Top News & Analysis from Israel & Palestine: December 23, 2021

What We’re Reading

New from FMEP

2021 Review/2022 Preview: Challenges & Opportunities on the Road to Palestinian Rights,

In this episode of Occupied Thoughts, FMEP’s Lara Friedman hosts Palestinian organizer Fadi Quran and FMEP Non-resident Fellow Peter Beinart for a wide-ranging conversation about 2021’s most defining events when it comes to the lived reality of Palestinians and Israelis on the ground, as well as U.S. politics on the issue. The trio also take on predictions for what might unfold in 2022.

Occupation/Apartheid/Human Rights

West Bank: Israeli police fire teargas at Palestinians as settlers march on village,

Dozens of Palestinians have been wounded, including some suffering breathing problems, after Israeli forces used tear gas to suppress demonstrations in the village of Burqa, north-west of Nablus in the northern West Bank on Thursday….Thousands of settlers, including rabbis and high-ranking political and settler movement figures, marched on the Homesh settlement, north-west of Nablus, on Thursday in a show of support for the Homesh outpost and in commemoration of a settler killed by a Palestinian last Thursday at the entrance to the settlement.” See also: “100 Palestinians injured as settlers attack Burqa village” (WAFA); “Thousands rally against razing of illegal outpost where terror victim studied” (Times of Israel) and these photographs of settler attacks on Burqa, including the vandalizing of Palestinian graves, on Oren Ziv’s Twitter thread.

IDF begins allowing troops to shoot at fleeing rock-throwers,

“The Israeli military has revised its open-fire policies for the West Bank, officially allowing troops to shoot at Palestinians who had thrown rocks or firebombs at cars, even if the assailants no longer present an immediate threat….While the policy is new, the practice is not. There have been cases in the past of soldiers shooting rock throwers after they no longer presented an immediate threat and later being found to have acted correctly.” See also:Israel army allows soldiers to open fire at Palestinian stone throwers” (Middle East Monitor) and “West Bank: Family of slain Palestinian says Israeli forces ‘executed’ him” (Middle East Eye) and “Israeli soldier fatally shoots 15-year-old Muhammad Da’adas in the abdomen” (B’Tselem)

My Neighbor Protested His Family’s Expulsion From Its Home—Now He’s in an Israeli Prison,

“When Israeli officers and undercover agents raided Murad Attieh’s home and arrested him on August 10, his mother, Nuha, had hoped he would be out of the interrogation room in a matter of hours. She’d seen many of her neighbors in Sheikh Jarrah—including my siblings and myself—detained, interrogated, and released shortly after and assumed her son would fall into this pattern. Today, however, marks Murad’s 133rd day in prison. No one knows if and when he will be released…For those of us who have been following Murad’s case, what has made it so alarming is the way it seeks to criminalize his participation in the protests—and, in fact, the movement to save Sheikh Jarrah itself. Nasser Odeh, one of Murad’s two lawyers, said he believes the case bears clear hallmarks of a political move—an attempt to “smear the movement [in Sheikh Jarrah] as violent before the international community.”” See also:Jerusalem: Israeli forces crush protest against eviction of Palestinian family” (Middle East Eye) “Opinion: Mr. Blinken, you can pick up the phone and save a Palestinian village from destruction” (Washington Post)

Settler attacks on Palestinians are on the rise, but justice remains elusive,

“Security officials say that this year has seen a drastic spike in violence by Jewish extremists in the West Bank. In 2020, the Shin Bet registered 272 violent incidents in the disputed territory; so far in 2021, the domestic security agency has recorded 397, with two weeks still to go before year’s end….According to statistics compiled by the Yesh Din rights group, which tracks Jewish nationalist violence in the West Bank, 91 percent of police investigations into attacks by Israelis on Palestinians between 2005 and 2019 were closed without indictments.” See alsoSettler attacks on Palestinians soar, challenging Israeli coalition” (Christian Science Monitor) and “How Many Settler Attacks Have Occurred This Year in the West Bank? Depends on Who’s Counting” (Haaretz)

Extrajudicial Killing of Mohammad Salima: Paradigm Needs to Be Shifted Over Israel Military’s Excessive Force that Deprives Palestinians of Their Right to Life,

“Over the past few months, Israel, the Occupying Power has escalated its oppressive policies and practices against Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, in particular in the neighborhoods of Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, and in the Old City.Such acts have included killings, raids, arbitrary arrests, state-condoned settler violence, and house demolitions….This report provides a legal analysis of Mohammad Salima’s extrajudicial killing by the Israeli Occupying Forces through the lens of international law, placing it within the context of Israel’s overall strategy to oppress and suppress the Palestinian people. Israel’s infringements on the right to life may amount to an inhuman act of apartheid, a crime against humanity carried out in the furtherance of a widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population.” See alsoThe system is defending police shooters instead of putting them on trial” (+972)

I was arrested for a crime I didn’t commit. The Palestinians I work with suffer far worse.,

“This same system that so easily targeted my roommates and me with an absurd and disproportionate show of force stands by and supports routine settler attacks on Palestinians, army violence and land takeover….The vulnerability and lack of control I felt are infinitely more severe for millions of Palestinians who are living under occupation every day. Random arrests and house raids, long arrests without evidence, huge fines and costs for recouping confiscated materials happen to Palestinians all of the time.” See also:Israeli Government Escalates Pressure on Israelis Who Stand in Solidarity with Palestinians,” FMEP’s podcast with Oriel Eisner, Maya Eshel, and Lara Friedman, and “Save Masafer Yatta” for more on Palestinian life & dispossession in the South Hebron Hills.

