Top News & Analysis from Israel & Palestine: December 2, 2021

What We’re Reading

New from FMEP

Scorched Earth & Settlements in Jerusalem,

In this episode of Occupied Thoughts, FMEP’s Kristin McCarthy speaks with Daniel Seidemann (Terrestrial Jerusalem) about a myriad of developments in Jerusalem – – and the political, diplomatic, and bureaucratic forces at play behind them.

The Nakba and its Generational Impact on Palestinian lives: Memory, Identity, and a Future rooted in Justice,

Featuring Palestinians who lived through the 1948 Nakba and their descendants: Nida El-Muti, Dina El-Muti, and Hasan Hammami in conversation with Peter Beinart (FMEP Non-resident fellow). The Nakba, the displacement of over 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland from 1947-49, is among the root causes of the conflict in Palestine-Israel and critical to understanding the failure of the decades-long “peace-process,” and the level of justice and reparations required to achieve a sustainable future. Listen to the personal stories of those who survived the ethnic cleansing of their cities and villages and learn from them and their descendants how the trauma of the Nakba and Israel’s ongoing policies of erasure have shaped their lives and what their visions are for the future. Co-sponsored with Project48. 

Occupation/Apartheid/Human Rights

‘Hate crime’ attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians spike in the West Bank,

“Israeli settlers have dramatically increased their attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank over recent months, with violent incidents up about 150 percent in the past two years, according to data presented by the Israeli military at a defense ministry meeting this month. A United Nations agency has separately found that 115 Palestinians have been beaten or otherwise attacked by settlers since the start of the year, with four fatalities. More than 300 incidents of property destruction, including olive trees cut and burned during the autumn harvest, were documented over the same time period.” See also: How settler violence is fuelling West Bank tension (Guardian); “Wielding saws, shears and shovels, Israeli settlers ramp up attacks on Palestinians during olive harvest” (Independent); “Israeli settlers attack father and child as violence against Palestinians escalates” (Middle East Eye)

A day of destruction in the West Bank: 22 people, including 15 children, lost their home in a single day,

“Yesterday (Tuesday, 23 November 2021), Israel embarked on a large-scale demolition campaign throughout the West Bank, in which it destroyed and confiscated dwellings, tents, livestock enclosures, buildings under construction, a road, and even a structure intended for burial. Twenty-two people, including 15 children, lost their homes in one day. Some of the demolitions were captured on video” See alsoOpinion | A Day in Our Lives as an Occupying, Dispossessing Nation” (Haaretz//Amira Hass) and “Israel’s president lights first Hanukkah candle for apartheid” (+972)

Israel killed 77 Palestinian children in Gaza, West Bank in 2021: report,

“In a press statement sent to The New Arab, Defense for Children International Palestine (DCI) said that 61 children were killed in the coastal enclave and 16 in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. On the occasion of International Children’s Day, the organisation said that “since 2000 until today, the Israeli forces have killed about 2,200 Palestinian children.” See also:  Israel returns wrong body to family of slain Palestinian (LA Times),  “Israeli Soldiers Killed Their Son. Then They Discovered the Messages He Got From a Shin Bet Officer” (Haaretz // Amira Hass) and What the Israeli Army Does to Soldiers Who Shoot Palestinians (Haaretz)

Over 100 Palestinian Families in East Jerusalem Face Demolition of Their Homes,

“More than 100 Palestinian families in East Jerusalem are in immediate danger of having their homes demolished after the Jerusalem municipality hardened its stance on master plans for the area….There are currently some 20,000 illegal buildings in East Jerusalem, and demolition orders have been issued against thousands of them. Most were built illegally because the city’s Palestinian neighborhoods have no master plans that would enable legal construction.” See alsoPalestinian families face new Israeli demolition threat in Silwan” (Al Jazeera) “District Planning Committee Discussion on Atarot Settlement Plan Reinstated for December 6” (Ir Amim)  “Israel to create new settlement at old Jerusalem International Airport” (Middle East Eye) and “Jerusalem OKs New Jewish Neighborhood in Area Earmarked for Palestinians” (Haaretz)

The Oldest City in the World is Becoming Uninhabitable,

“My hometown happens to be the oldest city in the world. Jericho has been continuously inhabited for over 10,000 years. But soon enough, Jericho might not exist. The climate emergency exacerbated by Israeli apartheid is putting our community under severe crisis. Our water is being taken by Israel, given to illegal settlers, while we are left with very little. If this injustice is not addressed, our beautiful city that has stood the test of time will become unlivable. Israel is deliberately driving it towards extinction.y who have taken over the landscape of her childhood.”

