Top News & Analysis on Israel/Palestine: March 8-15, 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

What Comes After the Destruction of Gaza? (Occupied Thoughts podcast) – FMEP Fellow Peter Beinart speaks with writer Ahmed Moor about a range of urgent issues, including how the conversation about post-war Gaza doesn’t include Palestinians, the ethics of not voting for Joe Biden, and in what ways the Palestine solidarity movement can change Washington.

Settlement & Annexation Report: March 15, 2024 (Kristin McCarthy) – 1) Yesh Din Files High Court Petition to Stop Jordan Valley Regional Council; 2) Construction Starts on New Settlement, Ariel West; 3) IDF Demolishes Outpost Near Ofra; 4) Subcommittee Hearing Defends Settler Violence, Points Finger at Human Rights Activists; 5) US Announces New Sanctions on Three Individuals & Two Outposts; 6) Bonus Reads

FMEP Legislative Round-Up: March 15, 2024 (Lara Friedman) – 1. Bills & Resolutions; 2. Letters; 3. AIPAC Congressional Summit 2024; 4. Hearings & Markups; 5. Selected Media & Press releases/statement

  1. Gaza

Gaza war has killed more children than in four years of worldwide conflict: UNRWA (New Arab) – “More children have been reported killed in Israel’s war raging in Gaza than in four years of conflict around the world, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said Tuesday. “Staggering. The number of children reported killed in just over 4 months in #Gaza is higher than the number of children killed in 4 years of wars around the world combined,” Philippe Lazzarini said on X, formerly Twitter. His post referenced United Nations numbers showing that 12,193 children had been killed in conflicts worldwide between 2019 and 2022. It compared that to reports from the health ministry in the Gaza Strip indicating that more than 12,300 children have been killed in the Palestinian territory between last October and the end of February. “This war is a war on children. It is a war on their childhood and their future,” Lazzarini said.” See also My one dream: Put an end to these massacres (Nada Almadhoun//We Are Not Numbers)

Israeli Aid Policies Drive Starvation (Elisheva Goldberg & Maya Rosen//Jewish Currents) – “On March 7th, President Joe Biden announced during his State of the Union address that the United States would establish a temporary, floating sea pier through which to deliver humanitarian supplies to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, an increasing number of whom are starving…in the meantime, the US plans to continue airdropping aid into Gaza, an initiative that it began in early March. But even as such measures are responding to an urgent humanitarian crisis, experts say they are logistical workarounds to a political issue: Israeli policies blocking aid to Gaza…These policies blocking aid are backed by officials at the highest levels of the government. Indeed, senior Israeli officials have suggested that allowing aid into Gaza “is the opposite of the purpose of the war,” which is “to annihilate [Hamas’s] ability to govern.”…In the absence of political pressure on Israel to change its policies, the situation in Gaza is likely to continue worsening as a growing number of Palestinians succumb to starvation and others, desperate for food, loot the few aid trucks that do enter the enclave.” See also Opinion: My family in Gaza faces starvation. How do I find solace this Ramadan? (Laila El-Haddad//LA Times); World Central Kitchen boat starts offloading food to Gaza (WaPo); IDF says 115 tons of food, water were offloaded from World Central Kitchen boat off Gaza coast (Times of Israel); Pentagon taps private firm to facilitate Gaza humanitarian port (Al Monitor) 

‘Massacre’: Israel forces attack crowds waiting for aid in Gaza, killing 21 (Al Jazeera) – “At least 21 Palestinians have been killed after Israeli forces opened fire on thousands of people waiting for aid in Gaza City in the same area that was targeted hours earlier, government officials said…It was the latest in a string of assaults on people desperately in need of food and other essential supplies as Israel continues to obstruct and severely control the entry of aid into the enclave. Earlier on Thursday, at the same food distribution point at the Kuwait Roundabout, Israeli forces had shot dead at least six Palestinians, as the death toll has risen to more than 400 people in such attacks. Witnesses told Al Jazeera that Israeli forces had used helicopters, tanks and drones to target thousands of people waiting on food trucks. The Israeli military denied that its forces had opened fire on the crowds and claimed instead that “armed Palestinians” were responsible for the attack.” See also War on Gaza: Israel has killed over 400 people waiting for aid in Gaza (Middle East Eye); US NGO Worker Killed In Israeli Airstrike (ANERA); Israel acknowledges strike on U.N. facility, says it targeted Hamas commander (WaPo) 

