Top News & Analysis on Israel/Palestine: May 10-17, 2024


  1. New from FMEP

  2. Gaza

  3. Region//Global

  4. River to the Sea

  5. U.S. Scene

  6. Activism//Universities

  7. Perspectives//Long Reads


Legislative Round-Up: May 17, 2024 (Lara Friedman)

Settlement & Annexation Report: May 17, 2024 (Kristin McCarthy)


The Latest | UN says over half a million people flee fighting in Gaza; Israel marks Independence Day (AP)

“More than half a million Palestinians have been displaced in recent days by escalating Israeli military operations in Rafah and northern Gaza, the United Nations says…No food has entered the two main border crossings in southern Gaza for the past week. Some 1.1 million Palestinians face catastrophic levels of hunger — on the brink of starvation — according to the United Nations. A “full-blown famine” is taking place in the north. Around 450,000 Palestinians have been driven out of Rafah in Gaza’s south over the past week, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees said Tuesday. Israeli forces are pushing into the city, which they portray as the last Hamas stronghold. In northern Gaza, Israeli evacuation orders have displaced at least 100,000 people so far, U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters Monday. Israeli forces are battling Palestinian militants in areas the military said it had cleared months ago.” See also 600,000 people have fled Rafah, U.N. says, amid Israeli operation in the city (WaPo); Talks over Gaza ceasefire at stalemate after Rafah operation, Qatar PM says (Reuters); US assesses Israel has amassed enough troops to launch full-scale incursion into Rafah, officials say (CNN); Israeli military says 5 soldiers killed by friendly fire in northern Gaza, more troops to join Rafah operation (NBC); U.S. officials see strategic failure in Israel’s Rafah invasion (WaPo)

Israeli defence chief challenges Netanyahu over post-war Gaza plans (Reuters)

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was publicly challenged about post-war plans for the Gaza Strip on Wednesday by his own defence chief, who vowed to oppose any long-term military rule by Israel over the ravaged Palestinian enclave.The televised statement by Defence Minister Yoav Gallant marked the most vocal dissent from within Israel’s top echelon against Netanyahu during a seven-month-old and multi-front conflict that has set off political fissures at home and abroad…While reiterating the Netanyahu government’s goals of defeating Hamas and recovering remaining hostages from the Oct. 7 cross-border rampage by the Islamist faction, Gallant said these must be complemented by laying the groundwork for alternative Palestinian rule. “We must dismantle Hamas’ governing capabilities in Gaza. The key to this goal is military action, and the establishment of a governing alternative in Gaza,” Gallant said.”In the absence of such an alternative, only two negative options remain: Hamas’ rule in Gaza or Israeli military rule in Gaza,” he added, saying he would oppose the latter scenario and urging Netanyahu to formally forswear it.” See also For Netanyahu, Gaza’s ‘day after’ must wait (Ishaan Tharoor//WaPo); Rift in Israel war cabinet as defence chief opposes ‘military rule’ in Gaza (Al Jazeera); What Israel’s strategic corridor in Gaza reveals about its postwar plans (WaPo); Analysis | Defense Chief’s Dire Warning to Netanyahu Exposes a Deep Rift Within Israeli Leadership (Haaretz)

Israeli protesters block aid convoy headed to Gaza (Reuters)

“Israeli protesters blocked aid trucks headed for Gaza on Monday, strewing food packages on the road in the latest in a series of incidents that have come as Israel has pledged to allow uninterrupted humanitarian supplies into the besieged enclave. Four protesters, including a minor, were arrested at the protest, at Tarqumiya checkpoint, west of Hebron in the Israeli occupied West Bank, according to a statement from lawyers representing the protesters. Videos circulated on social media showed protesters throwing supplies from the trucks onto the ground, with the contents of opened cartons lying spilled across the road. “The aid that the State of Israel transfers goes directly into the hands of Hamas,” a statement from the Order 9 group which organised the protests said.” See also West Bank Israeli Settlers Assault, Wound Palestinian Truck Driver, Falsely Assuming He Was Hauling Gaza Aid (Haaretz); Israeli protesters block aid trucks destined for Gaza (BBC); Two Trucks With Humanitarian Aid Bound for Gaza Set on Fire in the West Bank (Haaretz); Gaza: Israel Flouts World Court Orders (Human Rights Watch); Israeli settlers attack aid convoy of 98 trucks heading to Gaza from Jordan (Al Monitor); ‘Barbaric’: Palestinian lorry drivers recount settlers’ attack on Gaza aid convoy (Guardian); Extremist settlers again attack truck and injure driver in W. Bank; wound 3 soldiers (Times of Israel 5/17/24); See also these Al Jazeera interviews with Israeli activist Sapir Sluzker Amran: Israeli lawyer exposes looting of Gaza aid convoy by far-right activists protected by police; Israeli’s tearful plea decrying Gaza aid convoy attacks (Al Jazeera)

