Top News & Analysis from Israel & Palestine: February 25-March 3, 2022

What We’re Reading

New from FMEP

Original Research,

FMEP publishes two resources on (most) Fridays: Lara Friedman’s Legislative Round-Up and Kristin McCarthy’s Settlement & Annexation Report. To subscribe to those reports, click here.

The Double Standard on BDS – Russia/Ukraine vs. Israel/Palestine,

In this episode of Occupied Thoughts, FMEP’s Lara Friedman speaks to Yousef Munayyer (Arab Center DC) about how the near global embrace of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Russia in response to its military assault on Ukraine contrasts to longstanding, far-reaching efforts to delegitimize, quash, and even criminalize these same tactics as a response to Israel’s systematic violence against Palestinians and violations of Palestinian rights. Recorded on March 3, 2022.

Israeli Apartheid & the Climate Crisis,

As evidence of the current & future climate crisis continues to mount, we look at the dynamics of climate change for Palestinians. How do the realities of apartheid in Israel/Palestine, and additionally Israel’s siege and recurring bombardment of Gaza, affect Palestinians’ access to clean water, sustainable land, consistent electricity, and food security? What bearing do these Israeli-imposed environmental limitations have on Palestinians’ ability to stay on their land? And what does “climate justice” mean, and what could it look like for Palestinians? Join FMEP for this timely conversation with three key activists and advocates: Jessica Anderson (Visualizing Palestine); Khalil Abu Yahia (Gaza-based scholar); and Manal Shqair (Stop the Wall Campaign), with Sarah Anne Minkin (FMEP). RSVP here for the Webinar on Tuesday, March 8.  

Israeli Apartheid, the Supreme Court, and Land Confiscation: The Case of Masafer Yatta ,

On March 15, 2022, the Israeli Supreme Court is expected to render a decision on whether the state of Israel will be permitted to carry out a large expulsion of Palestinians in the West Bank. The Palestinians in question live in an area of the South Hebron Hills called Masafer Yatta, residing for many generations in small, shepherding-based villages. In the early 1980s, in violation of international law, the IDF declared the area a firing zone (“Firing Zone 918”) — an action viewed by experts as taken with the clear Israeli objective  of displacing the Palestinian residents of the area and taking control of the land. Consistent with that analysis, for decades, Palestinians living in Masafer Yatta have faced constant threat of expulsion, home demolitions, confiscation of their property, harassment and violence at the hands of both the Israeli army and Israeli settlers. Ali Awad, a writer and activist from Tuba – one of the villages slated in Masafer Yatta – and Maya Rosen, a Jerusalem-based Palestine solidarity activist, will join FMEP’s Sarah Anne Minkin for a discussion of how Palestinians in Masafer Yatta continue to build their lives despite the constant existential threat they are under such threat, what they expect from the Israeli Supreme Court, and the international campaign they have launched to save their villages. We’ll also discuss the role of the Israeli judiciary in enabling Israeli apartheid and Israel’s  use of the “firing zone” designation as a means of confiscating Palestinian land. RSVP Here for the webinar on Wednesday, 3/9. 


Israeli top court suspends Palestinian evictions in Sheikh Jarrah,

“Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that a group of Palestinian families slated for eviction from the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah can remain in their homes for the time being. The court ruled on Tuesday that the four families could stay in their homes until Israel carried out a land arrangement, a process that could take years or may not be carried out at all….Sami Irshid, a lawyer representing the Palestinian families, told AFP the decision was “significant”. “The decision of the Supreme Court today cancels the eviction while the issue of ownership is decided,” he said. “The court decides that the past decisions regarding ownership do not apply, and the residents of Sheikh Jarrah can argue their ownership and prove their ownership,” he added.” See alsoIsrael’s Top Court Lets Palestinian Families Keep Sheikh Jarrah Homes for Now” (Haaretz) and “Palestinians Threatened With Eviction Can Stay in Their Homes — for Now” (NYT)

A Statement by Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood Units in response to the Occupation’s Supreme Court ruling,