Hamas presents ceasefire proposal detailing exchange of hostages, prisoners (Reuters) – “Hamas has presented a Gaza ceasefire proposal to mediators and the U.S. that includes the release of Israeli hostages in exchange for freedom for Palestinian prisoners, 100 of whom are serving life sentences, according to a proposal seen by Reuters. Hamas said the initial release of Israelis would include women, children, elderly and ill hostages in return for the release of 700-1,000 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, according to the proposal. The release of Israeli “female recruits” is included. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Thursday a new Gaza truce proposal presented by Hamas to mediators was still based on “unrealistic demands”.’ See also New Hamas Gaza truce proposal outlines exchange of captives for prisoners (Al Jazeera); PM says he okayed plans for Rafah op, Hamas demands still ‘absurd’ but talks to go on (Times of Israel) 

Netanyahu maintains IDF will enter Rafah despite international pressure (Times of Israel) – “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday assured soldiers that the military will operate in the Gaza Strip city of Rafah despite international pressure to hold off on such action…The US has previously said Israel must show it has a plan to protect civilians when it launches a ground offensive in Rafah. And US officials told the Politico news site in a Monday report that US President Joe Biden said he would consider placing conditions on future military aid to Israel if its military moves ahead with a planned offensive without an American green light. Israel has said it is working on a plan to protect civilians. Wednesday saw IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari outline the plan’s major points in a public presentation. US officials subsequently relayed to their Israeli counterparts that the Biden administration would support a limited operation in Gaza’s southernmost city that would prioritize “high-value” Hamas targets in and underneath the city instead of a large-scale offensive, Politico reported, citing four US officials. An Israeli official told the outlet that some kind of offensive or operation in Rafah is inevitable.”

With no safety in Rafah, Palestinians are fleeing back to Gaza’s decimated center (Ruwaida Kamal Amer and Ibtisam Mahdi//+972) – “Rafah is nearing breaking point. The small city on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt has swelled in recent months to accommodate approximately 1.5 million Palestinians displaced from all over the besieged Strip. Residing predominantly in hastily erected and poorly insulated tents, and starving from the severe lack of food, every family here has a heart wrenching story of loss and survival. The fear of what’s still to come, though, is overpowering. Rafah was supposed to be a “safe zone,” a haven in which to seek refuge from Israel’s relentless bombardment and ground assault. But this was never really the case: Israel has been bombing Rafah the whole time. Now the airstrikes are intensifying — even targeting the tent encampments — and the Israeli army’s long-threatened invasion of the city appears imminent.” See also Khan Yunis in Rubble: Sat Images Reveal Widespread Destruction, Flattened Buildings in Gaza’s Second-largest City (Haaretz)

  1. River to the Sea

Palestinian President Abbas appoints Mohammed Mustafa as prime minister (Al Jazeera) – “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has appointed his longtime economic adviser Mohammed Mustafa to be the next prime minister in the face of US pressure to reform the Palestinian Authority as part of Washington’s post-war vision for Gaza. Mustafa, a US-educated economist and political independent, now faces the task of forming a new government for the PA, which has limited powers in parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. In a statement announcing the appointment on Thursday, Abbas asked Mustafa to put together plans to re-unify administration in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, lead reforms in the government, security services and economy and fight corruption…Mustafa, 69, has held senior positions at the World Bank and previously served as deputy prime minister and economy minister.” See also Hamas slams Mahmoud Abbas’s ‘unilateral’ designation of new PM (Times of Israel)

Iron bars, electric shocks, dogs and cigarette burns: How Palestinians are tortured in Israeli detention (Middle East Eye) – “Palestinian men detained by Israeli forces since the start of the war in Gaza have told Middle East Eye how they were physically tortured with dogs and electricity, subjected to mock executions, and held in humiliating and degrading conditions…Their accounts of torture and abuse follow similar allegations made by human rights monitors…On Thursday, Haaretz reported that at least 27 detainees from Gaza had died in Israeli military facilities since the start of the war.”