UN says it has no more food or tents for nearly 2m people in Gaza (Guardian 5/15/24)

“The UN has run out of tents and food to distribute to almost 2 million people in Gaza, the majority displaced from their homes and dependent on aid to stave off looming famine. UN officials told the Guardian on Wednesday afternoon that their warehouses were now completely empty south of the river dividing the northern third of the Gaza from the south, with no likelihood of resupply as long as the main entry points into the territory remain closed after Israeli offensives launched in recent days…Throughout the seven-month conflict, the WFP and Unrwa have supplied much of Gaza’s population with basic essentials to survive. However, their distribution has depended on a flow of trucks principally through Gaza’s crossing with Egypt at Rafah and the nearby entry point from Israel, at Kerem Shalom. The Rafah crossing remains shut after being seized by Israeli troops last week.” See also In Rafah, People Flee to Nowhere in a Desert of Devastation and Sand (Amira Hass//Haaretz); More than half a million Palestinians flee as Israel escalates Gaza attacks (Al Jazeera); Satellite Images Show Widening Destruction Amid Israeli Push Toward Central Rafah (NYT)

U.S. military begins Gaza aid deliveries from floating pier (WaPo)

“U.S. military personnel began moving aid to Gaza using a makeshift pier afloat off the Palestinian territory’s coastline early Friday, as aid groups warn of famine in Gaza. U.S. Central Command said aid trucks started moving in using a temporary pier, adding that no U.S. troops went ashore to Gaza. It said the effort to deliver supplies through a maritime corridor “will involve aid commodities donated by a number of countries and humanitarian organizations.” See also US installs Gaza floating pier despite aid groups’ security fears (Al Monitor)

As Hamas returns to the north, Israel’s Gaza endgame is nowhere in sight (WaPo)

“It was last December when the Israeli military declared victory in the Jabalya refugee camp, saying it had broken Hamas’s grip on its traditional stronghold in the northern Gaza Strip…Five months later, Israeli forces are back in Jabalya. Ground troops are pushing into the densely packed camp, backed by artillery and airstrikes — one in a string of recent “re-clearing” operations launched by the Israel Defense Forces against Hamas, whose fighters have rapidly regrouped in areas vacated by the IDF. Israel’s fast-moving offensive in Gaza has given way to a grinding battle of attrition, highlighting how far it remains from its chief military aim — the complete dismantling of Hamas. As an adaptable militant organization that has easy access to recruits, an expansive tunnel network and is deeply embedded in the fabric of Gaza, Hamas has shown it can weather a protracted and devastating war.” See also War on Gaza: Palestinian fighters battle Israeli army in Gaza refugee camp on Nakba day (Middle East Eye)

Israel’s return to areas of Gaza it said were clear of Hamas raises doubts about its military strategy (CNN)

“The Israeli military has renewed its fighting in northern Gaza where it previously claimed to have dismantled Hamas’ command structure. But it now says the Palestinian militant group is trying to “reassemble” in the area, raising doubts about whether Israel’s goal to eradicate the group in the enclave is realistic. Israel’s renewed ground operation began on Saturday, with intense shelling and gunfire gripping much of the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza. The Israeli military also began operating in the area of Zeitoun in central Gaza, as it continues its offensive in eastern Rafah and near the Rafah crossing with Egypt. Israel’s return to pockets it had supposedly cleared of Hamas renews questions about its long-term military strategy, which after more than seven months of war has left more than 35,000 Palestinians dead and much of Gaza in ruins – but more than 100 hostages from Israel still in captivity and Hamas’ top leadership still at large.” See also Israel unlikely to achieve ‘total victory’ over Hamas, US official says (Al Monitor); Israel’s ‘total victory’ in Gaza is unlikely, top US official says (Politico)

Did the UN really say Israel has killed fewer people in Gaza? (Al Jazeera)

