New from FMEP
FMEP Fellow Peter Beinart speaks with FMEP Fellow Jehad Abusalim about Palestinian views on antisemitism, from the 19th century Palestinian intellectuals to 20th century responses to the Holocaust and Zionism, from the first Hamas charter to today’s rising accusations of antisemitism to delegitimize Palestinian rights.
In this episode of Occupied Thoughts, FMEP’s Sarah Anne Minkin speaks with Rebecca Vilkomerson, author of the recent report Funding Freedom: Philanthropy and the Palestinian Freedom Movement. They speak about the trends, impediments, and dynamics around funding Palestinian rights, how and why funding decisions are political, and how funders – both institutional and individual – can begin or deepen their engagement with the movement for Palestinian freedom with strategy, humility, and courage.
“Indeed, the [NYT Editorial] board’s stubborn refusal to incorporate Palestinian perspectives into its editorials, despite deafening calls to do so, leads it to fundamentally misread the reality on the ground and, consequently, leaves the newspaper with a woefully outdated understanding of Israel-Palestine…Many of the Times’ editorials of the last 30 years, since the advent of the Oslo Accords, have been steeped in the peace framework. They treat Israelis and Palestinians as having equal power when they clearly don’t. They praise Israel for minor adjustments to its daily structural violence against Palestinians, but scold Palestinian leaders and society for acts of violence done in turn. If the Times’ editorial board sounds outdated today, that is because its worldview remains stuck in the 1990s.” See also the NYT Editorial “The Ideal of Democracy in a Jewish State Is in Jeopardy”
Netanyahu's New Government
“Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu announced the formation of the most far-right government in the country’s history Wednesday night, marking the imminent return of its longest-serving leader and granting an unprecedented portion of power to his far-right and ultra-Orthodox allies, who have vowed to make far-reaching legislative changes in the country…The Religious Zionism bloc, made up of formerly fringe far-right parties and which propelled Netanyahu back to power, has called to cancel the Jerusalem gay pride parade, increase funding for Israel’s ultra-Orthodox minority, hollow out the judicial system, and legitimize Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank so as to operationally, if not legally, set the stage for Israeli annexation of that disputed territory. The move would signal the end of prospects for a two-state solution, in which a Palestinian state would exist alongside Israel. Firebrand politician and West Bank settler Itamar Ben-Gvir, who was convicted of incitement and racism and was barred from serving in the Israeli military because of his activism in extremist organizations, is set to be the minister of national security. The rebranded and expanded portfolio will allow him to exercise unprecedented control over the Israeli police and over forces that operate in the occupied West Bank.” See also Netanyahu, Kahanist Ally Agree to Nix Knesset Ban on Parties Inciting Racism (Haaretz); Netanyahu commits Israel to recognise illegal settler outposts in occupied West Bank (New Arab); No ban on racist MKs, a curbed judiciary, more yeshiva funds: 12 key coalition plans (Times of Israel)
For American reactions, see Candid conversations’ with Israel will continue: Blinken congratulates Netanyahu (Times of Israel); Netanyahu’s Extremist Allies, Settlements and Pride Parades: U.S. Ambassador on Israel’s Radical New Coalition; U.S. Considers Preventing Entry of Israelis Suspected of Violence Toward Palestinians (Haaretz); Hundreds of US rabbis vow to block far-right Israel lawmakers from their communities (Times of Israel);
“Tamer Nafar was performing at a Christmas market in the northern Israeli Arab town of Kafr Yasif last Saturday when a police officer approached the Palestinian rapper and ordered him off the stage…A video recording of the event shows the officer saying to one of the organizers that he intends to stop the event because of songs that incite against the police and the State of Israel. However, as Israeli human rights lawyer Michael Sfard points out: “That is not a real offense. At least, for now.” Sfard, who has represented Nafar in the past, sees the Kafr Yasif incident as a “preview of things to come.”…Sheren Falah Saab, Haaretz’s correspondent covering cultural affairs in the Arab world, says that while it has barely been two months since Netanyahu and his far-right allies conclusively won Israel’s general election, a change can already be felt on the ground.”
