level. Over time, the initiative spread beyond the Occupied Territories to the wider world. But the Palestinian Authority (PA), which maintains diplomatic, security and economic ties with Israel, refused to express support (and refuses until now). The world’s governments likewise withheld support. Here and there, a famous singer or actor cancelled a gig in Israel, and demonstrations were held abroad when Israelis performed there, but these did not have an impact on public opinion in Israel, or on its government, which regularly accused the boycotters of anti-Semitism.

more...

online 23.12.13

Syria: A fractured opposition and American responsibility

by Yacov Ben Efrat

O

ne week ago, four key activists at the human rights center in Duma were abducted. Duma is located in the suburbs of Damascus, an area under the control of the militant group “Army of Islam”, headed by Zahran 'Alush. Among the kidnapped is Razaan Zeituna - a central figure in the civil opposition movement, a lawyer who defends prisoners sentenced in Assad courts.

more...

online 22.12.13

What it means to be jobless as an Arab woman in Israel

by Michal Schwartz

T

he data of the Central Bureau of Statistics indicate enormous wage gaps between men and women, as well as between Jews and Arabs. These have made headlines and caused urgent debates at the Knesset Finance Committee. Not that the gaps are surprising, but the publicity has embarrassed Israel both in its own eyes and in front of the OECD, revealing its Achilles’ heel: the larger the gaps, the more the weak sectors of the population drag the country down, and the more likely is Israel to find itself exiled from the club of the developed nations. That has been the gist of the talk in Israel’s corridors of power.

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online 12.11.13

Equality for Israel's Arab citizens? Don't hold your breath!

by Assaf Adiv

T

he Prime Minister’s Conference on Minorities, held on Oct. 29, 2013, was entitled “Growth in Partnership.” PM Binyamin Netanyahu and senior ministers took part, including the “brothers in arms” Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, as well as Education Minister Shay Piron and Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug. The speakers gave stirring speeches full of promises to boost the political and economic integration of Israel’s Arab citizens, and to dismantle barriers to enable the full business potential of the Arab sector to be used. Higher education was emphasized along with employment, real estate, and fields in which government incentives could encourage economic growth in the Arab sector.

more...

online 20.09.13

Syria: The moral imperative

by Assaf Adiv

S

ome left-wing spokespersons look to Syria and see Vietnam. They are terribly wrong. The moral and historic duty of any progressive person is to stand by the Syrian people's struggle for freedom and help them topple the genocidal Assad regime

more...

online 13.09.13

Obama hamstrung but Assad will fall

by Yacov Ben Efrat

A

ddressing the nation on September 10, Obama reiterated and defended the justice of his decision to attack Syria and at the same time backed away to give Russia a chance to relieve Assad’s regime of its chemical weapons. On the same day, the New York Times published an item on the US which sheds light on the president’s inability to convince his nation of the justice of his path.

more...

online 30.08.13

Assad must go

by Yacov Ben Efrat

T

he smoking gun, about which so much has been said over the past year, has finally appeared. The corpses of babies, scattered on the ground, left nobody indifferent. There were no signs of blood; their death was silent and cruel. The images also left no doubt as to who is responsible for the slaughter, and the use of the deadly gas. Assad's regime has been massacring its own people for over two years using conventional weapons, planes and Scud missiles. The civil war in Syria has already taken a toll of over one hundred thousand fatalities, hundreds of thousands of refugees and people displaced within their country, and two million ruined homes. This regime, as we have seen, will do anything to prolong its reign, including the use of chemical weapons, banned from use by all international conventions.

more...

online 22.07.13

Abu Mazen’s failed gamble

by Yacov Ben Efrat

O

n July 19, 2013, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced the resumption of talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The announcement did not come from Jerusalem or Ramallah, but from the Jordanian capital Amman, which has become the US State Department’s front line in the region. In the present tour, Kerry did not meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, because it was clear to all that Netanyahu was not the one who must make the decision. The ball was in the court of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen); he’s the one being asked to accept Israel’s familiar terms – talks with no preconditions, or in other words, talks for the sake of talks, as has been the norm since the Oslo Accords were signed.

