Top News & Analysis on Israel/Palestine: May 3-10, 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 


FMEP Legislative Round-Up: May 10, 2024 (Lara Friedman)

  1. Bills, Resolutions; 2. Congress Continues to Stoke Hysteria Over Student Protests for Palestinian Rights; 3. Letters; 4. Hearings & Markups; 5. Selected Media & Press releases/Statements

Settlement & Annexation Report: May 10, 2024 (Kristin McCarthy)

1.Israeli High Court Order Investigation into Unauthorized Construction Financed by Settler Regional Council; 2. Smotrich Threatens to Defy Netanyahu and Start Settlement Construction; 3. Gallant Calls for Establishment of a New Settlement East of Ariel; 4. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Returning Palestinians to Khirbet Zanouta; 5. IDF Demolishes “Threatening” Palestinian Building Following Regavim Petition; 6. Yesh Din Wins Case After Citing International Sanctions on Settler; 7. Israel Tracks 1.9% Rise in Settler Population Over Last Year; 8. Bonus Reads



‘The scenes of the Nakba are repeating’: Rafah in panic as Israeli invasion begins (Ruwaida Kamal Amer and Mahmoud Mushtaha//+972)

“Israel’s long-threatened invasion of Rafah has begun. Under cover of intense aerial bombardment Tuesday morning, Israeli forces moved into Gaza’s southernmost city, which has become a shelter for 1.5 million Palestinians with nowhere else to go. This is the moment they most feared, carrying the potential for a catastrophe greater than anything we’ve seen so far. Gazans counted on the world to stop this invasion, and the world let them down. Residents of Rafah have long been in a state of panic in anticipation of this eventuality. That panic intensified Monday morning, when the Israeli army dropped leaflets from the sky ordering those living in Rafah’s eastern districts to immediately flee to the ill-equipped coastal area of Al-Mawasi. Within hours, tens of thousands packed up what remains of their lives — many of them for the third, fourth, or fifth time since October — and headed northwest to what Israel is calling an “expanded safe zone.” But if Palestinians have learned anything from the past seven months, it is that nowhere in Gaza is ever safe from Israel’s onslaught.” See also from Al Jazeera: Israel’s war on Gaza live: Palestinians evacuate eastern Rafah ahead of expected Israeli assault; Border closure means injured Palestinians can’t leave Gaza; See also U.N. says roads ‘jammed’ as more than 110,000 flee Rafah; cease-fire talks stall (WaPo); Number of Palestinians fleeing Rafah rises above 150,000 amid Israeli strikes (Guardian)

Israeli war cabinet votes to expand Rafah operation area, amid growing U.S. concerns (Axios)

“Amid growing U.S. concerns about the humanitarian situation in Rafah, the Israeli security cabinet approved last night the “expansion of the area of ​​operation” of the Israel Defense Forces in the southern Gaza city, according to three sources with knowledge of the details. The big picture: President Biden said this week said if Israel invades Rafah, where more than one million displaced Palestinians are sheltering, the U.S. will stop supplying it with artillery shells, bombs for fighter jets and other offensive weapons…The Israeli cabinet decision comes as concern grows in the Biden administration about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Rafah area since Israel took control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing earlier this week, two U.S. officials said…One of the main shortages in Gaza is fuel — almost none has entered Gaza since May 7, according to one U.S. official.” See also Four IDF soldiers killed as battles rage across Gaza; tanks said to advance into Rafah (Times of Israel); Israel’s war on Gaza live: Troops met with Hamas fire in Rafah operations (Al Jazeera); Biden says US won’t supply weapons for Israel to attack Rafah, in warning to ally (AP);

Netanyahu says Israel can ‘stand alone’ after Biden threatens arms halt (WaPo)

