Top News & Analysis from Israel & Palestine: January 27 – February 3, 2023

What We’re Reading

New from FMEP

Learning & Unlearning Palestine,

The Foundation for Middle East Peace and Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network together present a 4-part series, Learning and Unlearning Palestine, which explores the dominant frameworks for understanding and working for Palestinian liberation.

  • Coming up on Wednesday, February 8th, 2023, at 3pm Eastern: Limited Paradigms, featuring Dr. Mark Muhannad Ayyash and Dr. Lana Tatour in conversation with Al Shabaka Senior Analyst Dr. Yara Hawari. This episode will examine various limiting paradigms that, in spite of their liberal facade, have sought to contain the Palestinian experience and limit critique on the Israeli settler colonial project. This will include a critique of the international law and apartheid frameworks. Register here.
  • Part 1: Who Can Speak on Palestine? Recorded on January 30th, 2023, featuring Dr. Nour Joudah (UC Berkeley), Dr. Dina Matar (SOAS, University of London), in conversation with Dr. Maha Nassar (University of Arizona). This conversation examines the history and current reality of the erasure of the Palestinian narrative, the delegitimization of Palestinian voices in mainstream spaces, and possibilities for change. Available as video and podcast recording.

On Stage: How to Make a Revolution,

In this episode of “Occupied Thoughts,” FMEP Fellow Peter Beinart speaks with Hebron-based activist Issa Amro and Israeli activist & playwright Einat Weizman about the new documentary play that Einat wrote based on transcripts from Issa’s trial in the Israeli Ofer Military Court. In January, 2023, Issa and Einat came to New York for a staged reading of the play (read more about the play & staged reading here). In this podcast, they speak with Peter about justice and injustice, occupation and oppression, activism and normalization, and next steps for staging this play.

Commonsense Rules for Reporting & Consuming News on Palestine,

In this episode of Occupied Thoughts — which comes in the context of ongoing violence in Palestine that only lately broke through to mainstream headlines when the casualties were Israelis — Inès Abdel Razek (Executive Director, the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy) speaks with FMEP’s Lara Friedman about what journalists need to keep in mind when reporting on Palestine, and what the public needs to keep in mind as they consume Palestine-related news.


Israel: Netanyahu vows to arm 'thousands' and punish relatives of Palestinian attackers,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Sunday to “strengthen” Israeli settlements and arm thousands of Israelis after a series of attacks by Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories…Earlier on Sunday, Israeli forces sealed the home of Khairy Alqam, a Palestinian who killed seven Israelis outside a building used as a synagogue in the settlement of Neve Yaakov in occupied East Jerusalem on Friday. Israeli forces are expected to demolish the Alqam family home…Despite asking the public to let security forces carry out their investigations, Netanyahu said he would “enable thousands of additional citizens to carry weapons”…Israel’s security cabinet also approved a series of measures, including plans to revoke Israeli identity cards of “families of terrorists that support terrorists”, bolstering military and police units and confiscating weapons from Palestinians.” See also Palestinian shooter was named after grandfather killed by Israeli settler (Middle East Eye); Seven Israelis killed in East Jerusalem settlement shooting (Middle East Eye); Jerusalem: New shooting wounds two Israeli settlers in Silwan (Middle East Eye)

Israel’s Right-Wing Government Pushes Home Demolitions as Violence Surges,

“Israel’s decades-old practice of sealing and demolishing the family homes of assailants accused of carrying out deadly attacks on its citizens has long drawn criticism from human rights groups that call it collective punishment, prohibited by international law, leaving innocent parents, siblings, spouses and even children homeless. Critics also question its effectiveness, after hundreds of demolitions have failed to halt the attacks. But the new government announced that it was accelerating the policy, a change reflected in its recent actions.” See also Israel to demolish Palestinian attacker’s home ‘as punishment’ (New Arab); Israel: Collective Punishment against Palestinians: Homes Sealed in Response to Recent Attacks on Civilians (Human Rights Watch); Collective Punitive Measures in East Jerusalem Severely Infringe on Palestinian Rights (Ir Amim); Israel to take punitive steps against Palestinians after deadly attacks (Guardian)