Israeli pressure on Palestinian economy pushes West Bank to the brink (WaPo) – “The signs of economic distress are everywhere in Nablus, a once-bustling hub of Palestinian commerce now paralyzed by Israel’s tightening grip on life and work in the West Bank. School-age children sell candy for change and the upscale hotels and restaurants are closed. Jobless men smoke cigarettes on street corners, while taxis sit idle, their routes out of the city blocked by Israeli troops. “The Palestinian people are used to crises,” said Iyad Kordi, general secretary of the Nablus Chamber of Commerce, but “what I see now, I’ve never witnessed.”…While Israel besieges and pummels Gaza, Palestinians here say it is also waging an economic war in the West Bank. Since the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7, Israel has imposed sweeping restrictions on the Palestinian economy, revoking work permits, hindering free movement and even withholding for months the tax revenue it collects for the Palestinian Authority. The measures, which Israel says were taken for security reasons, have led to massive job losses, unpaid salaries and a steep drop in local production, according to the World Bank.”

Israeli forces launch deadly raids in occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) – “Israeli forces have killed at least four people, including two minors, in raids on multiple locations in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials reported on Wednesday. Israeli forces shot dead a 13-year-old boy, identified as Rami al-Halhuli, in the Shu’fat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday evening. The Israeli Border Police said he had fired fireworks at them…However, witnesses say the slain Palestinian teen had shot the fireworks upwards into the air, not at the Israeli forces, Al Jazeera’s Laura Khan reported from occupied East Jerusalem.”  See also Palestinian boy with firework, 12, shot dead by Israeli border police at east Jerusalem refugee camp (CNN); Israel’s Ben Gvir salutes officer who shot and killed Palestinian child (Middle East Eye)

IDF said to transport Gazan orphans to West Bank via Israel without cabinet’s OK (Times of Israel) – “The Israel Defense Forces reportedly rescued over 70 orphans from the Gaza Strip and facilitated their transport to the West Bank, via the outskirts of Jerusalem, in an unusual operation that started on Sunday and continued into Monday. Far-right ministers were quick to criticize the reported move, as it came during ongoing war with Hamas in Gaza, and while 130 hostages taken during the terror group’s grisly October 7 massacre in southern Israel remain in captivity…The orphans were reportedly accompanied by dozens of adult staff members from the SOS Children’s Village in southern Gaza’s Rafah that was relocating to Bethlehem in the West Bank. The humanitarian gesture was said to have come at the request of the German embassy in Israel.”

With the suspension of Prof. Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Israeli academia is entering the abyss (Academia for Equality) – “On behalf of over eight hundred academics, members of Academia for Equality, we raise an urgent emergency alarm over the decision of the Hebrew University’s administration to suspend Prof. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian from teaching duties due to her statements regarding the current war. Besides the extreme violence being meted out by the Israeli military on the Gaza Strip’s civilian population, other arms of the state are attempting to destroy Israel’s critical civil society and silence the voices of intellectuals opposed to the war and other Israeli policies, especially among the Palestinian citizens of the state…Prof. Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s remarks do not comprise incitement, threat, support for terrorism or racism, or denial of the October 7th massacre. Rather, they represent a critical perspective on Israel’s actions during the current war. As such, the attack on Prof. Shalhoub-Kevorkian represents an overarching phenomenon: the administrations of Israel’s higher education institutions have become pawns in the hands of the far-right government, seeking to intimidate the state’s Palestinian minority and silence any criticism” See also Call to Action: Support academic freedom for Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian (Palestine-Global Mental Health Network

  1. Region/Diplomacy

No evidence from Israel to back UNRWA accusations, says EU humanitarian chief (Reuters) – “The European Union’s top humanitarian aid official said on Thursday he had seen no evidence from Israel to back its accusations against staff from the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), which should continue playing a “critical” role in Gaza…The EU’s executive Commission is a leading UNRWA donor after the United States. It said on March 1 it would pay 50 million euros to the agency, but hold back 32 million euros while it deals with the Israeli allegations.” See also Australia to unfreeze UNRWA funding as Israel attacks Gaza aid seekers (Al Jazeera) 

Hezbollah tells Iran it would fight alone in any war with Israel (Reuters) – “With ally Hamas under attack in Gaza, the head of Iran’s Quds Force visited Beirut in February to discuss the risk posed if Israel next aims at Lebanon’s Hezbollah, an offensive that could severely hurt Tehran’s main regional partner, seven sources said…At the previously unreported meeting, Nasrallah reassured Qaani he didn’t want Iran to get sucked into a war with Israel or the United States and that Hezbollah would fight on its own, all the sources said. “This is our fight,” Nasrallah told Qaani, said one Iranian source with knowledge of the discussions. Calibrated to avoid a major escalation, the skirmishes in Lebanon have nonetheless pushed tens of thousands of people from their homes either side of the border. Israeli strikes have killed more than 200 Hezbollah fighters and some 50 civilians in Lebanon, while attacks from Lebanon into Israel have killed a dozen Israeli soldiers and six civilians.”

