Top News & Analysis from Israel & Palestine: February 11-18, 2022

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New from FMEP

Apartheid & Dispossession: Views from the West Bank ,

Palestinians face a growing matrix of mechanisms geared towards removing them from their land, dispersing their communities, and threatening their livelihoods. This discussion focuses on what Palestinians in Area C (and increasingly in Area B) are facing and how they live under the shadow of dispossession, at the hands of the Israeli government, its security forces, its courts, and its private citizens. Featuring Basil al-Adraa (journalist & activist), Eid (photographer), Eyal Hareuveni (B’Tselem), and Sarit Michaeli (B’Tselem) in conversation with Lara Friedman (FMEP).

FMEP Welcomes 2022 Palestinian Fellows,

The Foundation for Middle East Peace is delighted to announce our new Palestinian Non-Resident Fellowship. Through this initiative, each year two Palestinian fellows will join FMEP in conceptualizing, producing, and hosting public programming, primarily through webinars and podcasts. To subscribe to FMEP’s event announcements, click here. FMEP’s 2022 Fellows are:

  • Dr. Maha Nassar, associate professor in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona. Click here for a podcast with Dr. Nassar on her background, research, plans for her FMEP fellowship, and analysis of this moment in time for Palestinians.
  • Jehad Abusalim, PhD student in the History and Hebrew and Judaic Studies joint program at New York University and Education and Policy Coordinator of the Palestine Activism Program at the American Friends Service Committee. Click here for a podcast with Mr. Abusalim on his background, research, plans for his FMEP fellowship, and analysis of this moment in time for Palestinians.

All Eyes on Sheikh Jarrah

As I write, Settlers and Police Are Attacking My Neighbors in Sheikh Jarrah,

“For some Israeli lawmakers, a Palestinian’s home is the perfect place to set up a make-shift office. All it takes is a tent, a plastic folding table, and an entourage of armed Jewish settlers. That’s what happened over the weekend when Israeli member of parliament, Itamar Ben-Gvir, decided to “move” his office from the Knesset to a yard in Sheikh Jarrah, my neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem. The yard belongs to the Salem family, which is threatened with forced expulsion in the coming weeks….As I write this, colonial violence continues in my neighborhood and across colonized Palestine. Israeli forces have shot and killed Nihad Barghouti, a Palestinian teenager who was protesting in occupied Nabi Saleh, Ramallah; attacked protesting students with tear gas canisters at Abu Dis University; assaulted a disabled activist in Sheikh Jarrah while providing protection for Ben-Gvir’s entourage; and demolished a Palestinian’s home in the South Hebron Hills, shortly before brutally detaining him. As the injuries and arrests mount, it’s hard not to see the parallels between today’s events and the events that sparked last year’s Unity Uprising and the devastating assault on the besieged Gaza Strip. Many hold their breath, anticipating the repression that accompanies resistance, the steep price of revolt.”

An Eviction 34 Years in the Making ,

“Within two weeks, Fatma Salem and her family might find themselves homeless, forcibly removed from their home in Sheikh Jarrah. Fatma, now 70 years old, was born and raised in the home and has been living there with her family since 1951. In early December 2021, Fatma was hand-delivered an eviction notice by two settler activists and Jerusalem City Council members: Deputy Mayor Aryeh King and Jonathan Yosef. Yosef claims to have purchased at least part of the Salem family home from Jews who allegedly owned the property prior to 1948. Now, the eviction can be carried out anytime between March 1 and April 1, 2022 and the family has been ordered to pay 5,000 shekels for legal expenses.” See alsoSheikh Jarrah: Israeli settlers storm home of Palestinian family facing expulsion” (Middle East Eye); Now hundreds protesting in #SheikhJarrah, the Israeli police is blocking the area around the house of the Salem family #jerusalem” (Oren Ziv’s Twitter)

Sheikh Jarrah: Far-right Israeli lawmaker Ben-Gvir refuses to leave makeshift office,

Far-right Israeli MP Itamar Ben-Gvir arrived on Monday morning at a makeshift office he and other settlers have set up on Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, a move that set off violence in what residents described as a “war zone”…According to local media, at least 31 people were injured on Sunday evening and overnight, including medics and a journalist, after Israeli forces used stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets to disperse Palestinian crowds who had gathered to stand in solidarity with the family.”