Israeli settlers attack Palestinians across West Bank as escalation looms,

“A Palestinian man was killed near a settlement in the West Bank overnight Saturday, and Israeli settlers carried out dozens of attacks targeting Palestinians across the occupied territory, according to Palestinian media and officials…Wafa said at least 144 Israeli settler attacks — some minor rock-throwing incidents, others much more violent — were reported on Saturday across the West Bank, the occupied territory that Palestinians envision as part of their future state. Meanwhile, Israeli authorities on Sunday began demolishing Palestinian homes in retaliation for Friday’s synagogue shooting and pledged an expansion of West Bank settlements, which could further inflame an already volatile situation.” See also Palestine: Vengeful Israeli settlers on rampage following Jerusalem attack (Middle East Eye); Israeli settlers kill Palestinian man in West Bank (New Arab); 144 attacks by Israeli settlers last night in Nablus (WAFA); Since Friday Terror Attack: 35 Suspected Revenge Crimes Against Palestinians (Haaretz); ‘Like a nightmare’: 48 hours of Israeli settler terror (Orly Noy//+972); Why Ben Gvir wants more guns on the streets (+972); West Bank Settlements Have Highest Percentage of Gun Owners, New Data Shows (Haaretz)

The myth of the ‘cycle of violence’,

“Why launch a devastating incursion, targeting militants yet harming countless civilians, when that method has been proven to exacerbate rather than contain violence? What’s the point of threatening attackers with home demolitions when thousands of innocent people, including the attackers’ own families and neighbors, are equally threatened with the same fate? Why put guns into the hands of more civilians when there is already an armed resident, soldier, police officer, or security guard on every street?…For many Israelis, such reflections on their leaders’ habitual responses are best avoided in order to preserve a simple, rigid worldview: Palestinians hate us for no reason, they attack us without cause, and so we have no choice but to beat them down…But there is no “cycle” here. From the structural to the physical, violence is a constant, daily experience for Palestinians, and far less so for Jewish-Israelis…This power imbalance lies at the heart of a fundamental difference in the way each side tends to speak about the other’s violence: when Palestinians spotlight Israeli brutality, they are demanding the end of their oppression; when Israelis point to Palestinian violence, it is usually to justify that oppression.” See alsoWe Shouldn’t Grow Up Dreaming That Our Friends Don’t Get Killed” (Mohammed El-Kurd//The Nation); The case for armed resistance (Emad Moussa//New Arab)

Apartheid/Occupation/Human Rights

The West Bank is on the Brink of Collapse,

“This violence, displacement, and colonisation has left Palestinians worried for the future. At best, they face living in cramped and surveilled Bantustans surrounded by walls and barbed wire fences, with limited access to basic rights. At worst, Palestinians fear a second Nakba similar to the ethnic cleansing campaign of the late 1940s. Indeed, this chapter could mark the end of the post-Second Intifada period, characterised by the cynical management of the occupation, disregard for Palestinians’ political rights, and a lack of accountability for Israel’s actions. What’s likely to occur isn’t entirely new in nature, however, but is an expansion in the scope of confrontation and the use of more aggressive tactics. Moreover, the overlap of Ramadan and Passover in April could further exacerbate the conflict, with previous years seeing a growing number of mosque raids, forced evictions and land confiscations. As such, we’re on the brink of events of unparalleled magnitude and ferocity.”

