Top News from Israel & Palestine: January 8, 2021

What We’re Reading

Settlements/Occupation/Annexation/Human Rights

Elderly, paramedic injured in Israeli crackdown on West Bank protests,

“An elderly and a paramedic were injured today when Israeli occupation forces assaulted hundreds of protesters taking part in nonviolent popular resistance events in the area of Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron, and in the village of Kafr Qaddum, near Qalqilia, according to witnesses. In Msafer Yatta, Israeli occupation soldiers attacked hundreds of activists taking part in a protest against the daily Israeli army and settler-related attacks on defenseless Palestinian communities in Msafer Yatta, and against the Israeli ethnic cleansing of the area’s Palestinian population.”

Occupation army attack weekly protests in Beit Dajan, Deir Jarir,

“Israeli occupation forces today attacked hundreds of Palestinian protesters taking part in the weekly nonviolent anti-settlements protests that have been taking place in the villages of Beit Dajan and Deir Jarir, witnesses told WAFA. Hundreds of protesters were taking part in a rally following the weekly Friday prayers in Beit Dajan in protest of Israel’s confiscation of large swathes of Palestinian land for the benefit of a colonial settlement outpost near the village. The protesters were met with brutal force, and Israeli soldiers fired teargas canisters and stun grenades to disperse the protest causing many cases of suffocation from teargas inhalation. The injured were treated at the scene by local medics. The area has been witnessing weekly protests over the past two months against Israel’s ongoing theft of Palestinian land for the benefit of the colonial Israeli settlement construction and expansion.”

Planners override opposition, approve 5,000 homes on pastoral Jerusalem hill,

“An appeals committee on Thursday approved plans to build some 5,000 residential units at Reches Lavan, a popular, pastoral site of agricultural terraces and springs just west of Jerusalem….Many attempts to build out into the western Judean Hills have risen and fallen over the years. This time, the push for increased building in the city is coming from the government, or more precisely, from the Committee for Preferred Housing Sites, set up in 2014 to fast-track planning and cut red tape. Israel’s population is set to double in 30 years in a dot of a country, just a little bigger than New Jersey in the US or Wales in the UK, that already has one of the highest population densities in the West and a rapidly depleting supply of available land for housing. In a top-down fashion, the Committee for Preferred Housing Sites has approved the construction of 1.5 million housing units countrywide by 2040, 297,000 of them in the Jerusalem District.”

Teen injured from ordnance left behind occupation army in Hebron,

“A Palestinian teenager sustained moderate injuries today after a piece of ordnance left behind the Israeli occupation army exploded in the area of Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, according to Palestinian security sources. Mohammad Yousef Abu Aram, 16 year old, was moved to hospital after he was injured in the explosion of the ordnance left behind the Israeli occupation army in the area.

The Israeli occupation army usually conducts drills in the occupied West Bank, and Palestinian families often receive notices ordering them to leave their homes for various periods until the drills are over. Palestinians living in live fire training areas have to worry about unexploded ordnance left behind by the Israeli army after the drills, which have led to the death of many Palestinians, including children, over the past years.”

Why occupation and apartheid are not mutually exclusive,

Why occupation and apartheid are not mutually exclusive, and two states can also be the solution to Israeli apartheid in the West Bank (and why studying South African Apartheid made me a two-stater). 1/25”


Israel is Legally Obligated to Ensure the Population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip Are Vaccinated,

Under international law and under Israeli public law, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, the Israeli government has a duty to ensure that the population in the territories is vaccinated. This obligation was recognized in the Supreme Court ruling in the days leading up to the Gulf War of 1991 (HCJ Murcus v. Minister of Defense), when the fear of a chemical attack by Iraq prompted the distribution of gas masks to all Israelis. The Supreme Court ordered the military commander to distribute similar kits to the Palestinian population in those areas quickly and free of charge. Since there were not enough protective kits for all, the Court ordered the military commander to “make every effort to obtain these protective kits as soon as possible.” From the days of the Gulf War until today, much has changed, but the obligations of the State of Israel toward the Palestinian population in the territories have remained in this respect. Israel is still the occupying power in the West Bank, while the Gaza Strip is under constant blockade, which also imposes on Israel the responsibility for the well-being of the population living there. Despite the termination of direct control since 2005, the Supreme Court has ruled (HCJ Albassiuni Ahmed v. The Prime Minister) that Israel has “a duty to ensure the safety of the civilian population [in Gaza] and the protection of its dignity and basic rights.”

