Top News & Analysis on Israel/Palestine March 15-22, 2024


1. New from FMEP
2. Gaza
3. River to the Sea
4. Region/Diplomacy
5. US Scene
6. Redefining Antisemitism/Lawfare
7. Long Reads/Perspectives

New from FMEP

Rania Batrice & Ryan Grim on the Urgency & Need for Independent Journalism — FMEP Fellow Rania Batrice speaks with journalist Ryan Grim about the limitations of mainstream media’s reporting on Israel’s war on Gaza and the opportunities and potential for independent journalism focused on Israel & Palestine more broadly. Addressing the high stakes of U.S. politics, they also speak about repression against advocates for Palestinian life and rights and the upcoming US elections.

FMEP Legislative Round-Up: March 22, 2024 (Lara Friedman) – 1. Bills, Resolutions; 2. Letters; 3. UNRWA; 4. Hearings & Markups; 5. Selected Media & Press releases/Statements

  1. Gaza

    GAZA STRIP: Hostilities leave the entire population highly food insecure and at risk of Famine (Integrated Food Security Phase Classification) – “Hostilities, including bombardment, ground operations and besiegement of the entire population have caused catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity across the Gaza Strip. Around 85 percent of the population (1.9 million people) is displaced and currently concentrated into an increasingly smaller geographic area. There is a risk of Famine and it is increasing each day that the current situation of intense hostilities and restricted humanitarian access persists or worsens. The intensification of the hostilities, further reduction in access to food, basic services, and lifesaving assistance, and the extreme concentration or isolation of people in inadequate shelters or areas without basic services are major factors that contribute to increasing this risk. Between 24 November and 7 December, over 90 percent of the population in the Gaza Strip (about 2.08 million people) was estimated to face high levels of acute food insecurity, classified in IPC Phase 3 or above (Crisis or worse). Among these, over 40 percent of the population (939,000 people) were in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and over 15 percent (378,000 people) were in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). Between 8 December 2023 and 7 February 2024, the entire population in the Gaza Strip (about 2.2 million people) is classified in IPC Phase 3 or above (Crisis or worse). This is the highest share of people facing high levels of acute food insecurity that the IPC initiative has ever classified for any given area or country. Among these, about 50 percent of the population (1.17 million people) is in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and at least one in four households (more than half a million people) is facing catastrophic conditions (IPC Phase 5, Catastrophe). These are characterized by households experiencing an extreme lack of food, starvation, and exhaustion of coping capacities. Even though the levels of acute malnutrition and non-trauma related mortality might not have yet crossed famine thresholds, these are typically the outcomes of prolonged and extreme food consumption gaps. The increased nutritional vulnerability of children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly is a particular source of concern.” See also Catastrophic levels of hunger’ in Gaza mean famine is imminent, says aid coalition (The Guardian); Is Gaza heading into famine? How experts define that grim term. (WaPo); Israel asks ICJ not to order new measures over looming famine in Gaza (Al Jazeera); ‘Man-made famine’ charge against Israel is backed by mounting body of evidence (Guardian); 

    UN says Israeli restrictions on Gaza food aid may constitute a war crime (The Guardian) – “Israeli restrictions on the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza may amount to the war crime of deliberate starvation, the UN has said, as the White House called for unimpeded access for aid to the coastal strip…The UN high commissioner for human rights, Volker Turk, said Israeli restrictions on the entry of aid may amount to “starvation as a method of war”. His comments follow the UN secretary general on Monday describing the food shortages as “entirely man-made” and an Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report, the international standard for measuring food crises, warning of imminent famine in the territory’s north.” See also ‘Armchair humanitarianism’: The problem with Gaza’s maritime aid corridor (Samer Badawi//+972); With Aid Waiting Just Beyond Their Reach, Malnutrition Among Gaza’s Children Keeps Spreading (Amira Hass/Haaretz)

    Over 13,000 children killed by Israel in Gaza war: UNICEF (New Arab) – “UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said on Sunday over 13,000 children have been killed in Gaza in Israel’s offensive, adding many kids were suffering from severe malnutrition and did not “even have the energy to cry,” in an interview with CBS News.” See also The Children Who Lost Limbs in Gaza (New Yorker); ‘We scream, starve, and die alone’: Life in the ruins of Shuja’iya (Mahmoud Mushtaha//+972)