Pulling the trigger is the first resort: New report reveals surge in Israeli violence against Palestinians,

“The alarming surge in killings committed by the Israeli army against Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in 2022 is extremely concerning, warned Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor in a statement, stressing the need to activate accountability and end the state of impunity that Israel has enjoyed for decades. In a report issued today entitled “Pulling the trigger is the first resort”, Euro-Med Monitor stated that the recorded number of Palestinian deaths in the West Bank increased by 82% in 2022 compared to 2021, and nearly fivefold (491%) compared to 2020. Analysis of field data reveals that the majority of Palestinian fatalities were civilians killed by Israel’s army in unjustified operations and contexts where they presented no imminent threat or danger to the lives of Israeli soldiers or settlers.” See also Here are the names and faces of 35 Palestinians killed in January (Middle East Eye); January was the West Bank’s deadliest month in nearly a decade (Oren Ziv//+972)

Jewish settler population in West Bank passes half a million,

“The Jewish population in the West Bank has reached nearly 503,000, according to a report released Thursday by the pro-settlement group, based on official statistics from Israel’s Interior Ministry. That is an increase of about 16 percent over five years, the report found, as the settler movement gains momentum, dashing prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…The half-million figure does not include some 340,000 Jewish residents of East Jerusalem neighborhoods, which are technically part of the West Bank. Some 3.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, according to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.”


Blinken visit deepens Israeli and Palestinian skepticism about U.S. role,

“On one topic, Israelis and Palestinians appear to agree: Both are deeply skeptical, even scornful, of renewed calls made by the Biden administration this week for a two-state solution here. Many called the gesture — at this moment of violence and radicalism — feeble, even farcical. On his first trip to the region after the return of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to power, and amid days of escalating bloodshed, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken promoted the long-held dream of two states side by side — one Israeli, one Palestinian — as the best guarantor of peace. But recent polling suggests that only a third of Palestinians and Israelis believe in two states today, and they both blame the United States for not doing more.” See also Blinken criticises settlements but stresses US support for Israel (Al Jazeera); In Gaza, Palestinian indifference to Blinken’s visit to Israel, West Bank (Al Monitor); Blinken announces $50M to UNRWA, no timeframe on consulate for Palestinians (Al Monitor); Analysis | Snubbing the Palestinians, Biden’s Team Opts to Focus on Keeping Israel’s Fragile Democracy Alive (Haaretz); Blinken reaffirms need for two-state solution after talks with Netanyahu (Reuters); Scoop: Blinken pressed Abbas to accept U.S. security plan for Jenin (Axios)

Sudan to ‘move forward’ with Israel on normalising relations,

“The trip to Khartoum on Thursday was part of an exchange of visits between Sudan and Israel. They include discussions on reaching and signing a normalisation agreement as well as military and security issues. Cohen’s visit to Khartoum was the first by an Israeli official acknowledged by Sudanese authorities. “During the visit, which was made with the consent of the United States, the parties finalised the text of the agreement,” an Israeli foreign ministry statement said.” See also Israel’s Foreign Minister flies to Sudan, ahead of signing Abraham Accords (Al Monitor); Israel says Sudan peace deal to be signed later this year (France24); Chad President to inaugurate new embassy in Israel, as Netanyahu opens to Africa (Al Monitor); Expansion of Abraham Accords should not be tied to illegal settlements, US senator says (Middle East Eye)

Redefining Antisemitism to Stifle Criticism of Israel//Lawfare

Labour MP apologises to Commons after calling Israeli government fascist,

“A Labour MP has apologised to the Commons after provoking anger by calling the Israeli government “fascist” during prime minister’s questions…Her apology came after she was summoned to see Labour’s chief whip to explain the comments, which threatened to mire the party in another row over antisemitism. Johnson said during prime minister’s questions: “Since the election of the fascist Israeli government last December there has been an increase in human rights violations against Palestinians, including children. Can the prime minister tell us how he is challenging what Amnesty and other human rights organisations refer to as an apartheid state?”…Hours later, Johnson stood up once more in the Commons and apologised “unreservedly” for her “intemperate language”.

Challenging Anti-Boycott Laws in the US ,

“Tariq Kenney-Shawa, Al-Shabaka’s US policy fellow, joins host Yara Hawari to discuss the escalating legal attacks on the right to boycott in the US led by the Israeli regime’s defenders. He highlights the multifaceted nature of this assault on social and political expression in the country.”

