Top News & Analysis from Israel & Palestine: December 17, 2021

What We’re Reading

Occupation/Apartheid/Human Rights

This was the deadliest year for Palestinian children since 2014,

“As of December 14, 86 Palestinian children have been killed in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International – Palestine, where I serve as General Director….Based on our findings, a total of 67 Palestinian children were killed during the 11-day military escalation between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups in May. Sixty of those children were killed by the Israeli military using tank-fired shells, live ammunition, missiles dropped from weaponized drones, and U.S.-sourced warplanes and Apache helicopters. DCIP also found that seven Palestinian children were killed by rockets misfired by Palestinian armed groups within the Gaza Strip during this period….Over the course of the year, Israeli forces shot and killed a further 15 Palestinian children in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and shot dead another Palestinian child who was protesting near the Gaza perimeter fence in August. Armed Israeli civilians also shot and killed another two Palestinian children in the West Bank.”

'They Beat Me All Over': Palestinian Family Attacked Hours After Settler's Death in Shooting Attack,

“A Palestinian couple was attacked in their West Bank home in the early morning on Friday by a group of settlers they said claimed to be Israeli soldiers in order to get into the house. The attack – which left 55-year-old Wail Mohammed Makbal with fractured ribs, and his 46-year-old wife, Samiha, requiring medical attention after inhaling pepper spray – occurred hours after the death of a 25-year-old Jewish settler in a shooting attack in the same area of the West Bank….The assailants, who have not been apprehended, went on to attack the couple, vandalizing their home, car and tractor, and shattered the window of a neighboring house…According to Samiha, one of the attackers was in military uniform.” See also: “Settlers, backed by Israeli army, intensify attacks against Palestinians in Nablus area” (WAFA); “After deadly shooting, extremist settlers accused of assaulting Palestinians” (Times of Israel); ‘This place is fully ours’: “Hundreds at terror victim’s funeral in West Bank outpost” (Times of Israel).

Bennett Says Settler Violence 'Insignificant' Amid Spike in Attacks Against Palestinians,

“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett criticized Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev on Tuesday for criticizing setter violence in the West Bank and promising to tackle it. Bennett dubbed settler violence an “insignificant phenomena” that should be dealt with. Moreover, he called to refrain from generalizing the whole community. “The settlers in [the West Bank] have been suffering from violence and terrorism, every day, for decades,” Bennett said. “We must strengthen and support them, in words and actions.”” See also: “Right slams police minister for condemning ‘settler violence’ to US envoy” (Times of Israel); “Settler attacks on Palestinians are on the rise, but justice remains elusive” (Times of Israel) “Violent attacks by settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank are up nearly 50% from last year” (JTA) and “​​Top US official presses police minister on settler violence” (Times of Israel) and “Settler violence sparks disputes within Bennett’s government” (Al Monitor); “Israeli settlers set up outpost near Hebron, a prelude to building an illegal settlement” (WAFA); “Ten injured as Israeli forces crackdown on anti-land-pillage protest in Nablus” (WAFA)

A Vision for Liberation: Palestinian-led Development in Health and Education,

“What is the Palestinian vision for development that would bring about liberation and free Palestinians of donor-imposed conditions and restrictions? A diverse group of 19 Palestinian scholars, activists, teachers, engineers, lawyers, doctors, shopkeepers, construction workers, and students in the West Bank, Gaza, behind the Green Line (Palestinian citizens of Israel), and in the diaspora were interviewed to answer this question. While they differed in many ways, nearly all brought up the same concern: there is currently no vision for Palestinians, and without a vision, it is hard to imagine a future different than the current reality in which development and aid are conditional on Palestinian authorities’ adherence to the requirements of the international donor community.”