Moreover, in recent years the Knesset has expressed its opinion that it is authorized to regulate directly by legislation life in the West Bank, thereby reflecting the legal position that Israel is directly responsible for the lives of the people living there, Jews and Arabs alike. How, then, can the Knesset allow discrimination between these two population groups, especially in a situation where there are enough vaccines for all?”

Israel’s obligation to Gaza in a pandemic and post-pandemic reality,

“Israel is obligated to protect the health and safety of all people living under its control, including by ensuring that the vaccine is available in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. This will necessarily require close cooperation with Palestinian authorities and the international community, but their involvement does not absolve Israel from its ultimate responsibility toward Palestinians living under occupation. Where needed, Israel must contribute to covering the cost of the vaccine and its distribution, unconditionally….

Recent media reports have indicated that Israeli officials may be conditioning the distribution of vaccines and other necessary equipment for Gaza’s COVID-19 response on the outcome of negotiations with Hamas for two Israeli citizens it is allegedly holding, as well as the return of two bodies of Israeli soldiers killed in 2014. The health and human rights of the Palestinian population, including access to medicine, medical treatment, and vaccines, must not, under any circumstances, be made conditional on the outcome of negotiations or political maneuvering of any kind. Hamas’s violations of international humanitarian law do not absolve Israel of its positive duties to the civilian population in Gaza, who is in effect being punished for political developments out of its control, nor do they justify Israel’s own violations of international law.”

See also: 15 Israeli, Palestinian and international health and human rights organizations: Israel must provide necessary vaccines to Palestinian health care systems.

Yes, Israel should be providing COVID vaccines for Palestinians,

“According to Israel’s public broadcaster Kan, Israel covertly transferred dozens of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the Palestinian Authority this week, though the Palestinian Health Ministry has denied these reports. Instead, Palestinians are expecting to be vaccinated through COVAX, a global vaccine-sharing alliance. They are also hoping to receive some doses of the UK’s Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. When or how these campaigns will take place is still unclear, though.

Israel claims that, based on the 1990s Oslo Accords, the PA is responsible for administering health services to Palestinians, and is therefore in charge of procuring the vaccine. In fact, Israel is choosing to remain “on the fence” in everything having to do with inoculating Palestinians under occupation. This policy not only undermines Israel’s public health interests, it also goes against its obligations under international law to the Palestinian population it occupies.

All of a sudden, it has become convenient for Israeli officials to respect the wishes of the PA and refrain from imposing its vaccination program on the Palestinians. There is no greater hypocrisy than this, considering the immense asymmetry in power between Israel and the PA. The Palestinians do not want settler-only roads, nor do they want open-fire zones on agricultural land or to remain dependent on Israel for anything else. Israel, of course, does not rush to fulfill these Palestinian demands, but with the vaccines, Israel is ostensibly taking every precaution not to patronize the Palestinians and hurt their pride, their health system be damned. I am convinced that if Israel offers to provide Palestinians with doses of the vaccine in a respectful manner — without turning it into a public relations stunt — they would not refuse it.”

Palestine registers 23 coronavirus-related deaths, 822 new infections,

“Minister of Health Mai Alkaila said today that 23 deaths from COVID-19, 822 new infections and 1405 recoveries were registered in Palestine during the last 24 hours. In her daily report on the COVID-19 pandemic, she said 15 people died of the coronavirus in the West Bank, while eight died in the Gaza Strip.”

