Top News & Analysis from Israel & Palestine: September 2-9, 2022

What We’re Reading

New from FMEP

A Settler Tool & A Catch-22 for Palestinians: Land Registration in East Jerusalem,

On this episode of Occupied Thoughts, FMEP’s Kristin McCarthy is joined by Amy Cohen of Ir Amim to unpack the threat that land registration poses to Palestinians. Though land registration is a complex and bureaucratic process, Ir Amim characterizes it as one of (if not the) most pressing modes of dispossession facing Palestinians living in East Jerusalem. Listen to understand why and how Israel is cynically exploiting land registration to grow settlements, expropriate more land, and push Palestinians out of the city.

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.

On Israel's Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh

Israel admits it’s gaslighting the world on Shireen’s killing,

“After four months of gaslighting, the Israeli army finally admitted, following an internal probe, that one of its own soldiers “most likely” killed renowned Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during a raid in the West Bank city of Jenin in May…The conclusion of Israeli culpability is hardly news. What makes the announcement infuriating, however, is the way in which the Israeli army has casually confessed to the crime, knowing full well that the shooter will never be punished for the killing, nor will his superiors in government or the military pay a price for peddling falsehoods for months…Yet amid this reality of indifference lies an empowering lesson. Despite Israel’s diversions, Palestinians and their allies demonstrated that they have the power to force Israel into a corner. Palestinian journalists and eyewitnesses, amplified by multiple investigations by some of the world’s most prominent media outlets, have shown for months that the shooter could not have been anything other than an Israeli sniper targeting Abu Akleh. The body of evidence was so overwhelming that even the army’s probe, for all its calculated ambiguity, had little wiggle room to suggest otherwise. The public activism that followed Abu Akleh’s killing not only made “Shireen” a household name beyond the Arab world, but ensured her name was echoed in parliaments and government offices across the globe. Elevated by this mass support, Abu Akleh’s family, including her devoted niece Lina, have taken their cause to the U.S. Congress and State Secretary Antony Blinken, putting direct pressure on Washington to hold its military funding beneficiary to account, let alone fulfill its duty to an American citizen killed by foreign forces.” See also Latest Israeli report whitewashes Abu Akleh’s killing, with little hope for US intervention (Al Monitor), Israeli PM opposes prosecuting soldier who likely shot Abu Akleh (Al Jazeera), Israel rebuffs US request to change rules of engagement after Shireen Abu Akleh killing (The New Arab), Israel says its forces likely shot American journalist, but by accident (WaPo) and Opinion  In U.S. journalist’s death, Israel leaves questions unanswered (Washington Post Editorial). 

See also the Abu Akleh Family Response to Israel’s Statement: “We could never expect any type of accountability or legitimate investigation from the very entity responsible for gunning down an unarmed and clearly identifiable journalist.”

Israel's Escalating Assault on Palestinian Civil Society

DCIP jointly demands United States condemn, reject Israeli government attacks,

“Six prominent Palestinian civil society organizations arbitrarily outlawed by Israeli government sent a letter to the Biden administration yesterday demanding action. The letter, addressed to United States President Joe Biden, calls on him and his administration to condemn the latest Israeli government actions aimed at delegitimizing and criminalizing Palestinian human rights defenders and civil society organizations as well as to reject the Israeli government’s unsubstantiated allegations against the six Palestinian civil society organizations and demand Israeli authorities rescind the designations under both Israeli civilian law and military law…The letter also called on the Biden administration to work collectively with other states to demand Israel rescind the designations and take diplomatic action, in concert with European counterparts, that serves to protect targeted Palestinian organizations, staff, premises, and assets; end any U.S. efforts to undermine the right of Palestinians and Palestinian civil society organizations to pursue justice and accountability, including at the International Criminal Court; and end complicity and financial and diplomatic support to the Israeli apartheid regime.”

Kafka in Gaza: How Israel turned a Palestinian aid worker into a ‘terrorist’,

“All of the evidence in Mohammed Halabi’s six-year trial was either ‘secret’ or implausible. That didn’t stop Israel sentencing him to 12 years in prison.”

