Top News & Analysis from Israel & Palestine: November 4, 2021

What We’re Reading

On Israel’s Declaration of Palestinian Human Rights Groups as “Terrorist Organizations”

Secret Israeli Document Offers No Proof to Justify Terror Label for Palestinian Groups ,

“A secret document distributed by Israel to justify its terrorist designations of six prominent Palestinian human rights groups shows no concrete evidence of involvement in violent activities by any of the groups…The secret document, a dossier containing the purported justifications were obtained by +972, Local Call, and The Intercept along with a raft of ancillary documents. The dossier, which was prepared by the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security force, was marked as classified by the Israeli government but widely distributed. The dossier is largely based on interrogations of two accountants working for a seventh Palestinian civil society group that was declared a terrorist organization last year; a lawyer for one of the accountants said the testimonies were gathered under duress….The dossier and interrogation summaries contain no concrete evidence of involvement between any of the groups and violent PFLP activities, nor — contrary to assertions by Israel’s Defense Ministry — evidence that any of the six groups directed funds to the PFLP.” See also Secret Israeli dossier provides no proof for declaring Palestinian NGOs ‘terrorists’” (+972 Magazine) and “In Congress, Israel Justifies Palestinian NGO Terror Tag With Evidence on Unrelated Group” (Haaretz)

FMEP's Webinar Tomorrow + Ongoing Coverage ,

The NGOs Israel Designated as Terror Groups Remain Legal in the West Bank,

“The six Palestinian civil society organizations that Defense Minister Benny Gantz declared to be terrorist organizations can still legally operate in the West Bank, where they are registered and are active. For an organization to be declared a “disallowed association” in the West Bank, the commander of the IDF’s Central Command must issue an order, but the office said that no such order was issued….A security source told Haaretz that the main objective of labeling them as terrorist organizations was to hamper their fundraising…“Israeli governments’ long history of attempts to financially suffocate Palestinian civil society organizations – including direct appeals to donor countries demanding they cease funding them – shows that the motive to harm them is their political activity,” said Michael Sfard, the legal counsel to several human rights groups in Israel. “This declaration is also meant to stop them from politically and legally challenging the occupation. Accusing them of terror ties is just cover.””

Israel hasn’t given us evidence linking NGOs to terror, Irish FM says,

“Israel hasn’t shown Ireland or the European Union credible evidence to prove that there is substance behind its decision last week to designate six Palestinian nongovernmental groups as terror entities, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday…”we have not gotten any credible evidence to link the NGOs to terrorism, certainly not that I have seen,” said Coveney who has also served as his country’s defense minister since 2020.” For a full thread of reactions and responses, see Lara Friedman’s Twitter thread. 

Letter to Secretary Blinken from U.S. Orgs & Leaders in Solidarity with Palestinian Civil Society,

“As groups committed to social justice, civil rights, and universal human rights, we have seen first hand the ways that the charge of “terrorist” and the so-called “war on terror” threatens not only international human rights defenders, but also social movements and marginalized communities here in the U.S.: Indigenous, Black, brown, Muslim, and Arab activists and communities have similarly faced silencing, intimidation, criminalization and surveillance under such baseless charges. A threat against the Palestinian human rights movement is a threat against movements for social justice everywhere.” Also hear “Inside Israel’s Decision to Label Palestinian NGOs as Terror Organizations” (Haaretz podcast with journalist Hagar Shezaf)

Opinion: Israel escalates its attacks against defenders of Palestinian rights, wherever they may be,

“…anyone surprised by this step has not been paying attention, as it represents just the latest depth the Israeli government has been willing to sink to in order to intimidate, silence and repress dissent against its apartheid policies.” Also see this video “What do I know about concrete? About as much as Benny Gantz knows of human rights” by Rami Younis

​​Intimate Acquaintance with Terrorism,

“In addition to the six Palestinian NGOs, Israeli officials branded my neighbor, my life partner and an ice cream company as terrorists. No evidence needed….There are terrorists in the world. Osama, our neighbor, and I are not among them, and the six Palestinian organizations and Ben & Jerry’s are not terrorist organizations. I can’t prove that. But who should bear the burden of proof?”

What Israel cannot admit about Jewish terrorism,

“Israel’s inability to properly tackle Jewish terrorism and its criminalization of Palestinian human rights defenders are two sides of the same coin, and recognizing as much makes clear that the designation of the six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist groups is not, for Israel, about “justice” or even security. Rather, as Anwar Mhajne and Amjad Iraqi noted in separate pieces last week, it is about domination, and about the decades-long campaign to dismantle Palestinian national identity and “eliminate Palestinian agency,” as Iraqi wrote.”