Israeli human rights groups accuse country of failing to abide by ICJ’s Gaza aid ruling (Guardian) – “Twelve of Israel’s most prominent human rights organisations have signed an open letter accusing the country of failing to comply with the international court of justice’s (ICJ) provisional ruling that it should facilitate access of humanitarian aid into Gaza…“As members of Israel-based civil society committed to human rights and the rule of law, we condemn the fact that Israel has so far failed to change its behaviour based on the measures imposed by the ICJ, as well as the fact that humanitarian aid to Gaza dropped by 50% in the month following the ruling,” the letter says.” See also ‘When You Come Home, We’re Going to Arrest You’ | South Africa to Arrest Israeli Soldiers Holding Dual Citizenship, Foreign Minister Says (Haaretz)

  1. US Scene

Schumer calls for ‘new election’ in Israel in scathing speech on Netanyahu (WaPo) – “Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for the Israeli government to hold a new election in a speech warning that Israel risks becoming an international “pariah” under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing cabinet. Schumer, the highest-ranking Jewish official in the United States and a staunch ally of Israel, said he thinks Israelis understand “better than anybody that Israel cannot hope to succeed as a pariah opposed by the rest of the world” and would choose better leaders if elections were held…The call, from one of Congress’s strongest supporters of Israel, marks the clearest signal to Israel yet that frustrations over Netanyahu’s handling of the war in Gaza are boiling and could even threaten the future of the close relationship between Israel and the United States.” See also Biden Embraces Schumer’s ‘Good Speech’ Castigating Netanyahu (NYT); Biden Embraces Schumer’s ‘Good Speech’ Castigating Netanyahu (NYT); Schumer’s call for Netanyahu’s ouster meets chilly reception in pro-Israel community (Jewish Insider); Biden hails ‘good speech’ by Schumer criticizing Netanyahu, says most Americans agree (Times of Israel) 

If Israel invades Rafah, Biden will consider conditioning military aid to Israel (Politico) – “President Joe Biden will consider conditioning military aid to Israel if the country moves forward with a large-scale invasion of Rafah, according to four U.S. officials with knowledge of internal administration thinking. Biden’s openness to taking this step reflects the extreme strains in his relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has rejected subtler efforts by the Biden administration to rein in his conduct of the war with Hamas.” See also Bombs, guns, treasure: What Israel wants, the US gives (Responsible Statecraft); Analysis | Biden’s Red Line: Why U.S. Could Be Days Away From Suspending Arms Sales to Israel (Ben Samuels//Haaretz); Scoop: Israel assures U.S. weapons used in Gaza according to international law (Axios); Senators to Biden: Curtail arms to Israel unless Gaza aid expanded (Al Monitor); US senators call on Biden to condition Israel aid on humanitarian access (Al Jazeera)

The Left is Finally Building a Response to AIPAC (Akela Lacy//The Intercept) – “After decades of avoiding direct involvement in electoral politics, the country’s flagship Israel lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, formed a pair of political action committees in recent years and has been spending millions on political races. Its targets have been progressives, with AIPAC becoming heavily involved in Democratic primaries. In addition to recruiting candidates to challenge incumbent Democrats, the group plans to spend at least $100 million on 2024 races…A group of 25 progressive organizations — including Justice Democrats, the Working Families Party, the IfNotNow Movement, and Jewish Voice for Peace Action— launched the Reject AIPAC coalition Monday. The coalition plans to organize against AIPAC across electoral, political, and digital arenas. One facet of the plan calls for a seven-figure electoral spending campaign to defend members of Congress being targeted by AIPAC. In a press release announcing its launch, the coalition said it would work to “organize Democratic voters and elected officials to reject the destructive influence of the Republican megadonor-backed AIPAC on the Democratic primary process and our government’s policy towards Palestine and Israel.”’ See also More than 20 progressive groups form a coalition to counter pro-Israel groups before the election (AP)

