Top News from Israel & Palestine: November 26, 2019

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Annexation, & Human Rights

‘My dream was destroyed’: Home demolitions soar in East Jerusalem,

“According to B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights NGO, Israeli authorities have demolished more East Jerusalem Palestinian homes in 2019 than in any single year since 2004. For the past 15 years, an average of 54 residential units a year were demolished. There has also been a marked increase in the number of Palestinians who demolish their own homes, in order to avoid incurring the fine imposed by the municipality for carrying out the demolition. This year 37 people demolished their own homes, compared to only 12 last year. Since 1967, Israel has expropriated more than 38 percent of East Jerusalem for the construction of settlements for Israelis. Today Palestinians constitute 37 percent of Jerusalem’s population; however, only 15 percent of East Jerusalem, and 8.5 percent of the total area of the city, is zoned for their residential use. ‘It’s true that we built the house without a legal permit,’ said Abbasi, his eyes bloodshot from lack of sleep three days after the demolition. ‘But we tried to get a permit, we tried several times. We got an engineer and an architect and a lawyer. I paid $30,000 to the planning authorities. We were waiting to go to court’.”

Several Palestinians Wounded in 'Day of Rage' Against U.S. Recognition of Israeli Settlements,

“The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that medical teams were treating a Palestinian who was wounded in clashes with Israeli troops in Jerusalem’s Old City. In addition, a Palestinian man was shot with live fire in his thigh at the northern entrance to the West Bank city of al-Bira. He received first aid at the scene and was transferred in moderate condition to a hospital in Ramallah.”

Prominent Palestinian figure Raed Salah convicted of incitement to violence,

“An Israeli court in Haifa has convicted Raed Salah, a prominent Palestinian political figure, of ‘incitement to terrorism’ and supporting the outlawed Islamic Movement, which he headed. The trial, which continued for an hour and a half, was attended by hundreds of Palestinians who came in buses from different cities and villages across Israel to stand in solidarity with Salah…’It is so touching to see these hundreds of people that came today from all around Palestine to support him,” Salah’s sister Nahida Mahajneh said. ‘His case represents a more important issue; our rights to access our holy sites.’ Salah is one of the most recognised and influential figures among the Palestinian population in Israel as well as in the territories under the Palestinian Authority and Gaza. He headed the northern branch of the Islamic Movement from 1996 until it was banned in 2015. He was the head of the Umm al-Fahm municipality for 12 years until 2001, and prior to that he was the columnist and editor of the Islamic Movement Township.”

Israel punishes Muslim incitement, ignores Jewish one,

“Attorney Avigdor Feldman, who represents Salah, told Al-Monitor that ‘[Haifa Magistrate’s Court] Judge Shlomo Banjo did not leave out anything negative that could possibly be said against Raed; the judge created an atmosphere in which he tried to bring all the severity of the law against him [Raed]. Even Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said, after Raed’s arrest, that he hopes that this time the full severity of the law will be invoked against Raed, and with the hope that the latter will spend an extended period of time behind lock and key.’ According to Feldman, there is no doubt that double standards exist in court. ‘That’s the way it is when the prime minister himself expresses severe incitement against 20% of the population [the Israeli-Arab public]. Others get the message and continue to incite, and they are not arrested or brought to court,’ he said.”

Distract, deflect, disinform: Israeli politics in spin cycle,

Yara Hawari, Tareq Baconi, Ana Balint, and Edo Konrad speak to Al Jazeera’s The Listening Post.

Al-Haq today named 2019 recipient of Human Rights and Business Award,

In recent years Al-Haq has done ground-breaking work drawing attention to how certain companies operating in Occupied Palestinian Territory, including firms doing business with or in Israeli settlements, are involved in human rights abuses and breaches of international humanitarian law, notably the Hague Regulations and the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Board members of the Human Rights and Business Award Foundation – Christopher Avery, Regan Ralph and Valeria Scorza – said in a joint statement today: ‘Al-Haq does exceptional work in difficult circumstances, using international law as the basis of its research and advocacy.  It is encouraging that an increasing number of human rights defenders in the Middle East are giving attention to the behavior of companies – Al-Haq is a recognized leader in this development’.”