Apartheid/Occupation/Human Rights

A soldier is not a civilian,

“The Israeli media avoids making the crucial distinction between an action directed against soldiers and an action directed against civilians; just like the regime it serves, in the eyes of the vast majority of the Israeli media there is no Palestinian struggle that is not inherently defined as terrorism, be it armed or unarmed. Every Palestinian protester is a “rioter” or “terrorist,” and all armed resistance to Israeli invasions into West Bank cities, which are becoming an almost nightly event, is “terrorism.” All the while, Israel is steadily and alarmingly expanding the applicability of the concept of terrorism to the Palestinian population. Over the past decade we have heard Israeli officials accuse Palestinians of such absurdities as “construction terror” and “diplomatic terror,” while just last year Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s declared several of the most prominent Palestinian civil society organizations to be “terrorist organizations.” The media’s conduct is not only unprofessional; it is a dangerous manipulation of the public mind, which is also no longer able to distinguish between terrorism and legitimate opposition…Despite Israel’s smokescreen tactics, aided by a compliant media that will simply regurgitate every single thing the regime says about Palestinians, the facts must be stated clearly: as long as the occupation, which is an integral part of Israel’s apartheid regime between the river and the sea, continues, the Palestinian struggle against it will also continue, including by use of arms. And the right to conduct this struggle is anchored in international law. As such, the Israeli public has an interest in this struggle being limited to combatants, rather than dragging uninvolved civilians — both Israelis and Palestinians — into armed confrontation. International law, which Israel blatantly ignores, was created for this very purpose.” Also see these articles from +972: You can’t oppose settler colonialism in Australia while endorsing it in Palestine (Em Hilton); ‘Refusing is the minimum’: Why these Israeli teens are objecting to army service (Oren Ziv)

Humans of Masafer Yatta: Wedad Makhamreh,

“Wedad Makhamreh is a 47 years old Palestinian woman from Masafer Yatta. Despite all the Israeli occupation harassment against her home village, she is still struggling to keep a life and protect her family in their only home by grazing the flocks and cultivating the fields of her village, which Israel has now transformed into shooting fields, tank parking, and military bases. That’s the reason why her only son Muhammad lost his right hand, after he stepped on an unexploded grenade left by the Israeli army next to thier house in the village of Al-Mirkiz in Masafer Yatta.”

Israelis retreat on new rules for romantic relationships in West Bank,

“Israel on Sunday issued revised protocols for the entry of foreign passport holders into the West Bank, omitting some controversial clauses after outcries from human rights organizations that said the previous version codified Israel’s discriminatory restriction of Palestinian movement. The latest version of the guidelines, published Sunday night as a 90-page document after public and private condemnation from diplomats and international organizations, dropped the requirement that foreign passport holders declare romantic relationships with Palestinians to Israeli military authorities. It also does away with an academic quota allowing only 100 foreign professors and 150 students into the disputed territory…The regulations will be implemented Oct. 20 and will continue over a two-year pilot period.” See also this interview with Jessica Montell of HaMoked (i24): “After pressure from international bodies, Israel has modified some of the new rules regulating the entry of foreign visitors to the West Bank

I’m a French-Palestinian detained in an Israeli jail – here’s what’s really happening,

“What we are witnessing, then, is an Israeli attempt to finally crush the Palestinians and their struggle, to drain the cause of any collective political content and reduce us to fragmented and individualised “humanitarian” or economic issues. My own life experience corroborates this trajectory. First, my involvement as a student activist was banned by the Israelis, and I was arrested numerous times and held in detention without trial. After my release from prison in 2011 I retrained as a lawyer, focusing in my work on political prisoners to provide legal and moral support to them and their families, despite the fact that the Israeli colonial military court system has proven to lack any sort of due process and is racist when ruling over Palestinians. Yet even this has been criminalised by Israel. My family has been deported and I have been repeatedly harassed, spied on, and once again arrested and held without trial (since March of this year) in the Israeli prison from which I write this article…Ultimately, Israel wants to remove Palestinians from our land by any means, and seeks international silence in which to accomplish this goal. We see this goal being advanced on a routine basis – such as in Jerusalem neighbourhoods like Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, or Masafer Yatta in the West Bank.” See also Palestine: Israeli court extends detention of Palestinian journalist Lama Ghosheh (Middle East Eye)