more...

online 13.07.13

Egypt has lost its way

by Yacov Ben Efrat

T

he Egyptian revolution of 2011 was a rare opportunity to drive the country towards the future by creating a democratic regime which would enable Egyptians to develop a political awareness. The Muslim Brotherhood is incapable of turning Egypt into a modern state, because its religious outlook directly opposes cultural and scientific freedom, while the oppression of women prevents Egypt from shaking off backwardness and social introversion. But this is no reason to support the generals and the military coup. The only way of contending with these issues is via democratic elections.

more...

online 11.06.13

The Turkish spring is shuffling the deck

by Yacov Ben Efrat

I

stanbul, and with it all the major Turkish cities, has risen against what is regarded as the dictatorship of the Justice and Development Party, led by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In our consciousness, Taksim and Tahrir squares have merged, Habib Borgeiva Boulevard has become one with Al-Abasain square in Damascus, and it seems that we are witnessing yet another event of the sort we have seen since the beginning of the Arab Spring in 2011. This resemblance derives not only from the nonviolent nature of the Turkish rallies and demonstrations, but also from the fact that their initiators are young, middle class men and women, who used social media to mobilize and publicize their activism, steering away from the traditional political parties and the self-censoring mainstream media.

more...

online 12.05.13

Israel, Assad, and the world

by Yacov Ben Efrat

A

t the outbreak of the revolution in Syria two years ago, the Israeli government announced that events there were none of its business and it would not interfere. Forty years of quiet on the Golan Heights had led Israel to prefer Assad over any conceivable replacement. Now, however, when the rebels rule wide areas, when the Syrian army is falling apart, and when the regime's survival is in the balance, Israeli policy appears to have shifted from passivity to active intervention.

more...

online 01.05.13

Lapid’s war against the workers

by Yacov Ben Efrat

Y

air Lapid had hardly settled into his Knesset seat before the Finance Ministry declared war on the ultra-Orthodox, on the Histadrut, on the monopolies – in short, a world war. What the father Tommy began with Netanyahu in 2003, the well-disciplined son is completing ten years later, fulfilling his father’s directives. Tommy Lapid has passed away, but Netanyahu has received renewed strength to continue the process he began as finance minister in Ariel Sharon’s government. Netanyahu paid a heavy price when he lost the general elections to Ehud Olmert, but a man like Bibi doesn’t despair – especially when another Lapid arrives to restore his self-confidence.

more...

online 30.03.13

Obama’s Turkish Delight

by Yacov Ben Efrat

T

hroughout Obama’s three day visit, we couldn’t understand what the hell he came for. What brings an American president to Israel just two days after a new government is formed, while in the US a fateful debate is raging over the budget and economic policy? For three days we searched for the afikoman Obama had hidden, with no success. But just a few seconds after Obama boarded Air Force One to Jordan, the announcement went out: Netanyahu had spoken with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and apologized. The strategic relations between Israel and Turkey were renewed with Obama’s mediation, and the US president chalked up a gigantic strategic achievement.

more...

online 04.03.13

When will this become an Intifada?

by Yacov Ben Efrat

T

he history of Palestinian political prisoners is replete with struggles that have claimed many victims but that have always had two characteristics: first, they expressed a collective decision, and second, their demands were focused on improving prison conditions. In these respects, the series of hunger strikes beginning in 2012 with Khader Adnan (66 days), a series which has since included others and is now continuing dangerously with Samer Issawi (more than 200 days) is exceptional. Each strike is the consequence of a private decision, and its purpose is to force Israel to liberate the striker.

more...

online 17.02.13

What’s left on the Palestinian side of the Separation Barrier?

by Yacov Ben Efrat

I

n March, after Bibi Netanyahu forms Israel’s new government, U.S. President Barack Obama intends to arrive for a first historic visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Obama wants to talk with the Israeli people, but has nothing of note to tell them. First on the American president’s crowded agenda will be Iran, and then Syria. Last will be the Palestinian issue, concerning which he has no new initiative.

