Top News & Analysis from Israel & Palestine: August 26-September 2, 2022

What We’re Reading

New from FMEP

Israel, Palestine, & Take-Aways from the 2022 Democratic Party Primaries,

During the 2022 Democratic Party Primaries Israel-aligned funders invested tens of millions of dollars to defeat progressive candidates who, as part of a broader rights-based, democratic agenda, support Palestinian rights. To examine this phenomenon and its implications, FMEP non-resident Fellow Dr. Maha Nassar hosted political strategist Rania Batrice, FMEP President Lara Friedman, and analyst Dr. Yousef Munayyer in conversation to address questions like: How does Israel/Palestine show up in Democratic Party politics today? How deep is the embrace of Palestinian rights among progressive candidates and in the grassroots? What has pushback from Israel-aligned funders (from both parties) looked like and how may it manifest in the future, and what does it mean for progressive organizing and candidates in the future? Listen to this conversation as a podcast here.

Israel's Assaults on Palestinian Civil Society

Israel Shut Down al-Haq's Office. The NGO Returned That Same Day - Palestinians,

“If you ask Al-Haq staffers what specifically led Israel to classify the group as a terrorist organization, they are sure of the answer: its efforts to promote the investigation against Israel by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In 2015, the organization submitted evidence to the court of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel during the 2014 Gaza war. A similar report was recently submitted about Israel’s 2021 Gaza operation. Beforehand, it also submitted a legal analysis supporting the position that the court has jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories, which allows it to investigate what occurs in it.”

Israel sentences Gaza aid worker convicted of funding Hamas to 12 years,

“Independent audits and investigations carried out in recent years found no evidence of wrongdoing, said World Vision International, which employed Mohammed al-Halabi as the head of its Gaza operation from 2014 until his arrest in 2016. The Beersheba district court in southern Israel ruled in June that Halabi was guilty of funneling $50 million and tons of steel to Hamas, which the United States and European Union classify as a terrorist organization…Lawyer Maher Hanna said that Halabi maintains his innocence and that he worked to keep the agency’s funds out of the hands of Hamas. He said they would appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court, where he expects the decision to be overturned, in the coming weeks. Khalil al-Halabi, Mohammad’s father, said in a phone interview that Israel offered him the chance to sign a plea deal 12 times in return for his release, but that he declined so as not to confess to the “silly” charges that he categorically denied.” See also Lara Friedman’s conversation with journalist Daoud Kuttab, Using “Terrorism” Charges to Target NGOs: Lessons from the Case of Mohamed Halabi.

Ethnic Cleansing in Masafer Yatta

WATCH: Women of Masafer Yatta tell their stories of resistance,

“Over the past weeks, as Israel’s plans for the expulsion are set in motion, activists Rachel Shor and Naomi Nur Zahor have been visiting Masafer Yatta to speak to the women who live there, and filming their conversations for Social TV…The women of Masafer Yatta carry on their backs complex identities, each one with her own story, coping collectively and individually with the implications of the expulsion, the impending demolition of their homes, the unknown, and a state that continually views them as the “enemy,” enacting against them a long series of racist and discriminatory practices.” See also The Palestinians facing mass eviction in the West Bank (BBC video)

The whole world needs to watch what I just saw: ,

“The whole world needs to watch what I just saw: Israelis preventing a group of 10-year-olds, on their way to school with teachers, from entering their OWN VILLAGE because occupying army made it a “firing zone”. All families face ethnic cleansing in Masafer Yatta for this reason. This is how sick the Apartheid regime is in 2022: A kid detained, in the 3rd grade, in front of a tank, just because he lives in Masafer Yata. The “firing zone” is a hoax, it was declared with the purpose to evict us, Ariel Sharon said in a secret document recently uncovered.” See also the video Basel posted and Israeli forces block Palestinian teachers from reaching school in Masafer Yatta on first day of class (The New Arab)

Apartheid/Occupation/Human Rights

From Jenin to Gaza to Nablus: Palestinian Resistance Under Attack,

“Mariam Barghouti and Ibrahim Fraihat join host Yara Hawari to discuss how the latest Israeli attacks and assassinations in Jenin, Gaza and Nablus are part of a wider Israeli strategy to crush Palestinian armed resistance.” See also Israeli forces arrest two Palestinian gunmen after hours-long battle, two Israeli settlers injured in Nablus (The New Arab), Two Palestinians killed as Israeli forces storm refugee camps in occupied West Bank (The New Arab), Israeli forces gun down Palestinian in confrontations in al-Bireh (WAFA)

