Top News & Analysis from Israel & Palestine: March 11-17, 2022

What We’re Reading

New from FMEP

A Shared Russian/Israeli Playbook? Dehumanizing a People to Justify Its Erasure & Denial of Rights,

In this episode of Occupied Thoughts podcast, Lara Friedman speaks with Peter Beinart about his recent article, Justifications for Destroying a People, examining similarities between arguments Putin is putting forward to dehumanize Ukrainians and arguments long used by Israel to dehumanize Palestinians. This podcast is a follow-up to Lara’s March 3rd Occupied Thoughts episode featuring Yousef Munayyer, looking at the world’s double standard on BDS – Russia/Ukraine vs. Israel/Palestine.

Original Research ,

FMEP publishes two resources on (most) Fridays: Lara Friedman’s Legislative Round-Up and Kristin McCarthy’s Settlement & Annexation Report. To subscribe to those reports, click here.

Masafer Yatta & Firing Zone 918

Livetweeting the March 15, 2022 Supreme Court hearing ,

“We’re at Supreme Court in Jerusalem, where the hearing that will decide the fate of 1,300 Palestinian residents of Masafer Yatta in the South Hebron Hills (who are contesting turning their home into a military training zone) is about to begin….The Judge brings the hearing to a close, says there will be another hearing and promises to hand down a verdict (as opposed to what we’ve seen until now). Atty Yakir, for the residents, asks for an interim ruling to stop the IDF from training in the area while the case continues. The Judge looks at the Defense Min Atty and says – you won’t bomb the area in the next two months? Thanks…To conclude: The Judges, the Defense Ministry officials and their attorneys will all now go home to their warm houses. For the settlers in the South Hebron Hills, life will go on; nothing will change for them. Only the residents of Masafer Yatta will continue to live with constant demolition orders, settler violence, and at any given moment – large-scale military training exercises in their villages. They’ll remain frozen in time without the right to expand or develop anything.” See also: Breaking the Silence’s short video explainer of Firing Zone 918 and this 3/9/22 webinar, “Israeli Apartheid, the Supreme Court, and Land Confiscation: The Case of Masafer Yatta” featuring Ali Awad (journalist from Masafer Yatta), Maya Rosen (Jerusalem-based activist), and FMEP’s Sarah Anne Minkin. 

Israel’s top court will decide whether to expel 1,300 of my neighbors,

“Our expulsion from Masafer Yatta has never ceased over the last two decades. Lacking the ability to expel everyone at once, like in 1999, the army has tried to slowly dispossess us. To immiserate us until we leave.”

Explainer: The threat of mass expulsion in Masafer Yatta,

“Israel’s top court could displace over 1,000 Palestinians caught in a military ‘firing zone.’ Here’s what you need to know before the final March 15 hearing.”

What Israel also destroys when it demolishes a child’s home,

“Home demolitions in Masafer Yatta in the South Hebron Hills — where my home village of Susiya is located — happen almost every week, and are used by Israel as a method of transferring the Palestinian population out of Area C of the West Bank. With every demolition, we lose not only our homes but also our dreams and our sense of security. For our kids, it causes serious psychological trauma: even at home, the place where they should feel totally secure, the children of Masafer Yatta can never feel safe from the violence of settlers or the state.”

Occupation/Apartheid/Human Rights Violations

Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in the West Bank and the Naqab,

“Three Palestinians were killed on Tuesday by Israeli forces, two of whom were in the West Bank, while the third was killed in the Naqab desert, south of Israel. The Palestinian health ministry identified the two Palestinians killed in the West Bank as Nader Rayan, a 17-year-old from the Balatah refugee camp in Nablus, and Alaa Shaham, a 20-year-old from the Qalandia refugee camp located north of Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Israeli media sources reported that the Israeli police admitted to the killing of Sanad Al-Harbeed, a 27-year-old from the city of Rahat in the Naqab, during an undercover raid.”

Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian teen. The army hasn’t said what he did wrong,

“According to the army, the soldiers shot Abu Afifa as he ran away. Unlike many other disputed killings in the tense West Bank, the Israeli military did not accuse Abu Afifa of having committed any violent act….A terse statement released by the Israeli military shortly after Abu Afifa’s death said: “Israeli soldiers who were called to the scene saw the fleeing suspects and pursued them. Afterwards, they began to conduct the arrest procedure, which included gunfire towards the suspects. One of them died.”…“Ammar isn’t a hero. He was a victim, and we want justice,” said cousin Shadi Abu Afifa.” See also “We were like brothers’: Refugee camp reels after army shoots Palestinian on hike” (+972)

Israel detained 71 Palestinian children in February as brutal crackdown continues,

“Dozens of Palestinian children were detained by Israeli forces last month, a coalition of prisoners’ advocacy groups said in their monthly report, as part of a brutal crackdown in the occupied West Bank. Israeli forces detained a total of 448 Palestinians including 71 minors and 10 women in February, with the highest number of detentions taking place in occupied East Jerusalem, where 166 Palestinians were incarcerated, including 56 children.  The report said Israel issued 107 administrative detention orders in February against Palestinians, including 32 new ones and 75 renewals.”

A racist Israeli law just got even more racist,

“In a late-night vote on Thursday, the Knesset decided to make one of Israel’s most racist laws even more racist. After months of political wrangling, the parliament passed a new version of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, which bans Palestinians in the occupied territories and citizens from “enemy states” from uniting with spouses and families who are citizens of Israel. Renewed for nearly two decades, this “temporary order” has been a defining feature of Israeli rule over Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line, directly targeting their right to love, marry, and raise children. The story of the Citizenship Law is very much a story of Israel’s growing confidence in asserting its racist ambitions…Over the years, …the Israeli establishment has grown unapologetic about the law’s real purpose: demographic engineering. The new version now explicitly notes that its aim is to restrict the status of people from “hostile countries or from the region,” emphasizing Israel’s identity and interests as a “Jewish and democratic state.” In short, the number of “non-Jewish” citizens — native Palestinians — must be actively minimized by any means necessary.” See also “‘Devastating’: How Israel is pulling Palestinian families apart” (Al Jazeera) and “Once again, Israel throws up an unlawful barrier to Palestinian family reunification” (MEI // Carol Daniel Kasbari)

Settlers ram troops, assault Palestinians near Homesh, IDF alleges,

“An Israeli rammed his car into soldiers manning a West Bank checkpoint Monday, the Israel Defense Forces said. Two soldiers were hit by the car near the illegal outpost of Homesh but did not require hospitalization, according to the army, which described it as one of two recent “violent incidents” in the area.  It described the car as Israeli, likely meaning it had Israeli license plates. The military did not say if the alleged assailant was arrested or if soldiers opened fire. Unlike in the case of similar attacks by Palestinians, it did not describe the incident as “terror.” The incident came two days after settlers at Homesh attacked troops and soldiers, the army said Monday.”

Instead of Army Service, Israel Allows People to Volunteer at Illegal West Bank Outposts,

“Israel enables national service at illegal outposts through the Hashomer YOSH organization, which recruits volunteers to work on farms in the West Bank, despite the fact that demolition and removal orders have been issued against some of them.”

Settlement security officers announce strike after arrest of colleague,

“Dozens of local security officers responsible for coordinating the protection of West Bank settlements with the Israeli military announced Wednesday they would be going on strike, after their colleague was arrested on suspicion of involvement in a hate crime. The incident began when several cars had their tires slashed in the Palestinian village of Fara’ata in the northern West Bank, near the illegal Havat Gilad outpost, overnight Monday. According to Kan news, the security coordinator of Havat Gilad was arrested for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit a crime, after security camera footage showed him throwing away a bag that had been used by Jewish extremists in the anti-Arab vandalism. Footage showed one of the suspects was carrying a red backpack, which was later thrown to the side of a road by the security officer….In response, a group representing security coordinators said “police took the opportunity to harm a civilian security man, and yesterday our friend… was taken for questioning and arrested like some criminal.” Over 40 security coordinators signed the statement, which concluded by saying they were going on strike, and would “immediately cut off all contact with the army and police until further notice!!!””

