Top News & Analysis from Israel & Palestine: March 8-16, 2023

What We’re Reading

New from FMEP

Three New "Occupied Thoughts" Podcast Episodes,

The Cost of a Palestine Caveat: Biden Admin Chooses Politics Over Human Rights Expertise: In this episode of Occupied Thoughts, FMEP Non-resident Fellow Peter Beinart speaks to Maya Berry (Arab American Institute) and Jim Cavallaro (University Network for Human Rights) about the Biden Administration’s recent decision to rescind Cavallaro’s nomination to the serve as an independent expert on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Their discussion explores the Biden Administration’s pitiful profile on Palestinian human rights, and an optimistic take on where the Democratic Party might be headed.

We Are Determined to Stay”: One Palestinian Family’s Story of Dispossession in Jerusalem: In this episode of “Occupied Thoughts,” FMEP’s Kristin McCarthy speaks to Rafat Sub Laban (human rights lawyer) and Amy Cohen (Ir Amim) about the Sub Laban family’s 40-year legal battle against settlers (and the State) over their home in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Facing a March 15th eviction deadline, the Sub Laban family needs international attention and intervention. This family’s story is not unique, and the broader, systemic processes behind the forcible dispossession of Palestinians in Jerusalem is also discussed.

“A struggle within a struggle”: An anti-apartheid analysis of Israel’s anti-government protests: In this episode of Occupied Thoughts, FMEP’s Sarah Anne Minkin speaks with +972’s Haggai Matar about the growing Israeli protest movement against the Netanyahu government’s plans to remake the Israeli government, and how to understand it in light of Israeli apartheid and the escalating violence against Palestinians.

Apartheid/Occupation/Human Rights

Video Shows Israeli Soldiers Shooting Wanted Palestinian at Point-blank Range in West Bank Raid,

“Large Israeli army forces reportedly entered [Jenin] refugee camp in search of three Palestinian Islamic Jihad members wanted by the security establishment. The raid left four Palestinians dead and 18 others wounded, four critically, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported. The three Palestinians, Nedal Khazem,28, Yousef Khreim,29 and Omar Awadin,16 were shot and killed by Israeli forces. Khazem was related to Ra’ad Hazem who killed three people at a Tel Aviv bar in April 2022. The fourth Palestinian has yet to be identified. Video footage from the raid shows the soldiers killed Nedal Khazam at point-blank range whist he was lying on the ground unarmed.” See also West Bank: Four Palestinians killed in Israeli raid on Jenin (Middle East Eye)

3D analysis shows how Israeli troops fired into group of civilians,

“Israeli security forces in an armored vehicle fired repeatedly into a group of civilians sheltering between a mosque and a clinic after a Feb. 22 raid in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, killing two people, including a teenager, and wounding three others, according to witnesses and a visual reconstruction of the event by The Washington Post. The Post spoke with two witnesses to the shooting, obtained previously unpublished videos of the incident from a bystander and the Israel Defense Forces, and had audio experts analyze the gunfire. A Post reporter collected visual evidence at the scene to reconstruct the incident using 3D modeling software, and reporters also reviewed more than 30 videos filmed in Nablus that day. The Post reconstruction shows that, while responding to what they claimed was a gunman, Israeli forces fired at least 14 times from inside their armored vehicle as it moved down a street and then came to a halt next to a short wall behind which the civilians huddled. The Israelis continued firing even after those people would have been visible from the vehicle’s windows, the analysis shows…Israeli forces killed at least 11 people during and after the raid, including several Palestinian fighters, and wounded 102, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry and social media posts by Palestinian armed groups. The raid came amid a rise in deadly Israeli military incursions unseen in the occupied West Bank since the end of the most recent Palestinian uprising in 2005.” See also West Bank: Israeli settler kills Palestinian near Qalqilya (Middle East Eye); Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in West Bank shoot-out (Middle East Eye); Teen among four Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in West Bank raids (Middle East Eye);