U.S. Politics

The South Carolina politician who laid the foundation for the new US policy on Israeli settlements,

Q: The term “occupation” has been used by many critics of Israel, from terrorist groups like Hamas, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and the BDS movement to people who claim to support Israel on the left. Why is this term wrongly applied to Israel, and how does Monday’s announcement change this?

Rep. Clemmons: The casual use of the term “occupier” is nothing more than a polite way of demonizing Israel as a thief. It suggests that Jewish invaders colonized territory belonging to Arabs and which therefore must be restored to its rightful, victimized owners as a matter of justice. The term is intentionally misused against Israel in order to shape negative misperceptions of her history and legitimacy, while perpetuating a sense of Palestinian Arab victimhood. [The] announcement strikes at the heart of a monumental falsehood that has too often been used to justify terrorism and many other legal and economic attacks upon Israel.

Netanyahu's Attack on Legal System Creates Headache for pro-Israel Groups in America,

“Netanyahu’s indictment last week for bribery, fraud and breach of trust has created a dilemma for pro-Israel organizations in the United States. On the one hand, the fact that a sitting prime minister has been indicted – and no less by an attorney general who had been appointed under Netanyahu and was once one of his closest aides – could easily be used to make a positive case for Israel as a strong democracy. On the other hand, most pro-Israel organizations are usually loath to openly contradict the Israeli prime minister. What should they do when a prime minister promotes a conspiracy theory and goes on the attack against his own attorney general?”

Evangelical execs eye Israel deals as rapport with Holy Land matures,

“The executives will attend the second annual conference on “Israeli Innovation for Humanity” held by ARISE, a nonprofit organization that aims to match Christian Israel-loving businesspeople from abroad with entrepreneurs in Israel…Most of the businesspeople attending already support Israel and ‘stand up’ for the nation, said attorney Calev Myers, founder and president of ARISE and a partner at Yehuda Raveh & Co law firm, in a phone conversation. Myers is also the founder of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice. a civil rights organization, and serves on the board of the International Association for Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, a UN-recognized nonprofit devoted to promote human rights globally. ARISE has managed to convince these visitors that the best way to support Israel is ‘at the business level,’ Myers said. He noted that there was a paradigm shift underway in relations between Israel-loving Christians and the Holy Land, which had traditionally been based on philanthropy; as Israel struggled to establish itself, juggling wars. waves of new immigrants and economic crises, the Evangelical community was there to support the developing nation via donations and humanitarian projects.”

Israeli Politics

Netanyahu does not have to resign as prime minister, attorney general decides,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not legally have to resign his position as head of the current caretaker government in the wake of criminal indictments against him, Israel’s attorney general has decided. A prime minister who resigns, under Israeli law, continues in his position until a new government has been formed. Avichai Mandelblit in his Monday pronouncements did not issue any decision on whether Netanyahu would be allowed to form a government or not, saying it remains a theoretical question.”

Anti-BDS/Pro-Settlement Lawfare

New competition provides $1 million in grants to combat BDS and Israel delegitimization,

“This week, the Genesis Prize Foundation announced details of how the money will be distributed: a grants competition called ‘Speak Out for Israel.’ Nonprofit Israeli organizations that educate Jews or non-Jews around the world about Israel in a positive and engaging way will be eligible. The minimum grant amount awarded will be $50,000 and grant terms may last up to two years. The goal behind the ‘Speak Out for Israel’ competition is to shift focus from organizations working against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement to those promoting a positive image of Israel. ‘We see our role as being a catalyst in helping to bring about the change we want to see in the world,’ said Steven Rakitt, president of the Genesis Prize Foundation. ‘We bring together philanthropists to respond to the most critical issues in our community. Given the sharp rise in anti-Israel sentiment around the world, there is no question that we feel a responsibility to focus on combating this scourge’.”