    US and UK doctors in Washington to warn of IDF’s ‘appalling atrocities’ in Gaza (Guardian) – “A delegation of American and British doctors is in Washington DC to tell the Biden administration the Israeli military is systematically destroying Gaza’s health infrastructure in order to drive Palestinians out of their homes….Professor Nick Maynard, the former director for cancer services at Oxford University who worked at the al-Aqsa hospital in central Gaza at the beginning of the year, accused the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) of “appalling atrocities”. “The IDF are systematically targeting healthcare facilities, healthcare personnel and really dismantling the whole healthcare system,” he said. “It’s not just about targeting the buildings, it’s about systematically destroying the infrastructure of the hospitals. Destroying the oxygen tanks at the al-Shifa hospital, deliberately destroying the CT scanners and making it much more difficult to rebuild that infrastructure. If it was just targeting Hamas militants, why are they deliberately destroying the infrastructure of these institutions?”’ See also Facts and Falsehoods: Israel’s Attacks Against Gaza’s Hospitals (Think Global Health); Back From Gaza Hospitals, Doctors Tell Washington of Horrors Amid Cease-Fire Push (NYT)

    Israeli military says it killed 90 gunmen at Gaza’s Al Shifa hospital (Reuters) – “Israel’s military said on Wednesday it had killed around 90 gunmen and arrested 160 in a raid on Gaza’s Al Shifa hospital, an allegation the Islamist Hamas group denied. Al Shifa, the Gaza Strip’s biggest hospital before the war, is now one of the few healthcare facilities even partially operational in the north of the territory, and had also been housing displaced civilians…Ismail Al-Thawabta, director of Gaza’s Hamas-run government media office, said all of those killed had been wounded patients and displaced persons inside the hospital.” See also War on Gaza: Israeli forces destroy al-Shifa surgical building and order evacuation (Middle East Eye) 

    Israel kills Hamas’ Faiq al-Mabhouh as US confirms Marwan Issa’s death (Al Monitor) – “Hamas said on Monday that Israel killed one of its senior officials in Gaza while later in the day a US official confirmed the death of the deputy head of the group’s military wing, Marwan Issa. Hamas said that Faiq al-Mabhouh, the director of central operations for police in Gaza, was killed by Israeli forces at the Al-Shifa hospital. He was working to secure the arrival of aid to Gaza at the time of his death, according to a Hamas statement published by the affiliated Palestinian Information Center…The Israel Defense Forces said in a post on X earlier that it “eliminated” Mabhouh, saying he was hiding in a compound at the Al-Shifa hospital. The IDF described Mabhouh as head of the operation directorate for Hamas’ internal security and said he “operated and advanced terrorist activity” from the compound. Israel carried out a major raid at Al-Shifa, located in Gaza City, on Monday, targeting Hamas leaders. Later on Monday, US national security advisor Jake Sullivan said that Hamas leader Marwan Issa was killed in Gaza last week. “Hamas’ number three, Marwan Issa, was killed in an Israeli operation last week. The rest of the leaders are hiding, likely deep in the Hamas tunnel network. And justice will come for them, too,” Sullivan told reporters.”

    Netanyahu says ‘no way’ to eliminate Hamas without Rafah operation (WaPo) – “In remarks to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Netanyahu acknowledged the pressure — including from Washington — which he said Israel is “rejecting in order to achieve the goals of the war.” His comments, which were released by his office, came a day after he spoke by phone with President Biden, who summoned an Israeli team to Washington for consultation over the assault. They were a signal of the growing chasm between the United States and Israel over its handling of the war in Gaza, which has left more than 31,800 Palestinians dead, according to the Gaza Health Ministry…Netanyahu said that he “made it as clear as possible” to Biden that there is “no way” to eliminate remaining Hamas battalions in Rafah “without a ground incursion.” “We see no way to eliminate Hamas militarily without destroying these remaining battalions. We are determined to do this,” he said.” See also Israel’s Gallant preps arms wish list for US as Netanyahu threatens to ‘do it alone’ in Rafah (Al Monitor); US top diplomat holds talks in Israel as Netanyahu vows Rafah invasion (Al Jazeera); PM tells Blinken Rafah op is inevitable; secretary warns him Israel risks isolation

