Top News from Palestine & Israel: May 25, 2021

What We’re Reading

Gaza & the Politics of Reconstruction

Blinken says US will aid Gaza without helping Hamas,

“U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken vowed Tuesday to “rally international support” to aid Gaza following a devastating war there while keeping any assistance out of the hands of its militant Hamas rulers, as he began a regional tour to shore up last week’s cease-fire…“We know that to prevent a return to violence, we have to use the space created to address a larger set of underlying issues and challenges. And that begins with tackling the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza and starting to rebuild,” he said. “The United States will work to rally international support around that effort while also making our own significant contributions.” He added that the U.S. would work with its partners “to ensure that Hamas does not benefit from the reconstruction assistance.””

More on the politics of reconstruction

  • “Israel defence ministry wants Gaza aid to bypass Hamas” (The New Arab)
  • “Blinken’s Israel Mission: Helping Gaza Without Strengthening Hamas” (Haaretz)
  • “Blinken in Jerusalem: US will aid Gaza without helping Hamas” (The Times of Israel)


  • Gregg Carlstrom (The Economist) via Twitter: “This might sound good in a conference room at Foggy Bottom but there is no conceivable mechanism by which America can catapult the superannuated Mahmoud Abbas and the calcified fossil of the PA back into a meaningful role in Gaza”
  • Amichai Stein (Kann News) via Twitter: “Despite Hamas opposition, the US administration “truly believes” that a mechanism can be created to transfer funds and promote projects in the Gaza Strip without Hamas involvement – one that will operate through the Palestinian Authority, UN, Egypt and Jordan and others”
  • Joel Braunold (S. Daniel Abraham Center) via Twitter: “We are about to have a hundred articles about assistant divergence etc. All are important however this conversation cannot take place without acknowledging that Israel Qatar and Hamas all created a system where hundreds of millions in unmarked cash entered the strip”
  • Rohan Talbot (Medical Aid Palestine) via Twitter: “There can be no return to the disastrous ‘Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism’ which followed the 2014 hostilities. A deeply flawed and politicised formalisation of Israel’s illegal closure and collective punishment of #Gaza.”

A Gazan’s View on Hamas: It’s Not Complicated,

“If any party other than Hamas were in power in Gaza right now, it might have tried to lobby for international support for the Palestinians of East Jerusalem a few days or weeks longer before launching rockets on Israel. But seeing its fellow countrymen and women made homeless, time and time again, would ultimately have forced the hand of even a non-Hamas government in Gaza, either drawing it into the fight or making it so unpopular for not getting involved that it’d be forced out of power. That’s why to focus on Hamas is to miss the point, and to reinforce the myth that the conflict is, in some fundamental manner, about the group. The conflict is about the Israeli occupation. To focus on Hamas is also to sanitize the conflict, and in that way become complicit in it. It allows people to express sympathy for ordinary Palestinians while blaming a few people at the top of the Palestinian leadership. But the right to self-defense against Israel’s continued aggression belongs to all Palestinians; legitimate resistance cannot be a right only for those Palestinians who believe exclusively in nonviolent self-defense — not in the face of the violence we endure. We, Palestinians, are in this together. For others to pretend that Israel is waging a war against Hamas, rather than against all Palestinians, is what allows the kinds of attacks and crimes of recent days to be repeated every few years. And now, if the cease-fire does hold, the spectacular violence of the last two weeks will slip out of the news cycle as Palestinians go back to suffering, largely out of view, the slow-motion violence of Israel’s continued oppression — its blockade of Gaza, its militarization of the West Bank, more evictions of Palestinians.”