AIPAC Talking Points Revealed (American Prospect) – “The Prospect has obtained documents from the conference that preview the PAC’s lobbying blitz on Capitol Hill this week. The documents reveal AIPAC’s legislative strategy and the talking points it will use to support an unconditional $14 billion military funding package that has thus far been held up, among other policy changes. They also include numerous positions on aspects of the U.S. response to the war that have not previously been made public, from abolishing the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to opposing recent restrictions imposed by the Biden administration on Israeli settlers. There is no mention of a two-state solution…The lobbying files promote the familiar though contested line that “Israel does not target civilians.”…But even more controversial is that AIPAC is telling members of Congress that “Israel is not blocking the delivery of aid to Gaza,” and that “reports that people are starving in Gaza are false.” Neither claim is supported by findings of international authorities, nor by recent actions undertaken by the United States government.” See also Netanyahu’s AIPAC speech highlights growing friction with Biden (Jewish Insider)

Biden administration imposes first sanctions on West Bank settlements (WaPo) – “The Biden administration announced sanctions on two West Bank settlements Thursday, marking the first time economic restrictions have ever been placed on entire Israeli outposts in the Palestinian territory. The sanctions were issued because of acts of violence against civilians, the State Department said in a statement announcing the measures. “There is no justification for extremist violence against civilians, whatever their national origin, ethnicity, race, or religion,” the State Department said. The two sanctioned settlements were listed as Moshes Farm, also known as Tirza Valley Farm Outpost, and Zvis Farm. Three Israeli citizens were also individually placed on the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s list of sanctioned entities: Zvi Bar Yosef, 31; Neriya Ben Pazi, 30; and Moshe Sharvit, 29.” See also this thread from Shane Bauer, who wrote about Neria Ben-Pazi and Moshe Sharvit in last week’s The Israeli Settlers Attacking Their Palestinian Neighbors (New Yorker). Bauer notes that “By targeting just a few individuals, the Biden administration is casting the problem as one of fringe extremists, glossing over the well-documented fact that the state of Israel has been relying on violent settlers to expand its territory in the West Bank.” 

Rank-and-file Democrats split over potential Israeli invasion of Rafah (Jewish Insider) – “President Joe Biden over the weekend called a potential Israeli invasion of Rafah “a red line” for the U.S., appearing to harden a previous position that an large-scale operation in the city would be untenable without specific procedures in place to ensure the safety of civilians. Israeli leaders have said that operations inside Rafah will be necessary to eliminate remaining Hamas leaders and infrastructure. Asked whether they agree with Biden that Israel should not invade Rafah, members of Biden’s party appear split…From the party’s left wing, eight Senate progressives said in a letter to Biden on Monday that the Biden administration should deem Israel in violation of U.S. foreign aid laws and suspend offensive military aid if it does not “immediately and dramatically expand humanitarian access and facilitate safe aid deliveries throughout Gaza.”’ See also Jeffries calls for Hamas to be ‘decisively defeated’ in response to Biden’s Rafah ‘red line’ (Jewish Insider)

Family sees double standard in Israel’s detention of US citizen (Al Monitor) – “The family of a Palestinian American woman being tried in an Israeli military court for Facebook posts wants the Biden administration to recognize her detention as wrongful. The Israeli military arrested Louisiana resident Samaher Esmail last month in what rights groups say is part of a broader crackdown on online speech since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. Esmail, 46, spent three weeks in Israeli custody before her release on bail, and is barred from returning to the United States before her trial begins on March 31. Esmail was charged with “incitement” and “support of a hostile organization,” a reference to 10 Facebook posts between October and the end of January, some of which appeared to express support for Hamas using emojis…Most of the posts cited during her initial hearing were made while Esmail was physically present in the United States, where the family’s representatives argue they would not meet the threshold for incitement set by the US Supreme Court in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), which holds that the US government can only curtail inflammatory speech that is likely to incite “imminent lawless action.” A State Department spokesperson declined to say whether Esmail’s situation is under review for possible designation of wrongful detention, which would commit federal resources to her case within the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs…The State Department has never publicly classified a US citizen as wrongfully detained by Israel, its top ally in the Middle East.”