    How Israel’s Proposed Buffer Zone Reshapes the Gaza Strip (WSJ) – “Israeli forces are carving through farmland and demolishing Palestinian homes and schools in the Gaza Strip to create a buffer zone alongside the enclave’s border with Israel. Israeli officials say the exclusion zone—from which Palestinians would be barred—is a critical security measure in their plan to demilitarize Gaza and assure Israelis that they can return safely to the towns and communities near the border that were evacuated after the Oct. 7 attack that left about 1,200 people dead, according to Israeli authorities. The plans, sketched out by Israeli officials since the first days of the war, would leave a no man’s land more than half a mile wide where Israeli troops would be able to see and stop anyone approaching the border…If fully realized, the buffer zone would reduce the area of the 25-mile-long enclave by 16%, according to Adi Ben Nun, a Hebrew University geography professor who analyzes Israel’s security steps. The Biden administration is opposed to the plan and has warned against any proposal that would threaten the territorial integrity of the Gaza Strip, which at around 140 square miles is about the size of Philadelphia.”

Thousands of Gazans have gone missing. No one is accounting for them. (WaPo) – “Many disappeared under the rubble after airstrikes. Others are believed to have been detained at Israeli checkpoints while fleeing south or trying to return to the north. Some simply left one day and never came back. Their desperate families search hospitals and contact hotlines set up by International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). They scour photos of bodies in the streets and of blindfolded men detained by Israeli forces. They share pictures of relatives online, pleading for leads. From October through February, the ICRC received reports of 5,118 Palestinians missing in Gaza. The Washington Post interviewed 15 people who lost contact with friends and family in Gaza since Oct. 7 — in only two cases were they able to find them. The most painful part, many said, was being in the dark about their fate.”

Israeli Influence Operation Targets U.S. Lawmakers on Hamas-UNRWA (Haaretz) – “For the first time since the war in Gaza began, social media researchers have discovered an Israeli influence operation active across a number of platforms using hundreds of fake accounts to advance what was termed “Israeli interests” online among young Western audiences, in English. The campaign, discovered by an Israeli online watchdog, is not pushing out disinformation but rather focuses on un-organically amplifying claims and reports regarding the involvement of UNRWA workers in the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, and its targets include U.S. lawmakers.” See also Pro-Israel online influencing operation has been targeting UNRWA: Report (Al Jazeera)

  1. River to the Sea

The Brutal Conditions Facing Palestinian Prisoners (New Yorker) – “As part of that campaign, Israel has also detained thousands of Palestinians from Gaza; prisoners who have been released have described extensive physical abuse from Israeli forces, and, already, at least twenty-seven detainees from Gaza have died in military custody. At the same time, Israeli forces have arrested thousands more Palestinians, mostly from the West Bank, at least ten of whom have reportedly died in Israel prisons.” See also More than 7,350 West Bank Palestinians arrested by Israel during Gaza war (Al Jazeera); Jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti beaten by guards (MEMO); Palestinian detainee dies in Israeli prison after medical negligence, torture: report (MEMO) 

For 1st Time in 50 Years | Israel No Longer Considered Liberal Democracy; Global Index Cites Judicial Coup (Haaretz) – “As a result of the Israeli government’s judicial overhaul and repeated attacks by ministers on the country’s justice system, Israel has been downgraded from a “liberal democracy” to an “electoral democracy” by one of the world’s most important indices for assessing the nature of a country’s governmental system. For the last 50 years, Israel has been in the highest tier of the rankings, but as of this year’s downgrade, Israel is now on an equal status with countries like Poland and Brazil. V-Dem is a leading international database for measuring the type of democracy found in over 200 countries. The database classifies countries into four categories: Closed autocracies, electoral autocracies, electoral democracies, and liberal democracies…The category of Electoral Democracy, to which Israel has now been added, means that the right to vote is preserved, but not the commitment to equality, minority rights, freedom of expression or the rule of law.