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that Israel was strong enough to fight alone as the United States warned that it could cut military aid to the country. “If we have to stand alone, we will stand alone,” Netanyahu said in a video message Thursday for Israel’s Independence Day. Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the IDF’s spokesman, added Thursday that the IDF had the “necessary weapons” for its planned operations, “including in Rafah.” Their remarks came after President Biden threatened to halt shipment of U.S. offensive weapons to Israel if the country moves ahead with its long-planned ground invasion of Rafah in the Gaza Strip.” See also ‘Fight with our fingernails’: Israel’s Netanyahu defies US weapons warning (Al Jazeera); U.S. pauses shipment of thousands of bombs to Israel amid Rafah rift (WaPo); Israeli troops seize Rafah border crossing, imperiling Gaza aid (WaPo)

Blast wounds, burns and disease: Rafah’s spiraling health-care crisis (WaPo)

“Rafah’s threadbare health network is collapsing when people there need it most. The city’s largest hospital was shuttered two days ago, in a panic, after Israel ordered 100,000 Palestinians in southeastern Gaza to evacuate. Small clinics that accommodated hundreds of people a week closed as well, with staff members forced to flee the violence. Bodies lay where they fell, in the “red zone” that the few ambulances available could not reach because of Israeli bombardment, a Palestinian Red Crescent spokeswoman said Tuesday. Border crossings remained closed Thursday, stranding critically ill patients waiting to be evacuated to Egypt and preventing international doctors and badly needed medical supplies from getting in. Israel’s military operations in Rafah this week have overwhelmed health-care workers, who were already struggling to treat displaced Palestinians suffering from malnourishment, explosive injuries and an array of diseases, which doctors say are spreading rapidly through the city’s filthy and overcrowded tent camps. Children were most at risk, as they have been throughout seven months of war. Thousands of infants in southern Gaza are acutely malnourished, and nearly all children under 5 in the area are suffering from “one or more infectious diseases,” according to UNICEF. Israel has called its operations “limited.” Doctors said it was nothing of the sort, as munitions fell on an area smaller than the Istanbul Airport complex, packed with more than a million people.” See also Patients and medics flee major Rafah hospital (Reuters);Hospitals in south Gaza will run out of fuel in three days, WHO warns (Al Jazeera)

CIA director, Israel and Hamas leave Egypt talks with no deal reached (Al Monitor)

“Both the Israeli and the Hamas delegations as well as CIA director Bill Burns left Cairo on Thursday with no deal reached on a cease-fire or hostage release, hours after US President Joe Biden threatened to stop weapons shipments to Israel if it invades Rafah…The departures come as another indication that a deal is not close. On Monday, Hamas said it accepted a proposal for a six-week cease-fire, the release of 33 hostages both alive and dead and an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Israel would free 30 Palestinian prisoners for each female civilian hostage released. Israel rejected those terms, including Hamas’ insistence that it choose which Palestinian prisoners are released from Israeli jails without an Israeli veto. Israel had made it clear before the first deal was struck last November that all living hostages must be released before the return of bodies. Israeli authorities confirmed Tuesday that at least 38 of the 132 hostages still held in Gaza are no longer alive.” See also Gaza ceasefire talks end with no deal as Israel ramps up Rafah attacks (Al Jazeera);

Parts of Gaza Are in Famine, World Food Program Chief Says (NYT)

“The director of the World Food Program, Cindy McCain, says that parts of the Gaza Strip are experiencing a “full-blown famine” that is rapidly spreading throughout the territory after almost seven months of war. Ms. McCain is the second high-profile American leading a U.S. government or U.N. aid effort who has said that there is famine in northern Gaza, although her remarks do not constitute an official declaration, which is a complex bureaucratic process. “There is famine — full-blown famine in the north, and it’s moving its way south,” Ms. McCain said in excerpts released on Friday of an interview with “Meet the Press.”…The first American official to say there was famine in Gaza during the conflict was Samantha Power, the director of the U.S. Agency for International Development, who made her remarks in congressional testimony last month.” See also Israel, Gaza and the Law on Starvation in War (NYT); How Much Aid Is Actually Reaching Gazans? (Isaac Chotiner interviews Arif Husain, the chief economist of the United Nations World Food Programme//New Yorker); Far-right Israeli Protesters Block Aid Trucks Bound for Gaza (Haaretz)