Occupation forces disperse peaceful protesters in Sheikh Jarrah,

Israeli occupation forces today assaulted and dispersed hundreds of Palestinian protesters and supporters in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied Jerusalem, said WAFA correspondent.” See alsoIsrael blocks Palestinians from travelling to East Jerusalem” (Middle East Eye)

Apartheid/Occupation/Human Rights

Israel Revives Assassination Tactics Not Seen for 15 Years in the West Bank ,

“Palestinians were shocked last week by a brazen midday Israeli military assault that employed tactics not seen in the West Bank in over 15 years. Human rights advocates said the Israeli killings of three Palestinian men constituted brutal and coordinated assassinations. …Israeli security forces claimed that the killings, carried out by the Border Police’s National Counter-Terrorism Unit, known colloquially as Yamam, were intended as an arrest raid and that the officers fired in self-defense. A joint Intercept, Local Call, and +972 Magazine investigation, however, points to a planned assassination in an area under Palestinian Authority control, a widely condemned tactic. For Shawan Jabarin, the general director of Al-Haq, a West Bank-based Palestinian human rights group, the killings amount to war crimes…“It’s an extrajudicial execution,” said Jabarin. He said his group had found no evidence that the Palestinian fighters ever fired or attempted to fire a shot: “The three persons were known by the Israelis, and they came merely to kill them.” The killings conjured bitter memories of the extrajudicial assassinations that marked the darkest days of the Second Intifada, the Palestinian uprising of 2000 to 2005, and the attendant Israeli reprisals. Across Palestinian society, a level of outrage not seen in recent months spurred a one-day general strike and checkpoint riots across the West Bank.” See also “Triple West Bank assassination recalls darkest days of the Intifada“ (+972) 

West Bank: Israeli forces kill Palestinian teenager during house demolition,

“Israeli forces shot dead a teenager and wounded several other Palestinians in the occupied West Bank overnight Sunday as troops prepared to demolish the home of a man accused of killing an Israeli settler. The Palestinian health ministry said Mohammad Akram Abu Salah, 17, from the village of al-Yamoun, had succumbed to his injuries after being shot in the the head by Israeli gunfire.  At least 20 other Palestinians were reported injured, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa.” See also: Israeli forces shoot, kill 16 year old Palestinian boy near Jenin (DCI-Palestine); Israel: Soldiers kill Palestinian man in the West Bank (Middle East Eye); 23 Palestinians injured as Israeli forces crackdown on Beita anti-settlement protest (WAFA); West Bank: Settlers destroy 50 Palestinian olive trees near Salfit (Middle East Eye)

As Violence Rises in the West Bank, Settler Attacks Raise Alarm,

“The mob attack outside the village of Burin last month, captured on video by human rights advocates, was part of an escalation of civilian violence across the occupied West Bank in the past year. In 2021, the number of injurious attacks by settlers on Palestinians, and by Palestinians on settlers, reached their highest levels in at least five years, according to the United Nations….The settlers benefit from a two-tier legal system in which settlers who commit violence are rarely punished, while Palestinian suspects are frequently arrested and prosecuted by military courts. Of the 111 police investigations into settler attacks monitored by the Israeli rights group Yesh Din in the past five years, only three led to indictments. Settlers, unlike Palestinians, have the protection of the military and are rarely in danger of losing the land they live on.”

Israelis arrested for attacking Palestinian village,

“Seventeen Israelis have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in a racist attack on a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank last month, police said Wednesday. Police said Jewish Israelis armed with stones, clubs and “other objects” wounded one Palestinian and vandalised shops, vehicles and property in the northern West Bank village of Hawara on 24 January.”