Occupation, Annexation, Human Rights, Apartheid

UN: Israel demolition of Palestine homes in West Bank up 21%,

“Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem increased 21 per cent this year, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said yesterday.”

A Government of Change (for the worse),

“The Bennett-Lapid government formed on 13/6/21 declared a “status quo” in the settlements policy. An examination of the first four and a half months of the government shows that the status quo has not been maintained in everything related to the settlements, and the government has actively worked to promote settlements and deepen the Israeli occupation of the territories.” See also “Final Discussion of Objections on E1 Plans Slated for Monday Constitutes Major Step towards Full Approval” (Ir Amim)

Israel: Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike against detention reaches 100 days,

“Several Palestinian political prisoners have been on hunger strikes in Israeli jails for more than 100 days as they protest against their administrative detention and harsh prison conditions.” See alsoAfter 111 days on hunger strike, Palestine prisoner faces imminent death, rights group warns” (MEMO)

Long Walk From Freedom: Indebted Gazan Trudges to Jail 17th Time. Or 18th.,

“Debt — and particularly wedding-related debt — has become emblematic of the economic crisis here. In the first nine months of 2021 alone, the Gaza City police alone issued 448 arrest warrants for indebted bridegrooms — already more than the cumulative total recorded in the city throughout 2017, 2018 and 2019. The figures for 2020 were not available. Since Hamas took power in Gaza in 2007, Israel and Egypt have heightened pressure on the militant group by enforcing a blockade on the strip. That has helped damage the Gazan economy and is one of the major causes of an unemployment rate of more than 40 percent.” See also “Gazans study Hebrew as Israel increases work permits” (Al Monitor)


Statement from the Families of Sheikh Jarrah ,

“We rejected the “proposal” by the “Israeli Supreme Court,” which would have rendered us ‘protected tenants’ at the mercy of settler organizations. We stand firm in our refusal to compromise on our rights despite the lack of institutional guarantees that would protect our presences as Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem. The Israeli judiciary is circumventing its duty to adjudicate the case and is forcing us instead to choose between our own dispossession or submitting to an oppressive agreement. Naturally, we refuse to commit someone else’s crimes. Such “compromises” create the illusion of the ball in our court, fabricating a framing in which we reject a “generous deal,” in a situation where our dispossession would still be imminent and our homes would still be regarded as someone else’s. Such “deals” distract from the crime at hand: ethnic cleansing perpetrated by a settler-colonial judiciary and its settlers. The international community has long maintained that settler expansion and forced expulsion in Sheikh Jarrah are war crimes. Thus it must resp;ond to grave international law violations with real diplomatic and political repressions. The culture of inaction and impunity must not be maintained. It is time for our Nakba to end. Our families deserve to live in peace without the looming ghost of imminent dispossession.”

Palestinian Residents Reject Israeli Court's Compromise on Sheikh Jarrah Evictions,

“Due to their rejection of the offer, the judges will have to reconsider the Palestinian residents’ appeal against the original eviction order. Nahalot Shimon, the settlement group with a claim to the land, has also submitted its response to the Supreme Court, but their decision has not yet been made public.” See also “Sheikh Jarrah families reject ‘unjust’ deal with Israeli settlers” (Al Jazeera)

Palestinians vow to defend graves in Jerusalem cemetery,

“Israeli occupation authorities in Jerusalem have been moving ahead with plans to build a Jewish “national park” set to open in mid-2022 over parts of the cemetery, which spans more than 14 dunams (1.4 hectares) of land. Three weeks ago, workers from the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem municipality and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority exposed human remains during excavations, causing outrage and unleashing continuous protests and prayers at the site. Since then, Palestinians have been increasing their presence at the graveyard, including those going to protect their dead, and confronting Israeli forces, which responded with tear gas, stun grenades, physical beatings, arrests, temporary bans on individuals from visiting the cemetery.” See also “Israel demolishes Muslim cemetery near Al Aqsa Mosque to build park” (Al Monitor) and “Jerusalem Palestinians fight to preserve cemetery slated for demolition” (Middle East Eye)

How Israel's use of skunk water is damaging Palestinian health and economy,

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for Jerusalemites to linger for lengthy periods of time at Damascus Gate or the adjacent Musrara neighbourhood or Sultan Sulieman Street due to the huge amounts of skunk water that have flooded in the area in recent years…The spraying of the foul-smelling water – first used by Israel in the West Bank in 2008 – is not confined to a certain locality. Rather, the Israeli security services target commercial outlets as well as streets with the aim of inflicting as much damage as possible to the economy of East Jerusalem, which has been floundering for a number of years, according to Abu Qwaider.” See also 130 Israeli Jews storm Al-Aqsa Mosque compound” (Middle East Monitor)

