Top News & Analysis from Israel & Palestine: January 28-February 3, 2022

What We’re Reading

New from FMEP

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. To read last week’s reports, click here.

An Invitation to Belong: Challenging the Systemic Exclusion of Palestinians as Present Absentees,

“This essay takes as its starting place the present absentee status of Palestinians in U.S. and Jewish discourse and engagement with Israel/Palestine…In this dynamic, challenging the present absenteeism that allows others to define and name Palestinian history and experience is imperative. Palestinian agency threatens a system that relies on stigmatizing Palestinians as a people who don’t, or can’t, tell the truth. But when Palestinian identity itself is constantly seen as a threat, how does one pierce that understanding and invite a person—and a community—to listen to Palestinians?”

Amnesty International: This is Apartheid

Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: A Look into Decades of Oppression and Domination,

“Amnesty International’s new investigation shows that Israel imposes a system of oppression and domination against Palestinians across all areas under its control: in Israel and the OPT, and against Palestinian refugees, in order to benefit Jewish Israelis. This amounts to apartheid as prohibited in international law. Laws, policies and practices which are intended to maintain a cruel system of control over Palestinians, have left them fragmented geographically and politically, frequently impoverished, and in a constant state of fear and insecurity. Apartheid is a violation of public international law, a grave violation of internationally protected human rights, and a crime against humanity under international criminal law.” See also: Amnesty International, joining other human rights groups, says Israel is ‘committing the crime of apartheid’ (WaPo); Israel calls on Amnesty not to release apartheid report (WaPo); Israel is an apartheid state, Amnesty International says (NPR); Why Amnesty is taking aim at the ‘root causes’ of Israeli apartheid  (+972);  The Mehdi Hassan Show (MSNBC) “When it comes to apartheid, most people think South Africa’s history of racial segregation.But after a blistering new report, many eyes are now on Israel and its brutal treatment of Palestinians. [Video]”

Select reactions ,

"An important corrective",

This morning, @amnesty published a report concluding that “Israel has perpetrated the international wrong of apartheid”, building on decades of Palestinian activism, work by @alhaq_org and @AlMezanCenter and recent landmark reports published by @btselem and @hrw….This is an important corrective in two ways. One, Israeli apartheid is not limited to the OPT. Partition itself is a tool of apartheid. Demographic engineering to maintain Israel as a Jewish state is rooted in ethnic cleansing. And two, a left-wing Israeli government, or an Islamist Palestinian in the Knesset, will not undo apartheid. The structure itself is designed to colonize Palestinian land for Jewish settlement. Until that system is challenged, it will continue to do what it was designed to do. Crucially, the report highlights Israel’s negation of the right of return of refugees as central to its system of domination and segregation. Israel’s apartheid is not a geographically restricted regime, but one against the Palestinian people, wherever they might be….”

"Omitting the context of ongoing settler colonialism",

Israeli apartheid report demonstrates a seismic shift in the human rights world of addressing the oppression of the Palestinian people in their entirety- not just the West Bank & Gaza. Using decades of research & testimonies of lived Palestinian realities…The report presents a nuanced & detailed analysis of the Israeli regime’s system of apartheid within an international law framework. The significance of an organisation such as @amnesty, with a global membership of millions, producing this kind of analysis is BIG…BUT the international law framework still falls short & its provisions for colonialism & settler colonialism are limited. Omitting the context of ongoing settler colonialism in Palestine has serious consequences. It removes the concept of decolonisation from the end game…Apartheid thus is boiled down to a question of equality & not one of decolonial liberation. This critique is not meant to detract from the rigorous & brave work done by Amnesty staff- BRAVO. Rather, it is to urge us to not remain limited by the confines of international law when imagining our future & our collective liberation.” See also this Al Shabaka Podcast with Yara Hawari: Limitations and Possibilities of the Apartheid Framework with Lana Tatour