Coronavirus Live: Israel's Public Security Minister Doubles Down on Denying Vaccines to Prisoners,

“The Attorney General’s Office informed Public Security Minister Amir Ohana on Friday that he must allow the vaccination of prisoners….In response to the attorney general’s instruction to allow for the vaccination of prisoners, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana responded with a sharply worded letter, reiterating his stance.”

Once seen as a model, Israel now imposes a tighter coronavirus lockdown.,

“Israel, which was once seen as a model coronavirus country, is outpacing the rest of the world in vaccinating its citizens. But the prospect that Israel would have the virus under control by spring, once promising, now seems uncertain. Health officials say that in the short term, at least, the vaccine campaign cannot compete with the soaring infection rates of more than 8,000 new cases a day.

And the Palestinian Authority, which runs its own health care system in the occupied West Bank, has asked Israel for vaccines, prompting a debate over Israel’s responsibility to the Palestinians at a time when Israel’s vaccine supplies are dwindling.”

Officials condemn Israel's lockdown of Ibrahimi Mosque for 10 days,

“Palestinian officials have condemned the decision of the Israeli occupation authorities to shut down the archaeological Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, south of the occupied West Bank, for 10 days under the pretext of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hefzi Abu Sneineh, the director of the mosque, told WAFA that Israel’s order will ban the entry of worshipers and visitors to the holy site for ten days under the pretext of the coronavirus restrictions. He said Israel’s pretext was baseless since all worshipers and visitors have been following up the health and safety protocols of wearing face-masks and social distancing. Meanwhile, Mahmoud al-Habbash, advisor to President Mahmoud Abbas on religious affairs and Islamic relations, described Israel’s lockdown of the holy site as an inclusive war crime, saying that banning worshipers access to the site could fuel the sentiments of Muslims around the world. He said the Israeli decision was also an interference into the powers of the Palestinian Waqf (Endowments) Department, which is in charge of holy sites in Palestine, as well as a breach of the UNESCO’s decision which considers the Ibrahimi Mosque as a pure Islamic site.”

Normalization / Broader Middle East

Israeli missiles hit Syria for second week in a row,

“Israel reportedly hit Syria with airstrikes for the second week in a row late Wednesday night. The suspected Israeli missiles hit targets in southern Syria. Syrian air defense shot down some of the missiles, which Israel launched from the Golan Heights, the state-run SANA news outlet reported….The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Israel struck Syrian government forces, the Lebanese group Hezbollah and Iranian positions west of the city of Suwayda.”

Syria Reports Third Israeli Strike on Iranian Targets in Ten Days; 15 Deaths and Injuries Reported,

“There was no immediate comment from an Israeli military spokesman but IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said last month the missile strikes had “slowed down Iran’s entrenchment in Syria”. “We have struck over 500 targets this year, on all fronts, in addition to multiple clandestine missions,” Kochavi said in comments published in Israeli media. The bases in eastern, central and southern Syria which Israel had hit in recent months are believed to have a strong presence of Iranian-backed militias, according to intelligence sources and military defectors familiar with the locations. Western intelligence sources say Israel’s stepped up strikes on Syria in the last few months are part of a shadow war approved by the United States and part of the anti-Iran policy that has undermined in the last two years Iran’s extensive military power without triggering a major increase in hostilities.”

Israel quiet as Egypt advances talks with Palestinians,

“Both calls were made ahead of an international meeting scheduled for next week in Cairo, with the goal of reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. According to a statement by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, Shoukry, Ashkenazi and al-Maliki spoke in advance of a meeting with France, Germany, Jordan and Egypt to “discuss new ways to advance the peace process.” The statement also said, “Coordination is taking place at the level of the two foreign ministers as well with the Palestinian side within the framework of the necessary preparation for the Quartet meeting.” Ashkenazi and al-Malki will be each invited for a separate meeting with the four….The initiative came up to the table publicly in September 2020, in a speech delivered by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the UN General Assembly. In his address, Abbas asked Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to convene an international meeting on the Palestinian issue early next year, stating, “The conference should have full authority to launch a genuine peace process based on international law.” Abbas’ mid-December visit to Qatar was reportedly aimed at ensuring Qatari support for the Palestinian Authority in anticipation of such a conference. Israel has kept mum on all these statements. It did not react officially to the July meeting, nor to Abbas’s call in September. Ashkenazi has not commented publicly on his phone call with his Egyptian counterpart yesterday. According to the Israeli press, Ashkenazi was invited to the four-part meeting in Cairo next week, but will not attend because of the nationwide closure in Israel that starts tonight at midnight.”

