Top News & Analysis from Palestine & Israel: December 9-16, 2022

What We’re Reading

New from FMEP

ALEC, Anti-ESG, & the Battle Against Palestinian Rights,

In this episode of Occupied Thoughts, FMEP’s Lara Friedman speaks to investigative journalist David Armiak about the role of the American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC, in drafting, promulgating, and promoting legislation in U.S. states targeting values-based protest and grassroots activism, These legislative efforts in the first instance targeted Palestine-related protest and free speech, but today have evolved into legislation targeting protest and free speech that relates to literally any industry or group that states might want to protect, all under the umbrella of fighting against “woke capitalism” and combating those who seek to hold the private sector accountable to concerns about the environment, social issues like human rights, and governance issues — aka ESG.

“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 featured 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, in conversation with FMEP’s Sarah Anne Minkin, discussing the importance and impact of amplifying voices from Gaza. We focused 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.”

Settlement Round-Up: December 16, 2022,

The Knesset’s Legislative Blitz Begins: “Bill to Expand Powers of Far-right Netanyahu Allies on West Bank, Hold Office Passes First Vote” (Haaretz); “Far-right Lawmakers Introduce Bill Permitting Return to West Bank Settlements Evacuated in 2005” (Haaretz) Also See: “Israeli lawmakers move to resettle dismantled West Bank settlements” (Ynet); “‘A Democracy in Name Only’: Israel’s AG Sounds Alarm Over Netanyahu’s Legislative Blitz” (Haaretz); “Explained: What Is Israel’s Proposed Override Clause, and Why Is It a ‘Terrible Mistake’?” (Haaretz). Settlers Are Policing Palestinian Construction, Life in Area C: “Internal Documents Reveal Israeli Settlers’ Dedication to Ousting ‘Arabs’ From West Bank” (Haaretz); “Editorial – The Snitch Line Is Taking Power” (Haaretz). More Headlines: “Netanyahu’s first coalition challenge is likely Khan al-Ahmar”  (Jerusalem Post); “U.S. presses UN not to update list of companies operating in Israeli settlements” (Axios)

Israeli Right Wing Ascending

Israelis Have Put Benjamin Netanyahu Back in Power. Palestinians Will Likely Pay the Price.,

“According to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, 48 percent of Jewish Israelis agree that “Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel.” I look around in my mixed Haifa neighborhood and wonder which of my neighbors voted for the extremist candidates who have voiced similar opinions. “It is only a matter of time before we are gone,” my friends tell me…I fear that Israel’s violent repression of Palestinians will only increase in the near future as I consider the record of Mr. Netanyahu and his previous coalitions — a history of relentless race-baiting and incitement of prejudice against Palestinians in Israel, the passage of the Jewish Nation-State law (which enshrines the privileging of Jewish citizens), the open fire policy, Israel’s policy of destroying Palestinian homes, its continued colonization of the West Bank and repeated mass bombings of Gaza. With Mr. Ben-Gvir, Mr. Smotrich and other extremists in his coalition, Mr. Netanyahu will very likely continue on this path, particularly since he has been the enabler of so many of these policies. Jewish Power and Religious Zionism are natural extensions of Mr. Netanyahu’s policies.” See also 2022 was a record year for settler violence. Palestinians say next year will be even worse. (Mondoweiss); Netanyahu Launches Legislative Blitz to Expand Ben-Gvir’s Police Powers, Appoint Convicted Ally (Haaretz); Netanyahu Cabinet Choice Has Criminal Convictions, Delaying a Government (NYT); ‘Existential Threat’: Hi-tech Execs Warn Netanyahu Against Undermining Israel’s Justice System (Haaretz); Opinion | Radical, Coercive, Violent: Israel’s New Coalition Is Unlike Anything You’ve Seen Before (Haaretz); Far-right Lawmakers Introduce Bill Permitting Return to West Bank Settlements Evacuated in 2005 (Haaretz); 