Why is Amnesty Germany staying silent on the apartheid report?,

“On Tuesday, Amnesty International’s German section participated, albeit with reservations, in the launch of the organization’s new report accusing Israel of committing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians. Just one day later, the announcement regarding the report had been deleted from its website, meaning all that remains in German is a separate overview on the Austrian section’s website….This is followed by an even more unusual disclaimer, which I have translated here in full: ‘The systematic extermination of Jewish people was planned and implemented in Germany. Antisemitism in Germany — violent attacks, property damage, and conspiracy ideologies — is still present and at a disturbing high. This places a special responsibility upon the German section of Amnesty…’” See alsoGermany rejects Amnesty’s description of Israel as an apartheid state” (ToI)

Human Rights // Occupation // Dispossession

#StandWithThe6: Stand Strong With Palestinian Civil Society ,

Today, Palestinian HR and civil society orgs. – @Addameer, @alhaq_org , @BisanResearch, @DCIPalestine,  and UPWC submitted an objection against the Israeli Military Commander’s decision to declare them as “unlawful associations”, demanding its immediate cancellation. The objection, submitted by the orgs’ legal team – Adalah, the offices of Attorneys Michael Sfard @sfardm and Attorney Jawad Boulus, was filed after the commander’s repeated refusal to reveal the alleged “evidence” against the organizations….No due process: The declarations are based solely on secret evidence. The military commander announced that he will not provide the organizations with the “core” of the material against them, and thus, they cannot defend themselves, amounting to a total denial of due process….The orgs stress that the declarations are a blatant violation of international law, denying the Palestinian people the realization of even the minimal elements of self-determination. The declarations are a politically-motivated attack on Palestinian human rights defenders.”

Resisting greenwashing in the Naqab: Unity Intifada continues,

“This month the Israeli regime has once again made aggressive attempts to seize Palestinian Bedouin land in the Naqab (commonly known in English as the Negev)….In Palestine, the Israeli regime has long been masquerading its ethnic cleansing efforts as environmental action and greenwashing has been a tenet of Zionism since the very beginning. It is a tenet that asserts Zionist settlers are better caretakers of the land than Indigenous Palestinians. The Naqab, in particular, has long been a focal point of this greenwashing propaganda…Palestinians are not silent in the face of Israel’s rapidly accelerating land theft and greenwashing efforts in the Naqab. They are protesting in large numbers, organising sit-ins and sometimes blocking the invading Israeli regime forces from entering their villages and townships. In return, they are facing tear gas and skunk attacks, arrests and beatings. Dozens have been arrested in the latest crackdown.” See also: Protect the Bedouin in the Naqab: Stop Forced Displacement  (Adalah) and Documents Reveal Israel’s Intent to Forcibly Expel the Bedouin From Their Lands (Haaretz); Bedouin Protest in Jerusalem Demands End of ‘Neglect’ in Israel’s South (Haaretz)

Challenging Israel’s Climate Apartheid in Palestine,

“In Palestine, the peacebuilding framework has shaped cooperation programs that depoliticize environmental and climate issues, and thus, fail to disrupt Israel’s settler colonial practices. Indeed, donor-funded initiatives like EcoPeace and the Arava Institute have for years used slogans such as “the environment knows no borders” and “bringing people together.” Fundamentally, these initiatives only serve to disregard what is clearly a situation of climate apartheid, and to promote climate change as yet another arena where cooperation and dialogue are the answer in lieu of radical political change…In the case of Palestine, the effects of climate change are influenced and exacerbated by Israeli settler colonialism and theft of natural resources…Re-politicizing the climate and environment, and challenging discourses of peacebuilding and collaboration are crucial steps in centering climate justice within Palestinian popular mobilization.”