more...

online 17.02.13

Daam Challenges the Arab Voters

by Assaf Adiv

W

hen it comes to the elections among the Arab voters, it seems that reality has stood still: as if we are not in the midst of the Arab spring, as if hundreds of citizens are not being slaughtered in Syria daily. Thus, the vast majority of the Arab voters voted for the same three traditional Arab parties: The Islamic – Tibi Bloc, The National Progressive Tajamu and the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (DFPE, also known as Hadash).

more...

online 10.02.13

US prepares Oslo-style agreement for Syria

by Yacov Ben Efrat

S

heikh Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib’s declaration that he is ready to talk to the Assad regime came like a bolt out of the blue. A few days before he travelled to the Munich Security Conference, the Syrian National Coalition leader wrote on his personal Facebook page that talks would be dependent on the release of 160,000 political detainees and the return of passports belonging to opposition members who have been unable to enter their home country. On the same day, the Syrian National Council, which had been the main Syrian opposition until the National Coalition was formed, declared that the leader’s statement did not represent the views of the opposition.

more...

online 17.01.13

Vote!

by Yacov Ben Efrat

O

n January 15, Israel’s leading liberal newspaper Haaretz printed an unusual opinion piece. Unusual not just because it was printed in two languages, Hebrew and Arabic, which in itself was extraordinary – but also because of the content. The newspaper is doing some soul-searching born of deep despair, because for the first time in Israel’s history the election results are known to all before voting has even begun. The merger of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud with Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu has left the opposition powerless. The picture looks even grimmer in the light of the increasing strength of Habayit Hayehudi, headed by Naftali Bennett, and the disintegration of the center-left into four parties: Kadima, Hatnuah, Yesh Atid and Labor.

more...

online 11.01.13

A new left arrives in Israel

by Shany Littman

A

sma Agbarieh-Zahalka is ecstatic. For the first time she sees clearly that the way to the Knesset in Jerusalem is shorter than ever. She is convinced that this time the Daam Workers Party, which she chairs, will cross the threshold, despite the fact that tens of thousands of votes stand between success and the 2645 votes received by the party in the 2009 elections. In an interview I conducted with her before the last elections four years ago, she seemed more introverted, more serious, working diligently yet without hope. But something has changed in four years, something that even she never envisioned would happen so quickly, although she had been waiting impatiently.

more...

online 23.12.12

Riding the wave to the Knesset: The Daam campaign

by Yacov Ben Efrat

O

ne might think that these elections are meaningless. The results are ostensibly known in advance, like a repeat broadcast of a soccer match. There’s a feeling of defeatism in the air, and people relate to the rightwing as they might to the weather: one can talk about it, but it can’t be changed. It’s hard to believe that just a year and half ago, summer 2011, citizens occupied the streets, new ideas blossomed, politicians appeared despicable and defeated, and Tel Aviv’s youth burst out of their indifference and made their opinions known, without giving a damn for the opinions of the “adults” who had disappointed them so.

more...

online 16.12.12

Asma and Naftali
Agbarieh and Bennett run for the Knesset

by Igal Sarna

F

rom Yedioth Aharonot, Weekend supplement, December 14, 2012

more...

online 29.11.12

November 29 at the UN: A warning to Israeli society

by Yacov Ben Efrat

O

n November 29, the UN will recognize a Palestinian state for the second time. Once again this will be recognition on paper alone – a forlorn effort to bring an end to this tragedy. In light of the results of the Likud primaries (the internal party vote which determines the ranking of party leaders in the Knesset list), and in light of polls predicting greater support for the rightwing bloc, this recognition is unlikely to have much effect on the ground. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza will not be dancing Dabke (Palestinian folk dance) in celebration, and they don’t expect much from President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), whose status has plummeted.

more...