One hunger striker can bring down the entire system,

“Khalil Awawdeh’s detention is the Archimedean point upon which Israel’s entire apartheid regime — whose most basic driving logic is the absolute control over the Palestinian people — is founded. This control extends to Palestinian land, freedom of movement, and life itself. This is the only way to understand the court’s cowing to the Shin Bet. The sheer horror of the possibility that a Palestinian detainee will take his life into his own hands, even if it means certain death, is exactly the same as the horror of the possibility that this system of control could implode. The fear that the house of cards will collapse at once if, at its lowest rung, its weakest link, a disenfranchised and dying administrative detainee, will wrest control of his freedom from Israeli hands and use the one weapon he has left in his arsenal: his life.” See also Palestinian detainee ends hunger strike, expects release (WaPo) and Israeli court refuses to release prisoner Ahmad Manasra (Al Jazeera) and Palestinian prisoners halt mass hunger strike after Israel ‘ends punitive measures’ (Middle East Eye)

Palestinian West Bank death toll highest in years amid Israeli terror crackdown,

“At least 85 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank so far this year as Israeli forces stepped up their nightly raids in cities, towns, and villages, making it the deadliest since 2016.” See also Israel’s ‘Operation Breaking Dawn’ killed 49 Palestinians. These are their stories. (Mondoweiss)

Jews now a 47% minority in Israel and the territories, demographer says,

“Jewish people make up less than 47 percent of all those living west of the Jordan River, an Israeli demographer warned Tuesday, claiming that most of the Israeli population is unaware of the democratic peril the country is sliding into by possibly becoming a ruling minority in the area…According to Soffer, there are 7.45 million Jews and others along with 7.53 million Arab Israelis and Palestinians living in what he termed the Land of Israel, meaning Israel plus the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

Israel destroyed Palestinian village for luxury settlement that was never built,

“In May 1971, Israeli authorities expelled the Palestinian residents of a small village north of Jerusalem, intending to replace them with a settlement for wealthy Jewish Israelis…These revelations, discovered in materials classified as “top secret” that +972 Magazine recently unearthed in the Israel State Archives, are not merely a historical footnote. Ever since they were forced out and their homes destroyed, approximately 300 of the residents of An-Nabi Samwil — some of those who were forced out, along with their children and grandchildren — have been living in an unrecognized hamlet only 200 meters from where their old homes once stood, mostly in the houses of other Palestinians who fled the village during the 1967 war. The building plan for the new Jewish settlement in An-Nabi Samwil went through various iterations, and was eventually discarded in the mid-1980s due to opposition on environmental and technical grounds. But the evicted Palestinian residents remain forbidden from returning to their demolished homes, and the area has since been declared a national park and an archaeological site. Those Palestinians who still live in the area are denied sewage and road infrastructure as well as building permits, and have been cut off from the rest of the occupied West Bank by Israel’s separation wall. At the same time, they are not allowed to enter nearby Jerusalem — a one minute drive away — without a permit, which most residents do not receive.”

Jerusalem/Al Quds

Silent Violence: Thus Impinges Israeli Colonialism on Our Family Lexicon,

“Family unification requests.” “Half-year permits.” “Residence renewal.” “Center of life proof.” “A security ban.” “They [Israeli occupation] cut off insurance.” “Finally, a response from the Ministry of Interior?” “You must wait, we must wait.” “At the mercy of the officer.” “There’s still no decision.”… These are the strands and filaments threading through and wrapping around Palestinian morning and evening conversations: scraps of sentences composed of hard-to-chew legal expressions, questions scattered across the dining table, preferring arduous deferral to dry negation. Thus have the Israeli occupation’s laws, procedures, and policies transformed the lexicons of thousands of Palestinian families…The system of Israeli occupation laws, procedures, and policies—restricting family unification, stripping Jerusalemites of residence status, and complicating the procedures for registering children in Jerusalem when one parent is from the West Bank or the Gaza Strip—is nothing but an intensification of the daily bureaucratic violence that state agencies employ to exercise control over the Palestinian people’s bodies and minds. This daily violence is a cornerstone of the system of oppression, domination, and slow, forced displacement, and a tool for dividing the Palestinian people, consolidating legal divisions, and subjecting Palestinian feelings to the permit system’s boundaries and hierarchy. Israeli authorities present us with blatant and crude examples of this violence, practiced daily against Palestinians, who resist, out-maneuver, or circumvent it, and sometimes admit defeat before it.”