Was Hamas really operating out of the Al-Jalaa building?,

“The Israeli army regularly justifies attacks on residential buildings, schools, hospitals and other civilian buildings by saying that Hamas or other Palestinian armed groups are operating out of them, claims that receive little scrutiny from the mainstream media or Israel’s allies. MEE spoke to three human rights experts on six key points to find out what these claims mean, whether anyone is actively investigating them – and what happens when evidence suggests they aren’t true. ‘

UN humanitarian chief calls for end to Israel's Gaza blockade,

“The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian territories has called for the blockade of Gaza to end, and for the besieged enclave to be reconnected with the rest of Palestine, following a two day visit to affected areas in Gaza. Lynn Hastings arrived in Gaza on Saturday, a day after a ceasefire was called, to survey the damage done to homes and civilian infrastructure. “I witnessed the despair of displaced families whose homes have been completely destroyed,” Hastings said in a statement.” Also See – “Gazans outraged after UNRWA director says IDF strikes were ‘precise'” (Jerusalem Post)

Israel hinders maintaining electricity lines, says company,

“The Electricity Distribution Company in the Gaza Strip confirmed on Tuesday that the Israeli occupation authorities continue to hinder the maintenance electrical power transmission and distribution lines. It said in a press statement that the occupation authorities continue to prevent the competent staff from reaching and repairing electrical faults and deny the entry of fuel to Gaza’s sole generation station. The company slammed these actions by the Israeli occupation government as “a flagrant and deliberate violation of human rights and international humanitarian law”, while warning that they “pose a direct threat to the lives of thousands of Palestinian civilians, especially children, women and the elderly,” and portend an evident catastrophic impact on many hospitals and health facilities across the besieged coastal enclave.”

Gaza fishermen back on the water after ceasefire,

“Israeli forces prevented fishermen from sailing during the conflict, but they began allowing a limited number of ships to set out beginning Saturday as Egyptian mediators worked to firm up a ceasefire that took effect on Friday.”

Looking to rebuild again, war-weary Gazans see little hope for a swift recovery,

“Residents of the coastal enclave have already learned from three previous rounds of violence not to expect a speedy reconstruction. Aside from Israeli restrictions on importing building material into the Strip, there are fears that the international community could be less willing to open up its wallet just to see the fruits of rebuilding efforts turn to rubble again…The Ghazalis said they paid a premium to situate their ice cream factory in what they thought was a safe place: an industrial zone in the central Gaza Strip, close to United Nations institutions. “We felt we were safe there. I often thought that if there were an escalation in Gaza, I would take my children and sleep there,” Ghazali said. It was fortunate for Ghazali and his family that they did not choose to seek shelter in the family factory. Last Monday, following reports of Israeli fire, they discovered that the factory was in ruins. Without a factory, Ghazali has no way to restock his ice cream stores, and he is not sure how he will get back on his feet. “Where will we get the money? The only way would be to sell my house, and then we’d have nowhere to live,” Ghazali said dismally. “We don’t have even a bit of hope.””

More Stories of Reconstruction

  • “‘We will not give up’: Palestinians in Gaza rebuild from scratch” (Al Jazeera)

Israel seizes contrabands destined for Gaza,

“Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed five administrative orders for the seizure of suspected contraband material destined for the Gaza Strip shortly before hostilities erupted between Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups, on May 10, his office said Monday. According to a Defense Ministry statement, the shipments contained considerable quantities of potassium chloride, glycerin, polyurethane, polyester, fiberglass, and communications equipment. The equipment is considered dual-use, meaning it has both civilian and military applications and would have most likely ended up with Hamas’ military wing, Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades.”

The Israeli Lie About Gaza,

“Israel is present in almost all aspects of life as far as the residents of Gaza are concerned, including permission to wear camouflage-patterned clothing, or hiking boots (defined as “dual-use goods,” which can be used for military purposes). Even foreign journalists (and Israelis of course) are not allowed to cover what is going on there as they wish. This is because of the chutzpah that claims it is for their own safety. As if war correspondents for the leading media outlets in the world are not mature enough to make such decisions themselves. So the claim that Israel has withdrawn from Gaza is at the very least deceptive; in practice it is closer to a lie.”