2021 Front Line Defenders Award: Sami & Sameeha Huraini, Youth of Sumud, Palestine,

“Sami & Sameeha Huraini are brother and sister co-founders of Youth of Sumud in the South Hebron Hills region of Palestine….Youth of  Sumud  formed in 2017 in the South Hebron Hills in response to ongoing settler and military aggression and violence against farmers, families and school children  in the area. Members of Youth of Sumud have undertaken to revive the village of Saurora, located in the Southern end of the West Bank near the village of At-Tuwani….In addition Youth of Sumud has assumed responsibility assuring the safety of schoolchildren from the nearby village of Tuba as they walk between to and from school past the nearby Israeli outpost. Harassment of Palestinian shepherds by Israeli settlers and soldiers is common in the area, and members of Youth of Sumud frequently accompany shepherds from the nearby villages as they graze flocks.” See alsoPolice escalate clampdown on anti-occupation activists in the South Hebron Hills” (+972) and videos from South Hebron Hills Watch

‘I Don’t Care Whom I Offend’: Mohammed El-Kurd Tells UN on Palestine Day (VIDEO),

“Palestinian writer and activist Mohammed El-Kurd delivered a speech at the UN on Monday, blasting the “Israeli settler-colonial regime” for its occupation of Jerusalem…“The reality that Palestinians across 70 years of zionist rule have experienced this vocabulary is not theoretical. It is evident in the attempts to throw us out of our homes so that settlers can occupy them with the backing of the regime whose forces and policies provide violent support for the transfer of one population to install another,” he said…”

Highway of Hope and Heartbreak,

“Israel’s Route 60 begins at a traffic light in the city of Nazareth and heads due south along a course that can be measured in both miles and centuries….These days, the two-lane highway cuts through a topography of conflict, curving between Israeli settlements and Palestinian villages. While it begins and ends inside Israel, most of its 146 miles trace the spine of the occupied West Bank. If Palestinians ever achieve an independent state, Route 60 will be its national road. But now, with the goal of Palestinian statehood once again at the center of American diplomacy as part of a “two-state” solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a road trip along Route 60 reveals just how distant that prospect has become.” See alsoIsraeli army: Two Israelis drove into Ramallah, car torched” (AP)

Al-Haq: For saying the truth, Israel labelled us terrorists. It's the oldest trick in the colonial handbook,

Israel‘s latest attempt to silence Palestinian civil society is just another tactical move in its colonial strategy, which aims to remove the obstacles in pursuit of such a strategy. This attempt, like others before it, is bound to fail because the message is bigger than the messengers it is targeting. The pursuit of truth is a part of human nature that cannot be eradicated.” See alsoWhat Does Israel Fear from This ‘Terrorist’?” (NYRB // Raja Shehadeh)

Gaza Strip

Al Mezan issues a new report: ‘The Gaza Bantustan—Israeli Apartheid in the Gaza Strip’,

“As a sealed-off enclave, fragmented from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) and controlled by Israel within its apartheid system, Gaza is a strip of land that can in many respects be likened to a South African bantustan. While the Israeli government purports to justify the closure and related restrictions under the guise of ‘security’, this report shows how Israel’s policies are in fact motivated by its intent to separate and divide Palestinians and thereby to assert its domination over them, in furtherance of its overarching settler-colonialist agenda.” To read the full report, go here.

