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

What We’re Reading

New from FMEP

Promoting Risk & Undermining Rights: Morningstar’s Betrayal of Palestine & ESG,

FMEP’s Lara Friedman speaks to international legal expert in business and human rights Tara Van Ho about the current controversy involving the Chicago-based financial services company Morningstar Inc. and its subsidiary Sustainalytics, over how it deals with Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories. Specifically, the podcast explores Morningstar’s recently adopted policy changes with respect to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues in the context of Israel, and the questions these new policies raise both about the company’s basic competence with respect to human rights in ESG research, analysis, and recommendations, and about the broader implications for the future of business and human rights work writ large.

“Born of Fire”: New writing from and about Gaza,

A new anthology, Light in Gaza: Writings Born of Fire, features personal narratives and political essays from Palestinians in Gaza “imagining the future of Gaza beyond the cruelties of occupation and Apartheid.” This webinar will feature two of the anthology’s editors – FMEP Fellow Jehad Abusalim and AFSC’s Jennifer Bing – as well as one of the contributing authors, Dorgham Abusalim, who will discuss the importance and impact of amplifying voices from Gaza. We will focus on the valuable conversations that the book and its publication have created as a counter to Israel’s ongoing siege and the general marginalization of Gaza and explore how the exercise of imagining a different future can challenge the present realities. Haymarket Books, the publisher, says: “As political discourse shifts toward futurism as a means of reimagining a better way of living, beyond the violence and limitations of colonialism, Light in Gaza is an urgent and powerful intervention into an important political moment.”

The FY23 NDAA – Middle East-Related Elements (FINAL),

On 12/6/22, the Armed Services Committee of both the House and the Senate jointly released the consensus/compromise version of the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act (which as a reminder is considered must-pass legislation). The bill is expected to be passed expeditiously and signed by the President. [Update – the House adopted the measure on 12/8/22 by a vote of 350-80.]…Below is a comprehensive list/summary of all of the Middle East-related provisions that made it into the final text (including the origin of the provision, if it was not in both base bills). This includes provisions that appear across all of the divisions of the bill (not just in the NDAA). Below that is a comprehensive list/summary of all of the Middle East-related provisions that were in either the House (HR 7900) or Senate (S. 4543) version of the bill, but did NOT make it into the final text.

Jewish Supremacism on the Rise

Netanyahu to give ultranationalist politician authority over policy in occupied West Bank,

“The new coalition agreement divides for the first time the authorities of the defense minister by moving all the authorities in the West Bank that are not directly connected to military operations over to Smotrich as the “minister in the ministry of defense.” Smotrich will be in charge of COGAT, including its civilian administration — a unit that manages all the issues relevant to the expansion of settlements and the daily lives of Palestinians and Israeli settlers. This will give Smotrich authority and power over building permits in the settlements, planning and zoning, determining the status of land in parts of the West Bank, demolitions of Palestinian homes and issues like water supply and infrastructure. It will also give Smotrich authority over the security and civilian coordination with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and with the authorities in Gaza. Smotrich supports abolishing the Palestinian Authority, and his appointment could lead the Palestinians to halt security coordination. The PA has not publicly commented on the coalition agreement.” See also Smotrich is about to become the West Bank’s overlord. Here’s what’s at stake (+972); Annexation by any other name (Michael Koplow, Israel Policy Forum); Analysis | Smotrich Can’t Annex the West Bank, So He Annexed the Defense Establishment (Haaretz); Proposed law gives far-right’s Ben Gvir unprecedented powers over police (Times of Israel); Bill Introduced to Give Ben-Gvir Sole Control Over Police Chief, Policies (Haaretz); Ben Gvir, Smotrich and the end of the peace process (Mohamed Hassan & Daniel Levy, Middle East Eye); Itamar Ben-Gvir’s Militia (Jewish Currents)

Why the ‘second Nakba’ government wants to remake the Israeli state,

“While the coalition’s plans cover various issues in Israeli political life, they can be summarized into two main themes: first, handing over all “Palestinian affairs” on both sides of the Green Line to the racist settler right, while promoting annexation and formalized apartheid; and second, enforcing an unabashedly anti-liberal vision of Judaism on the Israeli public while defanging Israel’s already-enfeebled democratic institutions, especially the judiciary…These moves have not only been met with strong responses from the radical left and human rights groups, but also from members of the Israeli security establishment, who fear this new ownership could change the occupation’s status quo and lead to the collapse of the Palestinian Authority as Israel’s security subcontractor. Add to that the moves to implement anti-liberal and anti-democratic measures, and you see large parts of the secular-liberal public, and even some Likud supporters, joining the fray. These two strains of resistance are now merging to form something the likes we have not seen in decades…This moment, dangerous as it is, has roots that go far deeper than this relatively new crop of fundamentalists. A state that was born out of ethnic cleansing in 1948 and that has held millions of people under military rule for over half a century cannot be considered a democracy. And yet, it is imperative to understand precisely why the right has expedited its anti-liberal and anti-democratic crusade now.” See also The sheriff comes for his share of the colony’s spoils (+972)