Opinion | How to Look for Signs of Life in the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process,

“Leaders betray their people when they exploit despair to avoid peace. This column will be my eyes on the process and finger on the pulse; I hope to bring an analytic voice of conscience asking whether Israeli and Palestinian societies, leaders and people are moving towards peace or deepening the conflict. Who is doing what and why? The conflict may be transparent, even invisible, to some, but it overshadows everything – and we the people cannot let our leaders forget that.” Also from Dahlia Scheindlin: “New Israeli Government’s Scorecard for Peace: Poor.” (The Century Foundation)


Israel Advances New Projects for Jews Across East Jerusalem That Would Push Palestinians Out,

“The Custodian General’s Unit in the Justice Ministry is promoting widespread plans for building Jewish neighborhoods and housing complexes in East Jerusalem – a move that would entail the eviction of Palestinian residents. The proposal includes a new neighborhood in Sheikh Jarrah, one near Damascus Gate, two near Beit Safafa, and one each in Sur Baher and Beit Hanina, documents obtained by Haaretz show.” See also “Israel begins work on seized Palestinian-owned plot of land in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood” (WAFA) and “Israel forces Palestine family in Jerusalem to demolish 3 homes” (MEMO) and “Several injured as Israeli police quell solidarity sit-in in Jerusalem neighborhood” (WAFA)

Why Jerusalem Cannot Be Taken “Off the Table” ,

“When Palestinian teenagers get up in the morning and decide to go out to stab Israelis on the streets of the country’s “undivided” capital, knowing full well that they will likely end up dead and that their families could pay a very high price too, the Israeli response cannot just be to beef up security forces and continue business as usual. That may seem like an acceptable solution to Israelis, especially when their government frames it as the necessary cost of Israel’s control of East Jerusalem and ever-expanding settlement project. But Palestinians won’t accede to an authority that treats them simply as “terrorists” and targets for eviction. Without a political process working toward the prospect of self-determination for Palestinians, and with dispossession and repression undiminished, conflict and violence will only intensify, especially in East Jerusalem.”

Mining Gold From East Jerusalem's Streets,

“Palestinians pay fines for the houses they are forced to build in East Jerusalem without permits on private land that they’ve inherited or bought. They pay daily fines for the non-demolition of their own homes. They pay the municipality for demolishing their houses – or do so with their own hands. They pay a lawyer to represent them when facing off against officials and judges indifferent to two basic facts: 1. The municipality has not bothered to tailor master plans to the needs of its Palestinian inhabitants, and, 2. People need a roof over their heads….Every such household devotes a good deal of its limited income every month – from hundreds to thousands of shekels – to paying fines for having a roof over their heads. Not to underwrite a mortgage – because Palestinians who are not citizens are not entitled to one – but as an extra payment, in addition to the normal payments made to a contractor, to an appliance store, to cover electricity and water bills and municipal taxes. The fine is the tax that about half of the Palestinians in Jerusalem pay as a penalty for not doing what is expected of them: disappearing into thin air.”

Gaza Strip

Opinion | Away From Gaza, One Question Forced Me to Face What I'd Been Trying Hard to Suppress,

“The 11 days and nights of hostilities in May 2021 were the hardest of my life. I remember the anxiety attacks I had when I realized that Israel was deliberately bombing buildings with the occupants still inside them, fearing that my family and I were next. Long hours were spent counting the shellings or bombardments and trying pointlessly to figure out which part of the house we should be in when the missile came – inside the rooms or in the doorway? I remember my children asking, “Why are people dying when they did nothing wrong?” and me straining to give them the reassurance they were looking for and struggling to hide the tears in my eyes. I know I lied to them when I promised everything was going to be okay.”

It’s Official: Gaza Is Now a Ghetto,

“And now it’s official: This is a ghetto. Not a prison. A ghetto. What’s the difference between a prison and a ghetto? In a prison they incarcerate people for their crimes. In a ghetto they incarcerate people for their genes. Over 2 million human beings are crowded into this ghetto, 99 percent of them innocent of any crime.”