“We know we will not receive justice from Israeli Occupation courts. Rather, we count on the popular and global movements that have accomplished the unprecedented feat of forcing the court to cancel the imminent expulsion. Yet the threat of dispossession is still looming over our community. Through this decision, the Occupation’s Supreme Court imposed on the four families the status of “protected tenant,” a special legal status in which families deposit an annual amount to a trust account held by the lawyers until the “title settlement and registration” procedures are complete. However, such procedures can take anywhere between months and years. Therefore, we must rely on continual and persistent grassroots efforts until this battle is officially over and our families – and all our Palestinian families – can live in their homes without fear of expulsion. The Occupation’s Supreme Court would not have ruled in this direction had it not been for the thousands of Palestinians who participated in the “Unity Uprising” and the global movement against ethnic cleansing in Palestine.”

Jerusalem Police Uses Excessive Force Against Palestinians, Senior Officials Accuse,

“Jerusalem police officers have used excessive force against Palestinians this week, police sources say, warning that tensions in the city and elsewhere could seriously escalate if the Jerusalem District, under the command of Maj. Gen. Doron Turgeman, doesn’t change its policy. Footage of clashes on Monday between officers and Palestinians near the Old City’s Damascus Gate shows “loss of control,” a senior police official told Haaretz.” See also: Palestinian girl, 11, wounded as worshippers and police clash at Damascus Gate (TOI); Palestinian girl assaulted by Israeli forces during Muslim festival in Jerusalem(Middle East Eye); These Palestinian girls were beaten and hit with stun grenades and rubber bullets by Israeli security forces (Al Jazeera – VIDEO) and “Knesset member leads far-right mob storming Israeli occupied neighbourhood Sheikh Jarrah” (The New Arab) 

Expansion of E. Jerusalem park onto church-owned lands back on municipal body’s agenda,

“A project to expand an East Jerusalem national park onto church-owned lands has been put back on the agenda of the municipality, despite assurances that the plan had been withdrawn amid backlash from local Christian leaders. Plan 101-674788, which will extend the borders of the Jerusalem Walls National Park to include a large section of the Mount of Olives, along with additional parts of the Kidron and Ben Hinnom valleys, has returned to the Jerusalem municipality’s Local Planning and Construction Committee website with the session scheduled for August 31.”

Apartheid / Occupation / Human Rights

Israel surpasses 1,000 demolitions in the Occupied West Bank since Joe Biden took office,

“The rate of Israel’s destruction of Palestinian-owned properties in the occupied West Bank is accelerating at a rapid pace under U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, according to data from the United Nations’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. This week, the U.N.’s tally of demolitions carried out since Biden’s inauguration eclipsed 1,000. In the 13 months since Biden took office, over 1,300 Palestinians, a majority of whom are children, have been displaced by the demolitions tallied by the U.N., which counts each permanent closure or destruction of a residential or commercial property or key piece of infrastructure. At a similar point in President Donald Trump’s tenure, under former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli officials had carried out the demolition of 379 structures that displaced nearly 600 Palestinians — less than half the toll overseen by Biden and Bennett so far. According to Diana Buttu, a Palestinian Canadian lawyer and scholar at the Institute for Middle East Understanding, Bennett is ramping up these demolitions as a display of strength in hopes of stamping out any remaining hope that Palestinians might one day achieve self-determination. “Bennett’s making it clear that this is where the future [of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship] lies,” she told The Intercept. “The future lies in the Palestinians being cordoned off into these tiny little ghettos. And all the land surrounding these ghettos will slowly be taken — be stolen — for Israeli settlements.””

Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in separate incidents in occupied West Bank,

“Three Palestinians were killed in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, with one man shot dead by Israeli forces near Bethlehem after two others were killed in Jenin during an early morning arrest raid.” See alsoTwo Palestinians, Including Unarmed 18-year-old, Killed in Israeli Raid in Jenin, Witnesses Say” (Haaretz), “Two Palestinians, including a teenager, gunned down by Israeli forces during raid in occupied West Bank” (The New Arab)  and “Israeli forces injure Palestinian students in ‘deliberate’ tear-gassing at schools” (Middle East Eye)

How Palestine’s climate apartheid is being depoliticised,

“At the core of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories is its theft of Palestinian natural resources, including land and water, which exacerbates the climate crisis. Palestine’s struggle is also a climate and environmental struggle and, for decades, Palestinian civil society organisations and their global partners have been fighting to achieve justice on these issues.Yet the climate crisis is progressing at a rate faster than many governing bodies around the world can handle and with Israel’s ongoing military occupation of Palestine, Palestinians are doubly unable to mitigate much of its effects. But Palestine is unique for another reason. Its leadership, the Palestinian Authority (PA), has been complicit in obstructing real successes in climate and environmental justice…Climate change across Palestine must be understood as an inherently political reality exacerbated by decades of Israeli settler colonialism and theft of natural resources. Therefore, challenging peacebuilding and collaboration initiatives, which normalise and depoliticise settler-colonial military occupation are crucial steps to centring climate justice within Palestinian popular mobilisation.” See also Syrians in occupied Golan Heights protest Israeli plans to seize their land for ‘greenwashing’ wind farm (The New Arab)

‘This trial is not just about me; it’s about all activists under occupation’,

“The fate of a charismatic Palestinian youth leader is at stake as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) prosecutes him for allegedly assaulting soldiers and ratchets up pressure on his home area, the south Hebron hills in the occupied West Bank….Israeli military courts in the West Bank have a nearly one hundred percent conviction rate, according to the B’tselem human rights group…Hureini has rejected the possibility of a plea bargain and pleaded not guilty. Palestinians and Hureini’s left-wing Israeli supporters say the real aim of the trial is to remove an effective and non-violent leader of resistance to the occupation in the West Bank…Hureini says he chose non-violence because it is the most effective means of resisting the occupation. “People under occupation have the right to resist in all ways. But my choice is non-violence.” Using violence, he said, would give Israel “the excuse to shoot you and put you in jail. We need to be here to protect the land, not be in jail and be killed,” Hureini said, then added: “But Israel is against even non-violent resistance.””

Israeli army blocking activists from calling ‘hotlines’ to report settler violence,

“IDF hotlines in the occupied West Bank are blocking incoming calls from Israeli human rights activists trying to get the army to intercede against settler violence, +972 Magazine has learned. The hotlines, also known as “operation rooms,” are run by the Civil Administration, the arm of the Israeli military that governs the occupied territories, and are intended for Palestinians and Israelis who seek to report attacks by Israeli settlers, property theft, illegal construction, and other incidents. Because the West Bank does not have a strong Israeli police presence, the hotlines effectively serve as an all-purpose emergency number. Five of the hotlines overseeing the Jordan Valley, however, have blocked the phone numbers of several Israeli activists in recent years, making it impossible for the activists to send texts or place calls to the authorities.” See also: The unexceptional violence of Israel’s ‘Haredi battalion’ (+972)

Israel pressured to end oppression of Palestinian aid-worker detained since 2016,

Israel is facing mounting pressure to end its six-year detention of an aid worker, in a case that human rights groups and the UN have deemed “extremely unfair”. Mohammed El-Halabi, the former director of the US-based charity World Vision in Gaza, was arrested by Israel in 2016 on allegations that he helped funnel millions of dollars meant for development to armed groups in Gaza, charges he and his supporters reject as impossible..He remains in administrative detention while the Beersheba court, which heard closing arguments in October, ponders its verdict, according to The Guardian..United Nations human rights experts were quoted in a UN press release in 2020 saying: “Mr el-Halabi’s arrest, interrogation and trial is not worthy of a democratic state. “Israeli authorities must grant him the full rights of a fair trial, or else release him unconditionally. What is happening to Mr. el-Halabi bears no relation to the trial standards we expect from democracies, and is part of a pattern where Israel uses secret evidence to indefinitely detain hundreds of Palestinians.””