For the Biden Administration, There Are No Red Lines On Israel,

“When J Street announced that Secretary of State Antony Blinken was speaking at its national conference, it raised the possibility that the Biden administration had finally had enough…That hope has now been dashed. In his speech, Blinken didn’t part ways with Benjamin Netanyahu, Bezalel Smotrich, and Itamar Ben-Gvir. He parted ways with J Street…America’s “security assistance to Israel,” Blinken declared, “is sacrosanct.” He further boasted that “at the United Nations, we have consistently and vigorously pushed back against unjust anti-Israel bias.”…No one familiar with Israel’s history—which involved mass expulsions in 1948 and 1967, and smaller expulsions ever since—can be sure that, if a full-scale war with the Palestinians erupted again, Smotrich and Ben-Gvir would not put their aspirations into practice. For years, polls have shown that large-scale ethnic cleaning enjoys significant popular support…If such horrors transpired, would Blinken stop treating US aid and diplomatic protection as “sacrosanct”? It would be nice to think so. But the record doesn’t warrant such a view. It suggests that, when it comes to Israel, the Biden administration has no red lines, none at all.” See also Blinken does not rule out dealing with far-right figures in new Israeli government (Middle East Eye); Scoop: U.S. presses UN not to update list of companies operating in Israeli settlements (Axios); Nearly 50 lawmakers urge Thomas-Greenfield to work to defund U.N.’s Israel inquiry (Jewish Insider)

Apartheid/Occupation/Human Rights

Expulsion of Palestinian Jerusalemite tests the waters for future deportations,

“Last Friday, an emergency press conference was held in East Jerusalem in an attempt to prevent his deportation, attended by his parents, Attorney Tsemel, and Munir Nuseibeh, an expert in international law from Al-Quds University, who emphasized at the event that Hammouri’s deportation would constitute a war crime. The fear, according to the speakers, is that the attempt to deport Hammouri will be used by Israel as a test case to later deport more Palestinians who hold additional citizenships on grounds of “disloyalty.”…Since the announcement that Israel intends to deport him, several human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty, have called on the French government and President Macron to prevent the move. A campaign against his deportation has also gained momentum online under the hashtag #JusticeforSalah. The UN Special Rapporteurs on the occupied territories and on counter-terrorism have also called on France and the international community to take concrete actions to stop the expulsion.” See also France criticizes Israel for prolonging detention of French-Palestinian detainee (Al Monitor)

West Bank: Dozens wounded and arrested in Israeli night raids,

“Palestinian outlets reported at least 26 acts of Palestinian resistance in the past 24 hours, mostly gunfire aimed at Israeli forces. Near daily – and often deadly – Israeli raids in the West Bank in recent months have inflamed tensions, with Palestinians increasingly facing off the assaults with force…This year, Israeli forces have killed at least 208 Palestinians, 156 in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, making it the deadliest year recorded for Palestinians since 2005. Palestinians have killed 29 Israelis in the same period, the highest number since 2008.” See also: New Palestinian armed groups emerge in West Bank (Al Monitor); See also from Middle East Eye: Israel: Soldiers shoot dead three Palestinians in Jenin dawn raid; An Israeli killed her son at point blank and tore this Palestinian family apart; Palestinian teenager shot dead by Israeli troops; Israel: Ben-Gvir hails ‘hero’ soldier who shot youth at point-blank range for job ‘well done’

Al Jazeera takes the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh to the ICC,

“Al Jazeera Media Network has submitted a formal request to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate and prosecute those responsible for killing veteran Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh…The request includes a dossier on a comprehensive six-month investigation by Al Jazeera that gathers all available eyewitness evidence and video footage, as well as new material on the killing of Abu Akleh. The request submitted to the ICC is presented “in the context of a wider attack on Al Jazeera, and journalists in Palestine”, said Rodney Dixon KC, a lawyer for Al Jazeera, referring to incidents such as the bombing of the network’s Gaza office on May 15, 2021.” See also Al Jazeera Media Network Refers Israeli Occupation Forces to the International Criminal Court (ICC) Over Shireen Abu Akleh’s Killing (Al Jazeera Press Release); Abu Akleh Family Supports Al Jazeera Request for ICC Investigation (Twitter); Also from Al Jazeera: ‘They silenced her’: The fight for justice for Shireen Abu Akleh; Incoming Israeli minister calls for expulsion of Al Jazeera; US opposes Al Jazeera’s push to take the Abu Akleh case to ICC