Israel Weighs Measures to Prop Up Ailing Palestinian Authority,

“Growing evidence in recent months that the power of the Palestinian Authority is rapidly eroding has alarmed Israeli authorities, who are now weighing new measures to prop it up in an effort to combat security threats. A source said Israel has been relying on its security forces to prevent a spillover of terrorism and crime into Israel from the West Bank, where conditions are rapidly deteriorating…The source added the declining standing of PA President Mahmoud Abbas and the erosion of Palestinian security forces have led to a loss of control on the ground.” See also U.S. urges Israel to take steps to stabilize Palestinian Authority (Axios)

Why Israel Secretly Decided to Erase the Green Line,

“Minutes of top-secret cabinet meetings in 1967 reveal how the decision to erase the Green Line from Israel’s official map was made. And it wasn’t the only thing that was erased”

Israeli archeologists find 4,000-year-old village in Ramallah,

“Israeli Bar Ilan research university announced Aug. 29 the discovery of a 4,000-year-old archaeological village in ​​Khirbet Tibneh, located in Deir Nidham village, northwest of Ramallah. The excavations, which began in late July, are the first of their kind in the West Bank since the 1980s. Authorization was granted by the Israeli Civil Administration’s Archaeology Unit. The move stirred outrage in Palestine, since Palestinians believe the works are part of Israel’s systematic policy of targeting archaeological areas in the West Bank and appropriating Palestinian antiquities since 1967…Students from Bar-Ilan University and a number of settlers from the Jewish Halamish settlement did the excavation. Eyewitnesses told Ultra Palestine news website that the Israeli army also deployed in the area, along with the excavation workers…On Aug. 5, the Undersecretary of the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Saleh Tawafsha, accused Israel of launching a systematic attack on Palestinian antiquities to falsify reality and history.”

Documenting the Struggle,

“On this episode, Jewish Currents Contributing Editor Joshua Leifer talks with Oren Ziv—co-founder of the award-winning photojournalist collective Activestills and reporter for +972 Magazine and its Hebrew sister site, Local Call—about Oren’s decade-plus experience documenting protest and resistance in Israel/Palestine. Since the Activestills collective’s founding in 2005, Ziv and the group have captured some of the most iconic, and often painful, images of social and political struggle: from the demonstrations against the Israeli separation barrier in the late 2000s, to the campaign for African asylum seekers’ rights in the 2010s, to the opposition to gentrification in the Mizrahi neighborhood of Givat Amal, and much more. Ziv’s own dogged reporting has made him one of the most perceptive journalists in the field; through his camera, Ziv has opened up the injustices of the occupation to the world. Ziv discusses his journalistic method and the experience of documenting the violence of apartheid.”

Lawfare//Redefining Antisemitism to Quash Criticism of Israel

How the antisemitic far right fell for Israel,

“For Jelena Subotić, a political scientist who also works in memory studies, the Israeli right’s embrace of Orbán’s message — which has included chummy meetings with ex-Israeli prime ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett — is not as baffling as it may seem. Rather, Subotić explains, it is a function of how “far-right populist international networks are changing our traditional understanding of antisemitism, in that they’re decoupling from attitudes toward and relations with Israel.” This separation, she says, is the key factor that distinguishes modern far-right antisemitism from its earlier forms — and which has helped ensure that antisemitism remains the ideological core of global far-right populism, even as its adherents insist otherwise by way of their pro-Israel bona fides. This “decoupling,” and the “pro-Israel antisemitism” it has cultivated, also help explain why Soros continues to dominate far-right conspiracy theories, and why such antisemitic flights of fancy have taken root in Israel as much as in Europe and the United States. I spoke to Subotić about why Orbán continues to be at the forefront of international conservatism; the ongoing fixation with Soros; and why antisemitism and pro-Israel sentiment seem to coexist so comfortably on the far right.”