Wisconsin lawmakers demand probe of elderly Palestinian-American’s death,

“Two members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation asked the Biden administration Monday to investigate how a Palestinian-American who lived in Milwaukee before moving back to his home village died at a West Bank checkpoint. The request came the same day that the Israeli military completed an internal probe that ruled that two officers will be removed from their positions immediately and a third will be formally censured over the death. The IDF’s disciplinary probe found “an ethical failure by the soldiers and a mistake in their thought process, alongside a severe violation of the value of respecting people,” the military said.” See alsoBlinken pressed Israel over Palestinian American man’s death” (Axios) “US demands ‘thorough’ criminal probe into troops who left bound Palestinian to die” (ToI)

Jewish Currents Tuesday News Bulletin ,

“Assad’s death has attracted more attention than many other deaths of Palestinians at the hands of Israelis, in large part because he was a US citizen…But regardless of his citizenship, Assad’s killing has become emblematic of the disposability of all Palestinian life under Israeli apartheid, and the impunity from the US that Israel continues to enjoy despite its human rights abuses.”

Impending Eviction of Salem Family from Sheikh Jarrah Slated for March,

“Two days ago, on January 30, the Enforcement and Collection Authority’s registrar published its decision in favor of evicting the Salem family from Sheikh Jarrah…According to the decision, the eviction can be carried out anytime between March 1 and April 1, 2022 on condition that the family receives an official eviction notice at least 21 days before it is executed. Eviction orders with flexible implementation dates are employed to retain an element of surprise in order to reduce anticipated opposition and create ease for the authorities to complete the eviction. The registrar also ordered that the Salem family pay 5,000 shekels for legal expenses.” See also: Destruction of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem goes to ICC (Al Jazeera)

Soldiers hold 21 members of Palestinian family, 7 of them minors, in storeroom, and attack and beat some of them; six spend night in hospital, one remains in custody,

“In the dead of night, dozens of soldiers entered a compound in Hebron that is home to about 30 people. They woke the occupants, held most of them in a storeroom and attacked some of them. The result: six members of the family were taken to hospital and two detained – one of them to date. This is incident is not exceptional; it is part of the intolerable routine that the Israeli apartheid regime imposes on Palestinians in the West Bank.” See also “Israeli soldiers force closure of Palestinian stores in Hebron’s Old City” (+972) “Israeli settlers uproot olive saplings, attack herders south of Hebron” (WAFA) “Israeli bulldozers raze structures in Ramallah-district village” (WAFA)

The Great Exploitation: Palestinians Forced to Pay Huge Sums to Work in Israel,

“Under the current system, tens of thousands of Palestinian workers each pay 2,500 shekels a month in cash for a work permit in Israel that is not supposed to cost them a single cent. The money is divvied up between a Palestinian middleman and an Israeli contractor, either a Jew or an Arab.”

Schools for Sumud: How Palestinians are resisting Israel’s war on education,

“As Israel demolishes Palestinian schools in the occupied West Bank, a new project aims to protect Palestinian children’s right to education.”

The purpose of settler terrorism,

Interview with Daniel Roth, a Jewish Israeli activist wounded in a recent settler attack in Burin in the West Bank: “The overall aim is to force Palestinians out of their homes, particularly in Area C, and out of the country completely, or at the very least into the Bantustans of Area A [under Palestinian Authority rule] to further limit where they can go or their access to resources. This is all part of the larger, ongoing policy of taking over maximum land for Israel and limiting as much as possible the number of Palestinians on that land. That’s the overarching policy, and it’s the platform upon which settler violence exists. I try to keep in mind that both of these things are true: that this is the daily reality for Palestinians living under occupation and apartheid, and that this particular attack was horrific for me and everyone who went through it. I don’t think any of us — Jewish volunteers or Palestinians from Burin — will soon forget it.” See also A settler’s vision: The Palestinians are trespassers, their homes must be demolished (Plus 61J Media)

Ongoing Nakba

Israel's Tantura massacre: When the victims are Palestinians, the world believes only the executioners,