‘We are family’: the Israelis sharing life and hope with Palestinians,

“This rocky, difficult place is one of the fiercest frontlines of the occupation: Palestinian homes, paved roads and water cisterns are repeatedly demolished thanks to a near-total ban on construction, while illegal Israeli settlements flourish. Rather than collapse under these pressures, however, the local community has become a deep wellspring for non-violent Palestinian activism, which has often worked hand in hand with the anti-occupation movement in Israel. In the absence of any meaningful top-down peace process, Hathalin and Mark are part of a new generation of activists who are quietly taking an extraordinary new step. Together with Nnur Zahor, another Israeli Arabic speaker, Mark has created an immersive language-learning course for like-minded young Israeli activists, taught by eight local Palestinian women, including Hathalin. Over the course of several months, the project has helped to forge deep relationships between the students and people across several villages, and the Israelis’ presence is countering a rising tide of settler violence.” See also: “World Zionist Organization Gives Grazing Land to Settlers in Army Firing Zones.” 

Tools of Dispossession in the Naqab: Development & Military Projects ,

“On this interactive map, Who Profits highlights several ongoing developmental and military projects in their various stages of implementation, illustrating how Israel’s long-standing policies to Judaize and industrialize serve to dispossess the Naqab’s Palestinian Bedouin inhabitants.”

Israeli Scene

Itamar Ben-Gvir: Far-right Israeli MP pulls a gun on two Palestinian security guards,

Israeli police have opened an investigation into an incident where Itamar Ben-Gvir, a far-right Jewish nationalist MP from the Religious Zionism movement, pulled a gun on two Palestinian security guards in a car park in Tel Aviv. Video footage of the incident, which took place on Tuesday, went viral on social media. It shows Ben-Gvir arguing with two Palestinian citizens of Israel looking after the car park. Ben-Gvir pulls out his gun and yells at one of the guards in a threatening tone: “I’ll take care of you”.” See also this Tweet from Avner Gvaryahu summarizing Ben-Gvir on Israeli television: “Member of Israeli Parliament Ben Gvir (Netanyahu’s BFF) calls for targeted assassinations of Arab-Israeli leaders as revenge for attacks in the WB. This is what normalizing a military dictatorship looks like and a glimpse into the vision of these fascists.”

Jerusalem School Nixes Meeting With Leftist NGO Following Pressure,

A Jerusalem high school has scrapped a meeting between 12th grade students and representatives of the Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families for Peace organization that had been scheduled for Thursday, as right-wing activists have threatened to protests outside the school….After learning about plans for this year’s program, right-wing activists appealed to members of the public on social media to turn out for a protest on Thursday morning. “Have we gone crazy, bringing the families of terrorists into the schools?” extreme right-wing Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir wrote.”

Seeking Redemption: On Religious Anti-Occupation Politics,

“In a new book, one of Israel’s most prominent left-wing activists makes his case through a thousand years of Jewish scholarship.”

Palestinian Scene

Palestine in 2021: Victories and Challenges,

“In this episode of Rethinking Palestine, host Yara Hawari highlights the best bits of all our episodes in 2021 to give you a round-up of how Palestinian analysts and experts reflected on the most important events in Palestine this year.”

Jewish Currents: Becoming Palestine ,

“Scholars, writers, and artists have long looked to the archive as a site of boundless possibility—a mechanism for recovering suppressed or erased histories to elucidate the past and inform the present. But in recent decades, theorists have questioned this attachment and its place in radical and decolonial movements, arguing that it often amounts to a reification of official state narratives. In her recent book Becoming Palestine: Toward an Archival Imagination of the Future, scholar Gil Z. Hochberg intervenes in this debate by examining how the work of contemporary Palestinian artists challenges prevailing notions of what constitutes an “archive” to deliver a vision of radical future-making. Analyzing eclectic pieces by filmmakers Jumana Manna, Kamal Aljafari, and Larissa Sansour; choreographer Farah Saleh; and visual artists Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, the book asks us to practice what Hochberg dubs a “future-oriented archival imagination”—one that sees the present itself as an archival moment in the making. I spoke with Hochberg about the political limits and potential of various conceptions of the archive for Palestinians and other colonized peoples.”

Overcoming the Hurdles: The Struggle of Palestinian Humanitarian NGOs,

“In this piece, I identify some of the most systematic challenges impacting the operations of Palestinian humanitarian organizations, based on desk research and interviews I conducted with organizations and key experts on the ground. Although many of the issues discussed here are applicable to Palestinian civil society writ large, the focus of this paper is on humanitarian Palestinian NGOs. The paper begins with an overview of the shrinking humanitarian space, and then explores the role of global counter-terror measures in constraining operations and how these measures, and others, are used to impose financial, physical, and bureaucratic impediments on Palestinian humanitarian NGOs.”