West Bank / Jerusalem

Israeli forces kill Palestinian in West Bank during predawn raid,

“A Palestinian man was killed on Tuesday morning by an Israeli special unit in the Umm al-Sharayet neighbourhood, south of the town of al-Bireh, near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. An undercover Israeli special unit shot Ahmed Jamil Fahd, a resident of the al-Amari refugee camp, and left him bleeding in the street until he died, according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa. Israel said that the Yamam unit killed Fahd while it was carrying out a predawn raid as part of an arrest operation in the area, Wafa reported. An Israeli security official told AFP that a Palestinian was killed during “attempted arrests” near Ramallah. The killing of Fahd comes hours before US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken meets Israeli and Palestinian officials after two weeks of daily protests in East Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank and inside Israel, and the armed confrontation between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip.” Also See – “Israeli undercover police ‘kill Palestinian refugee’ near Ramallah” (The New Arab)

Armed settler raids in West Bank raise fears of heightened violence,

Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlements in the northern West Bank, claimed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given settlers “the green light to launch more attacks on Palestinians; he also sought help from them in launching attacks on Palestinians inside Israel”. “We are noticing Israelis becoming more right-wing and extreme against us as Palestinians,” Daghlas told MEE. “There is no longer a ‘centre’ in Israeli society, and this foretells a new and difficult stage in the coming days.”  However, Daghlas maintained that Palestinians would “not face these attacks with silence”, adding that he expected “more resistance and confrontations” in the near future. Awad, the mayor of Asira al-Qibliya, said that village residents were forming protection committees to block any further attacks by settlers, amid expectations that attacks will increase in the coming days.  Daghlas concurred, saying that Palestinians must be vigilant and make use of social media to warn residents and mobilise crowds to repel attacks. “Palestinians are defenceless. They can only protect their land and properties with rocks, while settlers attack with weapons and with the protection of the army,” he said.  “Impromptu protection committees and the vigilance of residents and their ability to repel attacks are our only weapons.””

Three Palestinians indicted in lynching of Jewish passerby in Sheikh Jarrah,

“Three Palestinian men were indicted on Monday for lynching a Jewish man who was walking with his dog through East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood late last month. The three — Adnan Harbawi,18, Ibrahim Zaatari, 26, and Muhammad Khalaf, 29 — were arrested following their participation in the April riots in the capital and the lynching of 27-year-old Eli Rosen.”

No ceasefire in Jerusalem as violence continues,

“Monday’s stabbing attack in Jerusalem shows that the situation in the city remains tense despite the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, which went into effect four days ago. That’s because the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have an interest in keeping Jerusalem in the headlines – each for its own reasons. The tensions, which began on the first day of Ramadan, are unlikely to abate quickly in the aftermath of the ceasefire…Palestinian media and many Palestinian social-media platforms continue to report about the Jewish visits to the Temple Mount as a “violation” of the ceasefire agreement. Some Palestinians interpreted the Israeli government’s decision to allow Jews back on the Temple Mount as being part of a “face-saving” action in the wake of Israel’s “defeat” in the last round of fighting. Since the ceasefire, Palestinians in Jerusalem have been demonstrating on a daily basis in a number of neighborhoods and at the Temple Mount compound. Some of the protesters said they were celebrating the Hamas “victory,” while others said they were continuing their protests against Israel’s overall policies toward the Palestinians in Jerusalem. Over the past few days, Jerusalem police have arrested dozens of Palestinians from east Jerusalem who were involved in the recent wave of violence, including attacks on police officers and Jewish civilians. The crackdown has intensified an already tense situation in the city.”

The truce quieted Israeli-Palestinian hostilities — but not the Jerusalem disputes that triggered them,

““Maybe it will calm down for one month or two months,” said Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, the manager of al-Aqsa Mosque, after Sunday’s arrests. “But in the end, it will all explode on the street.” Kiswani said Muslim worshipers had been cleared from the holy site on Sunday after morning prayers amid “provocations” by Israeli forces…Protests are also continuing in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where the efforts by Jewish settlers to evict Palestinian families have taken on symbolic importance for many opponents of Israeli occupation. The Israeli Supreme Court had been poised to oust several families after a lengthy court battle but delayed the hearing as violence was erupting this month. Today, police cordons limit the access of Palestinians to the mostly Arab area but allow Jewish settlers to come and go. “It’s no good to fix it with a plaster,” said Sirien Jabareen, a Palestinian activist who had traveled from the town of Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel to show her support for the families. “The problem is the Israeli apartheid system,” she said after Israeli police dispersed the peaceful demonstrators by spraying a foul smelling fluid known as skunk water. “You’ve got to get to the root.” In response to questions about the handling of tensions in the city, Israeli police said they had acted with “increased force” on the streets of Jerusalem to “prevent incidents of violence” and “preserve public security.” Tareq Baconi, an analyst at International Crisis Group, said the relentless confrontations in Jerusalem are unlikely to end peacefully. “There have been mass arrest of Palestinian protesters. Sheikh Jarrah has been put under siege,” he said. “I think this is likely to continue, and it’s likely to continue with greater violence by Israeli security forces if the media isn’t looking.”