West Bank Outpost Security Coordinator Held on Suspicion of Vandalizing Palestinian Property,

“The security coordinator for the illegal outpost of Gilad was arrested Tuesday on suspicion that he aided in vandalizing property in the Palestinian village of Fara’ata in the northern West Bank. The incident, which occurred on Monday, involved spray-painting offensive graffiti and tire slashing. In addition to allegedly aiding in the vandalism, the coordinator Yair Oppenheimer is also accused of impeding the police investigation that followed…In addition to Oppenheimer, another security guard from the outpost was arrested for alleged involvement in the vandalism.”

Israeli Settlers Set Up Outpost on UNESCO World Heritage Site,

“Israeli settlers established a new outpost on a UNESCO World Heritage Site last week, near the Palestinian village of Battir. The Palestinian owners of the land near the outpost said they have been barred from accessing their land since the outpost appeared. They said they have asked Israel’s Civil Administration to remove it, and have also contacted UNESCO over the matter…There are only a few people and farm animals on the site, a common model for new settler outposts.”

Major New Developments: Plans being advanced around the Old City and the Court verdict regarding Sheikh Jarrah evictions,

“There are four issues regarding which there have been important developments in the last weeks: the National Park on the Mount of Olives, the pending approval of the Mount Scopus Slopes National Park, a development plan that entails demolition of 31 businesses on the main road in the Wadi Joz commercial center, and the Supreme Court decision postponing the evacuation of four Palestinian families in Sheik Jarrah….This report aims at providing updated information in regard to planned activities in regard to these plans and their ramifications.” See also “Jerusalem churches fight new settlement plan” (Al Monitor)

Israel Detains Palestinian Lawyer Without Trial After Claim He Was Tapped With NSO Spyware,

“Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri was detained without trial by Israeli authorities on Thursday, who alleged he belongs to the outlawed Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and poses a threat to national security… Hamouri has represented Palestinian prisoners and worked for the Palestinian NGO Addameer, which Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz declared as a terrorist organization and a front for the PFLP in October – along with five other Palestinian civil society groups. The U.S. and Europe, however, have said little to no evidence was provided to support the claims. In November, three groups — Amnesty International, Front Line Defenders and Citizen Lab — reported that Hamouri was one of six Palestinian activists who had their phone infected with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.”

Opinion | This Israeli Eco Settlement's Problem Isn’t Tourists. It Is Abuse of Palestinians,

“Over the last six years, ever since the settlers began the accelerated construction of their own herding outposts – or “agricultural farms,” as they are euphemistically called – the level of harm Israel causes to Jordan Valley Palestinians has been ratcheted up a notch. Violence seems to be the business model for these outposts. And even though the outposts were ostensibly built against the state’s will, they are being entrenched with generous government funding, perched on the tips of Israel Defense Forces bayonets. Effectively, they serve the state as yet another, unofficial, tool for implementing its policies – much like the Civil Administration’s bulldozers.”

'Coexistence? We Need Jewish-Palestinian Co-resistance',

[Tamer Nafar, rapper from Lyd]: ““The coexistence between Jews and Palestinians that we have now is like a man who beats his wife at home, but on the outside, when they leave the house, they look like a perfect couple. Most of the people claiming that there was coexistence in Lod are Jews – we, the Palestinians, were not saying it. Even within the coexistence that the Jews chose to say does exist, we were not really asked what we think. They simply decided that there is a shared existence, but in actual fact it does not exist. “I believe in co-resistance, and that is what we need: for the Jews to work together with the Palestinians so that Palestinians will be able to live with dignity and receive the rights to which they are entitled. Coexistence is a situation in which two peoples exist. Right now, there is no ‘existence of the Palestinian people,’ with all the problems in the West Bank, the siege in Gaza, the refugees, the problems of Palestinians within Israel itself. So where exactly is the existence? Some Israelis do not want coexistence, they want to leave the situation as it is, without any real solution.””