“Has the UN really said fewer people were killed by Israel in Gaza? No, is the short answer. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) published on May 8 an infographic that referred to a figure of 34,844 total Palestinian deaths. Below that, it said of the deaths: “24,686 identified as of 30 April as: 10,006 men, 4,959 women, 7,797 children, 1,924 elderly”. The graphic used the Gaza Ministry of Health (MoH) figures and included a note that figures were “Not including more than 10,000 reported missing or under the rubble”. The figures for bodies that had been identified were seized on by many media outlets as the UN “revising down” its estimates of the number of women and children Israel had killed in its assault on Gaza. Rather, the UN was publishing the latest information from Gaza’s MoH about its progress in a massive effort to identify the dead…“There’s about another 10,000 plus bodies who still have to be fully identified, and so then the details of those – which of those are children, which of those are women – that will be reestablished once the full identification process is complete,” [UN spokesperson Farhan] Haq said at the UN in New York.” See also UN Says Overall Death Count in Gaza Remains Unchanged After Revising Source of Data (Haaretz); Why news outlets and the U.N. rely on Gaza Health Ministry for death tolls (WaPo)

Gaza: Israelis Attacking Known Aid Worker Locations (Human Rights Watch)

Israeli forces have carried out at least eight strikes on aid workers’ convoys and premises in Gaza since October 2023, even though aid groups had provided their coordinates to the Israeli authorities to ensure their protection, Human Rights Watch said today. Israeli authorities did not issue advance warnings to any of the aid organizations before the strikes, which killed or injured at least 31 aid workers and those with them. More than 250 aid workers have been killed in Gaza since the October 7 assault in Israel, according to the UN.” See also U.N. staff member killed in attack on car marked with U.N. flag in Rafah (WaPo); American Medical Missions Trapped in Gaza, Facing Death by Dehydration as Population Clings to Life (The Intercept); Rafah border closure strands American doctors in Gaza hospital (WaPo)

Gaza’s Unexploded-Bomb Crisis (Isaac Chotiner//New Yorker)

“Late last month, Charles (Mungo) Birch, who oversees the United Nations Mine Action Service (unmas) in the Palestinian territories, issued a warning about the dangers posed by unexploded ordnance in Gaza, especially if and when Gazan civilians return to the enclave’s north. (On Tuesday, the Israeli military entered the southern city of Rafah, after ordering tens of thousands of people to evacuate, and took control of the Rafah border crossing.) Birch said that more unexploded missiles and bombs have fallen in Gaza than anywhere in the world since at least the Second World War.” See also In Gaza, a hidden threat could kill Palestinians even after a cease-fire (NPR)

Health Crisis in Gaza Spirals as New Diseases, Infections Spread (Haaretz)

“As the war in Gaza persists, Palestinians in Gaza are grappling with a proliferation of diseases and infections attributed to a scarcity of food and clean water, as well as overcrowded shelters and nonfunctioning sanitation systems. After more than 220 days of war, those falling ill face severely restricted treatment options…The ongoing outbreaks of diarrheal diseases and hepatitis A, among others, are exacerbated by the poor water and sanitation conditions affecting all residents.” See also Gaza aid gains may be lost as fighting rages in Rafah, the U.S. secretary of state says. (NYT)


South Africa asks U.N. court to order Israel to halt Rafah assault (WaPo)

“South Africa made a searing and impassioned plea Thursday for the International Court of Justice to order Israel to cease all military operations in the Gaza Strip, arguing that its assault on Rafah and closure of key crossings are aimed at destroying “the essential foundations of Palestinian life” there. In a hearing at The Hague’s Peace Palace, South Africa’s legal team asked the ICJ to issue urgent “provisional measures” to stem the violence in Gaza.” See also Israel tells ICJ South Africa’s Gaza allegations ‘totally divorced’ from facts (Times of Israel)

As they throw punches, will Egypt downgrade ties with Israel over Rafah? (Al Monitor)

“Israeli officials are concerned over steps Egypt has recently taken, including its intent to join South Africa’s International Court of Justice case accusing Israel of genocide, and Cairo’s decision earlier this month to halt the entry of humanitarian aid to Gaza as long as Israel controls the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing following Israel’s launching of its Rafah operation. The officials do not believe the 1979 bilateral peace treaty between Egypt and Israel is at risk, but they warn that a continued deterioration of relations could harm regional security and even jeopardize Cairo’s willingness to pursue its mediation efforts toward a deal for a hostage release and cease-fire with Hamas.” See also Egypt announces intention to join South Africa’s lawsuit against Israel in UN’s top court (Times of Israel); South Africa asks U.N. court to order Israel to halt Rafah assault (WaPo); Ireland to recognise Palestinian state by end May, foreign minister says (Reuters); Egypt warns Israel of ‘dire repercussions’ over Rafah operation in Gaza (CNN); srael’s Smotrich will abolish free trade deal with Turkey, slap 100% tariff (Al Monitor)

Palestinian surgeon Ghassan Abu-Sittah’s Schengen-wide travel ban overturned (Middle East Eye)

“Germany’s travel ban against BritishPalestinian doctor Ghassan Abu Sitta has been overturned, according to a leading legal advocacy group in the UK. The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) announced in a social media post on Tuesday that it, along with lawyer Alexander Gorski and the European Legal Support Centre, had successfully challenged the travel ban imposed on Abu Sitta by Germany…On 12 April, Abu Sitta was detained at an airport in Germany and was refused entry into the country. He was travelling there to attend a conference on Palestine that he had received an invitation for. He was then slapped with a Schengen-wide travel ban for one year, which barred him from travelling to 29 countries across Europe.”