Israeli forces kill 10 Palestinians in West Bank in 24 hours, WAFA news agency says (Reuters) – “Israeli forces killed three Palestinians in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, increasing to 10 the number of Palestinians killed in the territory over 24 hours, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.” See also Dec. 2023: Israel continued its lethal open-fire policy in the West Bank, killing 62 Palestinians, over half of them endangering no one (B’Tselem); Eight Israelis Wounded Following West Bank Shooting, IDF Kills Terrorist (Haaretz)

Between Exclusion and Exploitation (Jewish Currents) – “In the aftermath of October 7th, far-right politicians like Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir have insisted that Israel must permanently remove the over 200,000 Palestinian laborers, including those without permits, who work inside Israel and the occupied West Bank. These far-right leaders have positioned Palestinian workers as an unmanageable security threat, and given the significant power within Israel, their approach has largely carried the day, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refusing to bring the workers’ return to a vote in the Security Cabinet. Instead, Netanyahu’s government has resolved to replace Palestinian workers with a massive proposed influx of migrant laborers from countries like India and Sri Lanka, even though it will cost Israeli employers up to three times more to employ such workers. But a contingent of senior officials associated with the military and intelligence service have vocally opposed this policy, insisting on readmitting the banned workers—not out of concern for Palestinians’ livelihoods, but because leaving almost a quarter million Palestinians unemployed and desperate is seen as jeopardizing Israel’s own security…This ongoing tension between elected leaders and the military establishment continues Israel’s longstanding oscillation over whether allowing Palestinian workers in, or forcing them out, is more beneficial to the occupation.”

Record year for Israeli settlements with new approval for Jordan Valley units (Middle East Eye) – Israel has seized 800 hectares of land in the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, Israeli media said on Friday, in what has been a record year for illegal settlement construction. The seizure was overseen by far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and will allow for the construction of more units on the Yafit settlement…In recent weeks, both the United Nations and Peace Now said that Israel is expanding illegal settlements by a record amount.” See also The first step toward disintegrating Israel’s settler machine (Ori Kol//+972)

The grandmother who wants to lead Israelis back to a Gaza without Palestinians (CNN) – “[Daniella] Weiss said 500 families have already signed up to resettle through her organization Nachala, whose name means “inheritance.” One of Nachala’s members told the group they were sending a representative to Florida to raise money for the cause.  Nachala already receives support from groups in the US, including Americans for a Safe Israel, even as the Biden administration strengthens its opposition to settlements in the West Bank…Weiss was blunt in her wishes for Gaza when CNN interviewed her at her home in the West Bank settlement of  Kedumim, where she was once mayor. “No Arab, I’m speaking about more than two million Arabs. They will not stay there,” Weiss said. “We Jews will be in Gaza.”’

Israel has a new kind of wartime visitor, evangelical ‘voluntourists’ (CSM) – “Evangelicals have been among Israel’s fiercest foreign supporters for years, particularly in the United States, where their significant political influence has helped shape the Israel policy of recent Republican administrations. They believe Israel is key to an end-times prophecy that will bring about the return of the Christian Messiah. Many of these Christians support Israel due to Old Testament writings that Jews are God’s chosen people and that Israel is their rightful homeland…Israel’s Tourism Ministry estimates around one-third to half of the approximately 3,000 daily visitors expected to arrive in March are part of faith-based volunteer trips. Before the fighting, around 15,000 visitors arrived in Israel per day, about half of whom were Christian, according to Tourism Ministry statistics…In the U.S., support for Israel has become a top priority for evangelical Christians during a presidential election year. They are among the most outspoken backers of Israel’s handling of the conflict, and Republicans have faced pressure to hew not just to traditional Republican support for Israel but to beliefs rooted in the Bible.”

120,000 Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa as 2nd Friday Ramadan prayers pass peacefully (Times of Israel) – “Some 120,000 people attended the second Friday prayers of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa-Mosque on the Temple Mount, which ended peacefully and without any disturbances, police and religious authorities said. The Islamic Waqf, which administers the mosque compound, estimated that around 120,000 people took part in the prayers, up from an estimated 80,000 last week. Police in a statement said that they had deployed thousands of officers in Jerusalem’s Old City and around the Temple Mount to ensure that the event passed peacefully. Police did not give a specific number, saying only that “tens of thousands took part.”’