Reports mount of mass graves at Gaza hospitals, some bodies found ‘without heads’ (The Hill)

“A third mass grave was discovered Wednesday at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Gaza’s media office announced, including some containing bodies without heads, raising concerns of potential war crimes after Israeli military sieges on the territory’s hospitals.The new discovery raises the total to seven mass grave sites between three Gaza hospitals, containing the bodies of about 520 men, women and children…The United Nations called for an investigation late last month after the first mass graves were discovered at Al-Shifa, Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis and Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza.The mass graves contained some people stripped naked with their hands tied, further raising concerns over potential war crimes, the U.N. said, describing the bodies as “buried deep in the ground and covered with waste.”’ See also UN denounces ‘onslaught of violence against women’ by Israel, notes mass graves in Gaza (Politico); War on Gaza: Baby saved from dying mother’s womb killed by Israeli strike on Rafah (Middle East Eye)

Artificial Genocidal Intelligence: how Israel is automating human rights abuses and war crimes (Access Now)

“As recent media investigations have uncovered, Israeli AI targeting systems “Lavender” and “The Gospel” are automating mass slaughter and destruction across the Gaza Strip. This is the apotheosis of many AI rights-abusing trends, such as biometric surveillance systems and predictive policing tools, that we have previously warned against. The AI-enhanced warfare in Gaza demonstrates the urgent need for governments to ban uses of technologies that are incompatible with human rights — in times of peace as well as war…Israel’s use of AI in warfare is not new. For decades, Israel has used the Gaza Strip as a testing ground for new technologies and weaponry, which it subsequently sells to other states. Its 11-day military bombardment of Gaza in May 2021 was even dubbed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) the “first artificial intelligence war.” In the current assault on Gaza, we’ve seen Israel use three broad categories of AI tools: 1. Lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) and semi-autonomous weapons (semi-LAWS): The Israeli army has pioneered the use of remote-controlled quadcopters equipped with machine guns and missiles to surveil, terrorize, and kill civilians sheltering in tents, schools, hospitals, and residential areas…2. Facial recognition systems and biometric surveillance: Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza was an opportunity to expand its biometric surveillance of Palestinians, already deployed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem…3.Automated target generation systems: most notably the Gospel, which generates infrastructural targets, Lavender, which generates individual human targets, and Where is Daddy?, a system designed to track and target suspected militants when they are at home with their families.”

Israel shuts down Al Jazeera’s operations, raids Jerusalem office (WaPo)

“Israel’s government moved Sunday to shut down the Al Jazeera Media Network’s operations in Israel, clamping down on one of the few international broadcasters providing largely uninterrupted coverage of the Gaza war. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the decision followed a unanimous vote by Israel’s war cabinet, posting on X that “the incitement channel Al Jazeera will be closed in Israel.” In a separate statement, he accused Al Jazeera correspondents of having “harmed the security of Israel” and said “the time has come to eject Hamas’s mouthpiece from our country.” Israel’s actions placed it in the company of several autocratic countries in the region that have tried to stifle the network — which has attracted praise and controversy since it was founded nearly 30 years ago and helped reshape the media landscape in the Arab world…On Sunday afternoon, several uniformed and plainclothes Israeli officers were seen by a Washington Post reporter entering one of Al Jazeera’s offices in a hotel in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The officers carted out camera equipment, cases and cardboard boxes as a group of photographers looked on.”