Unwilling and Unable: Israel's Whitewashed Investigations of the Great March of Return Protests,

“Israel responded to international criticism of the casualty toll by saying it would investigate the incidents. Yet today, more than forty months after the first demonstration, it is clear that the military’s investigations in relation to the Gaza protests were never intended to ensure justice for the victims or to deter troops from similar action. These investigations – much like the investigations conducted by the military law enforcement system in other cases in which soldiers have harmed Palestinians – are part of Israel’s whitewashing mechanism, and their main purpose remains to silence external criticism, so that Israel can continue to implement its policy unchanged.” See also: Israel failed to probe shootings which caused over 200 Palestinian deaths: report (The New Arab)

Escaping one hell for another: Why Gazans are dying at sea to be free ,

“Many young Palestinians are risking their lives at sea or forced into an endless limbo in a European camp, all to escape the monstrosity that is the blockade on Gaza, writes Muhammad Shehada.” See alsoGaza: Palestinian farmers suffer from climate crisis, occupation” (Middle East Eye) and “In Gaza, a Contentious Palestinian Professor Calmly Teaches Israeli Poetry” (NYT) and “Opinion | Gazan Doctor Seeking Justice for His Slain Daughters Won’t Find It in Israel” (Ha’aretz)


Apple Sues Israeli Spyware Maker, Seeking to Block Its Access to iPhones,

“Apple sued the NSO Group, the Israeli surveillance company, in federal court on Tuesday, another setback for the beleaguered firm and the unregulated spyware industry…Apple, for the first time, seeks to hold NSO accountable for what it says was the surveillance and targeting of Apple users. Apple also wants to permanently prevent NSO from using any Apple software, services or devices, a move that could render the company’s Pegasus spyware product worthless, given that its core business is to give government clients full access to a target’s iPhone or Android smartphone.” See alsoIsrael’s NSO Group at risk of ‘defaulting’ on $500m after US blacklisting” (ToI) and for a great overview & timeline of NSO Group, see the November 30th “Tuesday News Bulletin” by Alex Kane (Jewish Currents).

Facebook is bad at moderating in English. In Arabic, it’s a disaster,

“In Arabic — the third most common language on the platform — Facebook’s double standards in content moderation parades the worst of all worlds: Political speech is muzzled due to over-enforcement of policies related to terrorism and incitement to violence, while hate speech and disinformation targeting at-risk users such as women and the LGBTQ+ community are left rampant on the platform. Arab activists and journalists, many of whom use Facebook to document human rights abuses and war crimes, are routinely censored and booted off the platform — most commonly under the pretext of terrorism. This is especially pronounced in times of political crisis and violence. Let’s not forget Facebook’s mass censorship of Palestinian voices during the height of Israeli violence and brutality in the months of May and June 2021.” See also “’Facebook Censors Jerusalem’: Campaign protests Meta’s alleged censorship of Palestinian posts” (Middle East Eye)

‘We violated people’s privacy for a living’: How Israel’s cyber army went corporate,

“​​In conversations with this author, veterans of Israeli intelligence units confirmed that institutionalized collaboration between private surveillance companies and Israeli intelligence units is simply business as usual. “No one was surprised by the news,” said G, a former commander in an Israeli intelligence unit, when asked about the cyberespionage on Palestinian phones in the occupied territories. Outsourcing employees, prototyping software, and sharing databases are common practices between the private industry and the military, the former officers alleged.” See alsoAn Elite Israeli Intelligence Unit’s Soldiers Are Sworn to Secrecy – but Tell All on LinkedIn” (Haaretz); “Mass surveillance fuels oppression of Uighurs and Palestinians” (Al Jazeera); and “NSO blacklisting: It is time for the US to end its Cold War ways” Al Jazeera)

Israeli Spyware Maker NSO's New Secret Op,

“The offensive spyware company NSO is operating a consulting firm called Realmode Labs, whose employees – former members of IDF technology units – are experts in finding security vulnerabilities in computing services, as illustrated by the recent break-in at Amazon servers….Realmode’s “product” is its employees, since people who can find vulnerabilities are in high demand in the cyber world….Earlier this year, NSO and Realmode signed a deal. Officially, Realmode remains independent, but it maintains very few operations of its own, and its employees are currently engaged in a covert project for NSO.”