Palestine: New video footage contradicts Israeli claim on civilian killing,

“The killing of 21-year-old Palestinian Raed al-Naasan at the hands of Israeli troops has been laid bare by new video evidence published by the BBC that contradicts Israel’s account of his murder. Naasan was one of five Palestinians killed by Israeli forces on 29 November. Israeli occupation forces initially claimed that Naasan was killed while throwing a Molotov cocktail. Newly released footage of the minutes leading to Naasan’s killing reveals him and others throwing rocks at Israeli forces before two shots ring out, the second of which fatally wounds him…Following Naasan’s death, the Israeli army said its soldiers responded with live ammunition after a suspect “spotted hurling Molotov cocktails [petrol bombs]” at them. The new video evidence shows that neither Naasan nor any of the people around him were throwing any Molotov cocktails.”

Witnesses Weren’t Questioned, Cases Were Closed: A Year After the Attack, Palestinian Villagers Still Seek Justice,

“Last year’s attack on al-Mufaqarah, a Palestinian village near Hebron, elicited a rare public response…In al-Mufaqarah, the settlers threw stones, injured a three-year-old in the head causing moderate injuries, attacked farm animals, broke windows and damaged cars. Shortly afterward, the head of the Israel Defense Forces Central Command, Yehuda Fuchs, came to the village to meet with the residents, and vowed to ensure their safety. Israel is committed to bringing the rioters to justice, Fuchs told them. A year later, the residents of al-Mufaqarah have come to realize that there’s not much left of Fuchs’ promise. Scores of settlers joined in the rioting, but the State Prosecutor has filed indictments against only two, both of them minors who deny they took part in the incident. Only one of them has been indicted for attempted assault on several Palestinians as well as for disturbing the peace and vandalizing vehicles. This is in spite of the evidence of multiple participants in the attack, including Israeli and Palestinian eyewitnesses to the attack as well as videos…The investigation includes statements from just two Palestinians, even though scores of villagers were there at the time of the rioting and could provide further evidence. The lawyer representing the residents has handed over to the police and the Defense Ministry a list of the people whose property was vandalized, but none of them have been called to provide testimony.” See also FMEP’s spotlight on Masafer Yatta and podcast with human rights activist Basil Adraa, who documented the pogrom in Mufaqara.

Opinion | Who’s Afraid to Reveal the Palestinian ‘Secrets’ of 1948?,

“When the Israel State Archives refuses to release material looted from the Palestinians on the pretext that this would “undermine national security,” it’s clear that this is cover for a completely different fear. There are not and cannot be any state secrets in Arabic documents written by Palestinians, such as their plans for an independent Palestinian state or documents from an orphanage in Jaffa. The biggest secret is the very existence of these documents, which are a memorial to a destroyed Palestinian civilization. This “secret,” the state officials responsible for declassifying the documents fear, might undermine the Israeli Zionist narrative and raise doubts among people willing to examine history with a critical eye.” See also ‘Heartbreaking’: Palestinians praise Netflix film Farha for 1948 Nakba representation (New Arab); Netflix’ Farha challenges Israel’s cultural propaganda (New Arab); and Yara Hawari’s Twitter thread about Farha, ““Zionists are having a meltdown because of “Farha”…The story of Farha is the story EVERY Palestinian has inherited from the Nakba generation. I didn’t need this film to tell me whole families were killed during the Nakba because it happened to my family. The problem for Zionists is not the story of the film, it’s that Palestinians are telling it…The Palestinian narrative is so dangerous to Zionists because it shows the Israeli regime to be what it is: a rather unexceptional settler colonial enterprise built on ethnic cleansing of Palestine’s indigenous population. A note for the allies; continue to uplift the film & Palestinian experiences of Zionist settler colonialism.” 

Love Under Occupation (video clip),

“In October 2022, a new set of draconian regulations went into effect, severely restricting the ability of foreign nationals to enter or reside in the West Bank. Among the many categories of people affected by the new restrictions, are Palestinian families, particularly those with foreign spouses or partners, and family members who live abroad and hold foreign passports. Under the new discriminatory restrictions, foreigners romantically involved with Palestinians must declare their relationship to the occupying Israeli government as part of their permit or permit renewal application to visit or stay in the West Bank. Being in a relationship with a Palestinian automatically disqualifies the foreigner from requesting or renewing a permit to work, study, volunteer or teach in the West Bank. The same laws do not apply to foreign nationals who are in a relationship with Jewish Israelis.”