The Rapid and Predictable Rise of Israeli Settler Violence Against Palestinians,

“As many scholars in colonial studies have argued, settlers, unlike migrants, do not come to a country to assimilate with the indigenous people who are already living there; rather, they come to replace a population that is living on land that they see as rightfully theirs. This inherently entails devising some way of forcing said population to abandon the land. While prominent Israeli politicians have been more willing to publicly acknowledge their goals of territorial expansion and settlement in recent years, the totality of Israeli policy over the past 75 years leaves little doubt that Israel does not now, nor has it ever seen a sovereign Palestinian state as a realistic prospect. In light of this fact, the violence of settlers should not be seen as an anomaly that merely requires stricter law enforcement, but rather must be understood as a tool of Israeli colonial violence that is all but openly encouraged by the state itself. As Israeli NGO B’Tselem argues, the Israeli state should not be seen as a potential solution to settler violence, but as an enabler, in large part due to its retroactive legalizations of land takeovers and its legitimization of physical violence against Palestinians. Only by fully acknowledging the central role that settler expansion and violence play in the Israeli state’s broader goals can the situation be resolved. Mere calls for “de-escalation” are insufficient and unjust.” See also Umm al-Khair and its continuous suffering with the occupation by Awdah (Humans of Masafer Yatta); 

‘Who hits a 64-year-old woman with a bat?’,

“A 64-year-old American citizen was attacked last Tuesday by a group of masked settlers in the South Hebron Hills of the occupied West Bank. Cassandra Auren, a peace activist from Wisconsin, was standing with an Italian activist on land that belongs to the residents of the Palestinian village Tuba, when a group of settlers from a nearby outpost, Havat Ma’on, ran toward them. Auren said that one of the attackers stood behind her, and as she was turning to face him, he hit her in the head with a weapon that she described as looking “like a baseball bat.” She immediately passed out from the blow and was hospitalized with a fractured skull and internal bleeding in her head…Israeli authorities have yet to make any arrests for the assault” See also Israeli settlers attack a Palestinian family east of Ramallah and steal 30 sheep (WAFA); Israeli settlers assault Palestinian youths in north of the West Bank (WAFA); Israeli settlers assault Palestinian, damage crops south of Hebron (WAFA)

Israel was built on burned Palestinian villages,

“For these Israelis and Zionists, what happened in Huwara is seen simply through the prism of Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition government. In other words, as a regrettable symptom of the Israeli regime’s shift to the right and the inevitable emboldening of Israeli settlers in the West Bank. This is an astoundingly deluded take on reality. Indeed, portrayals of Israeli settlers in the West Bank as completely separate and inherently different to the rest of Israel is a demonstration of cognitive dissonance par excellence. One does not have to dig that deep to discover that the burning of Palestinian villages is not a new tactic in the Zionist playbook, rather it is a core feature…While the discourse of the far right has undoubtedly led to more settler attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank in recent years…the erasure of the Palestinian people is in the essence of the Israeli regime. To separate the actions of settlers in the West Bank from the rest is an attempt to conceal the reality of Israeli settler colonialism that exists from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. That is why the pogrom in Huwara has to be understood as a simple continuation of a settler colonial legacy.”

Boundaries between West Bank factions blur as resistance to Israeli occupation grows,