U.S. Scene

Nobody's Boycotting Israel, but Just in Case...,

“Most Arkansas publications that do business with the state, including Arkansas Business and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, accepted the anti-boycott language as a simple business decision. Boycotting a faraway country is not something that would even cross most local publishers’ minds, Leveritt agrees. But as a businessman and journalist, he hated having to sign on to a political position in order to do business with the state on a level playing field. He and the ACLU also hold that boycotts are protected political speech under the First Amendment….The Arkansas Times has been running some state advertising, accepting 20% less than full price as the penalty for refusing to sign the pledge. Leveritt put it this way: “It’s an abridgment of the First Amendment to take away 20% of our advertising because we won’t play ball.””

After Pegasus affair, Israeli tech companies fear US blacklisting,

“The announcement by the US Department of Commerce that it was placing Israeli cybersecurity companies on its blacklist sent shockwaves through Israel’s entire cyber sector. The industry, with tools used both offensively and defensively, is considered one of the best in the world. The concern now is that being on the US blacklist will have an immediate impact on an industry that is a major player in the Israeli economy. On the other hand, the fact that these companies’ successes have elicited such a sharp response from the Americans could increase demand for their other cyber products, most of them used as security tools.”


Why Donald Trump Doesn’t See American Jews as Americans,

“Because Trump is a blood and soil nationalist—someone who sees national identity as based, fundamentally, on racial, religious and ethnic identity—he doesn’t consider people from outside America’s dominant tribe to be fully American. It angers him that many Arabs, Muslims, Mexicans, Blacks, and Jews are trying to forge an American identity based instead on civic nationalism—a nationalism open to anyone who lives in America’s borders and abides by its laws—because that more inclusive national ethos threatens white Christian dominance.” See alsoIs Donald Trump an Antisemite?” (New Yorker // David Remnick)

De-emphasized under Trump, report shows Biden taking settler violence more seriously,

“An annual US State Department report on terrorism in different countries released on Thursday dedicated significantly more focus to settler violence than such reports did during the Trump administration….In this year’s report, the section on settler violence has three long paragraphs and once again cited OCHA statistics, which had been common during the Obama administration.”

Jewish Currents Tuesday News Bulletin,

“Last Thursday, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Washington’s flagship Israel lobby group, announced that it would be forming two new political action committees (PACs) to spend money directly on elections…The move suggests that AIPAC is about to spend a whole lot of money on shoring up the Washington consensus on Israel. The decision comes at a time when the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is growing more critical of the country’s apartheid system, putting AIPAC’s model of cultivating bipartisan support for Israel under some strain….By forming official PACs, AIPAC is turning to a more explicit fundraising strategy that gives them more direct control over which candidates to back, and how to support them.”

Trump or Netanyahu? American Evangelicals Support Israel, Yet Signs of Change,

“13 experts assess new survey conducted after Gaza conflict, which finds solidarity with the Jewish state but increasing preference for Palestinians among younger and non-white evangelicals.”

“Pro-Israel” Pundits Don’t Talk About Israel,

“This contrast—between influential Israel supporters’ lack of interest in the country’s treatment of Palestinians, and their intense interest in how criticism of Israel might translate into hostility to American Jews—illustrates something curious about the Israel debate in the US: It’s not really a debate at all, because Israel’s critics and its supporters focus on completely different things. Israel’s detractors tend to dwell on its denial of Palestinian rights. By contrast, “pro-Israel” commentators show far less interest in how Israel treats Palestinians than in how Israel’s critics treat the Jewish state. Their primary subject isn’t really Israel at all; it’s antisemitism. The problem is that their definition of antisemitism rests on a distinction between criticism of Israel, which they consider legitimate, and opposition to the country’s existence as a Jewish state, which they deem bigoted. But the validity of that distinction rests on what Jewish statehood actually means for the Palestinians under Israel’s control—the very subject that its highest-profile defenders evade. It’s a sleight of hand. The trick is to enforce a set of boundaries around criticism of Israel without investigating whether those boundaries bear any relationship to reality on the ground.”

Opinion | The U.S. Funding Challenges Facing the Israel-Palestine ‘Peace Industry’,

“On the face of it, everything sounds good. The United States is once again investing in peace and in organizations with good and important goals. But we should recall the era of the Oslo Accords. Innumerable initiatives for promoting cooperative projects and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinian mushroomed at the time. To this day, scholars disagree regarding the extent to which they actually helped to promote peace. Some arguably widened the rift – like initiatives for dialogue that, at best, yielded nothing and, at worst, left the participants with a sense of despair. One of the biggest controversies in this discussion pertains to undertakings like mixed soccer teams, which are sometimes cynically dubbed “hummus” initiatives. The events of this past May were a reminder that idyllic aspirations for coexistence won’t solve everything. Even when people do get along on the individual level, a national-political conflict exists in parallel. With all due respect to soccer games, the real solutions are political.” See alsoIsraeli and Palestinian peace-building NGOs launch joint fundraising drive” (eJewish Philanthropy)