German broadcaster requires employees to ‘support Israel’s right to exist’,

“On Sept. 1, Germany’s international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle (DW) updated its Code of Conduct to require all employees, when speaking either on behalf of the organization or in a personal capacity, to “support the right of Israel to exist” or face consequences, such as dismissal…The release of the new Code of Conduct follows a months-long investigation that led to the firing of seven Palestinian and Arab journalists earlier this year, after they were accused of antisemitism. A +972 report found that DW’s investigation was politically motivated and focused on scapegoating Arab and particularly Palestinian journalists, creating an environment of fear, distrust, and strict self-censorship when it comes to Israel-Palestine.”

Berlin Court Finds Deutsche Welle Unlawfully Dismissed Journalist Farah Maraqa,

“Palestinian-Jordanian journalist Farah Maraqa won her lawsuit against German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), which dismissed her and other 6 journalists in February 2022. Following a hearing on 20 July 2022, the Berlin Labour Court ruled today in favour of Farah Maraqa, ordering Deutsche Welle to reinstate her and to pay for the costs of the legal dispute. This suggests that the Court recognised that Farah’s termination, based on a controversial investigation and unfounded allegations of antisemitism related to reports published before her employment contract, was illegal…It is the second lawsuit that DW loses after they terminated the contract of 7 journalists from their Arabic service. On 7 July 2022, the Bonn Labour Court found that DW’s dismissal of Palestinian journalist Maram Salem was unlawful. In another case, DW settled, and all the remaining cases are still pending…So far, it appears DW management has refused to acknowledge their mistakes and has instead anchored its prejudiced positions in a new Code of Conduct published on 1 September 2022.”

#NoTechforAparthied: Google and Amazon put profit before principles with Project Nimbus,

Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion dollar contract that Google and Amazon have entered with the Israeli government and military, is the most recent example. This deal will provide Israeli authorities with artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud storage facilities. Partnerships between tech giants and colonial regimes only ever lead to further repression, persecution, and systematic discrimination. In the case of Israel, it uses the Palestinian territory as a testing lab for its surveillance and spying technologies that it then sells off worldwide…Furthermore, for a while now Google has been putting the lives of Palestinians at risk through its Google maps application, by not listing the roads that are prohibited to them, like those which are located in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Palestinians are therefore left vulnerable to attacks from settlers and/or the Israeli army. To add insult to injury, the app includes settlements on the first layer of its maps without highlighting anywhere that they are illegal, or correctly including Palestinian villages. This only further legitimises Israel’s violations and normalises its actions on the land. It doesn’t stop there. The company has also been imposing excessive censorship of Palestinian content on YouTube.” See also: Google, Amazon workers protest recent billion-dollar contract with Israel (WAFA)

40th Anniversary of Sabra & Shatilla Massacre

Remembering the Sabra Shatila Massacre, Forty Years Later,

“Forty years ago, during the week of September 12, we were working in a Palestine Red Crescent Society facility, Gaza Hospital, in Sabra Shatila camp in West Beirut….On Saturday, September 18, along with the other international health care volunteers, we were ordered by the Phalangists (Lebanese Christian militia working under Israeli control) to assemble at the front of the hospital. We were marched, at machine-gun point, down Sabra Street, the main street of the camp – passing dead bodies, passing hundreds of women and children from the camps being lined up and held at gun point by soldiers. We heard the chatter of ongoing communication from the militias’ walkie-talkies. Eventually we were turned over to the Israel Defense Force (IDF) forward command post where Israeli soldiers were looking down on the camps with binoculars. We were driven out of the area by IDF vehicles. From there, Ellen went to the American Embassy to report what she had seen and heard over the previous few days. Swee walked to the Commodore Hotel to inform the many journalists stationed there of what happened in the camp…Forty years have passed, and many generations later, the painful memories remain. Investigations, interests, questions continue. Israel claimed recently that the archives concerning the communications between the Christian militia blamed for the massacre, the Lebanese authorities, and Israel have been lost! There is still much to learn, and more information needs to come to light.”