US envoy looks to bolster West Bank economy with 4G service, tech offerings,

“US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides on Tuesday revealed several of his initiatives aimed at improving the West Bank economy, while also insisting that Palestinians are ultimately most interested in self-determination and cannot be “bought off” with plans requiring them to forgo political sovereignty…He said his plans include ensuring access to 4G mobile networks for all Palestinians, granting the Palestinian Authority jurisdiction at the Allenby Crossing between the West Bank and Jordan and convincing major tech firms to open offices in the West Bank.”

Global // Tech

Global Repercussions: Exporting the Israeli Surveillance Model,

“The Israeli tech sector’s increasing reliance on surveillance technology and spyware has global implications, particularly as more governments around the world borrow from the Israeli playbook and purchase these tools, often for the purpose of spying on dissidents, journalists, and others. The growing question of the spyware industry, as well as its reach and potential use, have prompted concern among many digital rights and free speech advocates, many of whom draw attention to the ways in which these tools might be mobilized against movements for democracy and human rights around the world. Building on our first event in the series, we take an understanding that Israel uses Palestinian communities as a testing ground for surveilliance technologies, and pose the question, what might the rise of the Israeli surveillance state mean for the rest of the world? This expert panel, co-hosted by 7amleh (The Arab Center for Social Media Advancement) and the Middle East Institute, will be part two of a two-part series examining this and other vital questions about this increasingly vital topic. Featuring Lara Friedman, President of Foundation for Middle East Peace, Mona Shtaya, Advocacy Advisor, 7amleh, and Eliza Campbell, moderator Director, Cyber Program, MEI. 

Israel says government sites targeted by cyberattack,

“Israel says its government websites were hit by a cyberattack but services have since been restored. The websites of the ministry of the interior, the ministry of defence and others were affected on Monday…The Israeli daily Haaretz said a source in the country’s defence establishment believed it was the largest ever cyberattack launched against the country.”

Google workers rally to support Jewish pro-Palestine colleague 'punished' for protesting 'Israel military support',

“Over 500 Google workers signed a petition supporting a Jewish colleague who claims she is being pushed out of her role for protesting an Israeli military contract. Ariel Koren, a product marketing manager at Google for Education, has criticised her company for signing a $1.2 billion contract with Israel…”RIGHT after I helped organize against unethical contracts (& 2 days after returning from #disability leave), Google gave me 17 days to commit to moving to Sao Paulo—or else lose my job. Over 500 workers have petitioned, but @Google has yet to rescind the act of retaliation,” she tweeted. Hundreds of her coworkers signed a petition which accuses Google of “unjustly retaliating” against Koren for her pro-Palestine activism.”

EU aid to Palestinian Authority blocked over 'antisemitism' in school textbooks,

“The European Union (EU) has withheld millions of euros in annual aid from the Palestinian Authority (PA), after Hungary’s EU delegate accused PA school textbooks of containing “antisemitism”, according to Haaretz…On Tuesday, the EU decided to delay paying the PA annual aid of €214m ($235m) until a final decision was made by its executive branch, the European Commission (EC), in the coming days.”

Outrage as France's interior minister outlaws two pro-Palestinian organisations,

“France’s interior minister has said that he will be outlawing two leading pro-Palestinian NGOs, accusing them of fueling hatred. Gerald Darmanin announced on his official Twitter account on Wednesday that “Palestine Vaincra” – which translates to Palestine Will Overcome – and “Comité Action Palestine” – meaning “Palestine Action Committee” – will be dissolved in “accordance with the President of the Republic”. He also accused the two organisations of “inciting violence, discrimination and provoking terrorist attacks”.”