“In defiance of the West Bank’s semi-autonomous governing body, the Palestinian Authority (PA), armed resistance to the Israeli occupation is growing, and the boundaries between factions are blurring as their interests begin to merge. “The PA are against us, they arrest and torture us. They sold out for money while we protect this land with our blood,” said a 25-year-old wearing a silver headband and the insignia of Fatah’s al-Aqsa Brigades, who spoke on the condition he was not named…Signs are emerging that the groups of young men who organised in their home towns to fight back against the Israeli incursions are beginning to coordinate across different cities: that the Huwara shooter, a Hamas member from Nablus, chose to hide out in Jenin’s refugee camp, where he was sheltered by local fighters, suggests those links are strengthening. Such coordination lays the groundwork for a return to full-scale conflict with Israel, even if the PA, and half of its divided ruling Fatah faction, is against it. Overnight in both Nablus and Jenin, imams broadcast a message from Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails asking the people to rise up together in solidarity, a missive met with cheers and fireworks. The two cities, as well as the West Bank’s administrative capital, Ramallah, observed a general strike on Wednesday in protest against the militants’ deaths in Jenin – the kind of collective action the weak and corrupt PA can only dream of inspiring. For the residents of these cities, war has already returned. About 70 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces so far in 2023, around half militants and half civilians, according to rights groups. Over the same period, Palestinian “lone wolf” attacks have killed 14 Israelis, all but one of them civilians. The bloodshed follows 2022, which was the deadliest year on record in Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank since the second intifada, or Palestinian uprising, in the 2000s.” See also Three wounded in Tel Aviv shooting, Israeli police say (Al Jazeera)

As crackdown intensifies, Palestinian prisoners gear up for Ramadan protest,

“On March 5, Palestinian prisoners announced plans to step up their protest against the harsh treatment they have received since Itamar Ben Gvir was appointed Israel’s national security minister. Ben Gvir, whose portfolio includes overseeing prisons within the Green Line, has promised a brutal crackdown on Palestinian prisoners’ conditions, bringing an end to what he calls “the summer-camp conditions of murderous terrorists.” Prisoners have launched a series of actions in defiance of these threats, which will culminate in a collective hunger strike beginning on the first day of the fasting month of Ramadan. According to Palestinian sources who spoke to +972, as well as reports in Palestinian media, the prisoners’ coordinated efforts could compel Palestinians throughout the West Bank and Gaza to join in resisting other forms of Israeli oppression.” See also Israel extends solitary confinement of Ahmed Manasra, Palestinian detained since childhood (New Arab)

Analysis | Israel's Government Is a Clear and Present Danger for Its Arab Palestinian Citizens,

“Below the frantic headlines about the attempted judicial capture, the government has advanced laws that target Arabs in far more dangerous ways, by marking those convicted of terrorism for deportation, or even death. One of the laws, which has already passed, allows Israel to strip the citizenship of citizens convicted of acts of terror who receive financial support from the Palestinian Authority, and deport them to the West Bank or Gaza…Another bill has been called “barbaric,” by Israel Democracy Institute scholar Amir Fuchs. That’s because it requires the death penalty for terrorists.”

Sharp Increase in Demolition Orders Raises Suspicion and Fear Among Israeli Bedouin,

“Residents and activists say that since the government was sworn in at the end of December, the Negev has seen a sharp increase in home demolitions and the issuing of demolition orders and warnings. A few weeks ago, the Israel Land Administration land preservation unit issued 450 pre-demolition warnings throughout the Negev – for residential buildings, fences, sheep pens and other structures – as part of an operation dubbed Southern Hawk. The administration said the unusual increase was thanks to the launch of an AI-based system to locate unauthorized structures built within the previous three years. Buildings that fall under this category can be demolished without a judicial process. The land administration said that warnings and orders were given only to structures less than three years old. But Haaretz found that in some cases, they were given to decades-old structures. One example is the case of the Aloul family, which is considered precedent-setting…The orders and demolitions gave rise to a protest at the Be’er Sheva court that issued them, with over 1,000 Negev Bedouin and about 100 Jews participating. The coordinator of the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages in the Negev said: “The ministers have bad intentions and want to remove us from our land by force. There isn’t a day that they don’t come and demolish. That’s new and much worse than before. In recent weeks, there are daily demolitions.””