Trump leaves behind Arab world inundated with weaponry,

“The shopping spree has picked up as the four-year term of President Donald Trump draws to a close, and may shape the Middle East in irreversible ways. “The U.S. is the largest weapons exporter in the world, using every chance it gets to control other markets. Selling strategic arms like drones, air defense and other systems, beyond the financial benefits, allows it to exert political leverage on its clients,” says Ami Rojkes Dombe, a defense and technology analyst and editor at Israel Defense magazine. “In a larger geopolitical context, these moves … are a response to Russian and Chinese expansion in the Middle East and Africa. These deals are a form of planting a flag in the Sahara and Persian Gulf by Washington,” he says.”

Is the UAE plotting with Israel against Palestinian refugees?,

A report that the United Arab Emirates is secretly colluding with Israel on a potential plan to eliminate the United Nations agency that cares for Palestinian refugees – a move that could prevent those refugees from ever returning home – should be taken seriously. According to the French daily Le Monde, Israeli and Emirati officials have forged a “strategic axis” in which they are considering “a plan of action aimed at making UNRWA progressively disappear, without conditioning this on any resolution of the [Palestinian] refugee problem”. The UAE’s foreign minister did not respond to Le Monde’s request for comment on the matter.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu views the UN agency as a threat, proclaiming that a diplomatic resolution of the refugee issue might see them being returned to lands that are now in Israel. Netanyahu has argued that “UNRWA must disappear”, accusing it of perpetuating “the narrative of the so-called ‘right of return’ with the aim of eliminating the state of Israel”. Having stymied any hope of negotiations, Israel has grown increasingly confident that it can secure widespread backing for dissolving the UN refugee agency…Senior Israeli officials have repeatedly urged that UNRWA be abolished and Palestinian refugees handed over to the global UN refugee body, UNHCR. That would quickly disappear Palestinian refugees into the ever-swelling tide of displaced people spawned by global conflicts, especially in the Middle East. The likely upshot of eradicating UNRWA is that, rather than being able to return home, refugees would ultimately be forced to naturalise in their host Arab states.”

Young Israeli singer wins over fans with Moroccan Arabic voice,

“The peace agreements that Israel signed with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and most recently Morocco are exposing Israelis to the rich Arab cultures of these diverse states. They now have a chance to appreciate their foods, music and architecture, which is obviously not entirely new to Israelis. After all, they live in the Middle East and many are immigrants from the Arab world. This special bond is particularly apparent between Israel and Morocco. Ron Peretz, a 27-year-old performer from Tel Aviv, embodies these ties in her music and unique voice.”

Top Bahraini journalist says her colleagues are bullied for supporting ties with Israel,

“The president of the Bahrain Journalists Association asked Jewish-American colleagues to support Arab media professionals who are bullied and threatened online for supporting normalization with Israel. Ahdeya Ahmed AlSayed, whose organization has about 600 members, made the plea Thursday during a videoconference with dozens of Jewish colleagues organized by the American Jewish Press Association, or AJPA. “If you’d like to support us as we support peace, it would be a good thing, AJPA can do a lot, by the way,” Ahmed AlSayed said during the conversation. “If we don’t do that, then journalists will never try to even attempt to be outspoken about that.” Sue Fishkoff, editor of J.,The Jewish News of Northern California, who conducted the interview during the AJPA conference, asked Ahmed AlSayed to help identify Arab journalists who are facing rebuke.”