The writing was on the wall for Israel’s torture of prisoners (Janan Abdu//+972)

“For months, revelations have emerged about the nightmarish transformation of Israel’s Sde Teiman army base, located near the southern city of Be’er Sheva/Bir al-Saba, into a detention center. Stories of the abuse of Palestinians detained by Israeli forces in Gaza echo the notorious American prisons at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Abu Ghraib in Iraq, and confirm what many suspected: that Israeli security personnel have been engaging in acts of torture against Palestinians detained since October 7. According to Haaretz, as of March, at least 27 detainees from Gaza had died in Israeli military facilities since the beginning of the war, including some at Sde Teiman…In December, photographs emerged of thousands of Palestinians who were arrested by Israeli forces in Gaza, stripped naked and handcuffed, and transported by truck to facilities in Israeli including Sde Teiman (it is worth noting that transporting individuals outside of occupied territory is itself a violation of international law). Some of those who were subsequently released described the horrors they endured: a never-ending series of torture, humiliations, and watching friends die. In the words of one former detainee, it was “a journey to hell and back.” After the shocking images were exposed, Israeli officials admitted that approximately 90 percent of the detainees were civilians unaffiliated with any militant groups…The cumulative effect of these regulations is that a person can be tortured, and even die, without anyone knowing about their detention or the conditions and location of their imprisonment…Also by March, according to the IPS [Israeli Prison Service], the number of Palestinian detainees defined as “security prisoners” reached 9,077, including 3,582 administrative detainees, who are held without charge or trial. Crucially, the Israeli legal code does not explicitly forbid torture. The conditions in detention centers run by the Israel Prison Service reflect much the same spirit of abuse that prevails in military prison facilities: Palestinian detainees regularly report torture, physical and psychological violence, as well as inhumane, humiliating, and extremely cruel conditions of incarceration.” See also Military Court Watch April 2024 Newsletter; A Senior Gazan Doctor Died During Israeli Detention. Officials Refuse to Explain How (Haaretz)

The Unpunished: How Extremists Took Over Israel (NYT)

“After 50 years of failure to stop violence and terrorism against Palestinians by Jewish ultranationalists, lawlessness has become the law. This story is told in three parts. The first documents the unequal system of justice that grew around Jewish settlements in Gaza and the West Bank. The second shows how extremists targeted not only Palestinians but also Israeli officials trying to make peace. The third explores how this movement gained control of the state itself. Taken together, they tell the story of how a radical ideology moved from the fringes to the heart of Israeli political power.” See also ‘Proud to Prevent Arab Takeover’: Israel’s Smotrich Confirms NYT Investigation, Dubs It ‘Blood Libel’ (Haaretz); Israel kills more than 500 Palestinians in the West Bank since October 7 (Al Jazeera); Israeli forces use Palestinian children as human shields in Tulkarem (DCI-Palestine); Palestinian life under Israeli occupation (Al Jazeera); Calls for justice on 2nd anniversary of the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh (New Arab)

‘The fourth generation remembers’: Nakba commemorated in shadow of Gaza war (Baker Zoubi & Ghousoon Bisharat//+972)

“In the shadow of what many Palestinians are describing as a second Nakba in Gaza, around 15,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel participated in the 27th annual March of Return on Tuesday. After gathering in the northern city of Shefa-Amr, participants marched to the site of Hawsha and Al-Kasair, Palestinian villages that were forcibly depopulated during the Nakba of 1948 and subsequently destroyed…In addition to the ongoing assault on Gaza, this year’s march took place under the oppressive weight of an extreme-right Israeli government. Since coming to power a year and a half ago, this government has slashed budgets for Palestinian communities; continued to neglect the spiraling problem of organized crime and violence; and ramped up house demolitions — most recently with the razing of an entire Bedouin village in the Naqab/Negev last week in order to expand a highway.” See also ‘Blood on Your Hands’ | Families Rage Against Netanyahu Gov’t as Israel Marks an Unprecedented Memorial Day (Haaretz)