On redefining antisemitism to include criticism of Israel & advocacy for Palestinian rights

Amnesty USA Director Paul O’Brien’s remarks to the Woman’s National Democratic Club,

Paul O’Brien: “Does Amnesty believe that the Jewish people have a right to self-determination, which is one of the fundamental human rights? Yes, they do. So in essence of that some elements of that would be that we wouldn’t — we don’t take political positions on whether the one-state solution or the two-state solution is better. But the right of the people to self-determination and to be protected is without a doubt, something that we believe in, and I personally believe in…But it is really important, I think, particularly for those who understand the threats that the Jewish people experienced over the last several generations, I think it is incumbent on people who engage this conversation to say, No, I don’t believe that Israel should be preserved as a state in which one race is legally entitled to oppress another. But yes, I understand that the Jewish people have a legitimate concern about their very existence being threatened. And that needs to be part of the conversation.” See alsoIn rare show of unity, all 25 Jewish House Democrats blast Amnesty director’s comments on Israel” (JTA) 

When Gifts Come With Strings Attached,

“But because Jewish studies and Israel studies owe almost the totality of their existence to philanthropic largess from Jewish donors, the matter of donor expectations is especially consequential for these fields…For decades, donors to these chairs and programs have employed strategies of soft power, making a call, sending an email, or requesting a meeting to express dismay about campus events…With growing boldness, however, organizations like StandWithUs, Campus Watch, and Canary Mission, all involved in pro-Israel activism on campus, are urging donors to exercise hard power. In a column written just after the University of Washington case broke, two StandWithUs legal advisers offered their services to donors who may feel “locked into funding anti-Israel professors and programs.” Years of efforts to conflate critical speech about Israel with anti-Semitism, to create blacklists of purportedly anti-Zionist faculty and students, and to initiate lawsuits with long odds for successbut high likelihood of generating negative press for universities have laid the groundwork for this bid to push pro-Israel donors to exert hard power on university campuses.”

ADL develops algorithm to track antisemitism on social media,

“The Jewish civil rights group announced Tuesday that it has built a system called the Online Hate Index, describing it as the first tool ever developed to measure antisemitism on social media platforms. The program can sift through millions of posts quickly to detect antisemitic comments and aid in their removal. This system uses an algorithm informed by artificial intelligence to find and classify posts as possibly antisemitic. Those posts are then fed to a team of both volunteers and experts, who use their judgment to make the final call. The system also tracks whether the posts are eventually taken down…To aid them in their decisions, each volunteer gets a primer that’s also available on the ADL website. That primer includes a reference to the definition of antisemitism drafted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which has proven controversial because it focuses on anti-Israel speech.”

On The Combat Antisemitism Movement & The Cantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University’s Report on the Adoption of the IHRA ,

“The report, published Tuesday and obtained in advance by eJewishPhilanthropy, found that 865 entities worldwide have adopted the definition. Last year, 200 entities adopted it, including 92 in North America. The report was compiled by the Combat Antisemitism Movement, a coalition of groups founded in 2019, and Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center, which studies European Jews. It found that the definition has been adopted by 37 countries, 320 smaller governmental bodies, 314 educational institutions and 194 other entities — from corporations like the Mercedes-Benz Group to European soccer teams to an evangelical broadcasters’ organization.”