U.S. Scene

Prominent Jewish leaders add to drumbeat of criticism of Israel’s new government,

The statement Wednesday signals increased anxiety among Jewish leaders about how to maintain support for Israel when it is led by a government promoting policies alien to the values of an overwhelmingly liberal American Jewish community. It also departs substantially from a pro-Israel community that has sought to label various forms of criticizing Israel as antisemitic. It comes just days after 134 historians of Jewish and Israeli history, based both in Israel and the United States, accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of threatening the country’s existence through his agreement to far-reaching reforms advocated by his coalition partners on the far right. It also comes just weeks after hundreds of rabbis from Reform, Orthodox and Conservative congregations said they would not allow extremist ministers in the new Cabinet to address their congregations and would encourage their Jewish communities to boycott them as well.” See also 169 liberal US Jewish leaders sign letter expressing concern over Israeli government (TOI); Opinion | American Jewish Donors: Use Your Influence Now. Confront Israel’s Radical Government (Ron Gerlitz//Haaretz); Nearly 80 US legal scholars ‘strongly oppose’ Israel’s judicial reforms (Middle East Eye); Op-Ed: Palestinians in Israel have new cause to fear for their future (LA Times//David Myers & Daniel Sokatch, NIF) 

When Ilhan Omar Asks Questions, Her Colleagues Should Listen,

“Those behind the effort to remove Ilhan Omar claim that she’s bigoted against Jews. Her Democratic defenders counter that the real bigots are those Republicans seeking to oust a Black Muslim woman. Yet neither side is talking much about what Ms. Omar has actually done on the committee from which she may soon be removed. That’s too bad. Because what Ms. Omar has done is extraordinary…She doesn’t oppose an active U.S. foreign policy. She opposes the myth — which frames so much official discourse in Washington — that American foreign policy is intrinsically moral. “We are human beings like other human beings on this planet,” she wrote in 2021, “with the same flaws and the same ambitions and the same fragilities.” Across the world, many people encounter American foreign policy when they see a drone flying overhead, a hospital that U.S. sanctions have deprived of medicine or a dictator’s troops carrying American-made guns. Ms. Omar asks the kinds of questions that these non-Americans — whether they reside in Pakistan, Cuba or Cameroon — might ask were they seated across from the officials who direct America’s awesome power. She translates between Washington and the outside world. More often than not, she does so alone.” See also Ilhan Omar sponsors pro-Israel resolution on day that Republicans kick her off a key committee (JTA)

Dissent inside of Israel/'48

Why aren’t Palestinian citizens joining the anti-government protests?,

“The issues that preoccupy the Jewish Israelis protesting against the government, Zaatry said, are not the same as those preoccupying Palestinian citizens; the demand for equality, resistance to the occupation, and the spread of crime in Arab society do not mobilize thousands of Jewish protesters. “[Israelis] want Palestinian-Jewish partnership only up to a point,” Zaatry [ a member of Hadash’s political committee with a seat on the Haifa City Council] said…Jewish protesters, he continued, “call for democracy, but the Arabs say that democracy is not possible without equality, and democracy cannot coexist with occupation and [military] control over millions of people. [Itamar] Ben Gvir and [Bezalel] Smotrich are not the exceptions; they are part of an ideology that is based on Jewish supremacy.”

Israel’s Government Is Trying to Turn the Film Industry into a Propaganda Arm,

“As stressful as personal attacks can be, the more troubling developments are far greater than our own lives. Israel’s culture and creative industry rely on government assistance in its productions. Several funds, along with the national lottery, give grants to filmmakers. By politicizing the allocation of funds, threatening to bar leftist filmmakers from receiving grants and placing projects under political supervision, it seems the new government seeks to turn the film industry into a propaganda arm for the state, the occupation and the government.”