  1. Redefining Antisemitism/Lawfare

The Zone of Interest is about the danger of ignoring atrocities – including in Gaza (Naomi Klein//Guardian) – “Genocide becomes ambient to their lives”: that is how Glazer has described the atmosphere he attempted to capture in his film, in which his characters attend to their daily dramas – sleepless kids, a hard-to-please mother, casual infidelities – in the shadow of smokestacks belching out human remains. It’s not that these people don’t know that an industrial-scale killing machine whirs just beyond their garden wall. They have simply learned to lead contented lives with ambient genocide. It is this that feels most contemporary, most of this terrible moment, about Glazer’s staggering film. More than five months into the daily slaughter in Gaza, and with Israel brazenly ignoring the orders of the international court of justice, and western governments gently scolding Israel while shipping it more arms, genocide is becoming ambient once more – at least for those of us fortunate enough to live on the safe sides of the many walls that carve up our world. We face the risk of it grinding on, becoming the soundtrack of modern life. Not even the main event…Everyone I know who has seen the film can think of little but Gaza. To say this is not to claim a one-to-one equation or comparison with Auschwitz. No two genocides are identical: Gaza is not a factory deliberately designed for mass murder, nor are we close to the scale of the Nazi death toll. But the whole reason the postwar edifice of international humanitarian law was erected was so that we would have the tools to collectively identify patterns before history repeats at scale. And some of the patterns – the wall, the ghetto, the mass killing, the repeatedly stated eliminationist intent, the mass starvation, the pillaging, the joyful dehumanization, and the deliberate humiliation – are repeating. So, too, are the ways that genocide becomes ambient, the way those of us a little further away from the walls can block the images, and tune out the cries, and just … carry on.” See also In Oscars speech, ‘Zone of Interest’ director Jonathan Glazer denounces ‘occupation’ and ‘dehumanization’ in Israel and Gaza (JTA); Jonathan Glazer’s Brave Oscar Speech Represents the Best of Judaism (Dave Zirin//The Nation) 

College Antidiscrimination Suits Over Anti-Israel Speech Aren’t Designed to Win But to Intimidate (Joseph Pace//Common Dreams) – “When you dilate the definition of antisemitism to encompass all censures of Israel, you dilute the power of the antisemitism charge to mobilize people against real manifestations of anti-Jewish hatred. Add to that, when you bully people into silence in the name of “protecting Jews,” you cannot be surprised when antisemitic resentment grows. I’m being descriptive here, not normative: yes, everyone should be able to spot and condemn real antisemitism even if they’ve been cynically accused of it. But cynicism breeds cynicism. Cry wolf enough times and some people will either stop believing wolves exist or they’ll become indifferent to you being mauled by one.” See also Palestine Legal and NYCLU Sue Columbia University Over Student Group Suspension

The Problem with Defining Antisemitism (Eyal Press//New Yorker) – “Since the October 7th Hamas attack and the start of Israel’s war on Gaza, the number of Title VI cases alleging that Jewish students have been subjected to discrimination has risen dramatically. Thirty-three U.S. states and dozens of cities have now adopted or endorsed the I.H.R.A. definition. Many pro-Israel groups see this as an appropriate response to a surge of antisemitism, especially at universities, whose leaders, they claim, have failed to punish students who demonize Israel…Within the Palestine-solidarity movement, there is a widespread belief that defenders of Israel have used the I.H.R.A. definition to censor speech and silence legitimate criticism. What’s unusual about Stern is that he shares this concern despite being a defender of Israel himself. “I’m a Zionist,” he told me when we met recently at his home in Brooklyn, where he lives with his wife, Margie, a rabbi…In “The Conflict Over the Conflict,” [Ken] Stern [who drafted the IHRA definition] describes the organized Jewish community’s promotion of the I.H.R.A. definition as “one of the most significant threats to the campus today, and to Jewish students and faculty.” How did the man who wrote that definition come to regard it as a danger?” See also We won a historic BDS vote at UC Davis, and were demonised and called terrorists (Middle East Eye); 80+ bands pull out of South by Southwest to protest festival’s ties to Israeli military (JTA) 

US Lawmaker Cited NYC Protests in a Defense of Warrantless Spying (Wired) – “A closed-door presentation for House lawmakers late last year portrayed American anti-war protesters as having possible ties to Hamas in an effort to kill privacy reforms to a major US spy program.”

