Top News from Israel & Palestine: October 7, 2019

What We’re Reading

Israeli Politics & Elections

Israeli officials wrap up Netanyahu’s pre-indictment hearing,

“Netanyahu is desperate to stay on as prime minister, a post he can use as a pulpit as he tries to fend off any charges. Israeli law requires Cabinet ministers to step down if charged with a crime. But the law is vague for sitting prime ministers, meaning he could theoretically remain in the post if he is indicted, though he would likely face calls to step aside.”

Israel plans to revoke citizenship of BDS movement founder,

“Israel’s Interior Minister said on Sunday that the country planned to revoke the citizenship of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement founder Omar Barghouti. ‘Tonight, I instructed the Population and Immigration Authority to prepare an opinion to cancel residency in Israel by Omar Barghouti, founder of the boycott movement on Israel,’ Aryeh Deri said on Twitter. ‘He is a person who is doing everything to hurt the country, and therefore he cannot enjoy the privilege of being a resident of Israel’.”

The Roots of the Crime Wave in Arab Communities in Israel,

Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu and Thabet Abu Rass write, “Arab citizens are being terrorized by criminals and life in Arab communities has become hellish. It wasn’t always that way, but 19 years ago, after the police gave a chilling demonstration of what it thinks of Arab citizens (reminder: It ended with 13 people dead), Arab society simply expelled them, physically and consciously. The police, for their part, cooperated, preferring to limit to a minimum their involvement with law and order in Arab towns. This under-policing created a terrible vacuum that became fertile ground for crime, which has risen and flourished. Today it’s clear that it’s a disaster.”

‘Like a War Zone’: Five Israeli Arabs Recount Living in Fear Without Police Protection,

“They describe an intolerable reality, ‘like a war’ amid rising violence in Israel’s Arab communities. They tell of their fear about going outside as a result of shootings, and of their moments of despair. But the wave of protests in the Arab community against what they say is the failure by the police to deal with the violence also represents a moment of hope from their standpoint.”

Israel and Gulf states working on ‘historic pact’ to end conflict between them,

“The draft clauses reportedly include commitments to develop ‘friendly relations and cooperation’ in accordance with the UN charter and international law; to prevent hostility or incitement to hostility against each other; and to eschew any military or security alliance with other parties against each other. Among other elements, the TV report said, the draft text specifies cooperation in the fight against terror, and in advancing economic interests.”

How Netanyahu mainstreamed his dark, anti-democratic vision for Israel,

Harry Reis writes, “Throughout these last two rounds of forced elections, Israelis glimpsed an anti-democratic future – one controlled by a narrow immunity-annexationist coalition that would have protected Netanyahu as a man above the law. While Netanyahu failed to emerge with the majority required to enact that dark future, his irregular maneuvers over the course of the past two elections — attacking the judiciary, inviting extremists into his coalition, and undermining voting rights — upended a number of key democratic norms.”

In Israel, ‘politics as usual’ means escalating Palestinian oppression,

“There are many moments in Israeli-Palestinian history where landmark developments seem to change nothing and everything at the same time. Israel’s September election is one of them. While featuring many familiar and predictable patterns, the latest political contest has also exposed novel shifts that could significantly alter the conflict’s dynamics. Three key and interconnected trends that reflect this paradox can be drawn from the election, all of which present crucial strategic questions for the Palestinian struggle in the years ahead.”

Occupation, Annexation, & Human Rights

With or without Netanyahu, West Bank annexation is on Israel’s agenda,

Geoffrey Aronson writes, “Popular support for annexation has been legitimatised and energised by the Trump administration’s decisions to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, to recognise Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights — a formal move that Israel itself has yet to make — and to assert that ‘Israel has right to some but unlikely all’ of the West Bank. These diplomatic developments are conditioned on the success of Israel’s settlement drive and its insatiable appetite for West Bank land. Israelis living outside the borders of the state number more than 700,000. They comprise a significant part of Israel’s electorate whose needs as citizens — from schools to roads and property rights — are ignored by Israeli politicians at their peril.”

Hate Crime Suspected as Vehicles Vandalized, Slogans Sprayed in West Bank Palestinian Village,

“Local council head Aisha Nimr said that the suspects entered the village after 2 A.M., adding that the incident marks the first time a hate crime has been carried out in Qira, signalling a dangerous escalation in the Jewish settlers’ conduct.”

Palestinian Politics

Are Arabs ready to invest in Palestine?,

“Samir Abdullah, former minister of labor and planning in Ramallah and senior researcher at the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute – MAS, told Al-Monitor, ‘The conference is a response to the Bahrain Economic Conference, which was related to the deal of the century. It would bring Arab investments to Palestine, especially with the development of investment-attracting infrastructure for water, electricity and telecommunications facilities. However, the conference — which is held at an inappropriate political time given the deadlock in the Palestinian-Israeli relations and the stalemate in the political negotiations with Israel — is not an appropriate framework to provide financial support to the PA, which is burdened by a severe financial crisis’.”

Palestinian president Abbas says he will discuss new elections with Hamas,

“He [Abbas] said on Sunday that Palestinian leaders had formed committees to ‘communicate with the election commission and factions such as Hamas and all factions, as well as with the Israeli authorities’. He said any elections should take place in ‘the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip’.”

U.S. Politics

Over 100 Jewish scholars condemn Trump admin for exploiting anti-Semitism,

“The open letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, whose signatories include renowned scholar Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky, and artist Molly Crabapple, condemns the Education Department’s recent investigation of the consortium and subsequent ultimatum as “an unfounded and anti-democratic campaign of intimidation” and charges the Education Department with ‘exploiting fears of anti-Semitism’ and ‘using Jews and our concerns over anti-Semitism to try and justify repressive policies.’ The letter also denounces the ‘shocking Islamophobia running throughout’ the Education Department’s letter announcing the investigation’s findings.”

US Ambassador Friedman at Evangelical rally: ‘Jerusalem literally keeps us safe,

“Addressing a rally of pro-Israel Evangelicals, Friedman hailed the recently inaugurated Pilgrimage Road, a new archaeological site in Jerusalem’s City of David, which lies underneath the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, as a ‘once in a century discovery’ that proved beyond any doubt the existence of the Jewish Temple in the city.”

How the Trump regime is cracking down on US academic freedom,

“Students and academics have also noted that the official criticism of the conference continues a decades-long concerted national attack on all teaching about Palestine, led by another Trump nominee, Kenneth Marcus, the assistant secretary for civil rights in the US Department of Education.  Marcus is often referred to as an ‘anti-BDS crusader’ who is ‘in effect weaponizing Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin in federal fund-assisted organizations, ie universities’. In an earlier, co-authored article, I wrote that like other Trump appointees, ‘Marcus seeks to undermine the very rights he is charged with protecting’.”