Addameer and the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School Send Joint Submission to the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel,

“In response to a call for submissions from the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association​, in partnership with the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School, contributed a joint submission analyzing whether the legal regime enforced by Israel in the occupied West Bank violates the prohibition of apartheid under international law.  The submission outlines discriminatory laws, policies, and practices enforced by the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank, which create a dual legal system that systematically discriminates against Palestinians and suppresses their civil and political rights. The submission finds that Israel’s actions in the occupied West Bank are in breach of the prohibition of apartheid and amount to the crime of apartheid under international law. Click here to read the submission.

Palestinian prisoners to go on hunger strike against Israel's punitive measures,

“Thousands of Palestinian prisoners will engage in a mass hunger strike across all Israeli prisons on Tuesday, in protest at what they are calling Israeli policies of “collective punishment” in recent months. In addition to the prisons-wide strike, Palestinians in cities across the occupied West Bank will stage protests in solidarity with the prisoners, calling on the international community to pressure Israel to end its mistreatment of prisoners.”

France: We’ll continue backing blacklisted Palestinian NGOs due to lack of evidence by Israel,

“France will continue to support the six Palestinian NGOs that were blacklisted last year by Israel due to the “absence of evidence” by Israel demonstrating that the organizations actually support terror, a French representative tells the UN Security Council during the monthly session on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

Ties with Russia Compromise Israel’s Stance on Ukraine,

“What Lapid may have been alluding to, but did not say, is that without understandings with Putin the Israeli Air Force would not be able to bomb Iranian convoys crossing Syria to deliver arms to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Correspondingly, Putin has refused to allow the Syrian military to use highly accurate S-300 anti-aircraft missiles against Israel. Iran, like Russia, has forces in Syria that are helping to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Russia has been allowing Israel to contain the expansion of the Iranian force, which could become a potential rival in influencing Assad, and this arrangement is Russia’s ticket to accessing a Mediterranean port in Tartus.”


[This article also quotes former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert saying] ““How can Israel condemn the Russians when they deny another people’s right of self-determination for fifty-five years?””

Zelensky: ‘I don’t feel the Israeli prime minister has wrapped himself in the Ukrainian flag’,

“Volodymyr Zelensky, the Jewish Ukrainian president under siege, said he was moved by pictures of Israelis standing in solidarity with his country during the Russian invasion — but not so much the Israeli leadership… “I spoke with the Israeli leadership, we have not bad relations — but these things are tested in times of crisis. I don’t feel the Israeli prime minister has wrapped himself in the Ukrainian flag.” The Israeli government, wary of Russia’s overweening influence and presence in the Middle East, has been slow to robustly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, although it joined the United States in a U.N. General Assembly condemnation on Wednesday...Israel also reportedly has declined to share antimissile systems with Ukraine.” See alsoUN General Assembly, including Israel, votes overwhelmingly to condemn Russia” (TOI); “Bennett claims ‘the various actors’ want Israel as a neutral Russia-Ukraine broker” (TOI) and “Bennett holds back-to-back calls with Ukraine’s Zelensky, Russia’s Putin” (TOI) and “​​U.S. Losing Patience With Israel Over Ukraine” (Haaretz) 

The Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association (AMEJA) Statement in Response to Coverage of the Ukraine Crisis ,

“The Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association (AMEJA) calls on all news organizations to be mindful of implicit and explicit bias in their coverage of war in Ukraine. In only the last few days, we have tracked examples of racist news coverage that ascribes more importance to some victims of war over others. On Feb. 26, during a CBS News segment, correspondent Charlie D’Agata commented: “But this isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European — I have to choose those words carefully, too — city, one where you wouldn’t expect that, or hope that it’s going to happen.” Daniel Hannan, of The Telegraph wrote: “They seem so like us. That is what makes it so shocking. War is no longer something visited upon impoverished and remote populations. It can happen to anyone.” Al Jazeera English anchor Peter Dobbie said: “What’s compelling is, just looking at them, the way they are dressed, these are prosperous…I’m loath to use the expression… middle class people. These are not obviously refugees looking to get away from areas in the Middle East that are still in a big state of war. These are not people trying to get away from areas in North Africa. They look like any European family that you would live next door to.” “We’re not talking here about Syrians fleeing the bombing of the Syrian regime backed by Putin, we’re talking about Europeans leaving in cars that look like ours to save their lives.” Philippe Corbé, BFM TV, reported. AMEJA condemns and categorically rejects orientalist and racist implications that any population or country is “uncivilized” or bears economic factors that make it worthy of conflict. This type of commentary reflects the pervasive mentality in Western journalism of normalizing tragedy in parts of the world such as the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. It dehumanizes and renders their experience with war as somehow normal and expected.” See also‘These are not Syrians’: For Western media, only European lives are worthy of empathy” (The New Arab) and “Opinion: Coverage of Ukraine has exposed long-standing racist biases in Western media” (WaPo)

