New from FMEP
Last month, the Israeli Knesset passed a new version of Israel’s infamous “Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law.” This law denies to Palestinian citizens of Israel a fundamental right that Israel’s Jewish citizens take for granted (and, indeed, citizens around the world hold dear): the right to make a life together with one’s chosen spouse, in the country where one hold’s citizenship. Adopted originally by the Knesset in 2003 as a “temporary” measure ostensibly for “security” reasons, the law has been repeatedly renewed for almost 20 years, most recently in March 2022. The renewed law includes explicit provisions referring to its “demographic” purpose, leading Adalah to call it “one of the most racist and discriminatory laws in the world.” In March, Israel’s Minister of Interior Ayelet Shaked celebrated the law’s passage on Twitter, saying; “Jewish & Democratic State – 1; State for all its citizens – 0”. [Hebrew original here]. Webinar features Member of Knesset Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash/Joint List), Dr. Morad El Sana (American University) and Dr. Hassan Jabareen (Adalah) in conversation with FMEP’s Lara Friedman.
In this episode of the Occupied Thoughts podcast, FMEP’s Lara Friedman speaks with Amnesty International’s Saleh Hijazi about the root causes of the violence currently in the headlines — i.e., Israel’s policy of apartheid, and the structural violence they impose against Palestinians. and why Amnesty International is calling for an end to the “cycle of impunity” that supports and enables it.
In this episode of “Occupied Thoughts,” FMEP’s Sarah Anne Minkin speaks with Jehad Abusalim (2022 FMEP Fellow) and Dana El Kurd (University of Richmond) about what the Abraham Accords and normalization agreements with Israel over the last few years have opened up in the Arab world, including state-sponsored efforts to cultivate acceptance of Israel and suppress support for Palestinians. Dana speaks about her research on Arab public opinion as well as pro-Palestine activism, and Jehad draws from the historical context of the long history of Arab Jews as well as Palestinian responses to Zionism and antisemitism before the establishment of the state of Israel.
“12-year-olds can be jailed, four days can pass until a suspect sees a judge, hearings are held in a foreign language and laws change constantly. Inside Israel’s military courts in the West Bank…The father knows that the case will very likely end with his son’s confession in a plea deal. According to Israeli army figures obtained by Haaretz, between 2018 and April 2021, 99.6 percent of the sentences at military courts ended this way. This figure, provided after a request by the Human Rights Defenders Fund through the Movement for Freedom of Information, doesn’t seem to surprise the Palestinians who are sure of their innocence or that of their relatives. After all, go prove you didn’t throw a stone… “The confession is what gets them out of jail and to a visible conclusion,” says attorney Smadar Ben-Natan, who also has a Ph.D. in law and researches the military courts. “People can be in pretrial detention for longer than the sentence they would receive.”…In the West Bank, arrest until the end of the proceedings is the default.”
“According to data supplied by the Israel Prison Service to Haaretz, there are currently 579 Palestinians in administrative detention…By comparing the data provided to Haaretz and the statistics obtained by Hamoked, it appears that between March and April of this year, the number of administrative detainees increased by 109. The last time that such a leap was recorded was between May and July of last year – amid the war between Israel and Hamas and its allies in Gaza and widespread riots in mixed Jewish-Arab cities. Despite the increase then, the absolute number of administrative detainees was lower than it is now. In addition to Palestinians under detention without trial, 19 administrative detention orders were issued against Israeli citizens over the past month, 17 of whom are Arab and the other two Jewish.”
“Palestinian legal experts, academics and digital rights groups have expressed outrage over an incoming Israeli policy for the entry and residence of foreigners in the occupied West Bank, which they say further complicates the rules of movement, and adds restrictions to an already convoluted system. The 97-page ordinance, called Procedure for Entry and Residence for Foreigners in Judea and Samaria Area (PDF), replaces the current four-page document…Foreign-passport holding Palestinians must provide information – for visa purposes – on an application for approval prior to travel, which includes the names and national ID numbers of “first-degree” relatives, or other non-relatives with whom they may stay or visit. Digital rights experts say that personal information on travellers and their families and acquaintances is likely to be used in Israel’s mass surveillance and data collection efforts. “It’s a surveillance exercise,” said Marwa Fatafta, a Palestinian digital rights expert and Al Shabaka policy analyst. “With the new policy, Israeli authorities want to map out the social circles and property of Palestinians who live abroad with foreign passports.” “The entire identification system is built to control the most two crucial aspects of Palestine: people and land. Now, in a way, it will also apply to Palestinians with ties to the West Bank,” she told Al Jazeera.” See also this Twitter thread from Ahmed Abofoul, Legal Research and Advocacy Officer at Al Haq: “Apartheid and de facto annexation in practice,” which details the new restrictions and regulations.”