“For their part, Palestinians never waited for Israelis to validate their narrative. What made their oral history accounts go unnoticed is a combination of racist and colonialist attitudes towards Palestinians, which the West has embraced for a long time. For over a century, Western powers that embrace and back Zionism have robbed Palestinians of the “permission to narrate,” by either not permitting them to tell their stories or discrediting them when they do. In the absence of a Palestinian narrative, Zionist forces have been able to deny Palestinians their rights, aspirations, and even their very existence….Controlling the narrative has been at the very crux of the Zionist project since its inception. For this reason, Palestinians say, “the Nakba is continuous.” The Nakba has been a process of erasure, removal, and ethnic cleansing that started before, during, and after 1948. The Tantura and all the massacres were one violent component of that process.”

'According to Whose Archives?': The Tantura Massacre and Revisionist Israeli Historiography,

“Haaretz’s story and the discussions it has stirred tell us more about who has the authority to narrate than they do about the massacred Palestinians. While there is value in excavating as many details about these atrocities, the fact that these debates are almost exclusively based on new discoveries of colonial archival materials (such as the archives of the Israeli Occupation Forces) or perpetrators’ testimonies, rather than Palestinian archives and testimonies of witnesses and survivors, is in and of itself a reflection of colonial power. If anything, it demonstrates that colonial archives, colonial perpetrators, and colonial academics are automatically endowed with the authority to narrate.”

Israel can no longer bury the Tantura massacre,

“Katz was not obliged to tape his interviews, but he shared them with whoever wanted to listen, including myself – and I still have copies of all 60 hours. The very same soldiers who confessed to committing the massacre were horrified to learn that a journalist found Katz’s thesis interesting and published his findings in the daily Maariv. Under pressure from other veterans, and with the help of a lawyer closely connected to the university, they went to court and denied the evidence they gave, suing Katz for libel….Then, a Greek tragedy unfolded….In all this, we should not forget what is important. The massacre was part of an overall crime against humanity that Israel committed in 1948 and continues to perpetrate to this very day – a crime that is still widely denied. Films or dissertations by conscientious Israeli Jews are not enough to rectify this crime.”

The Gaza Strip

Gaza Policy Forum 5: Reconstruction and destruction: Gaza, dual-use, and the GRM ,

“In October 2021, Gisha convened its fifth Gaza Policy Forum, gathering around fifty Israeli, Palestinian and foreign stakeholders virtually to discuss Israel’s dual-use policy for Gaza, including the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM). Speakers included a senior official from an international organization, a user of the GRM in Gaza, and a representative from a civil society organization in Gaza. This report distills the analysis and policy recommendations made at the forum by both speakers and participants at the forum, reflecting a range of perspectives, which we hope can serve policy-makers in their work.” See alsoRed Lines, Gray Lists: Israel’s dual-use policy and the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism” (Gisha) and “Recycling rubble to rebuild Gaza homes a risky necessity” (Al Monitor)

Tech / Surveillance

The Battle for the World’s Most Powerful Cyberweapon,

“A yearlong Times investigation, including dozens of interviews with government officials, leaders of intelligence and law-enforcement agencies, cyberweapons experts, business executives and privacy activists in a dozen countries, shows how Israel’s ability to approve or deny access to NSO’s cyberweapons has become entangled with its diplomacy. Countries like Mexico and Panama have shifted their positions toward Israel in key votes at the United Nations after winning access to Pegasus. Times reporting also reveals how sales of Pegasus played an unseen but critical role in securing the support of Arab nations in Israel’s campaign against Iran and even in negotiating the Abraham Accords, the 2020 diplomatic agreements that normalized relations between Israel and some of its longtime Arab adversaries.” See also: Editorial | NSO Is an Arm of Israel’s Government (Haaretz);  NSO chief calls blacklisting by US ‘an outrage,’ rejects ‘hypocritical’ criticism (Times of Israel) and “NSO offered ‘bags of cash’ for access to U.S. cell networks, whistleblower claims” (Washington Post) and “FBI admits to obtaining Israeli-made Pegasus spyware” (Al Monitor)