Israel’s Disinformation Apparatus: A Key Weapon in its Arsenal (Tariq Kenney-Shawa//Al Shabaka) – “Propaganda and disinformation produced at industrial scale by official Israeli government and military sources are being legitimized and boosted by a wide network of journalists and open-source intelligence (OSINT) analysts, who have discarded all vestiges of objectivity and analytical rigor in their coverage. Instead of bearing witness to Israeli war crimes and questioning the narratives put forth by a regime engaging in genocide, they have become complicit in them. As a result, Israeli information operations are benefiting from a media network acting not as unbiased reporters, but as enablers of Israeli mass atrocities. This policy brief explores the information warfare tactics Israel has used to influence public perception of its ongoing genocide in Gaza, how these efforts have contributed to the decay of truth, and how they hamper efforts to organize a global response. It also explains how journalists and open-source intelligence analysts have become active enablers of Israeli war crimes by acting as uncritical conduits of Israeli propaganda. Finally, it offers recommendations for reporters, analysts, and the wider public to leverage open-source tools to refute dominant Israeli propaganda and disinformation.”

What’s behind the red pins celebrities wore at the Oscars (NPR) – “Celebrities like Billie Eilish, Ramy Youssef and Mark Ruffalo wore the pins in support of Artists4Ceasefire, a group of advocates and artists that opposes the Israel-Hamas war. “The pin symbolizes collective support for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, the release of all of the hostages and for the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza,” the group said in a statement…Other Oscar attendees who wore the pin include actor Mahershala Ali and director Ava DuVernay…A full list of the more than 400 artists who have signed the letter supporting an immediate cease-fire can be found on Artists4Ceasefire’s website.”

  1. Long Reads/Perspectives

Only Revolutionary Love Can Save Us Now (Michelle Alexander//The Nation) – “2024 just might be the year that changes everything. But the way that things change is ultimately up to us. It can be a time of world war, genocide, the collapse of democracy, and the loss of hope. Or it can be a time of great awakening—when we break our silences and act with greater courage and greater solidarity, a time when the existential threats that we are facing finally lead us to embrace humanity and perhaps even glimpse the spark of divinity that exists within each one of us, and all creation. Something new is in the air. And it’s not just dread. In virtually every community, people are coming together in remarkable ways—learning about each other’s histories of struggle, marching together, co-creating with each other, planting seeds of something new together, making another way possible: a way out of no way. People are casting off old ways of seeing the world and being in the world and recognizing that everything depends on us rising to the challenges of our times, speaking unpopular truths, and acting with courage and with love and with the fierce urgency of now.”

Are we indeed all Palestinians? (Mohammed El-Kurd//Mondoweiss) – “The rallying cry that we are all Palestinians must abandon the metaphor and manifest materially. Meaning, all of us—Palestinians or otherwise—must embody the Palestinian condition, the condition of resistance and refusal, in the lives we lead and the company we keep. Meaning we reject our complicity in this bloodshed and our inertia when confronted with all of that blood. Because Gaza cannot stand alone in sacrifice…Here we are, on different planets, in different realities. Statements that include “should” or “must” run the risk of being disparaging and short-sighted. Yet I cannot help but think that this consequential moment calls on us to raise the ceiling of what is permissible, and demands that we renew our commitment to the truth, to spitting the truth, unflinchingly, unabashedly (and cleverly), no matter in what conference room, no matter in whose face. Because Gaza cannot fight the empire on its own. Or, to use an embittered proverb my grandmother used to mutter at the evening news, “They asked the Pharaoh, ‘Who made you a pharaoh?’ He replied, ‘no one stopped me.’”

Palestinian author describes “terrible denigration of life” in Gaza after visiting the enclave (CNN) – “Palestinian novelist, poet and activist Susan Abulhawa said after visiting Gaza that beyond the “dramatic footage that reaches the West, there is a massive, terrible denigration of life.” She spoke to CNN’s Becky Anderson about what she described as a “dystopia” in Gaza.”

What Was Palestine Before the Nakba? (Mohammed El-Kurd//The Nation) – “A stunning photo archive reveals a time before the walls and checkpoints, when Palestine was not defined by its ailments but by its industries and cultures”