Israeli authorities to confiscate thousands of dunums of land to construct water pipeline serving two illegal settlements in Salfit,

“Mayor of Salfit, Abdallah Kmail said the order notified for the expropriation of thousands of dunums of Palestinian-owned agricultural lands for the construction of a 15-kilometers-long water pipeline that would serve two illagl settlements in the area. The pipleine would run through five towns and villages in the Salfit governorate, subsantially damaging the lands.”

The money trail behind the Jerusalem eviction battle that sparked the latest Israeli-Palestinian violence, exposed,

“Attempts to identify the owners of the company behind the purchase of these six homes – and the source of the company’s funds – leads to a complex tapestry of obscure overseas companies. So intricate is this tapestry that it is impossible to know for sure who financed the planned evictions that led to the violence. What is clear is that this real-estate project had millions of dollars in investments. Companies involved had links to Delaware and the Marshall Islands – corporate havens because of their low tax rates – as well as New Jersey, the Netherlands and Israel. Seymour Braun, a New York lawyer, is listed as an official in most of these companies on public records.”

Palestinian Citizens of Israel / '48 Israel

Israeli Police Round Up Palestinian Protesters Out of Global Spotlight,

“At least 74 Palestinians were detained by Monday afternoon, in the first hours of what Israel’s police force is calling “Operation Law and Order.” Palestinian rights groups called the planned arrest of up to 500 protesters — on charges ranging from attacks on the police to vandalism to online incitement — a blatant crackdown on dissent, timed to coincide with the dimming of the global spotlight on the conflict…The wave of arrests of Palestinian citizens of Israel has been accompanied by evidence of casual brutality and racism from Israeli police officers. In one incident, captured on a surveillance camera in Umm el-Fahm — a majority Palestinian town in northern Israel where protesters marched last week — a food delivery driver who stepped aside as Israeli police officers were leading an arrested man away was first shoved off the sidewalk by one officer and then hurled to the ground by another.”

21-year-old Killed in Israeli Arab Town of Umm al-Fahm; Third Murder in Five Days,

“A 21-year-old resident of Umm al-Fahm was shot dead early Tuesday in the third killing in the Arab-Israeli city since Friday and as years-long criticism of the police’s alleged neglect of the Arab community heightens. The police are investigating Tuesday’s killing of Mustafa Baderan, and a hunt is underway for the gunman.”

Israel's criminalisation of Palestinians citizens' protest has a long history,

“Israel’s criminalisation of Palestinians citizens’ protest has a long history (1/7) 1. During the military government in the first 2 decades, Israel instrumentalised criminal law to “create crime and delinquency” among Palestinian citizens”

Palestinian Politics

Palestinians protest against Blinken’s visit to Ramallah,

“Scores of Palestinians demonstrated in Ramallah on Tuesday in protest of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned visit to the city…The protesters also denounced the security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. “Security coordination is shameful,” the Palestinians chanted. “The Olso Accords are gone.” “Blinken’s visit is the masquerade of politics and bad-will diplomacy in an attempt to fragment our unified struggle and further entrench a settler colonial and capitalist agenda that strikes at the trenches of the liberation movement,” a spokeswoman for the protesters said in a statement. “We reject the imposition of the US to broker false negotiations between our colonizers and the defunct and corrupt leadership in Ramallah.”