“In two recent interviews, one in Hebrew, one in English, Netanyahu proposes his own spin on a decolonial analysis of Israel-Palestine: rather than Palestinians being the victims of Israeli domination over the last 75 years, it has actually been the Jews who were historically the victims of Arab colonization…In other words, Netanyahu is implying that Arabs bear overall responsibility for the devastations that primarily white Christians have visited on Jews in the diaspora over the centuries. If it weren’t for the Arabs, such logic goes, the Jews would have stayed in the Middle East — meaning that the Nazis, the Cossacks, the English, French, and Spanish royalty in the Middle Ages, and others would never have had the opportunity to become antisemites and act on their violent bigotry…All of these acts of revisionism are in service of two key goals: to give his government carte blanche to oppress Palestinians however it chooses, and to ensure Israel’s right-wing, authoritarian geopolitical community remains intact.” See also Netanyahu Told Jordan Peterson Arabs Expelled Jews From the Land of Israel – Historians Say He Is Distorting Facts (Haaretz)
“France on Sunday condemned Israel’s expulsion of French-Palestinian human rights lawyer Salah Hamouri, calling it “against the law”. Hamouri, a researcher with the Palestinian prisoners’ rights NGO Addameer (Conscience), had been held in detention without trial since March, accused of a list of security offences…Footage showed Hamouri arriving in Paris where he was greeted by supporters.” See also Amnesty says Israel deportation of Palestinian rights defender Salah Hammouri a ‘war crime’ (New Arab); Expulsion of French-Palestinian detainee ‘clouds’ relations with Israel, diplomats say (Al Monitor); Analysis | Israel’s Expulsion of a Palestinian Lawyer Is a Warning: Be Obedient (Amira Hass//Haaretz); Salah Hamouri’s deportation from Israel ‘against the law’, says France (Guardian)
“Throughout October 2022, Israeli forces killed at least 23 Palestinians in the West Bank. Five of them were minors. It was one of the bloodiest months in the last decade – in the most lethal year for Palestinians in the West Bank since 2004. B’Tselem’s investigations have found that soldiers and police routinely shoot and kill Palestinians even when they pose no danger. Israel’s apartheid regime uses violence against Palestinians as a way to cement Jewish supremacy in the area under its control. That is why no one will be held to account for these unjustified killings – the forces that pulled the trigger, the commanders that gave the order, the legal advisors who authorized the open-fire policy, or the top military and political echelons that put the regime’s principles into practice every day. Below are investigations into some of the incidents.” See also Less than 1 percent of Israel army probes yield prosecution: watchdog (New Arabb); Watchdog: Under 1% of Israel army probes yield prosecution (AP)
“The brothers, Mohammad and Muhannad Yousef Muteir, from the Qalandia refugee camp in Jerusalem, were killed on Saturday night just south of the West Bank city of Nablus. A car driven by a 50-year-old Israeli man hit the vehicle belonging to the two brothers, which had parked on the side of the road, according to Israeli emergency service Magen David Adom. The brothers were fixing a punctured tyre when the settler drove his vehicle into them, the Wafa news agency reported.” See also from Middle East Eye: US supports probe into Palestinians killed in ‘deliberate’ settler car-ramming; West Bank: Palestinian footballer killed by Israeli forces in overnight raid;’ Israel refuses to return body of Fatah military leader; Israel: Palestinian prisoner dies after ‘deliberate’ medical negligence
“As Lions’ Den insignias are now appearing in every Palestinian neighborhood throughout the Occupied Territories, the group has succeeded in branching out from a specific Nablus neighborhood – Al Qasaba – to become a collective Palestinian experience. A recent survey conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) demonstrated the above claim in an unmistakable way. The PCPSR public poll showed that 72% of all Palestinians support the creation of more such armed groups in the West Bank. Nearly 60% feared that an armed rebellion risks a direct confrontation with the PA. A whopping 79% and 87% respectively refuse the surrender of the fighters to PA forces, and reject the very idea that the PA has the right to even carry out such arrests. Such numbers attest to the reality on the street, pointing to the near complete lack of trust in the PA and the belief that only armed Resistance, similar to that in Gaza, is capable of challenging the Israeli Occupation.”
“Sentences handed down after the May 2021 unrest reveal stark disparities depending on whether the accused was Jewish or Palestinian.” Also from +972: Can a new Jewish-Arab party breathe life into the Israeli left? (+972)
“Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, which has assets valued at $1.3 trillion, is reviewing its investments in Israel to ensure that its funds do not finance businesses or settlements that operate beyond the Green Line, Israeli officials confirmed on Thursday.”