Hamas Warns Israel It Will 'Intervene' During Ramadan if Al-Aqsa Status Quo Violated,

“Hamas leaders are warning Israel against the annual escalation usually seen during Ramadan, emphasizing that any changes to the status quo on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa compound would lead the Gaza-based militant group “to intervene.”Deputy Hamas commander Marwan Issa gave a rare interview on Wednesday in which he said that the coming days will be very “busy.” Any change to the status quo arrangement at the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem would trigger a response from the group, he said, declaring that Gaza will not remain quiet and that “we will protect the Palestinian people with all our might and when it is necessary to intervene we will intervene.” See also Hamas says leadership visited Russia, met Sergey Lavrov (Al Monitor)

The New Israeli Government Continues its Trajectory

Bibi rejects judicial compromise proposal as Herzog warns Israel on brink of civil war,

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rejected Isaac Herzog’s proposal for compromise on constitutional and judicial reforms that the Israeli president had hoped would replace the government’s controversial judicial overhaul plan…According to press reports, Netanyahu was briefed about the proposal earlier on Wednesday and wanted to accept it, but backed off after Justice Minister Yariv Levin, who is leading the judicial overhaul, threatened to resign. Levin hasn’t denied the reports…In a speech earlier Wednesday, Herzog warned that the current debate in the country contains dangerous rhetoric and hatred from all sides that he never thought he would hear even in his worst nightmares. “Whoever thinks a real civil war that will cost human lives is something we will not reach does not know what he is talking about. Now when we are reaching Israel’s 75th anniversary the country is on the brink of the abyss. A civil war is a red line and I will not let that happen,” Herzog said.”  See also Roads blocked, some protesters attacked, in mass demos against overhaul; 21 arrested (Times of Israel);  Israeli Government Rejects President’s Judicial Compromise (NYT); Israelis block roads as Netanyahu rejects judicial overhaul compromise (Al Monitor)

Ignoring protests, Israeli Knesset advances Netanyahu's judicial overhaul,

“The Israeli Knesset approved on the eleventh hour on Monday night, the first reading of three bills that are part of the government’s controversial judicial overhaul plan even as hundreds of thousands of Israelis continue to protest against the move that would undercut the country’s High Court. Under Israeli law, in order for the bills to be enacted, they must be approved at two more Knesset readings, but Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin has set himself the goal of having the judicial overhaul plan adopted by the end of the month.” See also from Times of Israel:  ‘A golden path’: President debuts his framework offer for justice overhaul and ‘An insult to intelligence’: Government ministers reject Herzog’s framework proposal; Also see Israel Protest | ‘Biggest in Israeli History’: Organizers Claim Half a Million Protesters Against Netanyahu’s Constitutional Coup (Haaretz); Anti-government protests resume in Israel for 10th straight week; Through the Lens: Haaretz Photographers Document Israel’s ‘Day of Resisting Dictatorship’ (Haaretz);Mass Protests Against the Israeli Government’s Judicial Overhaul Plan (NYT Video);  Pro-Israel stalwarts Miriam Adelson and Noa Tishby join chorus condemning judicial reforms as protests enter 10th week (JTA)

See also: Opinion | How Netanyahu’s Judicial Coup Targets Women (Haaretz); The Joint Is ‘Leftist’: Far-right Minister Ben-Gvir Nixes Jewish Charity’s Program to Combat Violence in Arab Communities (Haaretz)

Also see Opinion | This Is Definitely a Coup. Israel Is on Its Way to Becoming a Dictatorship (Yuval Noah Harari//Haaretz): “How will we know that we have succeeded in stopping the coup, and that it’s time to stop demonstrating and consider a compromise? Legal details are of great importance in striking such a deal, and experts in the field will have a lot of work on their hands. But the key question each one of us will have to ask ourselves regarding any such arrangement is: “What will limit the power of the government? If a majority of Knesset members wants to deprive Arabs of the right to vote, or ban all opposition newspapers, or jail women for wearing shorts – what is the mechanism that will prevent this?””