The View Within Israel Turns Bleak (Megan Stack//NYT)

“Israel has hardened, and the signs of it are in plain view. Dehumanizing language and promises of annihilation from military and political leaders. Polls that found wide support for the policies that have wreaked devastation and starvation in Gaza. Selfies of Israeli soldiers preening proudly in bomb-crushed Palestinian neighborhoods. A crackdown on even mild forms of dissent among Israelis. The Israeli left — the factions that criticize the occupation of Palestinian lands and favor negotiations and peace instead — is now a withered stump of a once-vigorous movement. In recent years, the attitudes of many Israelis toward the “Palestinian problem” have ranged largely from detached fatigue to the hard-line belief that driving Palestinians off their land and into submission is God’s work…If U.S. officials understand the state of Israeli politics, it doesn’t show. Biden administration officials keep talking about a Palestinian state. But the land earmarked for a state has been steadily covered in illegal Israeli settlements, and Israel itself has seldom stood so unabashedly opposed to Palestinian sovereignty…The carnage and cruelty suffered by Israelis on Oct. 7 should have driven home the futility of sealing themselves off from Palestinians while subjecting them to daily humiliations and violence. As long as Palestinians are trapped under violent military occupation, deprived of basic rights and told that they must accept their lot as inherently lower beings, Israelis will live under the threat of uprisings, reprisals and terrorism. There is no wall thick enough to suppress forever a people who have nothing to lose.”



Biden advances $1 billion in arms for Israel amid Rafah tensions (WaPo)

“The Biden administration informally notified congressional committees Tuesday that it planned to move forward with more than $1 billion in weapons deals for Israel, said U.S. officials familiar with the matter, a major transfer of lethal aid that comes a week after the White House paused a single shipment of bombs because of concerns that a planned assault in southern Gaza could cause immense civilian casualties.” See also After More Than 100 Arms Shipments to Israel, Biden Withholds One (Alex Kane//Jewish Currents); House passes bill to force Biden to lift bomb shipment pause to Israel (Al Monitor); Long-anticipated AIPAC blitz against Bowman begins with $2 million, one-week ad buy (Jewish Insider)

Congressional Republicans Launch ‘Fishing Expedition’ Against Progressive, Jewish, and Palestinian Nonprofits (Reason)

“House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R–Ky.)…and House Education Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R–N.C.) are “investigating the sources of funding and financing for groups who are organizing, leading, and participating in pro-Hamas, antisemitic, anti-Israel, and anti-American protests” on college campuses, they announced in a Tuesday letter. “This investigation relates both to malign influence on college campuses and to the national security implications of such influence on faculty and student organizations,” Comer and Foxx wrote…The letter from Foxx and Comer demands that the Department of the Treasury provide all Suspicious Activity Reports, or bulletins on potential tax evasion and money laundering, for 20 different organizations. The list includes Students for Justice in Palestine and its sponsor, the WESPAC Foundation. It also names off-campus Muslim and Palestinian-American groups, Jewish peace movements, and many organizations that are not primarily focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “This is part of a broader effort to demonize parts of the tax-exempt sector that a part of the Republican Party views as a key target in the war on woke,” says Lara Friedman, president of the nonprofit Foundation for Middle East Peace, which has been tracking Congress’ stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “If you make this about supposedly fighting antisemitism, you bring parts of the Democratic Party with you…Friedman, the Foundation for Middle East Peace president, believes that the congressional letter is more likely to have a “chilling effect” on nonprofits than to turn up any real evidence of illegal activity. “It’s partly a fishing expedition,” she says. “And by lodging an accusation, they hope to paint a picture in the mind of the public.”’ See also Lara Friedman’s X Thread and Congressional Round-Up discussion of of this legislation.

Jewish Biden appointee publicly resigns over president’s handling of Israel-Hamas war (Times of Israel)

“A United States Interior Department staffer on Wednesday became the first Jewish political appointee to publicly resign in protest of US support for Israel’s war in Gaza. Lily Greenberg Call, a special assistant to the chief of staff in the Interior Department, accused US President Joe Biden of using Jews to justify US policy in the conflict…She is at least the fifth mid- or senior-level administration staffer to make public their resignation in protest of the Biden administration’s military and diplomatic support of the now seven-month Israel-Hamas war…In an interview with The Associated Press, Call pointed to comments by Biden, including at a White House Hanukkah event where he said, “Were there no Israel, there wouldn’t be a Jew in the world who was safe,” and at an event at Washington’s Holocaust Memorial last week in which he said the October 7 Hamas-led terror attacks that triggered the war were driven by an “ancient desire to wipe out the Jewish people.” “He is making Jews the face of the American war machine. And that is so deeply wrong,” she said, noting that ancestors of hers were killed by “state-sponsored violence.”’ See also Lily Greenberg Call’s resignation letter (on X); Army officer resigns in protest of U.S. support for Israel in Gaza (WaPo); ‘Worse than Iraq’: Three Former Biden Officials Explain Why They Resigned Over War in Gaza (Zeteo); Lily Greenberg Call, Jewish staffer who quit Biden administration over Israel policy: ‘There are so many of us who feel this way’ (Ron Kampeas//JTA)

