Top News from Israel & Palestine: September 6, 2019

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Annexation, & Human Right

Gaza Up Close Podcast,

“Over the course of a 10-month fellowship at Gisha, Shatil Fellow Lital Firestone spoke with residents of Gaza and members of Gisha’s staff about the implications of systematic restrictions on freedom of movement for everyday life in the Strip. The result is Gaza Up Close, a podcast written and produced by Lital Firestone, looking at the ongoing impact of the closure tightened by Israel in 2007 and exploring what needs to change in order for people in Gaza to realize their fundamental right to freedom of movement.”

Focus On: International Aid to Palestine,

“The Trump Administration’s decision to cut aid to the Palestinians and cease USAID operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) must serve as a wake-up call for Palestinian policymakers to lay the Oslo Accords aid model to rest. Neither this model nor the masses of aid funds that have poured into Palestine – more than $35 billion since 1993 – have brought Palestinians closer to freedom, self-determination, or statehood, or provided for sustainable development. In fact, the opposite has been the case: Palestinians are forced to live in an aid-development paradox, with increased amounts of aid associated with major declines in socioeconomic and development indicators. In this selection of pieces, Al-Shabaka policy analysts examine the effectiveness of international aid to Palestine, problematize its consequences and the harmful ramifications of aid dependency, and suggest ways forward to reform and re-invent Palestinian aid. The analysts argue that development cannot be understood as a mere technocratic, apolitical, and neutral process. Rather, it must be recognized as operating within relations of colonial dominance and rearticulated as linked to the struggle for rights, resistance, and emancipation.”

Using the 1929 Massacre to Justify Occupation,

Brian Reeves writes, “The Hebron settlement, like all settlements, is ethically inadmissible because it involves the moving of people beyond Israel’s borders into an area where their own military exercises effective control over a local population and keeps it from acquiring full rights. Settlements are instruments for a sovereignty claim, not merely a collection of people living amid a foreign population. Exploiting one’s military to serve as cover to grab land, while preventing the local population there from acquiring citizenship or a state to call their own, is unequivocally immoral.”

Fighting BDS Isn’t Courageous. It’s Authoritarian.,

Yuli Novak writes, “Political leaders don’t have to agree with the agenda or tactics of the BDS movement. But lending their voices and platforms to jumping onboard with the right-wing campaign against the Palestinians and their struggle is both immoral and a gift to Trump and Netanyahu. And once again, it is the true oppressed group that foots the bill: the Palestinians. Real progressive political leaders should say without fear that the non-violent Palestinian resistance is legitimate and the call for a boycott is a democratic act of protest for a people under oppression. Our leaders must use their political and public power to put an end to the violation of the Palestinians’ human rights instead of attacking those who are struggling for these rights. That would be courage.”

U.S. Politics

Jason Greenblatt, a Designer of Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan, Is Leaving the Administration,

“Mr. Greenblatt will remain on the job “in the coming period,” the Trump official said. The absence of a commitment to stay through the plan’s release is sure to stir doubts about its viability, which many regional experts and officials already doubt will break a decades-long stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians.”

How the Right Has Tried to Rebrand Anti-Semitism,

Mairav Zonszein writes, “In response, the Israeli government and its US supporters have redoubled their efforts to render BDS politically toxic, even criminally punishable. Their strategy is simple: to declare support for BDS intrinsically anti-Semitic because—the claim goes—the movement denies Israel the right to exist as a Jewish state. This rhetorical maneuver suppresses an essential point for many that BDS is not a denial of Israel’s right to exist as such, but an objection to its right to exist as a state that affords rights based on ethnicity (as opposed to a civic nationalism that grants equal rights to all citizens). Israel, as a national homeland for Jews, gives Jews a right to a country, but the military and geopolitical power Israel has amassed since gaining independence has emboldened the state to control as much territory as possible while largely denying Palestinians civil rights inside Israel’s 1948 borders and their right to self-determination in areas occupied after 1967.”

More Palestinians Are Being Blocked from the US Since Trump Took Office,

Mairav Zonszein writes, “Thus far, there has been no smoking gun, no leaks suggesting an official US policy change vis-à-vis Palestinians seeking to come to the United States. The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to several requests for comment. The State Department issued a boilerplate response that ‘Visa records are confidential under U.S. law; therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases.’”

The Federation Rubber-Stamped His Donations. Then He Tried To Give To IfNotNow.,

“At the beginning of this year, like he did every year, Alan Sussman asked the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle to donate some of his family fund’s money to a charity of his choice. This time, though, things went awry That’s because the group Sussman wanted to support was IfNotNow, the left-wing Jewish group that has made its name protesting not only Israel but also American Jewish organizations themselves – including the Seattle Federation.Citing the protests, the federation told Sussman that supporting IfNotNow would go against their policy of ‘build[ing] a cohesive Jewish community.’ The Federation’s refusal to support IfNotNow indicates a definition of cohesion that’s too simplistic, Sussman said.”

Who is the longtime Kushner aide set to replace Trump envoy Jason Greeblatt?,

“Avi Berkowitz, a longtime ally of Jared Kushner and one of his top assistants in Washington, will assume Greenblatt’s role once the Trump envoy officially steps down in the coming weeks, after the release of the peace proposal, the White House said.”

Palestinian Politics

How much are Palestinians paying for 'peace' with Israel?,

“Abdo argued that the Palestinian cause is political and can’t be measured financially. Unless it is resolved, stability won’t be achieved. As soon as people feel economic improvement, he said, they start demanding their legitimate right to eliminate Israel’s occupation. He noted that Palestinians have a right to demand that Israel lift the blockade, and he added that Emadi is not a political figure and overstepped his bounds by implying Palestinians can be permanently appeased by the comfort of money. Abdo said Gazans are silently protesting the Qatari funds.”

Palestinian officials encourage competition among banks,

“Currently, the Bank of Jordan collects the monies through its employees stationed in the ministry’s directorates. The change is designed to resuscitate the Palestinian economy, promote partnership between the private and public sectors, and improve government transparency. ​All 14 licensed Palestinian banks and their branches in Palestinian territories, including Gaza, will participate. Each bank will have the opportunity to offer its own conditions and incentives to attract customers.”