“Expulsion orders against eleven Palestinian families in Jerusalem have been once again frozen by an Israeli court on Monday, Palestinian attorney Madhat Dibeh told The New Arab. Dibeh, who represents the families, said that the Israeli court renewed a freeze on expulsion orders against a family in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and against ten families who share a residential building in the neighbourhood of Al-Tour.” See also Dozens of Palestinians injured in latest Israeli raid on al-Aqsa Mosque (Middle East Eye)
“Muhammad Ghunaimat, 17, is lying in a hospital bed in Hebron with gunshot wounds to his stomach and back. The bullets were shot by either Israeli settlers or soldiers — Ghunaimat is not sure which, because both groups opened a torrent of live fire on him and his friends last Saturday…Palestinian residents report that extremist Israeli settlers from Bat Ayin, a settlement which lies to the west of Surif, have been trying to take over their land for the past half year. Six months ago, groups of settlers set up tents west of the road, on top of a hill about a kilometer away from the settlement, outside its municipal boundaries.Since then, Palestinian residents say, they have been prevented from accessing their agricultural land, and have been subjected to settler attacks, vandalism, and other forms of harassment.”
“Are Israeli security authorities handing over investigation materials to online hasbara stars in order to score points on social media? It certainly seems so. Last Friday, Israeli actress Noa Tishby, who this month was appointed Israel’s first-ever special envoy for combating antisemitism and the delegitimization of Israel, released a video on her personal Instagram account in response to a post by Palestinian-American supermodel Bella Hadid. Hadid had shared a story about Athal al-Azzeh, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy who was arrested two weeks ago by the Israeli army, who accused him of throwing stones — a charge Athal has adamantly denied. In her response video, Tishby featured two photos of a masked Palestinian rolling a tire, which appear to have been part of the Israeli military’s investigation file on Athal — a fact corroborated by his mother, Jinan, who says she was shown the photos by Israeli interrogators several days before Tishby’s post. The investigation file, which is not public, was most likely handed over to Tishby by the authorities…Riham Nassra, an attorney who represents Palestinian detainees in military courts, said that publishing investigative materials before an indictment is issued, as Tishby did, is illegal, and indicates that the materials had in fact been leaked…Noa Tishby did not respond to a request for comment, but following publication of this article took down her original post on Instagram.”
“Fadi Quran joins host Yara Hawari to discuss the main outcomes of the recent Palestinian local elections and the historical role of municipalities in Palestine. They also discuss the value of elections under military occupation and settler colonialism.”
“United Nations human rights experts urged the international community to resume funding to six Palestinian NGOs designated by Israel as terrorist organisations last year.” Also see this FMEP resource page, “On Israel’s Declaration of Palestinian Human Rights Groups as “Terrorist Organizations.”
“The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday convicted the groom and six other attendees at a 2015 wedding who were filmed celebrating the murder of a Palestinian baby…The seven defendants were convicted of incitement to violence and terror.”
“Jerusalem continues to lie at the center of political developments in Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and in the shifting landscape of US and EU foreign policy toward Palestine and the Israeli regime. Indeed, the Trump administration’s 2017 decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem thereafter, has had devastating implications for Palestinian claims to the city. Meanwhile, from forced expulsions in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan to attacks on worshipers in the al-Aqsa compound and in the vicinity of the Holy Sepulchre, the Israeli regime continues to ramp up its efforts to de-Palestinianize Jerusalem. In light of this persistent campaign of erasure, and in light of Palestinian Jerusalemites’ persistent resistance to it, Al-Shabaka revisits the topic of Jerusalem, building on our 2017 Focus On, with a new selection of publications from our analysts.” Includes resources from Zena Agha, Halah Ahmad, Nur Arafeh, Tareq Baconi, Muna Dajani, Dana El Kurd, Yara Hawari, Nadia Hijab, Victor Kattan, Munir Nuseibah.