Palestinian Scene

Hamas forcibly expels residents from their homes in Rafah,

“The Abu Shteiwi family is one of 23 families that have lived in and cultivated this area of ​​land for decades. They were surprised by these bulldozers coming to put an end to their presence in the area, claiming the lands are government-owned. On Dec. 15, the Palestinian Land Authority affiliated with Hamas in the Gaza Strip issued a decision to expropriate these lands with the aim to expand the Rafah land crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt for commercial purposes. The residents of these lands — men, women, children and the elderly — confronted the Hamas security forces as they started destroying their homes and uprooting their trees. Residents hurled stones at them and their bulldozers. Local sources told Al-Monitor that Hamas’ security forces arrested nine citizens and assaulted dozens of others….

Meanwhile, Mayor of Rafah Anwar al-Shaer issued a statement on his Facebook page Jan. 4, denouncing the expropriation of these lands by a decision of the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Land Authority and its enforcement by its police…In an interview with Al-Monitor, Shaer said, “Government authorities must reconsider the decision to expropriate these lands given its disastrous repercussions on their inhabitants, who are left without jobs or shelter. These lands have been exploited for decades for agricultural and residential purposes and it is illogical to expropriate them simply because their residents do not have a title deed.” He explained that more than 90% of the lands of Rafah are inhabited by more than 155,000 citizens today who do not have a title deed. Should the government expropriate these lands, most of the city’s residents would be displaced from their homes, he warned. The Hamas security forces’ actions in Rafah were met with widespread anger from citizens on social media.”

No more pay-for-slay: Bank of Palestine will no longer be paying terrorists,

“The Bank of Palestine has recently discontinued its work with the accounts of terrorists who receive benefits from the Palestinian Authority. According to official statements from the terrorist organizations, the bank has informed terrorists and their family members that they must withdraw all funds and close their accounts. The decision stems from the warning the Bank of Palestine received from the Palestinian Media Watch, a non-profit Israeli institute that researches the Palestinian society. The institute warned the bank about a year ago that according to the 2016 Counter-Terrorism Law, financial entities involved in the pay for slay system will be viewed as supporting terrorists – and will therefore be exposed to enormous legal and economic risks.”

Protests loom as cash-strapped UN agency cuts back on salaries,

“Workers have threatened to protest a decision by a cash-strapped UN agency to cut back on wages. A spokeswoman for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Tamara Al-Rifai said that about 80 percent of employees’ salaries were available for December. UNRWA would pay last month’s salaries in the middle of this week but, she added, “the full amount was not available.”Unions representing the agency’s workers have refused to cover part of the salaries owed and threatened to protest the step. The agency delayed paying the November salaries of 28,000 employees by about 10 days….UNRWA announced in mid-November that it needed $40 million to pay its employees and provide direct basic services, especially in Syria and the Gaza Strip.”

American Scene

Ambassador David Friedman ,

“I would like to congratulate President-elect Biden and his incoming administration.” 

Key US Congressman pledges to resume US aid to Palestinians,

“US Congressman Gregory Meeks, the new Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has said he was looking forward to resuming humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, as part of a push by President-elect Joe Biden for a two-state solution. Speaking to the Agence France-Presse on Tuesday, Meeks said he supports the return of the Palestinian diplomatic representation to the United States after the administration of outgoing President Donald Trump closed the PLO office in Washington. “I’m a firm believer in the two-state solution, providing both parties with self-determination… So we may need to restart the US assistance to Palestinian people, demonstrating that the United States is ready to lead again,” said Meeks. “We may therefore need to mobilize US aid to the Palestinians to show that the United States is ready to take over the leadership again,” he added.

Florida Congresswoman announces she’ll be taunting Rashida Tlaib with Israeli flag,

“Rep. Kat Cammack, a new Republican congresswoman from Florida, announced on Twitter Wednesday that she plans to use the emblem of the state of Israel to taunt her new office neighbor, Rep. Rashida Tlaib.”