Inside '48 Israel

Israel: Abusive Policing in Lod During May Hostilities,

Israeli law enforcement agencies used excessive force to disperse peaceful protests by Palestinians in Lod (al-Lydd) during civil unrest in the city in May 2021, Human Rights Watch said today. At times the police appeared to act half-heartedly and unevenly to violence against Palestinian citizens of Israel committed by Jewish ultra-nationalists. Public statements by senior Israeli officials appeared to encourage discriminatory responses by authorities and the judiciary. The police response in Lod took place amid systematic discrimination that the Israeli government practices against Palestinian citizens of Israel in many other aspects of their lives….Lod, a mixed Jewish and Palestinian city in central Israel, has experienced the rising influence of an ultra-nationalist group, the Garin Torani, which has sought to promote the city’s Jewish identity amid longstanding discrimination against the country’s Palestinian citizens. In 2013, an alleged Garin Torani sympathizer, Yair Revivo of the Likud Party, was elected mayor and has served continuously since then.” See also “Human Rights Watch says Israel used excessive force against Arabs during May unrest” (ToI) and this FMEP webinar, “Nakba, Mob Violence, and Inequality: the Past, Present, & Future of Palestinian Citizens of Israel” featuring Hana Amoury (Activist), Orwa Switat, PhD (Urban Planner), & Rami Younis (Director/Writer).

Israeli settlers have a new target, and it’s not in the West Bank,

“The mayor brought terrorist militias from the settlements to Lydd under the auspices of the municipality in May,” said Atty. Zbargah, who is also a member of the Popular Committee. “There is currently an attempt to privatize the security of local residents through the establishment of Jewish militias under the name ‘Guardians of Lod,’ (Lydd’s Hebrew name) to try and engineer and institutionalize aggression against the Arabs in the city. [Revivo] has given them a control room, headquarters, and offices, and has allowed them to install cameras across the city.”

Unearthing the Palestinian Neighborhood Buried Beneath a Tel Aviv Park,

“Tel Aviv’s Charles Clore Park looks like it was designed for promotional photos, with its picturesque palm trees, evergreen Astroturf and panoramic view of the sea….Yet underneath the park lies the rubble of Manshiya (aka al-Manshiyya), a historic Palestinian neighborhood that was captured in 1948, then turned over to working-class Jewish migrants and eventually demolished in the late 1960s….Ironically, a man instrumental in Manshiya’s destruction also made an effort to preserve its memory. Israeli poet and landscape architect Hillel Omer (known under his pen name, Ayin Hillel) designed the park in 1963 and filmed the neighborhood before its demolition. He documented its stone arches and alleyways, its markets and its children – smiling, waving and climbing on seaside rocks. A half-century later, Hillel’s grandchild, the multimedia artist Mai Omer (who uses ‘they’ pronouns), discovered their grandfather’s footage, and with it, a world lovingly captured before its ruin.”

Opinion | Ironically, It's the Israeli Right That's Acknowledging the Palestinian Nakba,

“”During a TV program on Channel 14 [former spokesman for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett] Fleischman said the following: “In the end what’s happening here is that the Arabs have forgotten the Nakba. And the time has come to begin reminding them of the Nakba…If they don’t come to their senses soon, and if they continue to try to murder our children, their next stop is to move to Jordan, or to the Al Yarmouk camp in Syria. That will happen if things continue this way. The great tragedy of the Arabs is … that we’ll simply take them in trucks, thrown them across the border, and that’s how it will end.”Fleischman draws a straight line between the past and the future by means of the threat of expulsion, or by justifying the next expulsion. The threat of a second Nakba is the price tag attached to acknowledgement of the first Nakba. This threat of a Nakba has no expiration date. It will continue to accompany the Palestinians like the Sword of Damocles as long as they live and breathe.”