Abbas meets Jordan FM in Ramallah ahead of Blinken’s visit,

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi in Ramallah following recent fighting between Israel and Hamas. According to a statement from Abbas’s office, the two sides discussed ongoing diplomatic contacts between the PA, the United Nations, and the United States to collaborate on rebuilding Gaza following the fighting.”

Gaza Conflict Puts Palestinian Authority in Center Stage,

“With the fighting over, international attention is now focused on rehabilitating Hamas-ruled Gaza and creating a mechanism aimed at giving the PA a significant foothold there. The problem is that the Hamas leadership in Gaza, as well as the organization’s officials abroad, are reluctant to cede any power. As they see it, they are the ones who fought the battle, and they don’t want Abbas and the PA to reap the benefits. The goal now is to find the right balance and push all the parties toward a diplomatic move in a supportive international atmosphere.”

Will PLO and Hamas find common ground?,

“Hamas and others feel that they have come out of those violent 11 days victorious. Simply rubbing Israel’s nose in the ground, paralyzing their main airports, forcing Tel Aviv and west Jerusalem residents into shelters, and pounding southern Israeli cities were unprecedented. Although the attacks will not have a military advantage, they showed courage and willingness to exact a high price. And as a result, Hamas is now in a victory mode, and whatever they might have been willing to accept before is probably off the table now. For Fatah and the Palestinian government, the situation is dire, although not totally lost. Despite the bad public support that Abbas has from ordinary Palestinians, the international community still considers him the legitimate representative of the Palestinians. Hamas’ current ecstasy will not last long, and they will need to cooperate with Ramallah if they want to benefit from the current world interest for Palestine.”

Israeli Domestic Politics

IDF's operation in Gaza meets with 78% Israeli approval - survey,

“Some 78% of Israelis approve of the government’s handling of the IDF’s Operation Guardian of the Walls in Gaza, according to a recent survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI)…Focusing on the civil unrest plaguing the country, which has resulted in clashes between Israeli Arabs and Jews throughout flashpoint cities with mixed populations, around 40% of Israelis believe “that they are just a small minority of extremists who do not reflect the general sentiment among Arab Israelis,” compared to 61% of Arab-Israelis who feel the same. On the contrary, when it comes to Jews harming Arabs during these clashes, a large majority of Jewish Israelis (80%) believe that offenders in these instances represent a “small and unrepresentative minority of extremists” and do not represent a typical sample of the perceptions of most Jewish Israelis around the country. Some (56%) of Arab Israelis concur with this statement, although the gap in perceptions is clear.”

Coalition Machinations,

  • “Lapid Makes Progress in Forming Government, Says Lieberman Would Get Treasury” (Haaretz)
  • “Likud offers Bennett top jobs in exchange for right-wing bloc support” (Ynet)
  • “Pressure mounts on Bennett to form government of change” (Jerusalem Post)
  • “Sa’ar Rules Out Joining Netanyahu-led Government After Reports of Negotiations” (Haaretz)

After cease-fire, Israeli attention turns to political ticking clock,

“With a little over a week until Yair Lapid’s mandate to form the next government expires on June 2, the Yesh Atid leader has vowed to continue his efforts until the very last minute, despite his predicted failure.”

In sign of pandemic’s waning, first Birthright trip in a year lands in Israel,

“In a sign of the ebbing of the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel, a Birthright group landed in Tel Aviv on Monday afternoon, for the first time in a year. The participants are all vaccinated college students from the United States, Birthright Israel said.”

The U.S.

Blinken arrives in Tel Aviv following mass arrests of Palestinians,

“According to the White House, Blinken will hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Ashkenazi. He will then head to the occupied West Bank and meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh. The secretary is also travelling to Jordan and Egypt, which would conclude the Biden administration’s highest-level in-person meeting on the most recent escalation, which began on 10 May and lasted for 11 days.”