Rise of Israel’s far right puts focus back on the West Bank occupation,

“Issa Amro, a Palestinian activist who gives tours to bring attention to the occupation, said those explosions were already happening in Hebron, which he said should be a cautionary tale for the rest of Israel. “In the past two years, there’s been a gradual Hebron-ization of the rest of Israel,” he said on his first tour since being released from an intermittent week-long detention for filming the video of the soldier that went viral…“For years, we have known about the oppression and the brutality, but now there’s also the fascism in the next government, and that makes it harder for everyone to close their eyes,” Amro said, struggling to make himself heard over the settler’s shouting.” See also Analysis of the appendices to the coalition agreements signed between the Likud and Religious Zionism (Yesh Din, OFEK, Breaking the Silence, ACRI); As a ‘Dangerous’ Government Takes Over Israel, Top Arab Lawmaker Appeals to the World (Haaretz)

How this government will turn its Jewish critics into dissidents,

“Most left-wing Israeli Jews do not generally think of themselves as political dissidents, and have likely never aspired to such a status. Despite the lavish praise they receive for their bravery, Israeli-Jewish leftists have the ability to speak out without suffering the consequences faced by Palestinians, not to mention activists in other undemocratic states. Leftist Jews have very often been afforded the privilege of being opponents of the right, rather than its enemies. But all that seems like it may change, and far quicker than even the biggest pessimists in my camp anticipated…If left-wing Israeli Jews are being transformed into dissidents, Palestinians are always one false move from being labeled enemies of the state, simply by their very existence…After they come for Palestinians — particularly in Area C of the West Bank, so-called mixed cities, and the Naqab/Negev — they will come for the anti-apartheid activists. After that, it could be anyone who resists the religious coercion of the agents of Jewish theocracy.” See also Israel is on the cusp of a wave of army refusal under far right rule (Oren Ziv//+972); Beware the agents of a Jewish theocracy (Orly Noy//+972); Rabbinic Human Rights Group Denounces Israel’s Incoming Right-Wing Extremist Coalition (T’ruah); US Jews fear collision with expected Israeli government (AP)

Apartheid/Occupation/Human Rights

72 Percent of Palestinians Support Forming Armed Groups in West Bank, Poll Finds,

“A large majority of Palestinians supports the formation of armed groups in the cities of the West Bank, according to a poll surveying Palestinian public opinion on several issues. The poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and released on Wednesday, found that 72 percent of respondents supported forming armed groups similar to the Lion’s Den, which is based around Nablus…Khalil Shikaki, director of the research center, said the poll results suggest a clear shift in Palestinian public opinion, particularly in the West Bank, reflected in the growing support for armed struggle against Israel. Support for armed groups has risen conspicuously over the past three months, Shikaki said, as a consequence of the escalation of violence in the West Bank and the death toll, which is growing by the week. He also noted another figure: support for a diplomatic resolution to the conflict with Israel in the framework of the two-state solution has receded over the course of three months, now standing at 32 percent, according to the poll. A decade ago, support was at 55 percent.”

Salah Hammouri from prison: The persecuted speaks up and does not apologise,

“This settler-colonial project wants your land without you on it, confiscates your dream, destroys your reality, tries to deny your memories, whilst accusing you of terrorism and vandalism…But homeland, belonging, and challenging Zionist settler colonialism do not need an identity card. They need political consciousness, a sense of oneself and a project, a will, and vision. Each of us faces these same challenges from our own position and place in the world, always confronting and resisting. For this we do not ask permission and do not apologise.” See also Airlines risk war crimes by assisting deportation of Palestinian activist, rights groups say (Middle East Eye)

Fears of full-blown Israeli-Palestinian conflict grow after bloodiest year since 2005,