‘We’ll Settle the Score’: Shin Bet Admits Misusing Tracking System to Threaten Israeli Arabs, Palestinians,

During last May’s flare-up, thousands of East Jerusalem Palestinians and Israeli Arabs received text messages from the Shin Bet warning them to refrain from violence on the Temple Mount. The texts read: “You have been identified as someone who took part in violent acts at the al-Aqsa Mosque. We will settle the score.” The message was signed “from the Israeli intelligence service,” that is, the Shin Bet. Many recipients of these messages said they were nowhere near Jerusalem or the Temple Mount, and did not participate in the violence.”

Normalization//Abraham Accords//Peace=Weapons

Israel supports UAE security needs, president says on first visit,

Israel’s president, making his first visit on Sunday to the United Arab Emirates, said his country supports the Gulf state’s security needs and wants more countries in the region to join its new detente with the Arab world…”We completely support your security requirements … We are here together to find ways and means to bring full security to people who seek peace in our region,” Herzog said during the meeting, in comments released by his office.” See alsoIsrael signs security memorandum with Bahrain, its 2nd with an Arab nation” (ToI) and “Israel takes part in naval exercise with Saudi Arabia, Oman” (Al Monitor)

Pro-Palestine solidarity in the UAE: A view from Emirati activists,

“When the normalization agreement between the UAE and Israel was announced in August 2020, the response from the heavily policed and surveilled Emirati population was — understandably — muted. Social media accounts tied to government officials, or those thought to be close to the regime, were quickly vocal and aggressive online in support of the new policy, threatening retribution for anyone who might disagree…Opposition to the policy has come from within the Emirati exile community instead…Although the circumstances of their expulsion had more to do with domestic politics rather than regional concerns, the issue of Palestine (and of normalization with the state of Israel) today has become a focal point of organizing against the Emirati regime…Moreover, the growing ties between Emirati funders and Israeli tech companies are of immense concern for them, as these linkages facilitate increased transnational repression. The fear is that Israel and the UAE, and their allies in the region, will coordinate more effectively to repress political opposition to either (or both) country’s policies, including making targets of those who call for more accountability.”

Why an Israeli comedian went viral in the Arab world,

“It’s rare that an Israeli song goes viral in the Arab world, but such was the power of comedian Noam Shuster-Eliassi’s recent satire, “Dubai, Dubai.” Maybe it was because she crooned in flawless Arabic. More likely it was because of her biting punchlines about how Israel and the United Arab Emirates have in recent years normalized relations at the expense of Palestinians….“Dubai, Dubai” is among the most public and blunt examples of a satirist lampooning the deal, since the UAE doesn’t tolerate dissent and its power in the Middle East has stifled other public criticism. That’s how an Israeli number became an unlikely Arabic sensation. Shuster-Eliassi jokes that it’s easier for Israel to make peace with a country 1,500 miles away than Palestinians next door. “In Dubai, they forgot the siege on Gaza,” she sings. “How nice would it be if only all the Arabs were from Dubai.” “Dubai, Dubai” resonated. The song, written by Razi Najjar for a comedy show this month on Israel’s Arabic network Makan, was picked up by regional TV giant Al-Jazeera and Arab news outlets, and then traveled all over social media. Shares and retweets filled a void in the otherwise rich field of Arabic satire.”

Counter-revolutionary? A deeper look at Israel’s relationships with Arab autocrats,

“Israel’s burgeoning relationships with various autocratic Arab regimes represent one of the most significant developments in the modern Middle East…The overwhelming focus of analyses seeking to understand these relationships have emphasized primarily how shared geopolitical objectives have brought these actors together, especially post-2011. Whether it be to counter common adversaries such as Iran or political Islamist movements, to keep the United States deeply engaged in the region, or to maintain the prevailing regional balance of power, the majority of observers view these high-level, top-down rapprochements through the lens of geopolitics…Though the lens of realpolitik certainly captures critical elements of these relationships, they extend beyond just geopolitics: there is a strong normative component rooted in a shared counterrevolutionary ethos among these actors that views democracy — anywhere in the region — as anathema to their own survival.”