Rashida Tlaib Dismisses Republican Colleague's Israeli Flag 'Publicity Stunt',

“The response from Tlaib’s side was to treat the new member’s promise as a useless provocation. “Congressional members were elected to take on pressing issues impacting their constituents, not publicity stunts,” a spokesperson for Tlaib’s office told Haaretz in response to Cammack’s comments. “Rep. Tlaib is focused on solving issues and showing up for her constituents. One can only hope that Rep. Cammack will do the same””

“To Defend Our Democracy, Remove Trump from Office” ,

“Even while yesterday’s attack was ongoing, President Trump told the attackers “We love you. You’re very special.” The President of the United States has shown himself to be fundamentally opposed to democracy and has actively sought to reject and prevent the peaceful transition of power to his successor — a first for a president in our history. He is a clear and present danger to our country and the world and cannot be allowed to remain in such a powerful office even for 13 more days, where the damage he could continue to do is incalculable. J Street, therefore, calls on leaders and lawmakers to take whatever legal steps are necessary to remove him from office immediately.”

If Biden Wants to Turn the Page From Trump, He Should Support Palestinian Freedom. Here Are 2 Immediate Steps,

“While we may feel relief know­ing that Trump will soon be stripped of his access to the nuclear codes, we must remem­ber that Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden rep­re­sents an entrenched pow­er struc­ture poised to con­tin­ue failed poli­cies that hurt so many of our com­mu­ni­ties. This includes Biden’s career-long his­to­ry of sup­port­ing Israel’s aggres­sion toward Palestinians….Any change in poli­cies relat­ed to Pales­tine will require Biden to lis­ten to Pales­tini­ans, some­thing that nei­ther he nor past U.S. pres­i­dents have done in a gen­uine way….If Biden tru­ly wants to live up to his man­date to repu­di­ate Trump’s anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic poli­cies, he needs to do the fol­low­ing to pro­tect not just our con­sti­tu­tion­al rights to call for Pales­tin­ian free­dom, but our moral oblig­a­tion to do so as well.

  1. Undo Trump’s exec­u­tive order that silences Pales­tin­ian voices….
  2. Reject the ​“ter­ror­ism” frame­work that threat­ens all of our jus­tice movements.

A broad rejec­tion of this ​“ter­ror­ism” frame­work will require a much big­ger effort, but Biden can start by issu­ing reg­u­la­tions to make clear that polit­i­cal advo­ca­cy is pro­tect­ed by the First Amend­ment. As an ear­ly fix, Biden must clar­i­fy through reg­u­la­to­ry means that advo­ca­cy for Pales­tin­ian rights, which Israel and its allies have been try­ing to crim­i­nal­ize, is not grounds for pros­e­cu­tion by the Biden or any oth­er administration.”

Israeli Scene

House of pain: What the Israeli press is saying about the US Capitol rampage,

“Israel’s media has been watching the events in the US with a mixture of concern for the future of its most important ally (the US, not Donald Trump), concern for its own future, due to both its own closeness with Trump and what mobs here could do after its own election), and a dose of old-fashioned rubbernecking….Israel Hayom, among Trump’s most vociferous backers over the last four and a half years, calls the events a “stain on his legacy,” in its top front-page headline, and while it may look like criticism, it actually points to what the paper’s real concern is over. Not American democracy, but Trump’s legacy….While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did condemn the violence, some journalists note that he made sure not to use Trump’s name. In fact, he did mention Trump, to thank him, but that part of his statement was only released later, which helpfully buried it so he could have his cake and eat it too, as ToI’s Judah Ari Gross notes.”

See also: 

Scoop: Netanyahu demands full control over Israel's Iran policy, sparking pushback,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is demanding full control of Israel’s Iran policy as Joe Biden prepares to assume the Oval Office, setting off a fierce fight at the highest echelons of Israel’s government, senior Israeli officials tell me…Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing to take a very hard line over Biden’s plan to return to the 2015 nuclear deal, in contrast with the more moderate approach favored by Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and the heads of Israel’s security services.”