A broken ankle, a demolished home, and a crushed water cistern,

““We are without water, without electricity, even without homes,” says Amer. “On the other hand, the Israeli settlers who live on our land are provided with everything. When a settler builds a new outpost on Palestinian land, he gets water, electricity, and a road. When we build on our own land, we are prevented from having any of this. Even the alternative systems that we create to stay alive are targeted, like the rainwater cisterns which are our only water source.”

Violent Israeli Settlers Are Starting to Resemble the KKK,

“I look at these young people who are poisoned with racism and hatred, and at some of their elders, who are their spiritual mentors and implant in them toxic notions of Jewish supremacy, and I see all the antisemites who persecuted their forebears and mine across generations. There are moments when their faces are interchanged in my mind’s eye with the faces of those who expelled the Jews from Spain, with the perpetrators of the pogroms in the steppes of Russia and Ukraine, with the torchers of synagogues in scores of other places around the world over hundreds of years. How did we produce from among us the replicas of our persecutors?”

In Protests, the Naqab Affirms Its Palestinian National Identity,

“In the Naqab region of southern Israel, as in East Jerusalem, the struggle over land is at the heart of the Palestinian question.”  See also: WATCH: The dark past and present of the Jewish National Fund (+972)

Military "justice"

Striking for freedom: Why Palestinian detainees are boycotting Israeli courts,

“For the past six weeks, hundreds of Palestinian administrative detainees have been boycotting Israeli military courts over their indefinite imprisonment with no trial or indictment. Since Jan. 1, the prisoners have announced that they will not arrive for hearings at courts, and that they are refusing to allow attorneys to represent them in absentia until Israel ceases its use of administrative detention.”

Israeli Law & Torture: From Detained Minors to a Prison “Torture Room”,

“According to Adalah, a Haifa-based legal center working to protect the rights of Palestinians, 150 Palestinian Bedouins (some 40 percent of whom are minors) have been arrested and accused of “rioting” during protests against their expulsion from the area…what makes this moment particularly notable, observers say, is both the spirit of protest among the Bedouins and the level of violence enacted on them. In the past few weeks, there have been numerous reports of protesters, residents, children, and at least one journalist being beaten and abused by Israeli forces in the Naqab. In one instance, Israeli soldiers dropped tear gas on protesters from drones previously used only in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip, debunking the myth that those with Israeli citizenship are somehow shielded from the regime’s colonial violence.”

Military Court Watch January 2022 Newsletter ,

“According to data issued quarterly by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), as of 31 December 2021, there were 4,271 Palestinians (West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza) held as “security prisoners” in detention facilities including 145 children (12-17 years). In the case of children there was a 6% decrease in the number compared with the previous month and an annual decrease of 8% compared with 2020. Five children were held in administrative detention. According to the IPS, 64% of child detainees were transferred to prisons inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Conventionand the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”

'We Arrested Countless Palestinians for No Reason,' Says Ex-top Shin Bet Officer,

“[Rubovitch] served for 25 years in the Shin Bet, in posts ranging from case officer to head of a directorate, the No. 3 job at the agency…Now he is willing to talk for the first time about his service in the Shin Bet and his insights about Israeli society and its relations with the Palestinians. During a series of conversations with Haaretz, Rubovitch spoke candidly about a range of topics.”