Do Palestinian citizens want a place in Israel’s anti-gov’t protests?,

“The Palestinian Arab public in Israel has had very mixed and complex feelings about the mass protests against the far-right government’s plans to overhaul the judiciary. On the one hand, the hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews filling city squares and streets every week have been surprisingly persistent, inspiring appreciation, reflection, and even a modicum of jealousy. On the other hand, it isn’t easy for Palestinians to watch what appears like a nationalist Flag March washing over the country. True, this movement is not the same as the vulgar and violent march that takes place annually on Jerusalem Day, and thankfully, no one at the current protests is dancing and singing “may your village burn” or “death to Arabs.” And yet, the Zionist tsunami that longs for the Israeli days of yore makes it exceedingly difficult for Palestinian citizens to join…Every Palestinian citizen is fully aware and terrified of the very real danger posed by this fascist government’s “judicial reforms.”..And the massive protests, despite our absence, do receive sympathy from large parts of Arab society. Still, this government scares us for reasons that have little to do with the judicial system, yet are hardly on the minds of most Israeli Jews taking to the streets…Seeing all this, three main camps of thought have emerged among Palestinian citizens on how to respond to the anti-government protests…” See also The Delusion of the Supreme Court as a Last Bastion of Human Rights in Israel, Occupied Thoughts podcast with Sawsan Zaher (Palestinian human rights attorney), Nathaniel Berman (of Brown University) and Peter Beinart (FMEP Fellow). 

Netanyahu said to bar ministers from meeting US officials until Biden invites him,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed all cabinet ministers to avoid traveling to the United States, and to avoid meeting US government officials if they do, until he is invited to the White House by US President Joe Biden, a report said Tuesday. The report by Channel 12 news said that Netanyahu is angry he has not been invited yet and believes any minister meeting American government officials would underline that the premier himself has not attended such a meeting.” See also Israel not cooperating in planned EU foreign policy chief visit (Times of Israel): Israeli FM slams Europe for ‘interfering’ in judicial overhaul (Al Monitor)

In Wake of Hawara Pogrom, Israeli Reservists Are Coming to Their Own Conclusions,

“In a conversation with reservists, commanders and officers (including senior ones), there’s a sense that something has changed, a sense of disillusionment. While some critics charge that the settler movement is just an extension of the Israeli military, many of the soldiers interviewed prefer to describe themselves as a buffer between the Palestinians and the settlers – but that might no longer be the case. “There were soldiers who simply could not live with the idea that there were Jews running between the houses trying to set children, women and old people on fire,” says an officer who was there that night. “To hear senior officials in the country supporting this is something unimaginable – they have no idea what was going on here.”…Senior security officials tell Haaretz that the government has no real plan for how to deal with radicalization among the settlers, including – perhaps especially – since the Hawara pogrom. “The feeling is that no one wants to act against it, and no one really wants to bring these criminals to justice,” said one security official. “We know who led this disgrace in Hawara. We could go to their homes right now and get them. I don’t know if it’s orders from above not to act against these criminals, or whether the system itself is beginning to understand when it is and isn’t expected to act, which is a dangerous situation that we must not find ourselves in.”” Also see Videos From Hawara Rampage Indicate Depth of Israeli Authorities’ Failure (Haaretz)

The danger of treating Smotrich as an anomaly,

“In this moment of severe crisis for the Israeli state, both Jewish Americans and the Biden administration are hoping that their strategy of damage control against Smotrichism might cajole Israel back toward a more palatable version of Israeli apartheid. One in which the army has legitimacy to raid and kill Palestinians in the refugee camps Israel banished them into, but not one in which top ministers actively call on settler vigilantes to “take matters into their own hands.” One that maintains the facade of an independent judiciary, but looks away when its courts approve nearly every discriminatory law or occupation policy. One in which there is always an individual outlier to blame, but not the colonial regime itself.Yet the shortsighted attempt to compartmentalize Israeli extremists — to treat them as inherently more repugnant than “mainstream” hawks and nationalists — is not simply doomed to fail. It will, in fact, only enable more violence. Israeli society refused to recognize that Kahanism drew from the rivers of Zionism, rather than the other way around, only to find that it would return to dominate public life. American Jewish organizations are now making the same mistake. They hope that somehow, with just enough petitions or strongly-worded condemnations, they will defeat the scourge of Smotrich — without addressing the ideology and state structures that both encourage his call for genocide, and give him and his successors the power to fulfill it. They are dangerously wrong.”