  1. Region/Diplomacy

Russia, China veto US-backed UN resolution on Gaza cease-fire (Al Monitor) – “Russia and China used their veto power at the UN Security Council on Friday to block a resolution drafted by the United States calling for an “immediate cease-fire” to allow more aid into the Gaza Strip. The resolution marked a tougher stance from the United States, which has used its veto at the Security Council several times since Oct. 7 to block resolutions calling for a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel.” See also US calls for immediate Gaza ceasefire and hostage deal in draft UN resolution (Guardian); UK, Australia call for ‘immediate’ end to fighting in Gaza (Al Jazeera) 

Mossad, CIA chiefs to return to Qatar to continue Gaza talks (Al Monitor) – “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has authorized Mossad chief David Barnea to travel to Qatar Friday and meet with CIA chief William Burns, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel to advance the hostage-release deal, according to Netanyahu’s office.”

Canada to halt arms sales to Israel after non-binding vote in house of commons (The Guardian) – Canada will halt future arms sales to Israel following a non-binding vote in the house of commons. The foreign affairs minister, Mélanie Joly, told the Toronto Star her government would halt future arms shipments. “It is a real thing,” she said on Tuesday…The motion – which passed 204-117 with the support of Liberals, Bloc Québécois and the Green party – also called on Canada to work “towards the establishment of the state of Palestine”.” See also Israel concerned that other countries will follow Canada’s lead on arms sale ban (Jewish Insider)

  1. US Scene

Netanyahu addresses Senate Republicans days after Schumer calls for his ouster (Guardian) – “The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, virtually addressed Republican senators in Washington on Wednesday, days after the chamber’s majority leader, the Democrat Chuck Schumer, called him an impediment to peace in an unsparing floor speech.” See also Johnson Says He Will Invite Netanyahu to Address Congress (NYT); Republican House speaker courts Netanyahu amid partisan split on Gaza (Al Monitor); Schumer’s call for Netanyahu’s ouster meets chilly reception in pro-Israel community (Jewish Insider); Bibi hits back at Schumer in talk with GOP senators (Axios); Schumer suggests he’s open to a Congressional speech by Netanyahu (Jewish Insider) 

Biden Administration Split on Suspending Arms Sales to Israel Ahead of Deadline on Sunday (Haaretz) – “The U.S. government is facing a deep internal rift on whether to certify Israel’s commitment to fully facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, U.S. officials say. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who will be visiting Israel on Friday, has until Sunday to approve Israel’s stance, which was delivered earlier this week to the U.S. ambassador in Israel, Jack Lew – or the United States will immediately suspend weapons transfers to its close ally. Amid congressional pressure last month, President Joe Biden issued a national security memorandum requiring recipients of U.S. military assistance to commit to abide by international law while using U.S. weapons. Such beneficiaries would also have to pledge to facilitate and not obstruct the delivery of humanitarian aid. Arms sales would be suspended if Israel failed to provide a written commitment on time.” See also Dozens of former U.S. officials urge Biden to take harder line with Israel (Reuters); Senate Democrats press Biden to establish two-state solution for Israel, Palestine (The Hill); 25 Groups Demand Biden ‘Urgently Comply With US Law’ and End Israel Arms Sales (Common Dreams) 

Jews and Muslims in U.S. disagree on Israel’s conduct in Gaza, poll finds (WaPo) – “A survey by the Pew Research Center published Thursday shows how Americans are split — particularly along religious lines — over Israel’s conduct in Gaza and the reasons for the war itself. The poll is among the most comprehensive yet of how Americans’ opinions on the conflict differ depending on religious affiliations. The poll found 38 percent of U.S. adults said they think Israel’s conduct has been acceptable, and slightly more than 34 percent said it has been unacceptable…The difference in opinion over Israel’s conduct is starker along religious lines, with 62 percent of American Jews saying Israel’s war conduct is acceptable and 5 percent of American Muslims saying so, according to the survey, which polled 12,693 adults in the United States last month.” See also Majority in U.S. Say Israel Has Valid Reasons for Fighting; Fewer Say the Same About Hamas (Pew)

The Great Rupture in American Jewish Life (Peter Beinart//NYT) – “The emerging rupture between American liberalism and American Zionism constitutes the greatest transformation in American Jewish politics in half a century…For many decades, American Jews have built our political identity on a contradiction: Pursue equal citizenship here; defend group supremacy there. Now here and there are converging. In the years to come, we will have to choose.” See also Prominent progressive Jewish donors urge Biden to end ‘unconditional’ Israel support (Times of Israel); Top US rabbi says Gaza’s plight, distrust of PM make Israel-support harder for US Jews (Times of Israel); A Statement From Jewish Americans Opposing AIPAC (The Nation)

Trump: Any Jew who votes for Democrats ‘hates their religion’ (Ron Kampeas//JTA) – “Any Jewish person that votes for Democrats hates their religion, they hate everything about Israel, and they should be ashamed of themselves because Israel will be destroyed,” the former president said Monday in an interview with Sebastian Gorka, a far-right commentator who once worked as an adviser in the Trump White House.”