Anti-Defamation League ramps up lobbying to promote controversial definition of antisemitism (Guardian)

“The Anti-Defamation League has spent record amounts on lobbying in recent years, including on bills opponents say are meant to punish criticism of Israel and target Jewish peace and Palestinian rights groups. The Jewish civil rights organization, founded in 1913, is the self-described “leading anti-hate organization in the world”, and has historically focused on combating antisemitism by shaping public opinion. Its lobbying spike marks a dramatic shift – it spent about $100,000 on lobbying in 2020 and is on pace to spend nearly $1.6m this year based on its first quarter expenditures, a Guardian analysis of federal records finds. The spending positions the ADL as the largest pro-Israel lobbying force on domestic issues. Records show the surge’s broader aim is to promoting a controversial definition of antisemitism across a range of federal agencies and mobilizing the government to enforce it…The ADL also lobbied for a bill supporters say is aimed at pro-Palestinian protesters. It would grant the Internal Revenue Service power to eliminate the non-profit status of groups determined to support terrorism. In late April, during a CNN appearance, the ADL president, Jonathan Greenblatt, likened the student groups to Hezbollah, a US-designated terrorist organization. In its online antisemitism tracker regularly cited by mainstream media, the ADL often attributes “support for terror” to anti-war and ceasefire rallies by Jewish groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace.”

The Biden Administration’s Have-It-Both-Ways Report on Gaza (Isaac Chotiner//New Yorker)

“On Friday, the State Department declared in a new report that Israel’s conduct during the war in Gaza has “raised serious questions” about whether it is “upholding established best practices for mitigating civilian harm.” At the same time, the report did not find sufficient evidence to restrict military aid to Israel, which would be required by U.S. law if American weapons and aid were not being used in accordance with international legal standards. The report is a result of National Security Memorandum 20, which the Biden Administration issued in part in response to criticism from congressional Democrats who have been arguing that Israel’s war is violating international law, and thus should trigger a reassessment of the nearly four billion dollars in annual military aid that the United States gives Israel…One of the main Democratic critics of the Biden Administration’s policy on this issue has been Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen. He and I have previously spoken about Israel’s role in blocking humanitarian assistance, and why the Biden White House was reluctant to put pressure on the Israeli government. We spoke again over the weekend, after the report was released. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed why he thinks the report doesn’t adequately address the way that the war in Gaza has been fought, why the Biden Administration may have been concerned about the consequences of issuing a tougher report, and why the humanitarian situation in Gaza is once again getting worse.” See also Israel “Likely” Used U.S.-Supplied Weapons in Violation of International Law. That’s OK, Though, State Department Says. (The Intercept); U.S. report says it’s ‘reasonable to assess’ that Israel has violated humanitarian law (NPR)

The Right’s Anti-Israel Insurgents (Ben Lorber//Jewish Currents)

“A burgeoning anti-Zionist strain in the America First movement looks to capitalize on popular disaffection over Palestine for its own sinister ends.”



Unmasking counterprotesters who attacked UCLA’s pro-Palestine encampment (CNN)

“Law enforcement stood by for hours as counterprotesters attacked the pro-Palestinian encampment at UCLA on April 30, which erupted into the worst violence stemming from the ongoing college protests around the country over Israel’s war in Gaza. While a criminal investigation is underway into the assaults that occurred at UCLA, the identities of the most aggressive counterprotesters have gone largely unknown. A CNN review of footage, social media posts, and interviews found that some of the most dramatic attacks caught on camera that night were committed by people outside UCLA – not the university students and faculty who were eventually arrested.” See also Medics, physicians recall ‘dystopian’ violence of encampment attack and sweep (Daily Bruin)

Campus protest crackdowns claim to be about antisemitism – but they’re part of a rightwing plan (Arielle Angel//The Guardian)