“For there is a view in Israeli political and military circles that the May offensive against Gaza was a failure, that although the Israeli military caused much destruction and loss of life, it failed to significantly damage Hamas’ missile-launch system and it failed to eliminate any senior members of Hamas’s military or political leadership, meaning the future threat from Hamas remained largely undiminished. One of the main reasons for these failures, some experts believe, was poor intelligence on the ground identifying targets and the location of key Hamas personnel. And what better way to gain intelligence than to have a steady supply of desperate, impoverished Palestinian men passing daily through checkpoints, where they can be interrogated and perhaps coerced into passing on information?”
“Today, 24 April 2022, a three-justice panel of the Israeli Supreme Court rejected a petition filed by the Bakr family, parents of four boys, who were killed in an Israeli air force missile attack while they were playing on the fishing beach in west Gaza City on 16 July 2014. The boys were killed eight years ago during the Israeli military offensive in Gaza termed “Operation Protective Edge”…The petitioners demanded that the Court overturn the Attorney General’s (AG) decision to reject an appeal against the closure of the investigation, and to order the opening of a criminal investigation that will lead to the prosecution of those responsible for the killing..The petitioners argued that the investigative materials show that the Israeli air force intentionally opened deadly fire at the children in serious violation of the laws of war and criminal law, since they aimed at the children directly without identification and without taking the necessary precautions.”
“Over the course of 2020 and 2021, groundbreaking investigations revealed in stark detail Israeli authorities’ intensifying use of surveillance and predictive technologies to police and control Palestinians. Subjecting Palestinians to such scrutiny from security and military apparatuses narrows their expressive spaces and plunges them into a state of constant anxiety. This practice also carries out a commercial purpose: Occupied Palestine effectively functions as an open-air laboratory for Israel to test techniques of espionage and surveillance before selling them to repressive regimes around the world. This commerce has troubling implications, particularly as more governments have leveraged digital monitoring tools against political opponents, activists, journalists, civil society workers, and others deemed “threatening.” The case of the Palestinians, then, can be understood as an ominous example of how various actors can probe deep into private lives through the ever-watching eyes of surveillance.”
“Two years ago, I found out that my own government had put me under surveillance, for “reasons of national security.” This year, I found out that I had been targeted again, this time by advanced surveillance technology, becoming the first confirmed European national whose mobile phone was deliberately infected by Predator, a spyware system developed by Cytrox, an Israeli firm based in North Macedonia. I don’t yet know who gave the second order…My case exposes how fragile the defense of civil rights in a European democracy can become – and how easily, thanks to hyper-sophisticated spyware, governments and other parties can breach those rights…In contrast to surveillance systems’ rapid technological advances, the counterweights that will prevent the “invasion” of state intelligent services into the lives of unsuspecting citizens – in an entirely disproportionate way to any danger, real or spurious, the individuals pose to national security – have not progressed likewise. Simply put, civil rights legislation is like an analog telephone connection when spyware threatens at 5G speeds.”
Lawfare/Redefining Antisemitism to Quash Criticism of Israel
“Across the country, states are continuing to incorporate the IHRA definition into their legal codes and policies—as well as, in some cases, the IHRA’s “contemporary examples of antisemitism,” several of which squarely preclude strong criticisms of Israel…Through piecemeal legal efforts, states are hemming the bounds of legitimate discourse on Israel, Zionism, and Judaism. In classrooms, at workplaces, and on the streets, pro-Palestinian advocacy is being pushed to the edge of permissibility. In Arizona, antisemitism as defined by the IHRA will inform the charging and sentencing of people accused of crimes. The legislation could render a pro-Palestinian protester, swept up and arrested by police, eligible for hate crimes for carrying a Palestinian flag…Tennessee’s legislation cracks down on so-called antisemitism in public schools, from kindergarten through higher education, by incorporating the IHRA definition into applicable anti-discrimination laws. In part, it prohibits instructors from teaching concepts defined as antisemitic. Given the IHRA definition’s conflation of Zionism and Judaism, it may prevent students from learning of Israel’s history of violence against Palestinians…Iowa’s legislation is the broadest of the three, adding antisemitism as defined by IHRA to the state’s civil rights act.”