Jared Kushner says Gaza’s ‘waterfront property could be very valuable’ (The Guardian) – “Jared Kushner has praised the “very valuable” potential of Gaza’s “waterfront property” and suggested Israel should remove civilians while it “cleans up” the strip…Kushner also said he thinks Israel should move civilians from Gaza to the Negev desert in southern Israel. He said that if he were in charge of Israel his number one priority would be getting civilians out of the southern city of Rafah, and that “with diplomacy” it could be possible to get them into Egypt.”

  1. Activism/Redefining Antisemitism/Lawfare

The New Movement for Palestine (Hadas Thier//Hammer & Hope) – “The Americans stirred to speak out against Israel’s actions in Gaza are not only young members of the left wing. The movement is made up of young people and students as well as elders, union workers, clergy, and others. Palestine solidarity protests are occurring not only in big cities but also in rural and suburban areas. At least 5,425 protests in support of Palestine took place in every state in the country from Oct 7. to Feb. 29, according to the Crowd Counting Consortium (CCC). In the 45 percent of those protests for which CCC was able to obtain information about crowd size, more than one million people participated. Global outrage over Israel’s aerial bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza has produced a broad-based mass movement of the sort this country hasn’t witnessed since the racial justice actions of 2020, and has never before witnessed on the question of Palestine…It’s not just the number or frequency of protests but also their character that is notable. They have included more regions, demographics, and tactics than ever before. We’ve seen mass marches, hunger strikes, and the occupations of dozens of bridges and public spaces alongside hundreds of smaller actions.”

More than 20 Student Groups Protested. A Lawsuit Asks Why Columbia Only Suspended Two. (The Intercept) – “On Tuesday, the New York Civil Liberties Union and Palestine Legal filed a lawsuit against Columbia University, “for the unlawful suspension of its chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) for engaging in peaceful protest.” The groups seek reinstatement and a declaration that the school violated state law in carrying out the suspensions. The suit — brought on behalf of the SJP and JVP chapters, as well as one Palestinian and one Jewish student — notes that the November 9 protest was “sponsored by a coalition comprised of over 20 groups,” and that nevertheless, the “two groups were given no notice of the planned suspensions and no opportunity to respond to the charges or to contest them. None of the other groups involved in the event faced disciplinary action.”…The suit notes that [Senior Executive Vice President Gerald] Rosberg told SJP and JVP in a November 30 meeting — also attended by other administrators, university senators, and faculty members — that they had not been suspended for a violation of the university code of conduct. According to the students, he did not specify what exactly accounted for the decision, or why it was conducted in such a public manner. “When pressed to specify which of the student groups’ actions constituted ‘threatening rhetoric and intimidation,’ VP Rosberg proffered that protestors’ accusations that Israel was ‘a racist state committing genocide’ and ‘is an apartheid state’ could upset some people and ‘seem … like an incitement of violence,’” the suit reads.” Columbia declined to comment on the pending litigation. The university still has an open investigation into a January protest on campus where pro-Palestinian students were attacked with chemicals. Students maintained to The Intercept that the university had disregarded their complaints about the attack at the protest.”

A ‘no-go zone’ for Jews? The making of a moral panic in London (Ben Reiff//+972) – “If you were a non-Jewish person living in the United Kingdom and didn’t know any better, you might think Jews are currently deserting London en masse. That’s certainly the impression you’d get from reading any of the major newspapers this past week…There has undoubtedly been a significant rise in antisemitism in the U.K. over the past five months, catalyzed by Hamas’ October 7 assault and Israel’s ongoing military offensive in Gaza…But this narrative of London becoming a “no-go zone” for Jews has been deliberately constructed and inflamed. Rather than stemming from concern for Jewish safety, it is being driven by a political agenda: to delegitimize and curtail the mass demonstrations in support of a ceasefire in Gaza that have filled the streets of central London on a near-weekly basis over the past five months.”