What human rights? My sick son is being held on secret charges in an Israeli prison.,

“My son Amal is in an Israeli prison, where his life is at risk. My family and I are trying to free him. For a year now, Amal has been held under administrative detention, meaning that he is imprisoned without charge, without trial, on the pretext of secret evidence we cannot see. This is documented by the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. We do not know what he is accused of, or whether he will ever be released. The military court system can keep renewing his detention indefinitely – the last time was in January, just before his 18th birthday.  Amal has myasthenia gravis, a rare neuromuscular disorder that causes such severe muscle fatigue that it can be hard to breathe or swallow food…under administrative detention, Amal can’t even get his day in a military court. Which makes me wonder: Is justice being served, or is it the law of the jungle? In a world where due process of the law is denied – under Israeli occupation in the West Bank – there is no room for justice.” See alsoMy son could die in an Israeli prison” (Middle East Eye) 

Responses to Amnesty International's Apartheid Report, con't

Opinion: Palestinians have denounced Israeli apartheid for decades. As the world catches up, how will it react?,

“The fact is that Palestinians have painstakingly documented the reality of apartheid for the past seven decades. Our voices shouldn’t require validation from international organizations. Yet it’s still sobering to see these organizations receiving the same attacks that Palestinians often get for speaking the truth….For too long the media, politicians and, yes, even human rights organizations have ignored the deep essence of apartheid. This isn’t just about the intentional discrimination between non-Jewish Palestinians and Jewish Israelis. The settler-colonialist practices of Israeli abuse and apartheid vary across the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, historic Palestine and the diaspora, and have fractured the collective Palestinian experience.”

Dismantle What? Amnesty's Conflicted Messaging on Israeli Apartheid,

“We recognize the importance of such reports for global campaigning and advocacy efforts. However, there are issues with this report, just like the ones previously published by international and Israeli organizations. Amnesty’s report fails to recognize apartheid as a tool of Zionist settler colonialism and fails to consider the role of Zionist ideology and institutions in establishing and maintaining this system. It also refrains from recognizing the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. Thus, the report does not break away from the limitations imposed on Palestinians’ discourse, nor does it confront the nature of the Zionist project as both racist and settler colonial.”

South Africa's Foreign Minister on Israeli Apartheid ,

“South Africa’s Foreign Minister today in Parliament: “We’re considering further measures to indicate our significant dismay at continued apartheid practices of Israel against long-suffering people of Palestine.” She knows something about apartheid. Listen”

Why American Liberals Now Call Israel An Apartheid State,

“To understand what’s changed in American discourse, it’s worth starting with what hasn’t changed. The answer: A lot. Establishment Jewish organizations, American politicians, and American conservatives have responded to the new wave of apartheid allegations in pretty much the same way they responded to Carter fifteen years ago…The big change has come in what you might call establishment progressive media…I’m talking about The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Slate, even The New York Review of Books. These are publications that help shape what a high-minded, liberal—but not radical—American should think about everything from mask mandates to Dave Chappelle. It’s here you see the dramatic change. Fifteen years ago, calling Israel an apartheid state was outside the bounds of liberal respectability. Today, it’s not. Partly that’s because Israel’s illiberalism has become harder to deny. And, partly, it’s because the nature of American liberalism has changed.”

Why Liberal Zionist Groups Won’t Say “Apartheid”,

“Six of the most influential Jewish, Zionist organizations in the country—including the Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC, and the Jewish Federations of North America—came together for a rare joint statement to argue that the report was “biased,” “demonize[d]” Israel, and would “fuel” antisemitism. For Jewish groups that identify as liberal Zionist, on the other hand, figuring out how to respond to the report proved more complicated. Such groups tend to consider themselves forceful critics of the occupation, and to agree with many of Amnesty’s findings—yet they remain disinclined to use the word “apartheid” to describe the situation on the ground in Israel/Palestine…For reasons both substantive and strategic, they are attempting to remain in more comfortable terrain: calling for an end to the occupation. But when pressed for specific disagreements with the use of the term “apartheid” in interviews, leaders of several of the progressive or liberal Zionist organizations seemed unwilling or unable to name reasons why it was factually incorrect, focusing instead on how its application might be alienating to their constituencies.”