'Ukrainian girl confronting a Russian soldier' is actually Palestine's Ahed Tamimi,

Old footage of Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian activist arrested in 2017 by Israel, has been widely shared online under the false claim that she is a Ukrainian girl standing up to a Russian soldier. Images from a 2012 incident show Tamimi, then aged 11, confronting an Israeli soldier, gesturing as if to punch him. However, many on Twitter shared the pictures with false information that it is from Ukraine. On the short-form video platform TikTok, a clip of the same confrontation between Tamimi and the soldier asks viewers to pray for Ukraine. So far, the clip has been viewed over 12 million times and has accumulated just over 800,000 likes…The false information spread alongside footage of Tamimi angered many social media users who see a double standard in how the footage was received. “I guess Palestinian kids are only heroic when mistaken as European?” one Twitter user asked.”

Gaza weary of Ukrainian crisis as wheat supplies dwindle,

“The Gaza Strip, a small enclave already ailing from the Israeli blockade and Palestinian division, is among those affected by this war raging at a distance of about 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles). Many of the products in the Gaza markets are either imported from Ukraine or Russia, especially flour.” See also Palestinians fleeing Ukraine and stuck on the borders with Poland complain of a long wait (WAFA)

Israel’s Holocaust museum is so dependent on a Russian oligarch that it wants to protect him from sanctions,

“Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial and museum, is embroiled in controversy after attempting to intervene in planned sanctions against Israeli Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, owner of the Chelsea Premier League soccer team and a longtime supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a letter to U.S. Ambassador Tom Nides, Yad Vashem, together with the country’s chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau and Sheba Medical Center Director Yitshak Kreiss, asked that the United States not sanction Abramovich, a major donor to the memorial and other Jewish causes. They said that sanctioning him would cause harm to Jewish institutions that rely on him for donations, said Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan.”

Want to understand Putin’s invasion? Look at Israel’s occupation,

“The way Putin frames Russian state violence is very similar to the rhetoric and word play Israel has been using in its wars against the Palestinians and Arab states for decades.” See also  “Analysis | While the West Stands Up to Putin, Israel Is Fighting Ben & Jerry’s” (Haaretz), “Russia’s invasion should be a mirror for Israeli society” (+972)

A Progressive Foreign Policy Response to the War in Ukraine,

“An interview with Matt Duss, Bernie Sanders’s foreign policy adviser [and former president of FMEP], on Russia’s invasion…[Jewish Currents journalist Alex Kane]: I wanted to ask you about your tweet where you said, “as a Ukrainian-American I am immensely proud of the bravery of Ukrainians and of the support being shown by Americans. As a Middle East analyst I am floored by the blatant double standard on resisting occupation and repression.” Could you explain what you meant by that? [MATT DUSS]: “People have a right to resist occupation. They have a right to resist oppression. We can get into a discussion about the ways in which they do that, the tools and tactics, and attacks on civilians versus attacks on the military. Situations are different. But people have a basic right to fight for their freedom, and to live free of occupation and domination. And it does not seem that that standard is applied equally.”