More Coverage of Blinken’s Trip

  • “Blinken Reaffirms Israeli Right to Self-defense, Stresses Gaza Reconstruction” (Haaretz)
  • “Blinken off to Mideast to secure Gaza truce, push for aid” (AP)
  • “In Israel, Blinken Pushes U.S. Support for Rebuilding Gaza” (New York Times)

Pompeo May Visit Israel During Blinken Trip,

“In an unprecedented move, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is planning to fly to Israel this week during his successor Anthony Blinken’s first diplomatic trip to the region. Sources privy to the former Trump administration official’s plans told Politico that while his itinerary is still in flux due to Israel’s strict pandemic-related travel rules, Pompeo intends to attend a retirement party being thrown for outgoing Mossad Director Yossi Cohen, who is stepping down at the end of the month…“The fact that he’s also a former secretary of state, and that he will be probably making a visit when the current secretary of state is here, only adds to the unprecedented character of the visit.” The official added, “If the visit is maintained within the strict boundaries of the private realm” it would not be a “big issue,” but any meetings with Israeli officials would definitely constitute a breach of protocol.”

Over 500 ex-staffers urge Biden to "hold Israel accountable for its actions",

“Biden has been a strong supporter of Israel for decades. The two-week conflict brought divisions between Biden and progressives in the Democratic Party into public view, as his administration faced pressure to broker a ceasefire while reaffirming its support for Israel’s right to defend itself…The letter, which was first reported by the Washington Post, praises Biden for his administration’s work in helping to negotiate a ceasefire, but calls for him to acknowledge the “power imbalance” that saw Israelis “hiding in bomb shelters” as “Palestinians in the Gaza Strip had nowhere to hide.” The staffers ask Biden to address the “underlying conditions of occupation, blockade, and settlement expansion that led to this exceptionally destructive period,” arguing that confronting these factors would usher in longer-lasting peace in the region. The signees say they are “deeply concerned that Israel continues to use U.S.-funded military equipment to kill civilians, target journalists, and violently suppress protests in Israel, the West Bank, and Jerusalem.””

Support for Israel among young US evangelical Christians drops sharply — survey,

“In a poll of over 700 evangelical Christians between the ages of 18 and 29 that was conducted between March and April, respondents were asked where they place their support in the “Israeli-Palestinian dispute.” Just 33.6 percent said with Israel, 24.3% said with the Palestinians and 42.2 percent said with neither side. This marked a significant shift from 2018, when a survey of young evangelicals conducted by the same UNCP professors, Motti Inbari and Kirill Bumin, found that 75% of respondents sided with Israel over the Palestinians, while 22% preferred not to take a side in the dispute. Just 2.8% expressed some degree of support for the Palestinians then.”

More on shifting opinion in the U.S.

  • “As Gaza mourns, support builds to condition US aid to Israel” (Al Jazeera)

Sanders says progressive Democrats should 'tone down' criticism of Israel,

“”I think we should tone down the rhetoric,” Sanders said. “I think our goal is very simple: it is to understand that what is going on in Gaza today is unsustainable. When you have 70 percent of the young people unemployed when people cannot leave the community when hospitals and wastewater plants have been destroyed – that is unsustainable – and the job of the United States is to bring people together and that is what we have got to try to do.” “We have to be pro-Israel, but we have to be pro-Palestinian,” Sanders said. “

How one congressional candidate evolved her position on Israel in recent weeks,

“In a March interview with Jewish Insider, Stansbury said she was unfamiliar with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and declined to comment on the 10-year memorandum of understanding with Israel guaranteeing $3.8 billion in annual U.S. military assistance through 2026. “I haven’t dove into this issue,” she admitted at the time. But within the span of just a couple of months, Stansbury’s views have evolved considerably as she prepares for the June 1 election to succeed Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM), the new U.S. interior secretary. While Stansbury now says she rejects BDS, she tells JI that she “would support divestment or sanctions initiatives that work towards the goal of a two-state solution,” and she claims to support continued security assistance for Israel, with some caveats. “That said, I also believe that any U.S. aid must only be used for security and defense and never for actions against Palestine,” Stansbury said. “U.S. aid and funding must especially not be used to aid annexation in the West Bank. I support restricting aid if it is indeed being used in any way that goes against U.S. interests and values, endangers Palestinian people or threatens the basic human rights of Palestinians.” If Stansbury’s carefully worded statement on restricting aid seems familiar, it is likely because the policy proposal is now being pushed by J Street, the left-leaning Israel lobbying group. The organization, which has endorsed Stansbury, recently began advocating for this approach, having backed a new bill from Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) that seeks to regulate aid to Israel. ‘

