New from FMEP
In this episode of Occupied Thoughts, FMEP’s Lara Friedman speaks to Sheryl Nestel, co-author of a new report published by Canada’s Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), entitled, Unveiling the Chilly Climate – The Suppression of Speech on Palestine in Canada. Sheryl discusses why the report was necessary, the research methodology it entailed, the key findings, what the authors and IJV hope the report will achieve, and why this report matters not just for Canada, but for the world. FMEP’s Lara Friedman on the Chilly Climate report: “This timely, deeply-researched report offers critical insight into the corrosive effect of ongoing efforts to delegitimize and quash support for Palestinian rights and criticism of Israel — most notably with the targeting of individuals, academic institutions, and organizations, and the resulting chilling of free speech, legitimate debate, and protest. IJV’s deep dive into the Canadian experience offers important insights into how such efforts are being pursued around the world, and why – for the sake not only of Palestinian rights, but to defend free speech writ large – challenging and reversing these trends is critical.”
“The West Bank and Jerusalem are “on fire.”…The past few weeks have witnessed a noticeable intensification of Israel’s crackdown on Palestinians in the West Bank, targeting both ordinary civilians in their homes and villages, and armed resistance fighters and groups. Simultaneously, armed settlers have been terrorizing Palestinian communities across the West Bank, often in the presence and protection of the Israeli military. The current repression, and the resistance to it, are part of a larger, months-long campaign to quell growing Palestinian resistance, particularly armed resistance, which has seen a resurgence in areas of the West Bank…Over the past two weeks, two Israeli soldiers were killed in separate shooting operations: one at a military checkpoint outside the Shu’fat refugee camp in Jerusalem, and another at an army post in the Nablus area in the northern West Bank…In the manhunt to find the shooters, Israeli forces have enacted a number of collective punishment measures, including widespread road closures affecting the entire Nablus district, and the blockade of entire neighborhoods like Shuafat and the nearby Anata. The blockade of Shu’fat and the surrounding neighborhoods sparked a widespread civil disobedience campaign in neighborhoods across Jerusalem. Protests in support of the civil disobedience campaign in Jerusalem have grown in the besieged Gaza Strip, where Palestinians have joined the calls for continued confrontation with the Israeli military apparatus…The near nightly raids, deadly suppression of protests, collective punishment policies, and increasing settler violence have done little to stifle Palestinian resistance. Reports of daily protests and confrontations with Israeli forces across Jerusalem and the West Bank have persisted, while the Nablus-based Palestinian resistance group, Areen Al-Usud (Den of Lions), has continued to gain favor among the public, as it claims responsibility for increasing armed operations against Israeli military positions in the West Bank.” See also these articles from the New Arab: Israeli forces continue closure on Nablus for 7th consecutive day, Israeli forces attack Palestinian TV crew videoing army raid in West Bank, Palestinians strike following Israel’s killing of Udai Tamimi; What is happening in the West Bank right now: a full breakdown (Mondoweiss); Palestinians strike in West Bank, Jerusalem over Israel killings (Al Jazeera); Israel resorts to besieging West Bank cities as tensions mount (Al Monitor).
“The Palestinians know full well that by besieging Nablus, Israel is seeking to punish its residents and inflict great economic losses on them in an attempt to place pressure on the resistance and incite the people who support the resistance to oppose it. However, this has yet to materialize, as the city residents are showing support for the group calling itself the Lion’s Den. On Oct. 18, tens of thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of Nablus and other cities of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in support of the group, shouting “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “God Is Great”) around mosques and on the rooftops of houses. This came in response to a call made by the Lion’s Den via its Telegram page, as reported by media outlets. The protests reflected one of the largest states of rejection and defiance against the Israeli army’s actions and threats to invade Nablus. The popular support shown for the resistance in Nablus seems strong and solid despite the siege, which may prompt the Israeli army to launch a large-scale military operation in the city…”
“Security officials have noticed a worrying trend in recent weeks of violent acts commited by Israeli settlers across the West Bank, with over 100 Jewish nationalist crimes having been recorded in just the past 10 days alone…Most incidents happened in the northern West Bank around Hawara, which has become Ground Zero for brawls between settlers and Palestinians…“Older adults, women with children are also arriving and simply starting to go wild,” [a security official] said. Central Command officials say settlement leaders are waging a shadow campaign to create the feeling that the army has lost control.” See also Israeli settlers attack Palestinians in Nablus amid army siege (Al Jazeera); Israeli Settler Violence Surges as Palestinians Turn to Armed Resistance (Jewish Currents); Palestine: Brutal settler attacks on Huwwara find allies in Israeli soldiers (Middle East Eye); Oren Ziv (Twitter): Watch: An Israeli soldier hands a tear gas grenade to an Israeli settler, who throws it towards Palestinian farmers during olive harvest today in Burin #westbank (credit: @Yesh_Din); Israeli Settlers Beat 70-year-old Activist, Threaten to Kill Her (Haaretz); An olive harvest lynching (Yuval Abraham//+972)
See also Lara Friedman’s Twitter thread: Escalating terrorism by Jewish settlers, enabled & often joined by the IDF, targeting Palestinians – people, their homes, cars, business land, animals – is raging across the West Bank. This thread will pull together recent video/pix. Nobody can saw they didn’t know.