‘We’re taking responsibility’: Sixty teens announce refusal to serve in Israeli army,

“Sixty Israeli teenagers published an open letter addressed to top Israeli officials on Tuesday morning, in which they declared their refusal to serve in the army in protest of its policies of occupation and apartheid. The so-called “Shministim Letter” (an initiative with the Hebrew nickname given to high school seniors) decries Israel’s military control of Palestinians in the occupied territories, referring to the regime in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem as an “apartheid” system entailing “two different systems of law; one for for Palestinians and another for Jews.” “It is our duty to oppose this destructive reality by uniting our struggles and refusing to serve these violent systems–chief among them the military,” reads the letter, which was addressed to Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Education Minister Yoav Galant, and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi.


The public refusenik letter is the first of its kind to go beyond the occupation and refer to the expulsion of Palestinians during the 1948 war: “We are ordered to put on the bloodstained military uniform and preserve the legacy of the Nakba and of occupation. Israeli society has been built upon these rotten roots, and it is apparent in all facets of life: in the racism, the hateful political discourse, the police brutality, and more.” As the students emphasize in the letter, the act of refusal is intended to assert their responsibility to their fellow Israelis rather than disengage from them. “It is much more convenient not to think about the occupation and the Palestinians,” says Amber. “[But] Writing the letter and making this kind of discourse accessible is a service to my society. If I wanted to be different or did not care, I would not choose to put myself in a public position that receives a lot of criticism. We all pay a certain price because we care.””

See also:

Israeli center-left reaches out to Arab voters,

“A new wind is undoubtedly blowing from the political center left toward the country’s 21% Arab minority ahead of the March 23 elections. It provides a stark contrast to the prevailing climate of the three previous elections of the past two years, which saw all Jewish parties and candidates distance themselves from Arab voters in a bid to curry favor with Jewish voters and thus oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. That tactic backfired, galvanizing an unprecedented Arab turnout in the March 2020 elections.

The outcome has prompted the center-left as well as Netanyahu himself to change course and reach out to Arab voters….Ultimately, Netanyahu plotted to delegitimize the Arab vote and is now its leading suitor, indirectly paving the way for parties on the center-left to resume their wooing of Arab voters. In a conversation with Al-Monitor, Horowitz explained the change. “Meretz is proud to present the most ideological and committed group of candidates in Israeli politics ahead of the coming elections, and of course a true Jewish-Arab partnership. In the next Knesset, Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi and Esawi Frej will not only represent Meretz in Arab society but throughout the country.”

Netanyahu should treat Arabs better if he wants their votes,

“All Netanyahu needs to do is show more concern and compassion for the Palestinian Arabs, not in terms of nationalism but in terms of treating them more equally. Israel has adopted more than 65 laws that discriminate against non-Jews. Without losing his right-wing conservative support, which opposes Palestinian statehood, Netanyahu could reduce the racism and increase non-Jewish rights to almost being equal. He just needs to win a small portion of the Palestinian Arab vote to solidify his leadership and maybe even wriggle out of the corruption prosecution that looms over him. He certainly has an open road to try. The Palestinian Arab leaders in Israel have never reached their full potential and really don’t understand the power that strategic communications has on election results. They will respond to his strategy by advancing a very emotion-driven campaign, as they are already doing.”

Netanyahu court date postponed amid virus lockdown,

“A planned court appearance next week by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his long-waited trial for corruption has been indefinitely delayed in the face of Israel’s freshly tightened coronavirus lockdown, the judges announced on Friday. Netanyahu’s trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust began last May, with the premier being excused from subsequent hearings as his lawyers argued for more time to review prosecution evidence.”

See also: Israeli prosecutors detail corruption charges against Netanyahu

Fighting Lawfare/Weaponization of Accusations of Antisemitism

Universities can be challenging places for Jews but they don’t need IHRA,

“Their aim is to protect Israel from being criticized publicly, and the IHRA definition is a fantastic tool for them to implement that. This is typical of what Yair Wallach (Senior Lecturer in ISraeli Studies at SOAS) calls an “Israel-centred” understanding of antisemitism, one that privileges the protection of the Jewish state. According to this right wing interpretation, the best way to fight antisemitism is not to struggle for civic equality for all minorities, but rather to defend Israel – even when Israel becomes less and less democratic. The IHRA is not used to protect pro-israeli freedom of expression, but to shut any critical discussion on Israel, labeling those who dare to speak too much about Israel antisemitic.”