Lawfare//Quashing Advocacy for Palestinian Rights

From the river to the sea, Palestinians are not free,

“Last week, following a summit to tackle antisemitism on university campuses, [Britain’s Education Secretary Nadhim] Zahawi announced that any students in the U.K. heard chanting the pro-Palestinian slogan “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free” should be referred to the police. Reducing the chant to a Hamas rallying cry, the education secretary claimed that the slogan “promot[es] the murder of Jewish people.” Zahawi’s comments represent the latest move to silence speech critical of Israel in the U.K.” See alsoPro-Palestinian ‘from the river to the sea’ chanters could be referred to police, UK minister says” (Middle East Eye);  “What Does “From the River to the Sea” Really Mean?” (Yousef Munayyer in Jewish Currents)

Federal court blocks Texas from enforcing anti-Israel boycott law,

“U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen granted an injunction, blocking the state from enforcing the anti-boycott law against Rasmy Hassouna, the owner of Houston-based A&R Engineering and Testing Inc. “The speech contemplated by [Rasmy’s company] may make some individuals — especially those who identify with Israel — uncomfortable, anxious, or even angry,” Hanen wrote in the ruling. “Nevertheless, speech — even speech that upsets other segments of the population — is protected by the First Amendment unless it escalates into violence and misconduct.”” See also: Federal judge blocks enforcement of Texas’s anti-BDS law (The Hill); CAIR Welcomes Federal Judge’s Ruling That Texas Anti-BDS Law Violates Client’s Free Speech Rights (CAIR); “Texas & the Constitutional Right to Boycott” (FMEP’s Occupied Thoughts Podcast: Bahia Amawi and Gadeir Abbas with Peter Beinart)

A Jewish Teacher Criticized Israel. She Was Fired.,

“The rabbi had questions: Did she support Hamas? When she called herself “anti-Zionist,” what did that mean? Ms. Sander, who is Jewish, explained her beliefs to the rabbi and said she would not discuss politics in her classes. The rabbi said he agreed with much of what she said and later praised her as a good role model for their students, Ms. Sander said. Then, one week later, Rabbi Levy and Eli Kornreich, the temple’s executive director, fired her…At Westchester Reform Temple, rabbis have criticized Israel in the past…But their critiques never challenge the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, as opposed to a state whose structure favors no ethnic or religious group.” For a discussion of Jessie Sander’s lawsuit against the synagogue, seeA Hebrew Teacher Called Herself an Anti-Zionist. She Was Fired.” (Jewish Currents)

Culture & Resistance

‘More than wonderful’ … Gaza bookshop to reopen after unexpectedly successful global campaign,

“Tens of thousands of donated books have started to arrive at the new location of a Gaza bookshop that was destroyed by Israeli air strikes last year, and owner Samir Mansour now plans to reopen its doors next month. The two-storey Samir Mansour bookshop, which was reduced to rubble last May, had been founded by the Palestinian Mansour 22 years ago and was a beloved part of the local community. Its destruction during the 11-day conflict, which killed more than 250 people in Gaza and 13 in Israel, prompted a campaign that raised $250,000 (£187,000) to help rebuild it, plus donations of 150,000 books.”

Activestills and the Making of a Decolonial Archive,

“Since 2005, the Activestills photo collective has published nearly 50,000 images documenting culture, protest and repression in Israel/Palestine, capturing everything from Tel Aviv protests against the deportations of asylum seekers to Israel’s destruction of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem to holiday celebrations in Gaza…To introduce readers to Activestills, Jewish Currents interviewed two members of the collective: Palestinian photographer and journalist Ahmad Al-Bazz and US-based Israeli photographer Shachaf Polakow.”