Welcome to Simcha Rothman’s vengeful coup,

Embodying the rage that drives the Israeli right’s judicial assault, the chair of the Knesset’s Law and Justice Committee is poised to bring his once-fringe ideas to fruition. And, he tells +972, he is just getting started.” 

U.S. Scene

Democrats Sympathize More With Palestinians Than Israelis for First Time, Poll Shows,

“According to Gallup’s annual poll, 49 percent of Democrats surveyed hold greater sympathies for the Palestinians — marking an 11 percent increase over the last year — compared to 38 percent with Israelis. The Israeli total is also a new low since Gallup began tracking such attitudes in 2021, as is the 13 percent who say they do not favor a side.” See also Democrats’ Sympathies in Middle East Shift to Palestinians (Gallup)

Criticizing Israel Cost Me a State Department Nomination. What Does This Mean for the US and Human Rights?,

“As a human rights advocate for more than three decades, I have become accustomed to the ire, as well as sanctions, from governments that I criticize for rights abuses. That’s part of the job. But I was deeply disappointed that only days after nominating me to the western hemisphere’s principal human rights body, my own government withdrew my nomination, in effect sanctioning me for doing what I was selected to do: recognize and condemn violations of human rights….It is worth reiterating that the post for which I was nominated in no way involved policy issues in the Middle East. Further, I was not nominated to represent the United States, but rather to assess — critically and independently — the human rights situation in the states of the western hemisphere. My views on Israel/Palestine would be utterly irrelevant. Yet they were the basis for the withdrawal of my candidacy.” Also see The Cost of a Palestine Caveat: Biden Admin Chooses Politics Over Human Rights Expertise (Occupied Thoughts podcast with Cavallero, Maya Berry, and Peter Beinart)

Tuesday News Bulletin,

 “The US government’s longstanding, unconditional commitment to Israel’s defense—a policy that Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called “sacrosanct”—all but guarantees that the Biden administration’s response to the Netanyahu government’s “judicial revolution” will fall far short of deterring the Israeli prime minister or holding his government accountable.” See also Tensions in West Bank threaten Israel-US intelligence cooperation (Al Monitor);More Than 90 Democrats Warn Biden: Netanyahu’s Actions Undermine U.S.-Israel Relationship (Haaretz);Jewish Democrats Warn: Netanyahu’s Judicial Overhaul Would Alter Israeli Democracy (Haaretz); Disgraced New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces new pro-Israel group (NY Jewish Week)

In US, Smotrich walks back Huwara remark, touts unity, as hundreds protest; 7 arrests,

“Visiting a less-than-welcoming United States, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich appeared to embark on a charm offensive Sunday, telling American investors he was sorry for calling to “wipe out” the Palestinian town of Huwara and committing to “protect every innocent life, Jew or Arab,” as several hundred American Jews and Israeli ex-pats protested his appearance outside. Smotrich spoke to some 150 leaders in the Israel Bonds organization at a private gala dinner…“As I have already said and written and repeat now with sincere regret, my comments about Huwara created a completely mistaken impression,” he claimed.” See also Smotrich says he didn’t realize his ‘wipe out’ Huwara call would be seen as IDF order (Times of Israel); Over 70 U.S. Jewish Groups Vow to Shun Far-right Israeli Minister, Invoking Kahane (Haaretz); US faces growing call to deny entry to Israel’s Bezalel Smotrich (Al Jazeera); Rights groups urge US to ban Israel’s Smotrich over call to ‘wipe out’ Huwwara (Middle East Eye); ‘Everyone Hates Him’ | Israel’s Far-right Finance Minister Faces Multiple Protests, Official Boycott in D.C. Visit (Haaretz); Israeli minister who called for Palestinian town to be wiped out gets U.S. visa (Axios);  