Shurat Hadin and the war on terrorists’ use of social media,

“But at the end of the day, Darshan-Leitner, like those trying to sue social media for aiding with the sex-slave trafficking industry, always ran into a brick wall called the Communications Decency Act (CDA). The CDA was originally meant to defend the fledgling new Internet industry in the 1990s, to allow it to innovate and grow. But it took both Democrats and Republicans feeling they got the raw end of the Internet’s treatment in consecutive elections to achieve the sea change that may see major reforms in the coming year….[Darshan-Leitner] said that if the CDA is amended, “perhaps social media will finally understand that designated terrorist organizations such as ISIS could never have organized themselves, disseminated their message or recruited members without the aid of social media. “It’s no different than Facebook and Twitter providing financing, weapons, safe-housing and a recruitment platform to Hezbollah. In the end, the provision of social media services nowadays should be viewed no different than the provision of banking services.””

Facebook deletes IUMS page after union issues fatwa to boycott Israel,

“The International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) has condemned the removal of its page by Facebook on Tuesday and has launched a new one, calling on “all Muslims and fair people in the world” to support the organisation. In a statement, the IUMS attributed the removal of its Facebook page to its support of causes, such as the Palestinian cause. The statement conveyed: “Because of the stances of the International Union of Muslim Scholars in favour of truth and support of the causes of our nation, we were surprised today by the news of the removal of our Facebook page after successive attempts to hack our websites.” The statement added: “Facebook administration took this grudgeful step because we said the truth and defended the just causes of our nation in Palestine and elsewhere.” The incident comes after a fatwa was published on the union’s Facebook page on Saturday, urging that a comprehensive and economic boycott of the Israeli occupation is required, until its withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories.”

Bonus/Long Reads

The Separate Regimes Delusion,

“Diplomats and well-meaning anti-occupation groups greet every new act of Israeli expansion with dire warnings that it will be a ‘fatal blow’ to the two-state solution, that ‘the window is closing’ for Palestinian statehood and that now, on the eve of this latest takeover, it is ‘five minutes to midnight’ for the prospect of peace. Countless alarms of this kind have been rung during the past two decades. Each was supposed to convince Israel, the US, Europe and the rest of the world of the need to stop or at least slow Israel’s de facto annexation. But they have had the opposite effect: demonstrating that it will always be five minutes to midnight. European and American policymakers, together with the liberal Zionist groups that lobby them, can thus maintain that the two-state solution isn’t dead but merely embattled – and, therefore, permanently ‘alive’. In the meantime, millions of Palestinians continue to be deprived of basic civil rights and subjected to military rule. With the exception of those six months in 1966-67, this has been the reality for the majority of Palestinians living under Israeli control for the entire history of the state. South Africa’s apartheid lasted 46 years. Israel’s is at 72, and counting.”

Neo-Nazis, QAnon and Camp Auschwitz: A guide to the hate symbols and signs on display at the Capitol riots,

“The sweatshirt, spotted amid the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol, seemed designed to provoke fear.  “Camp Auschwitz,” it read, along with the message “Work brings freedom” — a rough translation of the message that greeted Jewish prisoners at the infamous Nazi concentration camp. The back of the shirt said “Staff.”  A photo of the man wearing the sweatshirt was just one of the images of hateful symbols that have circulated from the mob, whose violence led to four deaths and wreaked havoc on Congress. Confederate flags and nooses were among the overt hate signs that the insurrection brought into the Capitol. Other slogans — on flags, clothing or signs — were code for a gamut of conspiracy theories and extremist ideologies. Here’s what you need to know about them and the far-right movements they represent.”