online 18.11.12

Netanyahu and Haniyeh: The common denominator

by Yacov Ben Efrat

W

hat do the top leaders of Israel and Hamas have in common? They share the same enemy: PA President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). Abbas embodies all that Ismail Haniyeh despises: secularism and compromise with Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu, for his part, hates Abbas because his moderation threatens Israel's control of the West Bank. Abbas wants to achieve peace with Israel on the basis of the 1967 lines, including dismantlement of the settlements. He threatens Netanyahu's political future, for in paying the price of peace, the Israeli PM would have to part from his extremist right-wing allies, as well as the Land of the Patriarchs.

more...

online 07.11.12

The Rothschild protest: Israel's "1905 revolution"

by Assaf Adiv

O

n Asher Schechter's Rothschild – A Chronicle of Protest (Hebrew), Published by Kav Adom – HaKibbutz HaMeuhad, 2012, 309 p.

more...

online 30.10.12

The Bibi-Lieberman Bombshell

by Yacov Ben Efrat

B

inyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu's call for early elections initially evoked an instinctive response: Who needs this? The result of normal elections, scheduled for next fall, was predictable: Bibi could look forward to another four years as Prime Minister. He had split the Labor Party and pulverized his main rival, Kadima, dispersing its 29 mandates in all directions, with the result that no one on the political horizon could even come close to posing a threat. Nevertheless, elections are always a step into the unknown. Before Bibi's announcement, his predecessor as PM, Ehud Olmert—who had been ousted because of corruption charges—won a court victory and was able to contemplate a return to political life. There was also action from Haim Ramon, who had been forced into early political retirement because of an illicit kiss. Ramon is working to return Zipi Livni to the arena and unite forces with Olmert. Ramon's close friend, Aryeh Deri of the Sephardic religious party Shas, is returning to politics after ten years, two of which he spent in prison for bribery. This pool of old-time sharks was enough to scare Netanyahu.

more...

online 09.09.12

Time to dump the Oslo Accords

by Yacov Ben Efrat

I

n a recent TV appearance, Yossi Beilin voiced his hope that the Palestinians will carry out their threat to annul the Oslo Accords, which he helped design. Annulment would spell the end of the Palestinian Authority (PA), throwing direct responsibility for the residents of the Occupied Territories upon the shoulders of Israel.

more...

online 21.09.12

Bad movie blues

by Yacov Ben Efrat

T

he Arab world hates America. Nobody denies this fact, but it’s not just the Arabs. The Iranians hate America, the Russians can’t stand America, and even Benjamin Netanyahu loathes America. Hatred for America is not unique to Arab genes – it is trans-cultural and trans-ethnic. However, the world also admires America to the same extent that it hates it, because America is an economic and military power. What is more, Hollywood has caused us to identify with America's heroes – and as we well know, cinema has a hypnotic influence on the psychology of the masses.

more...

online 15.09.12

The hot Palestinian summer

by Yacov Ben Efrat

W

e can relax: the disturbances in the Occupied Territories appear to have subsided, and the would-be third Intifada may have skipped over 2012 as it did over 2011. Back then it was supposed to break out after Abu Mazen vainly sought a Palestinian state at the UN Security Council. Israeli intelligence missed the mark in 2011 and misled others. This year, when all its analysts were worrying about how to get through the Jewish holidays in peace and quiet, they completely missed what was about to happen in the Palestinian territories. The protest broke out in reaction against a hike in petrol prices, derived from a similar price hike by the Israeli government, which seeks to reduce its budgetary deficit. After the Israeli social protestors tired and lost interest in demonstrations, the baton has passed to the Palestinians, who suffer many times more from the cost of living. What can you do: after 45 years of an Occupation that flooded their markets with Israeli goods, they too eat Tnuva cottage cheese, whose price triggered protest in Israel last year.

more...



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Address

P.O.B. 35252
Tel Aviv 61351
Israel

Visiting Address

Rehov Ha-Aliyah 43
Second Floor

phone +972-3-537-3268
fax +972-3-537-3269

Links

Workers' Advice Center
Sindyanna of Galilee
Etgar: our sister-publication in Hebrew
Al-Sabar: our sister-publication in Arabic
Video48: a documentary-film group

CHALLENGE is indexed by the Alternative Press Index.

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