On Jewish American opposition to Smotrich and the Netanyahu government, see: Over 70 U.S. Jewish Groups Vow to Shun Far-right Israeli Minister, Invoking Kahane (Haaretz); American Jewish Organizations and Allies Call to Shun Bezalel Smotrich (Progressive Israel Network);  Statement from American Jewish Leaders: Smotrich Should Not Be Given a Platform in Our Community (Israel Policy Forum); Also see Opinion | Why pro-Israel U.S. Jews Like Me Are Protesting the Israeli Government (Halie Sofer, CEO of the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA)): “I protested Smotrich’s visit for the same reason I’ve marched in support of Israel in the past – I remain an American Jew motivated by a deep and life-long commitment to Israel and its future as a Jewish and democratic state.” and Israel’s Judicial Overhaul Plan Ignites Debate Among American Jews (NYT); Israelis and British Jews hold rally in London against judicial overhaul (Middle East Eye)


Saudi Arabia Offers Its Price to Normalize Relations With Israel,

“Saudi Arabia is seeking security guarantees from the United States, help with developing a civilian nuclear program and fewer restrictions on U.S. arms sales as its price for normalizing relations with Israel, people familiar with the exchanges say. If sealed, the deal could set up a major political realignment of the Middle East…News of the Saudi proposal emerged hours before a separate agreement, brokered by China, which paved the way for Riyadh to restore diplomatic relations with Iran for the first time in seven years.”

Scoop: Israel approves export licenses for anti-drone systems for Ukraine,

“Israel recently approved the export licenses for the possible sale of anti-drone jamming systems that could help Ukraine counter Iranian drones used by Russia during the war, three Israeli and Ukrainian officials said. Why it matters: It’s the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine more than a year ago that Israel has approved defense export licenses for possible weapons sales to Ukraine.”

Hebh Jamal: the silencing of Palestinian voices,

“Activist and writer Hebh Jamal has been flying under the radar of Germany’s political and press elite, a group she identifies as having a vested interest in smearing any discussion of Palestinian identity as an infringement against the state of Israel…In the past year, Jamal’s work has documented the state of censorship in modern Germany and has been featured in Al Jazeera and +972 Magazine. With the prosecution of some of the many activists arrested at last year’s Nakba Day demonstration in Berlin ongoing, Jamal reflects on the struggles that Palestinians endure to exist in this country.” See also Germany: Police admit people detained under ‘protest ban’ just looked Palestinian (Middle East Eye)

Lawfare//Redefining Antisemitism to Quash Criticism of Israel

As companies raise alarm about judicial plan, a question: When is it OK to boycott Israel?,

“On Sunday, Israeli media reported that 255 Jewish business leaders in the U.S. with billions invested in Israel had sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning that they would “reevaluate their reliance on Israel as a strategic destination for investment” if changes to the Supreme Court went through. That followed recent announcements by several Israeli technology firms that they would move billions of dollars out of the country, and in at least one case help employees transfer to offices outside Israel…So far, the announcements of actual or potential disinvestment have elicited little of the opprobrium prompted by previous corporate decisions to move money out of Israel over political concerns…Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace…said that many Israel advocacy groups only seem concerned about actions that companies take over Palestinian human rights concerns.” See also 255 US investors warn Netanyahu overhaul may dampen cash infusions from abroad (Times of Israel); Boycotters of Israel were denounced as Antisemites, but now 255 US Jewish Businessmen Threaten to pull Investments over Netanyahu’s Plan to gut Courts (Juan Cole//Informed Comment)


Twenty years later, Rachel Corrie lives,

“Twenty years ago, on March 16, 2003, an Israeli military bulldozer crushed American solidarity activist Rachel Corrie to death a few kilometers away from my home in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. She was one of several International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activists trying to stop the demolition of Palestinian homes there…Rachel’s name is in my heart as a symbol of moral purity. Her most important message was that her country’s political leadership does not represent American citizens, many of whom believe in freedom, justice, and dignity for all people. Although the United States is normally synonymous with its total financial and military backing of Israel’s occupation, Rachel’s example removed many of the negative connotations about the U.S. from the hearts of many Palestinians.” See also Rachel Corrie was killed in Gaza by the IDF. 20 years on, her parents are still fighting for justice (The Independent)