Opinion | Would Israelis Know How to Recognize Apartheid?,

“After years of studying and getting familiar with the way in which such a regime’s rationale acts on one’s soul and mindset, I am certain that it’s impossible to fathom what apartheid means without taking into account two of its essential components: fear and blindness. These components are so basic to this regime that when you live in its shadow, any thought, idea or conversation are necessarily tainted by them. Apartheid as a type of regime, as a rationale driving a state’s apparatus, is a sophisticated trap that grips all its subjects, even the ones benefiting from an inherent advantage….A clash of identities is the basic and primary fear. I was born to be a Zionist Israeli. What does it mean to face the fact that Israel’s regime, the framework in which I was raised and educated, and which always provided me with security, is like that? What does it say about me? What does it say about the five years I served in the army of a regime that has no legitimacy? What does it say about “our” Supreme Court? What does it say about the school system in which I studied? In fact, the realization gradually dawned on me that almost everything I’ve done in my life was steeped in that poison, in that regime-associated toxicity. That is truly frightening!”

Normalization // Global

Israel refuses cooperation with UN commission investigating Gaza violations,

Israel announced on Thursday that it will not cooperate with a United Nations commission tasked with investigating violations against Palestinians in Gaza, alleging that the commission and its leader are “morally bankrupt” and “fundamentally biased” against them.”

Israel’s Bennett meets with Bahraini king,

“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met a short while ago with Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa at his palace in Manama. The two men talked privately for about an hour.Bennett’s meeting with the king followed another with Bahraini Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, also at the royal palace, where Bennett was received with full honors.” See alsoBahrain’s crown prince to visit Israel in ‘near future’, says Bahrain foreign minister” (New Arab)

Israel, Germany to discuss cutting funds for six banned Palestinian NGOs,

Israel and Germany will discuss means of keeping money away from six Palestinian groups Tel Aviv banned last year to allow funding to proceed for programmes they were intended to run….The decision to look at alternative funding options follows a request by German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock for Israel to look at how schemes the banned NGOs were meant to run might still go ahead.” For more on the 6 NGOs, see FMEP’s “On Israel’s Declaration of Palestinian Human Rights Groups as “Terrorist Organizations”’

Israel torpedoed sale of Iron Dome to Ukraine, fearing Russian reaction — report,

“Israel halted an attempt by the US to transfer several batteries of the Iron Dome defense system to Ukraine over worries it would damage its relations with Russia, the Ynet news site reported on Tuesday…The Ukrainian government officially asked the Biden administration to transfer Patriot and Iron Dome missiles to Ukraine last spring. At the time, when then there were no worries of a possible Russian invasion, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers supported the transfer. However, due to Iron Dome being a joint Israeli-American project, a sale to a third party cannot take place without the approval of both developer countries. According to the report, Israeli officials made it clear to the US administration in informal talks that it wouldn’t agree to the transfer of Iron Dome batteries to Kyiv, fearing it would hurt its relations with Russia, especially in light of Moscow’s influence over Syria.”

EU data watchdog calls for Pegasus spyware ban,

“The use of Pegasus spyware should be banned in the EU, the bloc’s data watchdog has advised, as it is a “gamechanger” offering unprecedented powers to intrude into targets’ lives…The EDPS said a “ban on the development and deployment of spyware with the capability of Pegasus in the EU” was the best course of action given the software’s capacity for harm.”

In Berlin, a fight for Palestinian identity — and a place to call home,

“Berlin’s Palestinian community, many of whom are refugees twice over, are striving to carve out a space in a country ambivalent about their presence.”

US Scene

Pelosi calls Israel's creation the 20th century's 'greatest political achievement,

“US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday called Israel’s creation the “greatest political achievement of the 20th century”, in a speech to the Israeli parliament.”