Free Speech, Big Tech, Media

CAIR & PCJF Win ‘Major Victory’ in Federal Lawsuit Against Georgia’s Anti-Israel Boycott Law; Court Rules Anti-BDS Law Violates the First Amendment,

“In an order released today, Judge Mark Cohen ruled that the University System of Georgia violated journalist and filmmaker Abby Martin’s constitutional rights when it cancelled her speaking engagement on a college campus because she refused to sign a state-mandated oath pledging not to engage in boycotts of Israel. Martin is a well-known advocate of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, which the court ruled is protected by the First Amendment.” Also See – “Federal court strikes down Georgia’s anti-BDS law” (Jewish Insider)

Israeli colonialism goes digital,

“Despite these limitations, access to the internet has given Palestinians a means to transcend their territorial fragmentation and has aided the unification of Palestinian voices. Palestinian civil society has capitalized on the use of social media to circumvent mainstream and traditional media to share their stories of Israeli occupation, displacement, and violence with the world. But while digital activism may provide a level of virtual mobility, it also makes Palestinians an easy target of state control.”

Gaza-based journalists say their accounts blocked by WhatsApp,

“A few hours after the latest ceasefire took effect in the Gaza Strip, a number of Palestinian journalists in the coastal enclave – including Al Jazeera’s chief correspondent Wael al-Dahdouh and reporter Hisham Zaqqout – found they were blocked from accessing WhatsApp messenger – a crucial tool used to communicate with sources, editors and the world beyond the blockaded Strip. According to the Associated Press, 17 journalists in Gaza confirmed their WhatsApp accounts had been blocked since Friday. By midday Monday, only four journalists – working for Al Jazeera – confirmed their accounts had been restored.The incident marks the latest move concerning WhatsApp’s owner Facebook Inc that has left Palestinian users or their allies bewildered as to why they have been targeted by the company, or if indeed they had been singled out for censorship. Twelve of the 17 journalists contacted by the AP said they had been part of a WhatsApp group that disseminates information related to Hamas military operations.” Also See – “WhatsApp Blocks Accounts of Jewish Extremists, Journalists in Gaza” (Haaretz)

Associated Press journalists condemn firing of Emily Wilder over Palestinian advocacy,

“More than 100 journalists at the Associated Press have published an open letter decrying the news agency’s decision to sack a young news associate over social media posts she made that were critical of Israel. Emily Wilder, who was hired by the AP on 3 May, was publicly dismissed by the agency just 16 days later over what it has described as a violation of the company’s social media policy. Wilder, a Jewish American who graduated from Stanford University last year, had been active with anti-occupation movements on campus, including Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine. “

Palestinian BBC journalist tweeted ‘#HitlerWasRight’ in 2014 comment on Gaza war,

“Honest Reporting, an Israeli organization whose mission statement is “promoting fairness and accuracy in media coverage of Israel,” offered a screen capture on Sunday of a tweet by Tala Halawa, whose account on the LinkedIn social network lists her as a “Digital Journalist at BBC Monitoring,” a position she began in 2017. Last week, Halawa was credited on the BBC website for participating in the writing of an article titled “Israel-Gaza violence: The children who have died in the conflict” between Hamas and Israel, which reached a ceasefire on Friday following 11 days of fighting.”

Top Opinion & Commentary

How Israel Lost the Culture War,

“The difference this time was the racial expression of the violence which, intersecting as it did with a larger global conversation about systemic racism, promised a transformational shift. A discussion about race in Israel-Palestine has the potential to gain traction among ayounger generation that tirelessly challenges received wisdom on global issues fromclimate change to economic inequality. Young American Jews are a critical force in theseshifting cultural sands as they struggle to reconcile their progressive views on politics andrace with Israel’s actions, asking: “Why does a safe homeland for us mean the subjugationof another?” As global networks such as Black Lives Matter stand in solidarity with Palestinians, theydraw attention to an underlying and universalizable struggle for racial liberation. This newlicense to interrogate official Israeli talking points has already reformed the vocabulary inthe United States’ conversation about the conflict in striking ways.”