Surveillance / Tech

How Israel turned Palestine into a surveillance tech dystopia ,

“Whether in the occupied West Bank, Gaza or Israel, Palestinians live under a cloud of constant Israeli surveillance. Recent revelations have included the Israeli army’s deployment of Blue Wolf facial recognition technology, which reportedly saw Israeli soldiers incentivised with prizes for taking the most photos of Palestinian civilians, and the installation of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware on the phones of Palestinian human rights workers…Israel simultaneously stifles technological advancement for Palestinian communities, while controlling the infrastructure that undergirds the surveillance state. An Israeli military whistleblower recently revealed that Israeli authorities have the ability to listen in on any phone conversation in the occupied West Bank and Gaza – and not only that, any mobile device imported into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing is implanted with an Israeli bug….While Israel’s system of surveillance is clearly built on a lack of regard for Palestinians’ basic rights, including their right to privacy, the response from global governments has been slow and ineffective in addressing the issue. The work of civil society organisations and digital rights defenders is thus a vital tool for increasing public pressure on surveillance companies.”

‘We’re on the U.S. Blacklist Because of You:’ The Dirty Clash Between Israeli Cyberarms Makers” ,

“Should it wish to, NSO has enough evidence to prove the involvement of several key individuals in approving and promoting its sales as part of diplomatic processes, including former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen and several senior U.S. officials. The company’s misfortune is that they have all lost their political power….While NSO has a long record of reports alleging its products have been used to hack the phones of civilians, journalists or diplomats, there is less of a public record regarding Candiru. There’s only one such report, the CitizenLab-Microsoft one. CitizenLab, the Canadian research institute responsible for many of the revelations about NSO, reported in July that Candiru’s hacking software targets included the computers of some 100 journalists and human rights activists in the Middle East and elsewhere.” See also: “Google Warns That NSO Hacking Is On Par With Elite Nation-State Spies” (Wired); “What will NSO do without its flagship product?” (Globes) and “Spyware Firm NSO Mulls Shutdown of Pegasus, Sale of Company” (Bloomberg)

American lawmakers support BDS after all,

“In a letter to the Treasury and State Secretaries on Tuesday, 18 Democratic members of Congress called on the U.S. government to impose sanctions on the Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group, along with three other cyber companies, as punishment for their role in aiding human rights abuses by authoritarian governments. NSO, whose Pegasus spyware has garnered the company global notoriety, was blacklisted last month by the U.S. Department of Commerce and is now the subject of a major lawsuit filed by Apple for targeting its users and devices….While undoubtedly a significant policy move, the irony of the letter seems to have been lost on some of its signatories. Wyden and Schiff, for example, were co-sponsors of two parallel bills on the Senate and House floors titled the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act.” Though yet to be enacted, the bills threaten to impose severe penalties on anyone who acts to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel’s government, its citizens, or its private entities with the intent to “coerce political action from or impose policy positions on Israel.” By moving against NSO, Wyden and Schiff are effectively violating their own legislation….The effort by lawmakers to exercise U.S. leverage over a company like NSO thus highlights the hypocrisy of the campaign to demonize and criminalize the Palestinian-led BDS movement, which is demanding precisely the kind of actions that Wyden and Schiff have just called for.” See also: “Exclusive: U.S. lawmakers call for sanctions against Israel’s NSO, spyware firms” (Reuters); and “After NSO Blacklisting, Israel Fears U.S. Targeting All Israeli Offensive Cyber Firms” (Haaretz)

Lawfare/Stifling Dissent/Free Speech

Opinion: Israel just showed its strategy on settlement boycotts: Gaslighting,

“Last Monday, Israel signed an agreement to join the European Union’s research and development program, Horizon Europe, which extends until 2027. Joining allows Israeli companies and academics to compete for grants in the 95.5 billion euro ($108 billion) program, and to join research partnerships in cutting-edge fields, including quantum computing. Israel’s participation, as a non-European country, is a sign of its close economic and political ties with the European Union. Horizon Europe also has a key condition, fitting wider E.U. policy. The partnership is with Israel, as defined territorially by its pre-1967 borders. Projects in West Bank settlements — for instance at Ariel University, in the settlement of the same name — need not apply….By signing, Israel hasn’t accepted the E.U. position that settlements aren’t de facto part of Israel. But it has most definitely reaffirmed that the E.U. can boycott settlements and remain an essential ally. The Israeli cabinet ratified the accord a day before it was signed. A government spokesman told me that no ministers voted against it.”

