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August 7, 2014

Reflecting on Israeli Society During the Conflict: The Best and the Worst

With Israel scaling down its operations in Gaza and a ceasefire beginning to hold, Israeli society will now reflect on the last four weeks. Out of this frightening and tense period, one source of inspiration and optimism has been the sense of solidarity and closeness felt by Israelis.

Across the country, people of every age and political affiliation clamored to help and “do something.” Israelis mobilized to show support for the IDF soldiers serving on the front – people sent food, care packages, supplies – even washed uniforms.  Others offered to host residents of the south who left their homes for fear of the unending fall of rockets and blare of warning sirens. Thousands went to funerals and shivas for the fallen soldiers – particularly those of the “lone” soldiers – whose families live outside Israel. Mass prayer vigils were held.

Funeral of IDF Soldier Max Steinberg

Funeral of IDF Soldier Max Steinberg

But while we can celebrate in this widespread feeling of unity and generosity, we cannot deny that other, troubling tendencies also emerged over these past weeks.

Some who publicly disagreed with Israel’s military operation were called “traitors” and in some cases, even “Nazis.” Some protesting the conflict were physically attacked. Tensions with Israeli Arabs have grown. Many were outraged by reports of some groups of Israeli Arabs who celebrated in the killing of IDF soldiers. This hostility intensified in both speech and action, and there were reports of isolated vigilante attacks on Israeli Arab targets. Indeed, when an East Jerusalem Palestinian attacked a Jerusalem city bus with a construction vehicle, killing one, out of concern for their physical safety of Arabs in the vicinity, police quickly moved to ensure their safety.

As we begin to think about “the day after,” Israelis must think about how to harness the positive while reducing the negative. We must figure out how to build on the sense of unity and generosity while still valuing the exchange of different viewpoints, and ensuring that respectful discourse thrives.

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March 5, 2014

Iran Weekly: Selected News & Developments

The following is a selection of news reports and commentary from Iranian media and mainstream publications on developments pertaining to Iran. This weekly update includes a sampling of published reports from Iran’s Farsi-language media* as well as relevant articles from the international press.

Iranian Media

iran-shipment-gaza-hamas-israel

Iranian-made sacks of cement hiding Gaza-bound missiles.
Source: Israel Defense Force

Assad pays the price for supporting the Resistance*
(Mashregh News Agency – March 5, 2014)

Iran denies any connection to recently uncovered missile shipment to the Gaza Strip by the IDF, and claims, “The weapons shipment that the Israeli regime claims to have stopped is not Iranian-built, but rather it is from the Syrian armed forces. This issue demonstrates that despite international pressures and the treason of Arab countries, including the Palestinians, Bashar Assad continues to support the Islamic Resistance [Hamas].”

The government will not cross the red line/We have been happy with the first steps of the negotiations*
(Mehr News – March 4, 2014)

President Rouhani affirms that Iran’s nuclear rights will be preserved and says, “What the Americans say is for the pressure of their public opinion, extremists and Zionists.”

We are not optimistic of the negotiations*
(Fars News Agency – March 4, 2014)

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi claims that, “The principle opponents of the Geneva agreement are the Zionists and the Zionists continue to pursue the policy of zero enrichment, and if they continue to do this, the agreement will fail. You are witness to the influence of the Zionist lobby on America and its Congress, and every time American leaders are forced to go along with Tel Aviv and provide comments.”

Legislator: US should pay heavy price for adventurism against Iran
(Fars News Agency – March 3, 2014)

An Iranian member of parliament, Mohammad Esmayeeli, warned the U.S. that they cannot “attempt their goals by threats” and claimed that the Zionist lobbies influence U.S. statesmen.

Iran raps US human rights report
(Fars News Agency – March 2, 2014)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized the U.S.’s recent human rights report, stating that Washington is responsible for “murdering hundreds of innocent women and children” and supports the “inhumane measures by the Zionist regime against the Palestinian people.”

The Basijis await instructions from the leader to liberate Jerusalem*
(Fars News Agency – February 28, 2014)

“The Basijis [Iran’s volunteer paramilitary unit] of the Islamic world are waiting for the leader’s command to liberate noble Jerusalem,” said Mohammad Reza Naghdi, the head of the Basij organization.

Borjourdi: Iran will always support the resistance*
(Tasnim News Agency – February 28, 2014)

The head of the Iranian Parliament’s Commission for National Security and Foreign Policy said during a meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Tamam Salam that Iran “will not abandon support of the Resistance and this is a permanent principle for Iran.”

International Media

Israel halts ‘weapons shipment from Iran’
(BBC – March 5, 2014)

Israeli naval forces board Panamanian-flagged ship in the Red Sea off the coast of Sudan; claims shipment of missiles were a “clandestine operation” by Iran.

Israel seizes ship with missiles heading from Iran to Gaza
(Ha’aretz – March 5, 2014) Official video of IDF naval raid.

Iran’s Guard says it has multiple warhead missiles
(Washington Post – March 5, 2014)

Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan unveiled four new types of ballistic missiles, two of which are equipped with multiple warheads. “These missiles are able to hit and destroy enemy targets with precision, and they meet a variety of the armed forces’ needs,” said Dehghan at the unveiling ceremony.

Netanyahu warns on Iran, urges no Palestinian ‘excuses’
(Reuters – March 4, 2014)

Addressing the annual AIPAC conference, Prime Minister Netanyahu lamented that “leading powers of the world are talking about leaving Iran with the capability to enrich uranium.”

Iran cutting sensitive nuclear stocks, much work remains: IAEA
(Reuters – March 3, 2014)

IAEA director general Yukiya Amano released a statement on Monday that “As of today, measures agreed under the Joint Plan of Action are being implemented as planned.”

Rouhani tells Iran generals to cut hostile rhetoric
(Thomson Reuters Foundation – March 1, 2014)

“We must be very careful in our calculations. Launching missiles and staging military exercises to scare off the other side is not good deterrence, although a necessity in its proper place,” Rouhani stated.

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March 1, 2012

Attempts to Silence Pro-Israel Voices on Campus Continue

Recent disruptions of pro-Israel events on campus illustrate the continuing use of tactics intended to silence Israeli voices and the expression of pro-Israel views.
On February 27, Students from the University of California – Davis chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) staged a walkout during a presentation by former soldiers who served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). One student defiantly stood up and shouted obscenities at the speakers, claiming that Israel has “turned the land of Palestine into a land of prostitutes and rapists and child molesters,” and harassed the speaker, asking him, “How many women have you raped? How many children have you raped? You are a child molester.” During his outburst, the heckler defended his actions as a free speech right yet noted, “My only purpose today is that this event is shut down,” an obviously ironic use of free speech rights.  
SAFE representatives prior to Feb. 21 walkout
A disruption also occurred the next day at UCLA when dozens of SJP members with duct tape fastened to their mouths and signs reading “Silenced” walked out in the middle of an IDF soldier’s presentation.
On February 21, representatives from SAFE (Students Allied for Freedom and Equality), an anti-Israel group at Michigan State University, staged a similar walkout of a speech featuring former Israeli soldiers.
While the soldiers were able to finish their presentations in all three cases, these incidents illustrate an unwillingness by anti-Israel groups and individuals to allow the pro-Israel voice a space to be heard, an unfortunate position given that college campuses should serve as a venue for the free exchange of ideas, not a place to “shut down” views one may disagree with.
The strategy first began in earnest in the 2009-2010 school year with loud disruptions of, among others, speeches by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the University of Chicago and Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at the University of California, Irvine.

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