Academic Un-freedom / Quashing debate on Israel & advocacy for Palestinian rights

Donor yanks Israel Studies endowment at U of Washington over professor’s Israel criticism,

“Becky Benaroya, a prominent Seattle philanthropist, gave $5 million in 2016 to create the program. But after a professor who held the Jack and Rebecca Benaroya Endowed Chair in Israel Studies was among hundreds of Jewish studies and Israel studies professors to sign a widely circulated statement criticizing Israel last year, Benaroya became concerned about what was happening in the program she had funded. She requested months of meetings with the professor, Liora Halperin, and university officials to discuss her views on the program’s direction. Those meetings…culminated in the university returning the entire endowment to Benaroya earlier this year…As a result, the university stripped Halperin of her chair position and halted programming related to Israel studies — moves that Halperin told JTA will have consequences both on campus and well beyond it. “In making the nearly unprecedented choice to return the endowment money — in the absence of any contractual obligation to do so — UW has dealt an immediate blow to the students who have come to rely on the resources of the program, limited our opportunities to bring innovative academic programming, and sent a broader chilling message about the potential material consequences of engaging in principled political speech,” she said…According to [the blog] The Cholent, Benaroya is redirecting her gift to StandWithUs, a pro-Israel advocacy group that organizes on college campuses and elsewhere. A person familiar with the meetings between Benaroya and university officials told JTA that Randy Kessler, executive director of StandWithUs’s Seattle office, had been present.” See also Return of $5 Million Gift Spurs Academic Freedom Debate (Inside Higher Education)

On Donor Pressure at the University of Washington,

UW statement on recent gift return, status of Israel Studies program (The University of Washington): “The Benaroya endowed chair was dissolved as part of the return of the gift; however, again, Prof. Halperin will be the holder of a new endowed chair in Jewish Studies created with the funds that remain in a new endowment. This chair will have the same salary and research benefits as her previous endowed chair. Prof. Halperin’s tenured professorship is in place and fully supported. The implication in the claim that ‘the university stripped Halperin of her chair position and halted programming related to Israel studies’ is thus not accurate.” 

Graduate students affiliated with the Israel Studies Program at UW:UW Leadership Must Protect Academic Freedom, Commit to Replacing Returned Funds”: “In a single action, the university has reneged on its promises of support to ourselves and to our mentors and inhibited our ability to continue our work. Although our professors have assured us that our previously promised funding is secured, the university’s return of the endowment disables future growth of the Israel Studies Program by taking away funds intended for future graduate students, thereby stunting the growth of our intellectual community…Furthermore, this administrative decision by the University of Washington has cast a chilling effect on our own exercise of academic freedom. How can we know that our funding as graduate students won’t be at risk if we make a statement that runs afoul of a donor? Despite our commitment to the integrity of our research, the university has made it impossible to not consider self-censoring when our work may be deemed controversial. This is of particular concern to Israel studies scholars, but it impacts all ongoing research and is a blemish on the reputation of the University of Washington as a world-class research institution.” 

Letter of support for Professor Liora Halperin, signed by more than 900 scholars: “The right to free expression is the foundation of the modern university. But the actions of the University of Washington administration in response to donor discontent over the letter Prof. Halperin signed marks a dangerous capitulation and violation of that bedrock principle…Prof. Halperin’s decision to sign the May 2021 letter did not violate the university’s code of conduct nor indicate any criminal behavior, both legitimate grounds for a university to strip a faculty person of an endowed chair. Instead, in responding to donor pressure by returning the endowment and stripping Prof. Halperin of her chair and dissolving the Israel studies program, President Cauce set a dangerous precedent that sends a chilling message to faculty members and undermines the principle of academic freedom.”

Letter from the Executive Committee of the Association for Jewish Studies to the president and provost of the University of Washington: “While it is within the university’s rights to return funds to a donor, we believe doing so in this case sets a very dangerous precedent by empowering the donor to enforce their political will – and to punish a faculty member for their beliefs – through the sheer fact of money given and the threat of withdrawing it or withholding future gifts.” 

Association for Israel Studies Statement about the University of Washington at Seattle: “The AIS trusts that this unfortunate incident will serve as a cautionary episode in which greater clarity will be manifest in future arrangements among the parties involved in creating and advancing Israel Studies.”

Manchester University staff sign letter in support of Whitworth gallery director,

“More than 100 members of staff at the University of Manchester have signed a letter opposing an attempt to force out the director of the Whitworth Art Gallery (WAG), calling it a “grave violation of academic and artistic freedom of expression.”…The statement said it was “damaging and dangerous” that the university “supported the idea that a statement against Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people was an act of antisemitism, and forced its removal.”