The spiraling absurdity of Germany’s pro-Israel fanaticism (Michael Sappir//+972) – “After years in which Germany has increasingly narrowed the space for Palestine solidarity, the state’s intense clampdown on freedom of expression in the wake of Hamas’ October 7 attack and Israel’s ensuing assault on the Gaza Strip will have surprised few observers. Still, the frenzy surrounding the country’s prestigious Berlinale international film festival in late February took the absurdity of Germany’s fanatical pro-Israelism to new levels.”

Tony Kushner Speaks Out In Support Of Jonathan Glazer, Calls Oscar Speech An “Unimpeachable, Irrefutable Statement” (Deadline) – “Speaking about protests in the U.S. and their impacts, Tony, Emmy and Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Kushner expressed surprise at what he called “the blowback after Jonathan Glazer’s really sort of unimpeachable, irrefutable statement at the Oscars…“What [Glazer’s] saying is so, is so simple,” maintained Kushner. “He’s saying Jewishness, Jewish identity, Jewish history, the history of the Holocaust, the history of Jewish suffering must not be used in a campaign as an excuse for a project of dehumanizing or slaughtering other people. This is a misappropriation of what it means to be a Jew, what the Holocaust meant, and he rejects that.” He continued, “Who doesn’t agree with that? What kind of person thinks that what’s going on now in Gaza is acceptable? If you find yourself saying out loud and in public, ‘It’s fine with me, what they’re doing,” because you feel that it’s your only choice as a Jew is to defend everything Israel does, shame on you.”’ See also Amy Sherman-Palladino, Eli Roth among 1,200+ Jewish creatives rejecting Jonathan Glazer’s Oscars speech (JTA) 

Naomi Klein, Hisham Matar, Maaza Mengiste and More Have Withdrawn From the PEN World Voices Festival (LitHub) – “Naomi Klein, Michelle Alexander, Hisham Matar, Isabella Hammad, Maaza Mengiste, Zaina Arafat, and Susan Muaddi Darraj are among the writers who have signed a damning open letter to PEN America in which they announce their decision not to participate in this year’s PEN World Voices Festival due to the organization’s inadequate response to the unfolding genocide in Gaza. “In the context of Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza,” the letter reads, “we believe that PEN America has betrayed the organization’s professed commitment to peace and equality for all, and to freedom and security for writers everywhere.” The letter goes on to detail the various ways in which PEN America has failed Palestinian writers and journalists—as well as their allies in the United States—since the beginning of Israel’s war on Gaza, and take the organization to task for declining “to join other leading human rights organizations and United Nations officials in the demands for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire.”

  1. Long Reads/Perspectives

War on Gaza: How Israel’s leftists quickly lost their compassion for Palestinians (Orly Noy//Middle East Eye) – “The Hamas attack of 7 October and the war that Israel launched thereafter introduced a new conceptual category of persons to the Hebrew-Israeli vocabulary: the “disillusioned” – meaning, the folks who have now “sobered up”. These people insist that, until 7 October, they were humanistic seekers of peace for whom the Hamas attack changed everything: in its wake, they moulted their former selves and now passionately supported the genocide that Israel was perpetrating in Gaza…The concept that the most the subject can aspire to is the master’s recognition of his being human, a recognition that can be withheld as easily as it was given if the subject “disappoints”, is the hallmark of the colonial situation.In this situation, the master deems himself so superior to the subject that the latter should be thankful for every moment in which the master’s grip on his throat remains loose, while any resistance to the ever-present threat of a chokehold is tantamount to ingratitude.”

Words Over Deeds: Why Biden Isn’t Pressuring Israel (Aaron David Miller/NYT) – “As the war enters its sixth month, Mr. Biden finds himself in an investment trap that’s difficult to escape. He is increasingly frustrated and angry with Mr. Netanyahu. And yet he’s still in love with Israel. How to stand up to the first without damaging the second is proving to be an excruciatingly difficult challenge for a president whose regard for Israel runs deep in his emotional and political DNA and whose re-election campaign may depend upon which way he turns.” See also President Biden, You Have Leverage That Can Save Lives in Gaza. Please Use It. (Nicholas Kristof//NYT)