Palestine Under Surveillance with Mona Shtaya,

“Mona Shtaya joins host Yara Hawari to discuss the highly invasive mass surveillance of Palestinians by the Israeli regime in light of recent hacking and spying reports. They explore the impact of such tactics on the work of activists and human rights defenders as well as the consequences on Palestinians’ daily lives.”

Fake Facebook accounts boost campaign opposing U.S. consulate in Jerusalem,

“Since August, Barkat’s Facebook posts about the issue, including photos of Barkat with members of Congress, such as Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., have been shared by a network of at least 320 accounts determined to be fake by the Israeli disinformation research company FakeReporter. The researchers said such fake engagement can shape public perception of a politician’s popularity and game Facebook’s news feed algorithm so posts reach much larger audiences than they would organically. They said the research highlights Facebook’s failure to effectively crack down on inauthentic networks that amplify political campaigns.”

Israel pledges to finally permit long-restricted Palestinian 4G cell service,

“Israel has tentatively agreed to permit Palestinian cellular companies to set up fourth-generation mobile networks — allowing them to belatedly take advantage of a technology considered standard in much of the world — as part of a series of steps meant to strengthen the Palestinian Authority…Israel has not permitted Palestinian cellular providers to upgrade their networks for years, leaving most Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza with dramatically slower connections than those in Israel and much of the world.”


We’re a Small Arkansas Newspaper. Why Is the State Making Us Sign a Pledge About Israel?,

“If these anti-boycott laws are allowed to stand, get ready for a slew of copycat legislation. Texas passed two laws that went into effect on Sept. 1 — one prohibiting state agencies from conducting business with contractors that boycott fossil fuels and another preventing agencies from contracting with businesses that boycott firearm companies or trade associations.” Also seeLISTEN: ‘It Never Occurred to Me to Boycott Israel. Until Arkansas Told Me I Couldn’t’” (Haaretz podcast with Alan Leveritt) and “Anti-BDS Laws could upend the constitutional right to engage in boycott” (The Intercept)

Jewish Currents Tuesday News Bulletin (Nov. 23rd),

“On November 7th, the Israeli legal group Shurat HaDin announced via email that it sent a letter to the Rockefeller Foundation calling on the fund to “cease and desist” its donations to two Palestinian groups…The missive marked the first known instance of an Israeli organization capitalizing on Israel’s October announcement that six leading Palestinian civil society groups were blacklisted as “terrorist” organizations by the Israeli Defense Ministry. In announcing the letter to the Rockefeller Foundation, Shurat HaDin previewed how it and other groups could use Israel’s “terror” designation targeting Palestinian civil society groups to attempt to tie international funders of those groups up in court, thereby discouraging such support. The strategy relies on the overbroad nature of US counterterrorism laws, which civil rights groups have long warned are used to chill speech and association. The strategy has been honed and tried repeatedly by a global network of Israel advocacy organizations in recent years, with limited success. But now, this network has the weight of an Israeli government declaration to buoy their effort to defund Palestinian civil society….The other threat to Palestinian civil society comes from the international banking system. Palestinian rights advocates fear that some banks may not want to take on the risk of facilitating transfers of money to organizations that Israel has designated as “terrorist” organizations.” 

Palestinian Scene

UN agency for Palestinian refugees faces funding crisis,

“The head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees said Tuesday it was unable to pay its 28,000 employees on time this month because of a major funding crisis, warning of potential cuts in vital services to millions of people amid a global pandemic.”

Community Accountability in Palestine: An Alternative to Policing,

“Israeli and Palestinian policing and incarceration have devastated Palestinian society. How can Palestinian civil society adopt community accountability and transformative justice processes that move away from state institutions and punitive justice? Al-Shabaka’s senior analyst, Yara Hawari, explores this question and offers recommendations to Palestinian civil society and the international donor community for bringing about and supporting these crucial changes.”

‘The occupation is trying to uproot us. Art can bring us back’,

“Fidaa Ataya, a Palestinian storyteller based in the occupied West Bank, uses art as a means of resisting the Israeli settlers and military who have taken over the landscape of her childhood.”

US Scene

Why Israel Shouldn't Break Into the US Visa Waiver Program,

“Host Omar Baddar sits down with Maya Berry, Executive Director of the Arab American Institute to discuss Biden’s administration to include Israel in the US visa waiver program.”