“The months since 7 October have seen shocking attacks on freedom of expression and assembly on campus. Even before the stunning display of police brutality in recent weeks, campuses have been home to canceled speakers and events, arbitrary disciplinary hearings, and outright censorship…Universities have suspended chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace, in decisions that PEN America has said are “united by a degree of opacity, in that university leaders have not been fully forthcoming in delineating how these student groups broke campus rules, or how the decision to suspend them was reached”. These curtailments of civil liberties, enacted in the service of “protecting Jewish students”, are not now and will not be confined to Palestine-related speech. The recent history of suppression of Palestine activism suggests that tactics employed by legislatures, universities, and other institutions will soon pop up elsewhere. Anti-boycott laws – targeting the non-violent tactic of boycott when applied to the state of Israel – exist in 38 states, under the argument that such boycotts constitute antisemitism. In the past few years, this tactic has spread to protect other causes beloved by the right. Now, several states have laws on the books that prohibit the government from doing business with groups or individuals who are boycotting fossil fuels or the gun industry…The pro-Palestine movement has also provided cover for the right to expand its attack on protest – a project advanced significantly after the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020…In a tactic familiar from the post-9/11 landscape, GOP lawmakers and civil society leaders from groups like the ADL and the Brandeis Center have endeavored to paint student protesters and groups as “terrorists”…Alongside this effort to tar protest as terrorism, the right is seizing on the emotions inflamed by Israel’s war to make headway in a longstanding offensive on education…Though these attacks on academic freedom and free speech on campus have been spearheaded by the right wing, under the guise of “fighting antisemitism”, Democrats are playing along.”

Watching the watchdogs: How US media weaponised campus protests coverage (Rami Khouri//Al Jazeera)

“The mainstream media’s coverage of the campus encampments and the violence against them has exposed it as a central actor in the power elite that sustains Israel’s war and simultaneously tries to silence Palestinians and criminalise anyone who supports them. As I closely followed US media outlets in recent weeks, I was shocked to see reporters, commentators and hosts use the exact same words and phrases that Biden and US and Israeli officials have used to smear the protesters…The mainstream media has widely condemned students and accused them of using “hate speech and hate symbols” (in the words of the US president), endorsing terrorism, advocating for Israel’s destruction, resorting to anti-Semitic slurs and threatening and frightening Jewish students. Everywhere they look in the student protest encampments, the media oracles have seen “terrorists” in training, “anti-Semites” at work, “Jew-haters” being groomed, universities collapsing, and “Nazi mobs” in the making.” See also Frustrated by Gaza Coverage, Student Protesters Turn to Al Jazeera (NYT);

In first for US, California public university agrees to academic boycott of Israel (Times of Israel)

“The president of a public university [Sonoma State University] in Northern California announced Wednesday that was he on leave, less than a day after endorsing an academic boycott of Israel as part of an agreement with pro-Palestinian demonstrators to remove their tent encampment that was fiercely denounced by Jewish groups and lawmakers.” See also After making deals with protesters, universities are granting hearings on Israel divestment (JTA); University Professors are Losing Their Jobs Over “New McCarthyism” On Gaza (The Intercept)


Rain is Coming (Mohammed El-Kurd//Mondoweiss)

“Every year since I started writing, whether in Arabic or English, I have produced various iterations of the same essay or poem on Nakba Day, riddled with the same facts and figures and tired arguments, in hopes that one day such persuasion and schooling would no longer be necessary. The thesis has been consistent: pairing “anniversary” and “Nakba” in the same sentence is a misalliance; the time frame, 76 years, is a miscalculation. The English translation—“Catastrophe”—is reductive, because it wasn’t a sudden natural disaster. Nor is it a tragic relic from the past. The Nakba is an organized and ongoing process of colonization and genocide that neither began nor ended in 1948. The perpetrators have names and the crime scene remains active. And where you cannot see the rubble, know that pine trees have been planted on top of it, to conceal it…In parallel, there is also more to our enemy. Zionism, behind the facade of the impenetrable superpower it purports to be, is more vulnerable today than ever. And I do not say this naïvely: I do not ask that we gloss over our enemy’s capabilities or the power of the empires and mercenaries that back it. Nor do I ask that we trivialize the crushing weight of forty thousand martyrs, or glamorize the men confronting tanks in tracksuits and burden them with more than they can handle…Zionism may remain a formidable opponent, but it is also an aging, trembling beast, blinded by its own significance, unpredictable as it may be. Sometimes it pounces on you and pierces its fangs in your flesh. Sometimes it is but a paper tiger. And it is this discovery that not only shatters the myth of colonial invincibility, but it reminds us that liberation is attainable, the future is within reach.”