The Suppressed Lineage of American Jewish Dissent on Zionism (Emma Saltzberg//Jewish Currents) – “In the months since October 7th, the United States has seen its largest-ever mobilization of Jewish pro-Palestine activism: Membership in IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace has surged, and both groups have staged frequent acts of civil disobedience in cities across the country to protest Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza. In response, the mainstream American Jewish community, which has largely consolidated around support for Israel’s war, has sought to cast these non- and anti-Zionist activists as operating outside the American Jewish communal tent. Yet historian Geoffrey Levin’s new book, Our Palestine Question: Israel and American Jewish Dissent, 1948-1978, shows that American Jewish concern for Palestinian rights and critique of Zionism have a long history that has been thoroughly suppressed. The book follows a cast of characters often excluded from accounts of American Jewish history—including a staffer at the American Jewish Committee (AJC), a firebrand Jewish journalist, a Palestinian Syrian diplomat, and a crusading anti-Zionist rabbi—who tried to push American Jews to acknowledge Zionism’s impact on Palestinians. Levin, assistant professor of Middle Eastern and Jewish studies at Emory University, documents how the official American Jewish position on Zionism remained contested in the decades immediately following Israel’s founding, and how challenges to unqualified support for Israel emerged from both the community’s outer edges and the center of the establishment. Ultimately, mainstream Jewish organizations, responding in part to lobbying by the Israeli government, marginalized these critical voices. I spoke with Levin about some of those embattled figures, the geopolitical dimensions of the contest for American Jewish public opinion in the 1950s, and why American Jewish elites were once uncomfortable with Jewish nationalism.”

The Children Who Lost Limbs in Gaza (New Yorker) – “Unicef estimates that a thousand children in Gaza have become amputees since the conflict began in October. “This is the biggest cohort of pediatric amputees in history,” Ghassan Abu-Sittah, a London-based plastic-and-reconstructive surgeon who specializes in pediatric trauma, told me recently. The number of child amputees carries long-term implications, Abu-Sittah told me, listing his concerns. Israeli forces destroyed Gaza’s only facility for manufacturing prosthetics and rehabilitation, the Hamad hospital, which was inaugurated in 2019 and funded by Qatar. The leading manufacturer of child prosthetics, the German company Ottobock, is working to supply the necessary components to children up to the age of sixteen, with donors in place to fund the project through its foundation. Procuring prosthetics, however, is only the first step. “Child amputees need medical care every six months as they grow,” Abu-Sittah said. Because bone grows faster than soft tissue and severed nerves often reattach painfully to skin, child amputees require ongoing surgical interventions. In his experience, each limb requires eight to twelve more surgeries. To track this cohort, Abu-Sittah is consulting with the Centre for Blast Injury Studies at Imperial College London and the Global Health Institute at the American University of Beirut; their goal is to create a cloud-based database of medical records that can follow these kids wherever they go. For the rest of their lives, these amputees will need answers regarding their medical history.”

The Israeli public is dispirited. So why is the right euphoric? (Meron Rapport//+972) — “In fact, since October 7, elements of the Israeli right have been exuding an excitement that borders on outright euphoria. The most prominent example, of course, is the dance party that took place during the Gaza resettlement conference in January, which was attended by 11 cabinet ministers, 15 other members of the governing coalition, and thousands of enthusiastic participants. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich claimed that the accusations that they danced while soldiers’ blood was spilled in Gaza are “outrageous.” Yet it’s hard to deny that many on the right see everything that has happened since October 7 through the lens of biblical redemption…The groundwork for this worldview had been built well before October 7. According to Dr. Avi-Ram Tzoreff, an author and a research fellow at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, the Israeli right has long “bestowed sanctity upon militarism,” perceiving military power as almost religiously “redemptive.” Thus, the national consensus that the war in Gaza must end with the “elimination of Hamas,” and that such a war could last for months or even years, is seen by the right as a clear victory for its long-term political agenda….Yet for all the Israeli right’s successes these last few months, it has failed miserably in one key respect: to sweep the Jewish-Israeli public into the same sense of messianic euphoria. Indeed, the mood of the vast majority of the Jewish public ranges from deep depression to prolonged despondency…Public admission of the war’s futility, they fear, may undermine the fragile mental balance that many Jews built for themselves after October 7 — the illusion that, through military might, they are regaining control of their destiny after that dark day in October.”