U.S. Scene

Zeldin, House Republicans re-introduces anti-BDS bill,

“Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) will re-introduce legislation on Thursday aimed at combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel. The legislation is backed by 46 cosponsors, including House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-TX), The legislation prohibits participation in boycotts or requests for boycotts of “a country which is friendly to the United States” enforced by foreign governments or international organizations. It also amends existing law to bar U.S. citizens and companies and federal and state governments from providing information to foreign governments and international organizations that assist boycotts of friendly countries. In that vein, the legislation labels U.N. Human Rights Council’s creation of a database of companies doing business in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as an act of BDS. The legislation also specifically refers to the European Union.”

What Rashida Tlaib Represents ,

“Tlaib is the only Palestinian American now serving in the House of Representatives, and the first with family currently living in the West Bank, whose three million inhabitants’ lives are intimately shaped by American support for Israel…Tlaib has been criticized, sometimes viciously, by Republicans and pro-Israel Democrats for calling Israel an “apartheid regime,” and for her support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which aims to end military occupation by exerting economic pressure on Israel. She has been called anti-Semitic for her criticism of Israeli policies, and has become a favored quarry of Fox News…But Tlaib’s arrival on the national stage has also coincided with an opening, albeit a small one, within the Democratic Party to challenge the United States’ Israel policy. The Palestinian cause has become a significant part of the politics of the American left at the same time that the left has gained a legible footing on the national stage. Tlaib, a democratic socialist who is if anything more outspoken on domestic issues than she is on the Palestinian cause, has found herself at the center of this turn…Rebecca Abou-Chedid, a lawyer and longtime Arab American activist [and member of FMEP’s Board of Directors], told me that the simple fact of Tlaib’s presence on the Hill means that “we are now actual people to them.”…over her three years in Washington, Tlaib’s argument has sharpened: If the United States cares about democratic values, then upholding Palestinian rights is inherently American.”

Progressive Wins Democrat Texas Race Despite Far-left Breakup Over Israel-Palestine,

“Greg Casar, the 32-year-old progressive Democrat who lost the support of the Democratic Socialists of America over his refusal to back BDS, decisively won Tuesday’s primary for Texas’ 35th congressional district…The other closely monitored race, between centrist Rep. Henry Cuellar and progressive upstart Jessica Cisneros in Texas’ 28th congressional district, heads to a May runoff after neither passed the 50-percent threshold. The battle is between a pro-Israel incumbent and a progressive critic critical of how the United States contributes to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.”

US, Israel sign info-sharing deal, clearing hurdle on path to visa waiver agreement,

“Israel and the US signed an information-sharing agreement on Wednesday that brings the sides closer to adding the Jewish state to the US Visa Waiver Program, even as significant hurdles remain.”

The Jewish Panther: Did Meir Kahane's Racist Ideology Emerge From the American Left?,

“The racist leader of the Kach movement was deeply inspired by 1960s intellectuals who attacked the U.S. liberal establishment from the left, and by radical Black thinkers. That is the provocative thesis of a new biography of Meir Kahane – which has some highly relevant lessons for Israel 2022.” For more on Meir Kahane, see this 2021 FMEP webinar with Amjad Iraqi, Shaul Maggid, and Natasha Roth-Rowland, “Mainstreaming the Extreme: How Meir Kahane’s Vision of Jewish Supremacy Conquered Israeli Politics

Palestinian Scene

‘Hamas has hijacked Gaza. All of Palestine is hijacked’,

“Young people from besieged Gaza are connecting with fellow Palestinians on Twitter to share their discontent and experiences of life under Hamas rule.”

‘There are not many outlets for fun’: the Gazan arts centre that keeps music alive,

“Palestinian musical traditions have been under threat since the Israeli occupation, but arts and cultural endeavours in Gaza have also suffered greatly under the rule of the strictly conservative Hamas. Concerts have been banned for the last 15 years. Even Mohammed Assaf, the wildly popular winner of Arab Idol from a Gazan refugee camp, has not been able to perform in public.”