Facing protest from his socialist allies, Rep. Jamaal Bowman opens up about his recent trip to Israel,

“Speaking to a group of college students, Rep. Jamaal Bowman expressed no regret about taking a recent trip to Israel and the West Bank with the liberal pro-Israel group J Street, despite intense backlash from his socialist allies….Bowman’s participation in the trip was notable because he is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, which supports a boycott of Israel….Groups within the DSA have called to expel Bowman from the movement for not heeding the boycott, and he met with DSA leadership more than a week ago regarding those complaints.” See alsoN.Y. Jewish leaders back Bowman on Israel amid pushback from the left” (Forward) and “Socialist group criticizes US congressman for Israel trip” (Al Monitor)

Philly’s celebration of Palestinians should give courage to progressives everywhere | Opinion,

“On Monday, Mayor Kenney and other elected leaders celebrated Philly’s first International Palestinian Day without backlash. Is the conversation changing?”

Allegations of bigotry and calls for impeachment rock College Democrats,

“In an interview with POLITICO, Mesbah said she had been “held to a double standard solely because of the way I look, the faith that I practice.” As evidence of that, she also said a member of the college Democrats called her a “terrorist supporter” last spring because of her strong pro-Palestine views….And 12 Muslim advocacy and pro-Palestine groups, including CAIR, released a letter denouncing CDA for endorsing sensitivity trainings led by ADL and AJC, which they blasted as “organizations with a history of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian actions.””

Meir Kahane’s Long Shadow,

“The far-right activist and politician died in disgrace, but Shaul Magid’s new book argues that his ideas have shaped mainstream American Judaism.”

Inside of '48//Israeli Scene

The Long Reach of Restraint,

“For Israel’s Supreme Court, to exercise power might be to lose it.”

PHOTOS: A Palestinian single mother sparks protest camp over Jaffa gentrification,

“Years of state neglect and rising prices mean Palestinian families can no longer afford rent in their own city. Protesters have set up tents to demand solutions.”

The fifty-year persecution of Raja Eghbaria,

“For decades, Israel has repeatedly targeted and imprisoned activist Raja Eghbaria without charge. Now the Palestinian citizen is being indicted under the same law that banned six human rights groups last month.”

Global Scene

Israel slams Belgian plans to label settler products,

“Israel condemned plans by Belgium to place consumer labels on West Bank settlement products clarifying that they were not made by the Jewish state. Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll, who was in Belgium on Wednesday to improve ties between the two countries, immediately pulled out of his scheduled meetings with Belgian officials.” See alsoIsraeli diplomat cancels meetings in Belgium after country says it will label settler products” (Middle East Eye)

Why the UK’s blacklisting of Hamas hurts its own peace policy,

“Following a brief debate, the British House of Commons passed a motion on Wednesday to proscribe the whole of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas as a “terrorist organization” under the country’s 2000 Terrorism Act. Until now, only the group’s military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, had been formally listed as such under UK law. At first glance, this motion, which received cross-party support, may seem uncontroversial to many. But once the dust settles, it greatly risks muddying the path toward peacemaking in Israel-Palestine.” See also: Hamas terror listing is yet another UK betrayal of the Palestinians (Middle East Eye)

Israel and Jordan Pen Historic Water-for-energy Deal,

“Israel and Jordan have reached a preliminary agreement to exchange desalinated water for renewable energy, in the first such deal between the two countries.”

Seeking Backers for New Fund, Jared Kushner Turns to Middle East,

“Now, in a move that has raised eyebrows among diplomats, investors and ethics watchdogs, Mr. Kushner is trying to raise money from the Persian Gulf states for a new investment firm he has founded. So far, he is having only mixed success. Qatar, whose leaders saw Mr. Kushner as an opponent in the administration, declined to invest in his firm, a person familiar with those conversations said. So did the main Emirati sovereign wealth funds; Emirati rulers saw Mr. Kushner as an ally but questioned his track record in business, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions. But the Saudis are more interested, according to four people briefed on their continuing negotiations.”