U.S. Scene

AIPAC Is All In on Support for ‘Stop the Steal’ Candidates,

“The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a powerful lobby for pro-Israel candidates in the U.S., has endorsed dozens of Republicans who have endorsed the Big Lie that Donald Trump won the 2020 election. Some of them even voted against certifying the 2020 election as members of Congress. Among the AIPAC chosen are Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan (who trashed the Jan. 6 committee), Texas Rep. Ronny Jackson (the former White House physician who says Trump won the 2020 election), and Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry (who compared Democrats to Nazis). New York Rep. Elise Stefanick got the nod from AIPAC even though she pushed the racist, antisemitic “replacement theory” in her Facebook ads with an image of immigrants coming across the border, reflected in President Joe Biden’s aviator sunglasses…Polling among the Jewish community does not support these extremist views, yet AIPAC—a single-issue advocacy organization—is betting that right-wing Trump Republicans will be victorious. And if they are, AIPAC will have demonstrated that there is no bar too low for them to back a Republican politician, as long as they support Israel.”

Mike Pence flies to Israel on Miriam Adelson’s private jet,

“Former Vice President Mike Pence appears to be courting the financial backing of the wealthiest Israeli, Miriam Adelson, who previously used her wealth to back the Republican Party’s support for abrogating from the Iran nuclear deal, moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, declaring the Golan Heights to be Israeli territory, “purged the sewer that was a so-called peace process,” according to Adelson, and pushed for former President Trump’s eventual clemency for convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, a move long opposed by the FBI, Naval Intelligence, and the Pentagon. Pence reportedly flew to Israel on a private plane owned by the Adelsons, the same means of transportation the family provided to Pollard following his clemency, an immediate departure for Israel with a hero’s welcome on the tarmac in Tel Aviv…If one listens to Miriam Adelson, it’s clear what motivates her outsized political giving: pursuit of a hawkish U.S. foreign policy in lockstep with Israel’s far-right and largely in opposition to any Israeli concessions as part of a peace process with Palestinians and Republican opposition to any nuclear deal with Iran.”

Sierra Club to reinstate Israel trips,

“The Sierra Club will reinstate two programs to Israel, days after the nature- and preservation-focused organization canceled trips to the Jewish state scheduled for this spring and spring 2023 after being pressured by anti-Israel and progressive activists, the organization announced on its website on Tuesday afternoon. In announcing the reversal, the group admitted that the original decision to cancel the trips was made “hastily” and “was done in ways that created confusion, anger, and frustration.”…The sudden about-face came after a coalition of Jewish groups, including the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, Hazon and The Jewish Federations of North America, mobilized to engage with the Sierra Club and fight the original decision. Anti-Israel groups including Jewish Voice for Peace and the Adalah Justice Project had pushed for the environmental group to cancel the trips, accusing Israel of “greenwashing.” See also “Progressive Coalition Condemns Sierra Club for Reinstatement of Trips to Apartheid Israel” (Adalah Justice Project) and “Sierra Club cancels trips to Israel at urging of progressive and anti-Zionist groups”

Palestinian Scene

Abbas strips Palestinian rivals of diplomatic passports,

“In a new step against his political rivals, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has revoked the diplomatic passports of several former officials. They include Nasser al-Qudwa, a former Palestinian Authority Minister of Foreign Affairs who also served as Palestine’s ambassador to the United Nations for 20 years; Yasser Abed Rabbo, a fomer aid to Abbas and secretary of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization; Bassam Abu Sharif, a former political adviser to late President Yasser Arafat and members of the dissolved Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).”

Bonus Reads

People should talk about Palestine as they do Ukraine, says Egyptian squash star Ali Farag,

“Egypt’s world number one squash star, Ali Farag, said that people should talk about Palestine in the same way they talk about Ukraine, after winning the Optasia championship”(VIDEO)

19 years on, Palestinians remember Rachel Corrie,

“Rachel Corrie died, crushed under the weight of an Israeli military bulldozer. She was trying to stop the 80,000-pound machine from demolishing Palestinian homes along the Egyptian border…Today, nineteen years on, Palestinians still remember her in various ways.”

What a BDS-Supporting President Means for Chile’s Jewish and Palestinian Diasporas,

“In Chile, home to a significant Palestinian community as well as a smaller Jewish enclave, the election of leftist Gabriel Boric may galvanize a shift in the politics of Israel/Palestine.”