“Chile plans to open an embassy in the Palestinian territories, President Gabriel Boric said late on Wednesday, which could make the Andean country one of only a handful to have an embassy-level office in the territories that are contested with Israel…Leftist Boric, who has repeatedly expressed support for the Palestinian people’s demand for an independent state, made the comments at a private ceremony in Santiago hosted by the city’s important Palestinian diaspora.”
“One and a half years after his death, the family of Palestinian political and opposition activist Niza Banat filed the first complaint against the Palestinian Authority before the International Criminal Court, accusing the security services of killing Banat.”
Lawfare//Redefining Antisemitism to Stifle Criticism of Israel & Advocacy for Palestinian Rights
“A new report published by the German Conference of Interior Ministers (IMK) that focuses on “prevention and intervention against Israel-related antisemitism” is pushing for further crackdowns on pro-Palestine solidarity, and even discusses moving toward the criminalization of this kind of speech and activism. Authored by one of the IMK working groups, and adopted by the Conference earlier this month, the report consistently conflates anti-Zionism with antisemitism by employing the controversial IHRA definition of antisemitism. It includes specific suggestions, such as urging schools to show their students a more positive view of Israel in the classroom, and categorizes Amnesty International’s recent report on Israeli apartheid as “antisemitic.” The report even suggests prohibiting maps that “question Israel’s right to exist”; whether this includes maps of historic Palestine remains unclear…The report singles out the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, labeling it dangerous and antisemitic, and claiming that it consists of “foreign extremists, Islamist terrorist organizations and left-wing extremist groups” — a claim that has been heavily pushed by the Israeli government…Germany’s crackdown on the BDS movement has been intensifying for years, accelerated by a 2019 Bundestag resolution that classifies it as inherently antisemitic, essentially barring organizations that support the boycott from accessing public funds and public spaces. The resolution has enabled universities, state governments, and public institutions to deny Palestinians the right to free speech and assembly.”
““A student group has the right to choose the speakers they invite on the basis of viewpoint,” said Mr. Chemerinsky, who is Jewish and a Zionist. “Jewish law students don’t have to invite a Holocaust denier. Black students don’t have to invite white supremacists. If the women’s law association is putting out a program on abortion rights, they can invite only those who believe in abortion rights.” Mr. Chemerinsky said that excluding speakers based on race, religion, sex or sexual orientation would not be allowed, but he noted that the student groups were excluding speakers based on viewpoint. True, he said, many Jews view Zionism as integral to their identity, but such deep passions do not change the law.”
“At the same time, universities must also continue to be places where critical debate about contentious issues can take place. This includes both the right to call out antisemitism and the right to criticize the actions of the state of Israel. It is for this reason that our working group on antisemitism, after months of deliberation, recommended against adopting the working definition of antisemitism proposed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, as called for by some. Adopting a definition would mean, in effect, having the university take a position on issues that are properly debated by its researchers.” See also this letter from the Jewish Faculty Network of Canada against the weaponization of accusations of antisemitism against critics of Israel.”
Towards the end of her wide-ranging narrative of family and homeland, Fida Jiryis writes: “The aftermath of the Nakba followed me, everywhere I went”. Stranger in My Own Land is a long elaboration of what this means. Whether by giving voice to her family’s memories of the catastrophe of 1948 (the Nakba), or by articulating her own first-hand experiences, she weaves her stories into one national pattern: “The message was the same. The stories were the same. A loss of homeland, a grave injustice, the pain of exile, a longing for our roots”.
“A Fauda-themed escape room in Tel Aviv gives customers a taste of military rule…The room is only the most popular manifestation of a new Israeli leisure economy that began to take shape in the late 2010s, which offers consumers a gamified taste of Israel’s military rule over Palestinians. Israelis can now host corporate offsites at fake military bases (also an extension of Fauda’s IP), throw b’nei mitzvah parties at military shooting ranges, and send their children to “Counterrorism 101”-themed summer camp. Teenagers buy video games that recreate IDF command rooms during the Yom Kippur War, or drop bombs on Gaza via an app. And the Fauda escape room is far from the only one of its kind: Others offer visitors the chance to play Mossad agents sent to “neutralize” a threat in Syria or sabotage nuclear facilities in Iran.” See also Revealed: The Israeli Firm Selling ‘Dystopian’ Hacking Capabilities (Haaretz; ““Meet Toka, the Israeli cyber firm founded by Ehud Barak, that lets clients hack cameras and change their feeds – just like in Hollywood heist movies”)