Lawfare//Redefining Antisemitism to Stifle Criticism of Israel

Thursday Newsletter: the ADL,

“Although many of the ADL insiders who spoke to Currents for that story acknowledge that there has always been a tension between the ADL’s “civil rights” agenda and its pro-Israel maneuvering, the facts of the piece reveal an institution coming to grips with its true personality: a pro-Israel lobby with a civil rights hobby. As a result of this contradictory mission, the ADL has permeated political discourse in the worst possible manner, using its moral authority to shield Israeli atrocities from criticism while offering the public misleading information about the nature and scale of contemporary Jew hatred. By conflating critique of Israel with antisemitism, the organization obscures the actual threat antisemitism poses as part of the vast constellation of bigotries channeled by the global right and abetted by institutional power. Indeed, when confronted with genuine antisemitism, the ADL’s response is often, as in the cases of Kyrie Irving and Kanye West, to prop themselves up and profit. In addition to validating antisemites’ paranoid fantasies of a Jewish conspiracy, this grift redirects concern about rising antisemitism to the ADL’s central project of defending Israel at any cost.”

How Palestine became a ‘forbidden word’ in German high schools,

“According to those who spoke to +972, much of this hostile atmosphere can be traced back to German government-led programs and official school materials that promote a pro-Israel narrative in the classroom while shutting down dissent. And while the education system in Germany is left up to the discretion and authority of its 16 federal states, the push to present Israel in a positive light — while silencing discussion of Palestinian oppression — is a consistent factor across them all. This endeavor is backed up by intensive efforts to promote contact between Israeli and German students, without setting up similar engagements with Palestinian students; the removal of discussion of the occupation from classrooms; and well-funded projects aimed at training German teachers in Israel.” See also German Channel fires presenter over attending peaceful West Bank protest against Occupation (MEMO)

"'I can't be antisemitic, I love Israel!'" ,

“Antisemitic tropes are on the rise, especially on the right. But it seems whenever a Republican is accused of antisemitism, their reply is, “I can’t be antisemitic, I love Israel!” How does *that* work? It doesn’t. And @mehdirhasan explains why.” 

US Scene

Abe Foxman: If Smotrich and Ben-Gvir get their way, Israel will lose me and American Jews,

“I never thought that I would reach that point where I would say that my support of Israel is conditional,” Foxman said in an interview published Friday by The Jerusalem Post. “I’ve always said that [my support of Israel] is unconditional, but it’s conditional. I don’t think that it’s a horrific condition to say: ‘I love Israel and I want to love Israel as a Jewish and democratic state that respects pluralism.’” “If Israel ceases to be an open democracy, I won’t be able to support it,” he said.” See also Rabbinic group condemns new Israeli government as ‘threat to Jews and Palestinians’ (Middle East Eye)


At the World Cup, the Arab world rallies to Palestinian cause,

“At a tournament bombarded from all fronts by political concerns, the cause of Palestine is a kind of leitmotif. While authorities have from time to time blocked those sporting LGBTQ rainbows or anti-Iran regime iconography, the Palestinian flag has been ubiquitous at the World Cup’s stadiums, no matter which teams are playing. Banners calling for a “Free Palestine” were raised in the stands of at least one game, while a protester at a match involving Tunisia invaded the pitch waving a Palestinian flag. During games, fans from Arab nations have chanted for Palestinian rights and against recent killings of Palestinians by Israeli security forces… In recent months, there has been plenty of chatter in Washington about how Israeli officials and business executives have become a common sight in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and even in Riyadh (the Saudis have yet to normalize relations with Israel, though there’s a depth of connections). But what goes often unsaid in the U.S. and Israeli conversation about these normalization deals is the extent to which they only reflect top-level elite interests in the region…Still key for millions of people in the Arab world, their governments aside, is the political condition of Palestinians…” See also The first Palestinian World Cup (+972); From Unity Intifada to World Cup, the Palestinian cause is growing stronger (New Arab)

‘Ragged rats’: London exhibit captures the racism that tore apart Mizrahi families,

The new exhibition highlights the overlooked role of diaspora Zionist organizations in the kidnapping and adoption of Israel’s Yemenite children.” 

A homecoming under siege,

“In an excerpt from her new book, “A Stranger in My Own Land,” Palestinian author Fida Jiryis describes returning to a new reality in Palestine as the Second Intifada rages outside.”

The tour guide serving up Palestinian history through food,

“Izzeldin Bukhari’s Sacred Cuisine tour celebrates Palestinian food and culture, while honoring his family’s illustrious legacy of Sufi community-building.”