Jamaal Bowman Withdraws Co-Sponsorship of Bill Backing Israel’s Abraham Accords,

“New York Congressman Jamaal Bowman plans to withdraw his co-sponsorship of legislation supporting Israel’s normalization agreements with Arab states, and will vote “no” when the bill comes up for consideration in the House of Representatives, according to a letter Bowman sent to his constituents today that was obtained by Jewish Currents. The bill in question, titled the Israel Relations Normalization Act, is supported by Israel lobby groups across the political spectrum, including the conservative AIPAC and the liberal J Street. The legislation directs the State Department to publicly outline a strategy to strengthen the normalization deals, known as the Abraham Accords, that were forged during the last year of the Trump administration, and which establish official diplomatic and trade relations between Israel and the countries of Sudan, Bahrain, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates. Bowman’s decision points toward a growing split in the Democratic Party over the question of the Abraham Accords.” See also Jamaal Bowman pulls support for Abraham Accords bill (Jewish Insider) and Jamaal Bowman’s letter to his constituents.

In new book, Trump’s Israel envoy hammers 4 rocky years into a smooth path to peace,

“But when your only tool is a sledgehammer, every problem looks like a wall that needs to be whacked down. The Trump administration indeed smashed through old norms, attempting to rebuild the contours of the Middle East’s messiest conflicts by fiat rather than consensus.Friedman’s book takes the same approach, pulverizing the more familiar narrative of the administration’s chaotic Mideast diplomacy into a flattened, linear and convenient account that’s not altogether convincing.” See alsoMehdi Hasan Challenges Trump’s Amb. To Israel | The Mehdi Hasan Show

The prohibition on the word Palestine in U.S. media,

“The prohibition on the word Palestine in U.S. media suddenly got lots of attention here. So it’s a good time for a full explanation. News orgs articulate various reasons for not saying Palestine. I’ve heard them all. Here’s why they’re wrong. (A thread)”

Palestinian Scene

Reimagining Liberation through the Popular Committees,

“Palestinians are experiencing unprecedented global solidarity since the 2021 Unity Intifada, yet their struggle for liberation remains trapped by the post-Oslo framework. Al-Shabaka’s policy analyst, Layth Hanbali, explores the rich history of the popular committees of the 1970s and 1980s to offer recommendations for how Palestinians can reorient their communities and institutions to facilitate the emergence of grassroots, liberationist mobilization.”

The Demise of Palestinian Productive Sectors: Internal Trade as a Microcosm of the Impact of Occupation,

“The Israeli occupation has crippled Palestinian productive sectors, leading to the dominance of internal trade in the Palestinian economy. Al-Shabaka policy analyst, Ibrahim Shikaki, examines how these structural distortions developed as a result of Israel’s oppressive economic policies since it occupied Palestine in 1967. He offers recommendations to the international community and aid agencies for how to support Palestinian economic self-determination.”

Lebanon backtracks on move to open up jobs to Palestinian refugees,

“A Lebanese move to allow Palestinian refugees to work in jobs formerly open only to Lebanese nationals has been halted…Lebanon bars Palestinian refugees, like other non-citizens, from becoming engineers, doctors, or lawyers, among more than 70 other prohibited occupations, Palestinian paper Al-Hadath said…Palestinian women with Lebanese husbands were already eligible to work in barred roles since they could claim Lebanese nationality through their spouses, a status Lebanese women cannot transfer to their partners.”

National Cuisine Is a Useful Illusion,

“Since moving abroad, I had seen the food I grew up eating characterized hazily as Middle Eastern or even Israeli. It was only one facet of an identity that was questioned at every turn. My family and I are descendants of Palestinians whose villages, if neither depopulated nor destroyed during the 1948 Israeli-Palestinian War, ended up within Israel’s new borders. Such people form an estimated 20 percent of Israel’s population, and are frequently labeled Israeli Arabs. Often, we’re told that Palestinians don’t even exist…I set out to record—and define as Palestinian—the dishes that had majorly shaped my identity. In the process, I realized that the idea of a pure national cuisine—an amalgamation of foods we consider emblems of an entire culture, whether Palestinian, Indian, or Italian—is tenuous at best. Every nation’s culinary lineage is both regionally specific and indelibly influenced by trade, migration, and conquest. Now…I finally understand that even though national cuisine is a social construct, it can be a useful one.”