Settlement Org Eyes a New Target, and Israeli Authorities Go Out of Their Way to Help,

“This energetic activity would not have been allowed without the massive support of some 10 different local and government authorities, which have sometimes stretched the bounds of proper administration to help Elad in the Hinnom Valley. The Ministry of Justice’s Administrator General and Official Receiver took over the land; the Israel Nature and Parks Authority has allowed the organization to operate there in its name; the Jerusalem Municipality has issued landscaping directives for the area; the Israel Antiquities Authority has ignored the excavations that have taken place there without proper archaeological oversight; the Education Ministry sends schoolchildren there while the army sends soldiers; the Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Ministry funds free shuttles to the site; the Jerusalem Development Authority finances various projects; the Hevra Kadisha burial society is allowing work in the cemetery – and so on.”

I tracked down the house Israel stole from my grandfather,

“With the documents in my hand, and relying on what my father knew, I pinpointed the exact location of the house and took my dad for a visit in the summer of 2021. We were not surprised to find it was still there, and that it was occupied by a Jewish Israeli family. The building had two extra stories added on top of the original one-storey house. Everywhere I looked in the neighbourhood, I saw evidence of our Palestinian existence, and I felt the heartache of our erasure.”

Tech & Apartheid

Fact Sheet: the Israeli Cyber Industry,

“The structures of Israeli settler colonialism, military occupation, and apartheid have enabled Israel to build one of the largest cyber industries in the world. By exporting technologies such as Pegasus spyware, the Israeli government and private Israeli companies exporting the Palestinian experience of mass surveillance and state violence under apartheid, thereby profiting off of escalating threats against human rights defenders, journalists, and political opponents around the world. Palestinian civil society is calling for a ban on the trade of cyber surveillance technology, including not only Pegasus spyware but also remote biometric technologies that enable mass surveillance. Visualizing Palestine produced this factsheet to accompany the visual “The Pegasus Effect: The Global Impact of Israeli Surveillance Technology,” created in partnership with Al Haq, Bisan Center, and Mind the Gap Consortium.”

Google Employee Who Played Key Role in Protest of Contract With Israel Quits,

“A Google employee who became the most visible opponent of a company contract with the Israeli military said on Tuesday that she would resign after claiming Google had tried to retaliate against her for her activism. The employee, Ariel Koren, a marketing manager for Google’s educational products arm who has worked for the company for seven years, wrote a memo to colleagues announcing her plan to leave Google at the end of the week. She spent more than a year organizing against Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion agreement for Google and Amazon to supply Israel and its military with artificial intelligence tools and other computing services…Fifteen other Google employees posted audio testimonies to YouTube on Tuesday asking the company not to work with Israel and criticizing Google’s treatment of Palestinians and its censorship of employees who support them. All but two of the workers spoke anonymously. They released their remarks to coincide with Ms. Koren’s departure from the company.” Also seeGoogle’s Complicity in Israeli Apartheid: How Google Weaponizes “Diversity” to Silence Palestinians and Palestinian Human Rights Supporters” (Ariel Koren’s memo); “No Tech for Apartheid”: Google Workers Push for Cancellation of Secretive $1.2B Project with Israel (Democracy Now); Google worker who opposed contract with Israel quits, claiming retaliation and a climate of silencing pro-Palestinian workers (Fortune); Jewish Google employee quits over ‘silencing’ of pro-Palestinian voices (Video on Middle East Eye)

Israeli Elections

Jewish Israeli voters have moved significantly rightward in recent years, data shows,

“Israel’s right-wing Jewish voter base has grown from 46 percent before the April 2019 election to 62% now, ahead of November’s vote, according to an analysis of self-reported political affiliation by the Israel Democracy Institute. The growth has been mostly at the expense of the political center, although the left has also taken a dip…In 1986, when the survey was first conducted, 39% of Israeli Jewish voters defined themselves as right-wing, 25% as centrist and 23% as left-wing. In the survey for 1995, the year in which prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, 36% defined themselves as left-wing, 29% as right-wing, and 28% as centrist.” See also Netanyahu unites Jewish supremacist parties ahead of November’s election (Axios)