“Ahead, we spotted a large group of settlers, most of them young men, waving large Israeli flags in the median near an intersection…They started screaming and running toward the taxi. I began to tense up. Many had their arms pulled back, loaded with stones…They approached, screaming at us, just a few meters from the window. We ducked down as low as we could, my arms covering my kids’ heads. I had heard the stories. I knew people died this way. Could this really be happening?…We drove by a few more groups of settlers who were crowding intersections and roundabouts, waving flags, screaming, and some appearing to be singing joyfully…I saw men and women, young and old. I looked at some of the women, many seemingly my own age and older, maybe some of them mothers. How did they justify terrorizing another family, as they beamed, waving their country’s flag?”
“Israel has implemented strict rules limiting the ability of foreigners to enter and stay in the occupied West Bank despite international criticism of the measures, which include the compulsory declaration of romantic relationships. A 90-page ordinance replacing the previous four-page document came into effect on Thursday for a two-year pilot period. It is expected to stifle the Palestinian economy and academia and the work of aid agencies, and create complications for hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families with dual nationality, who are already struggling to navigate a convoluted permit system. Nearly all foreign nationals coming to volunteer, work or study in the West Bank will be granted only single-entry visas, some valid for just three months, and will have to leave between visas and wait – in some cases for more than a year – before reapplying for entry. In most cases, residency is limited to a 12- to 27-month period, making family life and long-term employment almost impossible…People born in Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain and South Sudan – even if they have citizenship of a second country – are now barred from the West Bank except under exceptional circumstances. About 60% of the Jordanian population is of Palestinian origin.” See also Lara Friedman’s interview with Jessica Montell, executive director of the Israeli human rights organization HaMoked, which has been fighting these new restrictions: Beyond the Clickbait, Israel’s New (and Old) Visa Procedures Reveal a Cruel Reality for Palestinians.
“Detention figures – According to data issued quarterly by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), as of 30 September 2022, there were 4,529 Palestinians (West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza) held as “security prisoners” in detention facilities including 129 children (12-17 years). In the case of children there was a 4 percent increase in the number compared with the previous month and an annual decrease of 12 percent compared with 2021. Seven children were held in administrative detention. According to the IPS, 68 percent of child detainees were transferred to prisons inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. More statistics.” See also Almost 800 Palestinians held by Israel in ‘unlawful’ detention, claim rights groups (The Independent)
Lawfare//Redefining Antisemitism to Quash Criticism of Israel
“The American Civil Liberties Union has asked the US supreme court to overturn an Arkansas law requiring companies to pledge not to boycott Israel in order to do business with the state. The civil rights group’s petition said that the law is in conflict with a supreme court ruling 40 years ago that popular boycotts have a long tradition in American history and are protected speech under the first amendment. The ACLU’s chief litigator in the case, Brian Hauss, said that if the law is allowed to stand it would not only intrude on the right to protest in support of the Palestinians but also legitimise parallel legislation in some states against certain kinds of boycotts over the climate crisis or in support of gun control.” See also the ACLU’s petition; Jewish Currents’ explainer: The Arkansas Anti-Boycott Case, Explained (Jewish Currents); and Lara Friedman’s extensive resources on Arkansas & other states efforts to limit the rights to boycott and protest.
“The AJC’s internal disavowal of the Marcus op-ed illustrates a strategic tension that exists even among Israel-advocacy groups that broadly share the goals of combatting Palestine activism on US campuses. While hardline groups like Marcus’s Brandeis Center condemn US colleges as bastions of Jew-hatred and seek to punish them with civil rights claims on behalf of Jewish students, organizations like the AJC tend to employ a softer touch, and are more willing to work with universities. “There’s a long-running debate” among Jewish organizations over “what strategy is best: whether you should work more quietly and work with those on campus, or whether you should use a more confrontational approach with the potential threat of lawsuits,” said Dov Waxman, director of the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies and author of Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict over Israel…Even if Marcus and the AJC differ on the correct strategy to combat Palestinian rights activism on campus, they agree on the goal of countering SJP efforts…“What is at the core of this is that Palestinians advocating for their rights—the right to liberation—and Palestinians being actively and publicly Palestinian is taken as a direct threat to Jewish identity,” said Sarah Anne Minkin, director of programs & partnerships at the Foundation for Middle East Peace. “The AJC and the Brandeis Center are falling on the same side of that.””
“Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday defended former U.S. President Donald Trump days after he threatened American Jews in comments roundly condemned as antisemitic. Promoting his new book on MSNBC, Netanyahu rejected allegations that Trump’s comments prove he is antisemitic. “He has a Jewish son-in-law and his daughter converted to Judaism. His children and grandchildren are raised as Jews. So I don’t think so.” The former president has used his daughter’s Jewish family as a push-back against antisemitism allegations, all while alienating the vast majority of American Jews by empowering extremism and white supremacy. He further used his unprecedented support for Israel as a deflection against accusations of antisemitism, all while invoking dual loyalty tropes and deeming Jews who vote for Democrats as “very disloyal” to Israel. Trump’s opinions of American Jews, however, have deteriorated into stereotypes for decades, touching on tropes of wealth, power and status…Netanyahu, however, said Trump’s comments were a matter of him feeling not appreciated for his unprecedented support for Israel.”
“Israel reacted with fury Tuesday to Australia’s announcement that it will no longer recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reversing a controversial diplomatic move made four years ago by the previous conservative government. Israel’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Australian ambassador Tuesday to explain the policy shift, which was announced after two days of contradictory messages on the issue from Canberra. Only hours after officials denied that the change was imminent, Foreign Minister Penny Wong confirmed that Australia would not move its embassy to Jerusalem until Israelis and Palestinians came to a permanent agreement on the disputed capital. “Today the Government has reaffirmed Australia’s previous and long-standing position that Jerusalem is a final status issue that should be resolved as part of any peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian people,” Wong said in a statement. “Australia’s embassy has always been, and remains, in Tel Aviv.””
“[Deutch] also avoided condemning the extremist Israeli Otzma Yehudit party, as AJC has done in the past…AJC will continue to push local and national officials to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism — a 500-word document that contains a brief explanation of the term followed by 11 examples of how it can manifest, most of which involve speech about Israel…Beyond antisemitism, Deutch said Israel advocacy is at the top of his agenda, adding that AJC is uniquely situated to become the “leading NGO that helps to further facilitate the deepening and expanding of the Abraham Accords.””
“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says Israel has failed to come into compliance with the necessary requirements to enter the visa waiver program, Haaretz has learned…The main sticking point is “reciprocity” – ensuring that all U.S. citizens are treated equally at Israeli points of entry. Travelers who are not white and Jewish have long complained about racial profiling at Ben Gurion Airport. Palestinians with American citizenship, meanwhile, travel via the Allenby Bridge crossing with Jordan.”
“Arab regimes’ normalization of the Zionist project is not a new phenomenon, and neither is opposition to it. Normalization has been a feature of regional geopolitics for a century. Thus, this commentary outlines the historical and contemporary normalization maneuvers across the region; it then draws a distinction between Arab regimes and the Arab people, who have continually opposed normalization. It concludes by describing the implications of normalization policies for Palestinian liberation and the future of the region.”
“With many Palestinians fearful that their cuisine is being lost, kitchen practices handed down by family matriarchs for generations are still being passed along…“Inside my hands are my ancestors’,” [Vivien Sansour] said, sweeping her fingers through the wheat in a steel pan outside the home of Umm Hassan, the mother of the groom. “This is 10,000 years of cultivation.””
“Judging by recent polls, there is a reasonable chance that Israel’s next government will be controlled by the some of the most radical elements ever to populate Israeli politics, with Knesset member Itamar Ben Gvir leading the pack. Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to whom Ben Gvir owes much of his political rise, is now dependent on the head of the Jewish Power party for his potential comeback in the Nov. 1 elections. Ben Gvir is running on one ticket with the Religious Zionism Party, led by Bezalel Smotrich. Polls show the party winning 14 Knesset seats out of 120, almost three times the number predicted for the Labor Party, and two or three seats more than the National Unity alliance led by two former military chiefs (Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Gadi Eizenkot), a justice minister (Gideon Saar) and other former senior officers and officials. Such results for radical Smotrich and Ben Gvir would prompt concerns around the world and in the region, particularly in Washington (American officials have already indicated as much), but the one who should be most troubled is Netanyahu, whom this group will hold hostage.”