Unfolding Trauma: For Palestinians, the 1948 Nakba Continues to Today,

“Israelis generally avoid the moral questions that come with colonization through a Jewish-centered historical narrative and through limited knowledge of their colonized Palestinian subjects living beyond the Green Line or inside it. Israelis know little about their Palestinian neighbors. As a Palestinian who lived most of her life inside the Green Line, I learned that in the streets and even within academic institutions Israelis did not want to know anything about me or my people. They accept the notion that prior to Nakba the land was without people and now belongs to the people who were without a land. They believe that the scattered inhabitants of the land were Arabs who simply happened to live in that place without any deep connection to it. The Arabs lived along with Jews, to whom the land always belonged.”

After latest round of violence, Biden faces a new Israel-Palestine conflict,

“There will be even greater reluctance in Ramallah, Jerusalem, and Washington now to permit Palestinian elections, and the Biden administration will have to decide how long they want to maintain the charade that Abbas is a legitimate leader of the Palestinian people. If all the United States wants is political theater to divert pressure as it pursues re-entry into the Iran nuclear deal and the long-sought after pivot to Asia, Abbas can fill the token Palestinian role. But if it wants to make some progress and at least lay the foundation for a genuine peace process down the road, it will have to find a way to deal with a Palestinian leadership that has some respect among the Palestinian people. And that will probably mean finding a way to include Hamas in the process…But propping up Abbas and tired cliches about the “right to self-defense” and a two-state solution are going to ring hollow among Democratic voters, and increasingly, among Democrats on the Hill. More and more Democrats have gone from being tired of this issue to being tired of Israel’s aggressive actions. Biden is an excellent reader of political winds and surely knows this. The question is where he will go from here.”

Congratulations on the ceasefire. Now the hard work begins.,

“The violence and suffering of the past two weeks make that work harder, but all the more necessary. Today’s shaky ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is a good thing in itself, but without further diplomacy it will prove just a brief respite from the violence. Now is the time for the U.S. government to put in place other steps, to try to prevent further violence and to lay the necessary foundations for Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the two parties who recognized one another in 1993 as representatives of their respective peoples, to recommit to negotiated compromise and get back to dialogue. Here are some initial steps Washington can take to move this conflict back from the abyss and lay the foundations for dialogue”

Upcoming FMEP Events

[5/26] A Pivotal Moment for Israel-Palestine,

While the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has provided some respite from two weeks of death and destruction, there is no calm. We are seeing a new round of police aggression in Jerusalem and cities in Israel, with the authorities carrying out arrests of hundreds of Palestinians who participated in protests this past month. The attempts to displace Palestinian families in Jerusalem neighborhoods like Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan also continue unabated. But new opportunities have opened up. The Palestinian popular struggle has re-energized between the river and the sea, in a show of unity that could significantly alter the dynamics on the ground. Meanwhile, in the U.S., cracks in the bipartisan consensus, which had long turned a blind eye to Israel’s sustained dispossession of the Palestinians, are rapidly widening. Join us for a conversation that looks at where we go from here, sponsored by +972 Magazine, the Foundation for Middle East Peace, and Just Vision.

[5/27] The US Debate on Israel/Palestine is Changing,

With attention focused on the most recent deadly violence that erupted between Israelis and Palestinians, there seems to be a newfound understanding of the role American foreign policy plays in either sustaining or failing to address the root causes of this continuing conflict. The Biden Administration touted their efforts in securing the resent ceasefire, but ongoing Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories and in Israel, itself, demonstrate that the status quo is untenable. It is also clear the American people are taking note of these policy failures. Join us for a discussion of a new AAI poll of American attitudes toward Israelis and Palestinians that examines issues from the recent conflict and the deepening partisan divide. The poll was conducted the day the ceasefire was announced.fmep