Israel’s Attack on Palestinian NGOs is a Threat to Civil Society Everywhere ,

“For the past decade the Israeli government and a network of politically-motivated disinformation groups it works with have engaged in a “lawfare” campaign, filing lawsuits and regulatory complaints against a host of groups engaged in humanitarian aid, peacebuilding, education, development, democracy building and human rights defense. A recent report from the Charity & Security Network documents this trend….The lawfare attacks have forced the groups targeted to divert time and money to legal defense and address the consequences of reputational damage caused by disinformation campaigns. But for the most part these attacks have failed to shut down funding and support for civil society programs in Palestine. It now appears that the Israeli government is trying a new tactic with these six designations. This is a serious escalation: these listings are based on secret evidence and there is a conspicuous lack of due process for the groups named. And the Israeli government is using this action to pressure other governments to follow suit.” See also: “Human rights defenders targeted by Israel launch joint website

Palestinian Scene

Many female candidates' faces hidden as West Bank votes,

“During the campaigning for the West Bank’s local elections, many of the faces of female candidates were replaced with a rose or silhouette on electoral lists and campaign posters….Areej Odeh, director of the a civil society organization Ramallah called the Women’s Affairs Team, criticized the missing photos. “It reflects men’s domination over women in Palestinian society,” she told Al-Monitor. “It is most likely that the female candidates were pressured by their fathers, husbands or sons to withhold their photo from the electoral lists. Women showing their faces in public is still considered shameful in Palestinian tribal traditions.” She went on, “I don’t think this has to do with religion or affiliation with Islamic parties. Some ladies whose photos were withheld belong to leftist parties and the Fatah movement. It is more about social traditions and custom and not religiosity.””

Palestinian embroidery added to UNESCO cultural heritage list,

“The United Nations cultural agency (UNESCO) has added the art of traditional Palestinian embroidery to its Intangible Cultural Heritage List….Palestinian embroidery – or “tatreez” – is an artistic tradition passed down through generations that involves hand-stitching patterns and motifs with brightly coloured thread onto clothing. The thobe, a traditional, loose-fitting dress worn by Palestinian women, is the most commonly embroidered item of clothing. While the practice originated in rural areas, the culture of stitching and wearing embroidered items is now common across cities and villages, with different patterns representing the various regions in historic Palestine and can act as an indicator for the economic and marital status of the woman wearing it.” See also “Luxury designer Tory Burch slammed for ‘culturally appropriating’ Palestinian and North African designs” (The New Arab)

US Scene

US holding off on reopening Jerusalem consulate amid strong pushback from Israel,

“A US diplomat, a former senior US official and another source familiar with the matter told The Times of Israel this week that the Biden administration has effectively shelved its effort to resurrect the de facto mission to the Palestinians shuttered by former president Donald Trump in 2019. No final decision has been made, and the official State Department line remains that the Biden administration “will move forward with the process of reopening the consulate in Jerusalem,” but the three sources confirmed that no such process has begun. Moreover, even the administration’s more ardent advocates of reopening the consulate have shifted their focus to policies more likely to impact day-to-day life for Palestinians, the former senior US official said.”