“The Israeli army said it entered the occupied West Bank city to arrest three suspected Palestinian terrorists and militants responded by throwing firebombs and opening fire. According to two members of her family, 16-year-old Jana Zakaran ventured up to the roof of her home when gunfire erupted nearby to bring her cat inside to safety. When Zakaran’s father went to look for her, he found her dead in a pool of blood, the cat by her side. In a rare admission of error, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said the teenager had been accidentally shot by a sniper…“She was killed in cold blood by the Israelis. She was alone on the roof,” said the girl’s uncle, Majed Zakaran. “She was just a child and they shot her four times in the head and chest.” Zakaran is the latest victim of the bloodiest year on record in the West Bank and Jerusalem since the end of the second intifada in 2005. About 150 Palestinians have been killed, most of them in relation to a huge IDF offensive largely focused on Jenin and nearby Nablus…Diana Buttu [said]: “ is clear we are on a downward trajectory. I think it’s got to a point in Israel where they don’t see any red lines any more. No one in Israel talks about ending the occupation now, and no one in the international community is prepared to make them stop.”” See also Israeli army confirms killing 15-year-old Palestinian girl in Jenin raid (Middle East Eye); Palestinian teenager Jana Zakarneh was shot four times by Israeli sniper as she fetched her cat (The New Arab); ‘What was her crime?’ Agony as Palestine mourns another child killed by Israel (Middle East Eye); Israeli commander backs forces in death of Palestinian girl (AP); US calls for ‘accountability’ following Israeli killing of Palestinian girl (Middle East Eye); Occupation forces detain 7 children near Jenin (WAFA)

The Tantura massacre’s perpetrators confessed. Its survivors have this to say,

Tantura,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and was produced with Israeli government funding, features testimonies of Israeli soldiers who participated in the massacre that took place in the titular Palestinian village, south of Haifa, in May 1948. The documentary was screened on Israeli television earlier this year, and already one of its most notable consequences has been the disclosure of facts regarding the killings to the Israeli public, many of whom deny what happened during the Nakba. A less prominent, but no less critical, consequence is that the film encouraged the people of Tantura — the descendants of the victims — to break the barrier of fear they inherited from their ancestors and speak up…“We never stopped teaching our children about what happened in Tantura, but we never dared to talk about the crimes and the massacre that took place in public in general and in the media in particular,” said Ehsan Eimar,…Eimar revealed that an advocacy group established last February is pushing for accountability for the massacre, while working to publicly memorialize its victims.” See also ‘We told the truth’: Darin Sallam on portraying the Nakba in Netflix’s ‘Farha’ (Middle East Eye)

A right-wing witch hunt got a Palestinian doctor suspended. Now the truth emerges,

“Ahmad Mahajna is still fighting for his job at a Jerusalem hospital following a smear campaign that falsely accused him of supporting terrorism.”

Lawfare//Redefining Antisemitism to Stifle Criticism of Israel

Challenging Anti-Boycott Legislation in the US,

“Across the US, lawmakers and interest groups are stepping up efforts to shield Israel from accountability for war crimes, occupation, and apartheid. They are doing so by restricting Palestine solidarity advocates’ First Amendment rights to free speech and political boycotts…The message to US citizens is clear: Take action to hold Israel accountable for its crimes and you will pay. The implications are far-reaching: Not only are anti-boycott laws limiting spaces for Palestine solidarity, they represent the first step in a wider assault on the constitutional protections designed to safeguard US citizens’ rights to advocate for justice…This policy brief situates the recent trend of US anti-boycott legislation within the coordinated push to crack down on the increasingly effective Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement. It also explains how, by targeting the right to boycott, reactionary forces are eroding US citizens’ ability to leverage their long-standing, constitutionally protected rights to demand justice and political change both at home and abroad. With their right to boycott being threatened by an increasingly conservative and partisan judicial system, US citizens must take matters into their own hands to defend their constitutional rights. This policy brief recommends several steps that should be taken in order to do so.” See also Several US Cities Have Increased Policing of Palestine Solidarity (Truthout); Facebook Threatens to Delete Palestine Chronicle Page, Censors Its Staff (Palestine Chronicle); Unilever has settled its battle with Ben & Jerry’s over West Bank ice cream—but the minefield of doing business in Israel remains (Fortune)