“The official story behind Act.IL is that it was developed by students at one of Israel’s private colleges, building on hasbara (Israeli government PR) work they had been conducting during the 2014 assault on Gaza. Yet it also had the involvement of former Israeli intelligence officials, the Israeli government, and was bankrolled at least in part by the late casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. The app’s operators, like the Israeli government, still repeatedly insisted on its grassroots bona fides, characterizing it as little more than a civil society effort at centralizing opposition to “anti-Israel propaganda.” But if you ask Michael Bueckert, a Canadian academic, activist, and vice president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), who spent almost five years monitoring Act.IL via the Twitter account “Behind Israel’s Troll Army,” the prevarication around the app’s origins and operators was part of a broader “no logo” strategy pursued by the Israeli government. Bueckert says that this allowed the authorities to “choreograph social media activity without having the source identified… The idea was as much as possible to make it look like spontaneous grassroots responses to things online.” Five years later, that strategy appears to have failed, at least in this format. Last month, the Act.IL app was closed, less than a year after the Strategic Affairs Ministry, which for years led the government’s charge against the boycott movement — often surreptitiously and through paid-for propaganda in media outlets — was folded into the Foreign Ministry.”
“Today is Israeli Holocaust Remembrance Day, which many outside Israel – Jews and non-Jews alike – tend to note. On this day, many mark the struggle against antisemitism as part of the terrible legacy of the Holocaust. There is no doubt that antisemitism, and any other form of racism and bigotry, must be fought decisively, and that the critical struggle against these must be one of the clear lessons to be learned on this day. However, one of the most disturbing phenomena of the last decade or two is the identification of anti-Zionism and even harsh criticism of Israel with antisemitism, as well as the reverse identification of “contemporary” antisemitism first and foremost with anti-Zionism and even criticism of Israel…What they all have in common, however, is that in practice, whether intentionally or not they are completely delegitimising the Palestinian national narrative, which legitimately views Zionism as a racist colonial enterprise that has established a modular regime of negating rights of the indigenous people. Whether intentionally or not, they all participate in radically transforming the image of the Palestinian national movement from an emancipatory liberation movement whose basic demands are legitimate and just (even if one thinks that they cannot all be met) to a racist and antisemitic movement.”
“The political action committee affiliated with AIPAC, the pro-Israel powerhouse lobby, has in less than six months of existence become the biggest pro-Israel PAC, delivering $6 million to 326 candidates. It is also now endorsing 109 of the 147 of the Republicans who refused to affirm President Joe Biden’s election on Jan. 6, 2021, after a deadly insurrection spurred by former President Donald Trump’s false claims that it was he who won the election.” See also “AIPAC super PAC spent $1.2 million in four Democratic primaries” (Jewish Insider) and “Why Hasn’t AIPAC Endorsed One of Congress’ Most pro-Israel Republicans?” (Haaretz, referring to Liz Cheney)
“Secretary of State Tony Blinken said on Wednesday that the U.S. should re-enter UNESCO and claimed Israel would support such a move…“There was a very understandable concern expressed in the past because of the Palestinians seeking admission and that going forward. Congress chose to act and make it difficult for us to continue our participation,” Blinken said. “We believe that having the waiver authority [to the 1990s provisions] would be important and necessary. And I can say with authority that our partners in Israel feel the same way — they would support our rejoining UNESCO.””
“Asked whether “The anti-Israel climate, on campus or elsewhere, has forced me to hide my Jewish identity,” 62.2 % said this did not describe their experience, and 10.9% said they didn’t think there is an anti-Israel climate. The poll elicited similar results when it asked respondents whether “the Anti-Israel climate, on campuses or elsewhere, has damaged my relationships with friends.””
“Long a hub for international commerce, the Emirates has a large and diverse Arab population including many Palestinians, who reject the 2020 normalization deals. But they risk arrest or expulsion if they try to express their opposition. No one would dare criticize or speak up, said one Palestinian artist who was born and raised in the Emirates. She asked not to be named for fear of retribution.”
“Islamic authorities in Jerusalem say 250,000 people gathered to attend prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque to mark Laylat al-Qadr, as the holy month of Ramadan continues. The faithful congregated at the mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites, on Wednesday evening, close to the golden-topped Dome of the Rock. Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven from the site.”
“In March of 2022, major US mainstream media outlets continued to omit important context from their coverage of Palestine, concealing the political drivers of Israel’s actions and Palestinian resistance. In addition, there were several instances of erasure of Palestinian identity, knowledge, and history. This erasure serves to fragment Palestinian communities, relegate Palestinian intellectual work, and whitewash Israel’s crimes.”