I Was Shot in Vermont. What if It Had Been in the West Bank? (Hisham Awartani//NYT)

“I think back to the circumstances in which I was shot with my two friends, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Tahseen Aliahmad, and imagine them instead in the context of the West Bank. A Hisham, Kinnan and Tahseen shot there could have been left to die. Our names would circulate for a day or two in pro-Palestinian circles, but in the end, we would be commemorated only on a poster in the streets of Ramallah, our faces eventually worn down with time like the countless others I’ve walked past in the streets of my home. If that scenario does not stir the same feelings in you as my shooting, if your first instinct when a Palestinian is shot, maimed or left handicapped is to find excuses, then I do not want your support…In class, between Mesopotamian myths and commutative algebra, a few thoughts play on a loop in my mind: How can we come back from so much grief? How could we let this happen? What are we supposed to make of the world when Palestinian deaths are excused by talking points, repeated again and again on the news? I yearn to return to my home, to my olive trees, my cats and my family. I realize, though, that when I cross the King Hussein Bridge from Jordan into the West Bank, I will return to my designation as a potential terrorist. I cease to be a junior at Brown University, a student of archaeology and mathematics, a San Francisco Giants fan, a Balkan history nerd. My entire identity will be reduced to my capacity for violence, not as a human being, but as a Palestinian.”

Opinion | Amid War, We Bereaved Israelis and Palestinians Are Mourning Together (Robi Damelin//Haaretz)

“On this, of all Memorial Days, which begins in Israel on Sunday at sundown and lasts through Monday, how will we remember and honor losses on both “sides”? How does one walk that line sensitively with grief so raw, so fresh? These are questions my friends and colleagues and I have been wrestling with as we prepare for The Joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony, a one-of-its kind event, and a controversial one, in a country where Memorial Day is usually reserved for mourning Israeli loss alone…We are sure that now more than ever our message of nonviolence, reconciliation and ending the war needs to be heard. But, how, we asked ourselves. And where could we give the grieving angry, fearful people from both sides, some hope?” See also Activists Hold a Ceremony Reflecting on Both Israeli and Palestinian Losses (NYT)

A Disturbing New Book About Netanyahu’s Relationship With Hamas (Haaretz)

interview with Adam Raz, author of “The Road to October 7: Benjamin Netanyahu, the Production of the Endless Conflict and Israel’s Moral Degradation”: “Netanyahu, who was on the verge of losing his power, is a genius manipulator. In his speech at 8 P.M. on the evening of October 7, when he said ‘Vengeance for the blood of a small child, Satan has not yet created; we will turn Gaza into ruins,’ he managed to lure Israelis from the center-left. The same people who only a day earlier were protesting against his judicial coup,” Raz says. “The strategic campaign of airstrikes Netanyahu commanded is unprecedented in the 21st century. Yet the people who did it weren’t settlers or the ultra-Orthodox; it was secular, center-left Israelis who serve in the army – educated pilots who bombed Gaza. I wished to explain in the book that it is a well-known conclusion from past wars that airstrikes don’t work. I have interviewed many senior army officers, who told me that there simply was no military strategy in the early bombings of Gaza. It was a strategy of revenge. Not a military praxis but a political praxis.”…”The ‘Dresdenization’ of Gaza is serving Netanyahu. He manages to make the Israeli public, which was eager to avenge the crimes of October 7, a partner in crime. And with the killing of so many civilians, he ensured that Israel would become more and more isolated. The war in Gaza is a continuation of his judicial coup and his attempt to turn Israel into a ‘second-world’ country – from a so-called democratic and liberal society into a state that is not part of democratic societies or international law. For years, he has been weakening Israeli institutions from within, and now he is harming Israel’s standing in the world.”

What Will Happen When the Holocaust No Longer Prevents the World From Seeing Israel as It Is? (Hagai El-Ad//Haaretz)

“In Arendt’s words, what we’re doing to the Palestinians – those who are still in Gaza – is still not rallying the world against Israel. But the world is already permitting itself to think about it aloud. All this still isn’t making us rethink the way we “treat the Arabs.” Instead, we are once again trying to breathe new life into the used hasbara balloon. If in 2019 Netanyahu declared that the investigation at the International Criminal Court is an “antisemitic decree” (that didn’t stop the investigation) and in 2021 he asserted that this was “pure antisemitism” (and that didn’t stop the investigation), then a week ago he started to shout about an “antisemitic hate crime.” We’re approaching the moment, and perhaps it’s already here, when the memory of the Holocaust won’t stop the world from seeing Israel as it is. The moment when the historic crimes committed against our people will stop serving as our Iron Dome, protecting us from being held to account for crimes we are committing in the present against the nation with which we share the historical homeland.”