"The politically motivated pile-on against @FranceskAlbs is predictable...",

Twitter thread from Simone Zimmerman: “The politically motivated pile-on against @FranceskAlbs is predictable, disappointing, and revealing of how often accusations of antisemitism are used to punish individuals and undermine legitimate justice work instead of to educate and work towards a more just world for all. .@FranceskAlbs said clearly in her own words, that her comments were infelicitous, analytically inaccurate & unintendedly offensive.” It’s not a given for a public figure under such intense scrutiny in this charged environment and she should be commended. Instead, Israel’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva bemoans the “impunity” & “lack of accountability” on antisemitism — as they work at the UN to ensure BOTH impunity & lack of accountability for their own government’s decades of human rights violations against Palestinians. That comment reveals the whole bit: which is that the goal of pile-ons about antisemitism is too often not about actually educating on antisemitism, or fighting it, but about smearing, discrediting, and punishing individuals who are working to protect Palestinian rights.” See also: Palestinian rights official’s social media history reveals antisemitic comments (Times of Israel); Francesca Albanese’s Twitter: “Thank you to those who have expressed their solidarity after yet another politically-motivated attack against my mandate. The aim is to obscure the oppressive reality I am mandated to report on. I will not let anyone define who I am and what I stand for.” Lara Friedman’s Twitter: “Watching the campaign attacking @FranceskAlbs for years ago using the term “Jewish lobby” – rather than the accepted term “Israel lobby” – I am struck by the fact that the loudest voices accusing her of antisemitism are the same voices that demand the world recognize support for/identification with Israel as an intrinsic & central part of Jewish identify – an argument that is then used to delegitimize free speech/activism critical of Israel/Zionism as – you guessed it – antisemitism.”

US Scene

Biden Moves Ahead on Trump Plan to Build Israeli Embassy on Stolen Palestinian Land ,

“The plans for a new embassy, which the administration has quietly advanced in recent weeks, would consolidate Trump’s abrupt policy reversal and violate U.S. precedent both on the status of Jerusalem and on Israel’s ongoing illegal appropriation of Palestinian land. The new embassy would also make the U.S. government an active participant in that appropriation: The planned compound is to be built on land illegally expropriated from Palestinians, whose descendants, including several U.S. citizens, still have a claim to.”

The Senator Pushing Action on Abu Akleh Case Has a Message for Netanyahu's Allies,

“Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen is leading congressional efforts calling for accountability over the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. He explains why it matters and warns of tensions between Washington and Jerusalem once Netanyahu’s far-right allies take power”

Normalization & the World Cup

De-Normalizing Israeli Normalization at the World Cup,

“At the World Cup, symbols of Palestinian solidarity have been ubiquitous…These displays of solidarity are the product of months of careful planning by activist groups, most notably Qatar Youth Opposed to Normalization (QAYON), a group formed in 2011 to pressure the Gulf and Qatari governments to halt the process of normalizing ties with Israel. Maryam AlHajri, a member of QAYON, told Jewish Currents that the group saw this year’s World Cup as an opportunity to amplify its message and turn the Arab fans attending the matches from sympathizers of the Palestinain cause into active participants in the movement. Now, with the World Cup final approaching, it’s clear that the group’s anti-normalization message was like a match on dry grass. As one member of QAYON, who asked for anonymity for safety reasons, put it: “What the group is doing would not have succeeded had it not been for the people’s own proactive support of the Palestinian cause.”” See also Qatar World Cup Shows the Arab People Still Stand with Palestine (Yara Hawari); Palestinian Solidarity at the World Cup and the Bankruptcy of U.S. Policy (Joel Beinin/DAWN)

New from Masafer Yatta

Humans of Masafer Yatta: Solar Panels of Qawawis,

Ahmed Al-Najjar, from the village of Qawawis, shared with me that “In 2011, the Comet ME Foundation provided us with solar panels to produce electricity for the village. On August 14, 2022, while we were doing maintenance work on the solar panels, an army car arrived and soldiers demanded that we stop working immediately…All of our solar panels were confiscated that day and since then we have been without electricity…” See also December 2, 2022 Al-‘Auja (Photos and text from David Shulman & Margaret Olin)