Why This Powerful Israeli Agency Won't Disclose the Scale of the Palestinian Properties It Manages,

“The fear of the Custodian is one of the most impeding factors in the real estate market in East Jerusalem, with a far-reaching impact on the economy and city planning. As many Palestinian families have a relative who lives or lived in an Arab country, almost every piece of property in the east side can be claimed to have an owner who is an absentee, and therefore the Custodian should receive their share of the asset. Among other things, it causes many to prefer purchasing and selling realty on the black market, without notifying authorities, or to turn to illegal construction in order to avoid requesting a building permit.”

U.S. Scene

"Israel literally owned Congress 10 years ago, 15 years ago, it was so powerful... Israel had such power... over Congress.",

“Watch Donald Trump’s remarks which if uttered by Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib would have set Washington DC ablaze.” Also see:Trump: Until recently Israel ‘literally owned Congress’ — and that was a good thing” (JTA)

Tom Nides confirmed by Senate, following GOP obstruction,

“The Senate confirmed Tom Nides as U.S. ambassador to Israel in a voice vote on Wednesday, a day after Republican objections blocked the move.”

Jewish Currents Tuesday Bulletin: On the Visa Waiver Program ,

“One of the most significant obstacles is the requirement for “reciprocity,” meaning that participating countries whose citizens travel hassle-free must extend visa-free travel to American citizens, and must treat all American citizens equally…The concerns about Israel discriminating against Americans are likely to remain paramount in negotiations between Israel and the US over entry into the visa waiver program.”

Surveillance, Tech, Corporate News

Commerce Adds NSO Group and Other Foreign Companies to Entity List for Malicious Cyber Activities ,

“NSO Group and Candiru (Israel) were added to the Entity List based on evidence that these entities developed and supplied spyware to foreign governments that used these tools to maliciously target government officials, journalists, businesspeople, activists, academics, and embassy workers.  These tools have also enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression, which is the practice of authoritarian governments targeting dissidents, journalists and activists outside of their sovereign borders to silence dissent.  Such practices threaten the rules-based international order.” See alsoBiden administration blacklists NSO Group over Pegasus spyware” (WaPo), “Israel, France to handle NSO spyware case ‘discreetly’, Israeli official says” (Reuters), “Founder of Notorious Israeli Spyware Firm NSO Steps Down as CEO” (Haaretz) and for background on NSO Group and Palestinians, see “Exporting the Tools of Apartheid” (Yousef Munayyer in Jewish Currents)

Palestinian Observatory of Digital Rights Violations (7or) ,

“The Palestinian Observatory of Digital Rights Violations (7or) is the first open source online platform to monitor, document and follow up on the digital rights violations of Palestinians. The platform offers a tool to report violations and search through the database of violations. 7amleh – the Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media launched as a continuation of its work on Palestinian digital rights. 7or will be able to fill a gap that has always existed in the work of human rights organizations in general and digital rights organizations specifically, which is the ability to access a practical, detailed and organized database of digital rights violations against Palestinians. This is a pressing need for those who work in human and digital rights organizations that will enable them to improve their advocacy and lobbying of stakeholders.”

Facebook employees questioned restrictions on Palestine posts during Gaza offensive,

“Several Facebook employees raised concerns about restrictions on the Instagram posts of Palestinian users during Israel’s offensive on Gaza and the upheaval in occupied East Jerusalem this May, internal company documents reportedly show. The employees voiced frustration as they struggled to understand why content was being removed and restricted, including Instagram Stories by prominent Palestinian activist and journalist Mohammed El-Kurd, according to an ABC News report published on Friday….The documents were passed on by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen to the US Security and Exchange Commission earlier this year and then provided in redacted form to Congress.”

In the BDS Fight, 'D' Is the Letter Israel Should Really Worry About,

“Across the developed world, big businesses are facing pressure from institutional investors and a growing body of European legislation to meet a host of standards ranging from human rights to the environment. While the standards don’t target Israel and the occupation per se, Israel is vulnerable to failing the human rights test because of its policies toward the Palestinians.” See also “The Unexpected Trade and Business Implications of Israel’s Attack on Al Haq” (OpinioJuris)

New York pension fund joins exit from Unilever over Israel restrictions,

“New York’s $268 billion state pension fund on Thursday became the latest to restrict its holdings in Unilever Plc (ULVR.L) in response to sales limits imposed by the company’s Ben & Jerry’s ice cream brand in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.”