After 70 years on the sidelines, AIPAC will now officially fundraise for politicians,

“The American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Thursday launched a regular political action committee, which funnels $5,000 maximum donations to designated candidates per race, and a super PAC, which can raise unlimited money on behalf of a candidate. AIPAC PAC will be the name of the regular PAC, while the super PAC has yet to be named.” See also this Tweet from Dylan Williams of J Street: “The threat to America’s democracy is real, so @jstreetdotorg is calling on AIPAC and similar PACs to pledge not to endorse candidates who voted against certification of 2020 election results on January 6 or otherwise supported the “Big Lie” falsely claiming that Trump won in 2020”

Will Trump’s ‘F*ck Netanyahu’ moment hurt his standing among US conservatives?,

“Christians United for Israel, the largest pro-Israel Christian group which enthusiastically backed Trump’s Israel policies, said in a statement that for Christian voters, devotion to Israel outweighed any consideration of personal disputes.”

FMEP Legislative Round-Up: December 10, 2021,

To subscribe to this Round-Up, which comes out weekly on Fridays, please click here.

December 10, 2021: 1. Bills, Resolutions, Letters; 2. FY22 NDAA (cont.); 3. Hearings & Markups; 4. On the Record

Bonus/Long Reads & Listens

Tunnel Vision: Eyal Weizman on Israel’s multidimensional warfare,

“Each new Israeli bombing campaign – in 2008-9, 2012, 2014 and May 2021 – has pushed Palestinian resistance deeper underground, to extend and fortify its elaborate system of tunnels. The deaths of more than five thousand Palestinians and the damage or destruction of nearly a quarter of the buildings in the strip have come mainly from the air, but it is through their control of what lies underground that Palestinians have managed to continue their resistance.”

Distant Voices No More? Giving Rise to a New Generation of Palestinian Journalists,

“Palestine Deep Dive held its first in-person event in collaboration with the Foreign Press Association of the United States at the Knickerbocker Club, New York City. The event entitled, “Distant Voices No More? Giving Rise to a New Generation of Palestinian Journalists” marks the launch of our campaign, #ShowBothSides, encouraging major publications to hire more Palestinian correspondents on the ground in Palestine, in an attempt to restructure the mainstream media to finally respect the centrality of Palestinian voices. Drawing an audience of journalists, activists and policymakers, the evening featured contributions from an array of special guests, centred on three generations of esteemed Palestinian writers.”

The New Zionism: Why people with cartoon avatars are calling themselves "indigenous to Judea",

“No matter any ancestral claims we have to Palestine as a cultural and religious heartland, Zionism copies every other settler colony in seizing and enclosing the land for private profit, using genocide and displacement, and claims at being the “true indigenous people” … as a method of replacement, even when that claim is premised on classically imperialist tropes and manipulations. Whereas early Zionists embraced colonialism explicitly, contemporary Zionists in the apparently post-colonial era must now present themselves as the victims — what Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang call the “settler moves to innocence,” using Biblical historical claims, the appropriated cultures of its most systematically marginalized Jewish citizens, and straight up race science to paint settlers as natives. Of course, that question is materially irrelevant to the unforgivable wrongness of the Israeli occupation. But it still seems to do its job: the goal here is not to win an argument, but to muddy the waters enough that something as straightforward as settler colonialism can now appear “complicated,” cynically abusing the language of contemporary social justice.”

Are Zionists more antisemitic than anti-Zionists?,

“In the US, the data suggests that—contrary to what you hear from politicians and Jewish leaders—Zionists are probably more likely than anti-Zionists to hate Jews. Poll after poll shows that, in the US today, hostility to Israel is far greater on the left than the right…Studies of antisemitism, however, suggest that it’s far stronger on the American right. Earlier this year, the political scientists Eitan Hersh and Laura Royden asked Americans a series of questions traditionally used to measure antisemitic attitudes—for instance, “Jews in the United States have too much power” and “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America.” They found that, “While antisemitism in the U.S. is often written about through a “both sides” lens, our evidence — the first of its kind in testing hypotheses through experiments on a large representative sample — suggests the problem of antisemitism is much more serious on the right than the left.” Unless you define anti-Zionism as antisemitism, in which case you’ve created a tautology, the Americans most likely to dislike Jews and the Americans most likely dislike Zionism are different people.”