Top News from Israel & Palestine: July 8, 2019

What We’re Reading

Occupation & Human Rights

Burying the Nakba: How Israel Systematically Hides Evidence of 1948 Expulsion of Arabs,

“The phenomenon was first detected by the Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research. According to a report drawn up by the institute, the operation is being spearheaded by Malmab, the Defense Ministry’s secretive security department (the name is a Hebrew acronym for ‘director of security of the defense establishment’), whose activities and budget are classified. The report asserts that Malmab removed historical documentation illegally and with no authority, and at least in some cases has sealed documents that had previously been cleared for publication by the military censor. Some of the documents that were placed in vaults had already been published.”

Don’t wait for Israeli archives to prove what Palestinians already know,

Amjad Iraqi writes, “…for many Palestinians, the bewildered reactions to these discoveries can be infuriating. They remind us of how thousands of Palestinian testimonies, and decades of Palestinian-led research, struggle to stir so much as a ripple in mainstream discourse about Israel’s history. A few Israeli documents, however, can swiftly rile up a storm. The knowledge of this disparity has been a key reason for Israel’s obstinate archive policy: as one official blatantly told Shezaf, authorities deliberately continue to hide these documents in order to ‘undermine the credibility of studies about the history of the [Palestinian] refugee problem.’ And many still fall for it.”

Using archeology in the service of nationalism,

Chemi Shiff and Yonathan Mizrachi write, “In their quest for a convenient truth, nothing is easier for Friedman and Greenblatt than to overlook the complex historical story of Silwan, the Pilgrimage Road, and the violence this area has suffered due to both Israelis and Palestinians using archaeology as a zero-sum game. Instead of monopolizing a single nationalist narrative, perhaps it would be better for leaders on all sides to create an environment that is inclusive of the many narratives the landscape holds.”

Right-wing group hangs Palestinian flags on West Bank roads, spooking settlers,

“A right-wing organization hung Palestinian flags along highways in the West Bank overnight Saturday in a self-styled ‘secret campaign,’ prompting a flurry of complaints by Jewish residents to police. The goal of the stunt, the Regavim organization said in a statement on Sunday morning, was to alert Israelis that a ‘terror state was around the corner.'”

The man who helped build Israel's legal infrastructure of oppression,

Hagai El-Ad writes, “Collective punishment is prohibited. Harming innocents is prohibited. You do not have to be Aharon Barak to recognize these basic moral principles. You do have to be Aharon Barak to be familiar with Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (‘No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited… Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.’) and then run roughshod over it while successfully passing off your rulings as effective judicial review in a democracy.”

U.S. Politics

Trump Rolls Out the Big Guns for pro-Israel Evangelicals' Confab Ahead of 2020,

. Thousands of evangelical Christians from across the country are expected to attend the event, which will include speeches by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (both evangelicals), as well as by Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, his special envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, and his ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

US House members talk restoring aid to Palestinians with Israeli, PA officials,

“A bipartisan delegation of US House members visited Israel and the West Bank this week, meeting with Palestinian Authority officials about legislative efforts to restore American aid to the Palestinians that the Trump administration slashed. The members of Congress also discussed these efforts with Israeli officials, according to Florida Representative Ted Deutch, a Democrat, who headlined the visit.”

Kushner’s Israel-Palestine Shindig: Easily Forgettable and Rather Important,

Daniel Levy writes, “The Trump administration has not succeeded in creating a new way forward on Palestine and the region. It has however bought into a project in which Israel and certain Gulf parties cooperate not in stabilizing the region, but in goading the White House into doing their bidding on Iran. The preference in Jerusalem and Riyadh is that, rather than come to terms with a necessary balancing of regional interests, including the legitimate interests of Iran, it is better to have America in maximum confrontation with Iran.”

The provocations of Trump’s ambassador to Israel are upturning decades of U.S. diplomacy,

Tracy Wilkinson and Noga Tarnopolsky write, “Friedman, one of Trump’s earliest ambassadorial appointments, has been the prime mover behind a string of new U.S. tactics and positions, helping to engineer the most significant shift in American policy towards Israel and Palestinian Arabs since the establishment of Israel in 1948. In any other American administration, Friedman would be reined in for going rogue. But Friedman’s unprecedented provocations have not only gone unchallenged by his bosses, they’ve been encouraged. And in so doing, the Trump administration has solidified its support for Israel at the expense of Palestinian ambitions and the U.S.’s previous reputation as a largely neutral party, say current and former diplomats.”