Jewish employees push to cancel Google's $1.2b. contract with Israel,

“Two Jewish Google employees are playing a key role in a worker petition calling on Google and Amazon to cancel a joint contract to build cloud-based data centers on behalf of the Israeli government….The open letter says the deal violates the signers’ “core values” by allegedly fostering surveillance of Palestinians and encouraging the expansion of Jewish settlements.”

Texas Sued by Houston Contractor Over Ban on Israel Boycotts,

“A Houston engineering firm is challenging a Texas law barring the state from doing business with companies participating in the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. A&R Engineering and Testing Inc. said in a complaint filed Friday in federal court in Houston that the 2017 law violates its First Amendment right to participate in economic boycotts as a form of protest.”

Accountability & Diplomacy

Thirty Years On: The Ruse of the Middle East Peace Process,

“The so-called Middle East Peace Process has ensured Palestinians’ oppression by a military regime bent on settler-colonial expansion. How has the bilateral negotiations framework consolidated Israel’s hegemony over the Palestinians, and how has Israel maintained it? Al-Shabaka policy analyst, Inès Abdel Razek, explores these questions and more, and offers recommendations to the international community for supporting Palestinian liberation.” See also “Thirty years of sham ‘peace process’” (Al Jazeera // Yara Hawari)

ICC: Complaint alleges Israel systematically targets Palestinian journalists,

Israel is systematically targeting journalists to prevent coverage of its human rights violations, say lawyers in a complaint filed with the International Criminal Court on Wednesday….[The complaint] alleges that, along with systematically targeting journalists working in Palestine, Israel has failed to investigate their murders. It also cites the bombing of several towers that housed media offices, including those of Alam News, Al Hayat Newspapers, Mayadeen Media and Al Bawaba 24, in Gaza City this May.”

Redefining Antisemitism // Protecting Greater Israel

If we endorse the IHRA definition of antisemitism we put at risk Australia’s academic freedom Palestinian Australian university students,

“As Palestinian university students from campuses across Australia, in disciplines ranging from the Arts and Law to the Sciences and Indigenous Studies, we write with urgency to warn against the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism by Australian universities. We are writing anonymously because the threat to our academic positions and future careers is already present.

Opinion | Neo-Nazis? As Long as They're Friends of Israel,

“Israel’s ongoing need to justify its military control over the Palestinians requires it to create alliances with the anti-liberal side of the international map. As does its need to fund its weapons industry through dangerous exports to all and sundry.” 

Sunrise DC was wrong. But liberal Jewish groups remain complicit in occupation ,

“…condemning Sunrise DC’s actions without acknowledging the grave harm Zionism causes Palestinians is anti-Palestinian. The proclaimed progressive values of the RAC, NCJW, and the JCPA are precisely the reason that these organizations’ support for the Israeli state is so disappointing….The JCPA, the Union for Reform Judaism (including its advocacy arm, the RAC), and NCJW have all supported anti-BDS legislation that the ACLU labels as patently unconstitutional. By seeking to outlaw BDS, these organizations are not only complicit in a deeply illiberal project that undermines the First Amendment, they are also providing material cover to the Israeli government (which views BDS as a serious threat).”

Bonus Reads

Inside the Unraveling of American Zionism: How a new generation of Jewish leaders began to rethink their support for Israel,

“A reliable subcurrent in American students’ conversions away from the ardent Zionism of their youth is firsthand confrontation with reality in the West Bank. Groups like Breaking the Silence (run by Israel Defense Forces veterans), T’ruah (“The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights”) and Encounter organize daylong and overnight trips to West Bank cities where participants meet with members of Palestinian civil society.”

Israel’s Ecological Apartheid in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,

“Since its occupation in 1967, Israel’s ecological destruction and restructuring of the oPt’s topography has been orchestrated militarily, with the objective of establishing and maintaining more settlements in the oPt. This article provides a non-comprehensive overview of the ecological destruction of various kinds, especially that affecting agricultural land and deriving from, inter alia, the construction and expansion of settlements. Further, this article argues that such ecological destruction is also serving as a tool that facilitates Israel’s apartheid system imposed on the Palestinians. Notably, this article does not delve into the academic debate regarding the definition of ecocide as an international crime. Therefore, ‘ecocide’ is used generally and within the meaning of “severe damage to the natural environment” as a war crime, as stipulated in Article 8(2)(b)(iv) of the Rome Statute.”