General Assembly votes to grant Palestine more UN rights short of membership (Al Monitor)

“The UN General Assembly voted Friday to grant Palestine additional privileges at the United Nations and called on the Security Council to reconsider its request for full membership following the US veto last month. The resolution was adopted with 143 votes in favor, 9 against and 25 abstentions.  As expected, the United States voted against the Palestinian bid…Palestine is currently a non-member observer state, the same status held by the Vatican. It can’t vote in the General Assembly but can participate in UN bodies such as the International Criminal Court.” See also Belgium endorses Palestine’s UN bid, Spain and Ireland may follow (Al Monitor); Australia supports revised UN resolution on Palestinian membership (Guardian)

Who are Israel’s main weapons suppliers and who has halted exports? (Reuters)

“Washington has suspended a shipment of heavy, bunker-busting bombs to Israel, weapons Israeli forces have used in their war against Hamas militants that has killed nearly 35,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. President Joe Biden also publicly warned Israel for the first time, in a CNN interview on May 8 that the U.S. would withhold arms supplies if Israeli forces carry out a threatened assault on the Gaza city of Rafah, given this could endanger the lives of hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians there. The U.S. has long been by far the largest arms supplier to its closest Middle East ally, followed by Germany – whose strong support for Israel reflects in part atonement for the Nazi Holocaust – and Italy. Two countries, Canada and the Netherlands, have halted arms shipments to Israel this year over concern they could be used in ways violating international humanitarian law – causing civilian casualties and destruction of residential areas – in Gaza…Following are some details of Israel’s weapons suppliers.”

Israel: US Arms Used in Strike that Killed Lebanon Aid Workers (Human Rights Watch)

“An Israeli strike on an emergency and relief center in south Lebanon on March 27, 2024, was an unlawful attack on civilians that failed to take all necessary precautions, Human Rights Watch said today. If the attack on civilians was carried out intentionally or recklessly, it should be investigated as an apparent war crime. The strike, using a US-made Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) guidance kit and an Israeli-made 500-pound (about 230 kilograms) general purpose bomb, killed seven emergency and relief volunteers from the town of Habbarieh, five kilometers north of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.” See also Over 30 Rockets Fired From Lebanon at Northern Israel; 14 Rockets Fired From Rafah, Central Gaza (Haaretz)


Israeli Demonstrators Torch UNRWA East Jerusalem Compound; ‘Extensive’ Damage Reported (Haaretz)

“Israeli right-wing extremists shouted anti-UN slogans as children ignited a brush fire along the perimeter of the UN Refugee Agency (UNRWA) headquarters in Jerusalem, prompting its commissioner-general to shut down the compound. The arson attack caused “extensive damage to the outdoor areas,” according to UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini, but no one was hurt…Police officials say that the ones suspected of setting the fires are children who are probably below the age of criminal responsibility, and that the investigation is ongoing. Lazzarini wrote on his X account on Thursday, “In light of this second appalling incident in less than a week, I have taken the decision to close down our compound until proper security is restored.”’See also UN agency closes East Jerusalem HQ after arson attack by ‘Israeli extremists’ (Guardian)

Israel razes entire Bedouin village to expand a highway (Oren Ziv//+972)

“On the morning of May 8, Israeli forces razed the entire Bedouin village of Wadi al-Khalil in the Naqab/Negev desert. The demolitions, which were carried out in order to expand the Route 6 highway, left more than 300 residents homeless. Wadi al-Khalil is one of 35 Bedouin villages in the Naqab whose existence the Israeli authorities do not officially recognize; as a result, the villages, which are home to around 150,000 Bedouin Arab citizens of Israel, face the constant threat of demolition. Many of the villages are decades old — some even pre-date Israel’s establishment — but they are prevented from connecting to state infrastructure including water and electricity, and their residents are denied municipal services. According to the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Bedouin Villages, Wednesday’s demolition was the largest in the Naqab for 14 years. It comes as Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir vows to crack down on what he calls “lawbreakers” and restore meshilut — literally “governance,” a euphemism for Jewish-Israeli control — to the area. Eight other unrecognized villages are currently under threat of forced eviction under the guise of urban development.” See also Negev: Israel carries out largest demolition of Palestinian homes in years (Middle East Eye)

Strapped down, blindfolded, held in diapers: Israeli whistleblowers detail abuse of Palestinians in shadowy detention center (CNN)

“CNN spoke to three Israeli whistleblowers who worked at the Sde Teiman desert camp, which holds Palestinians detained during Israel’s invasion of Gaza…They paint a picture of a facility where doctors sometimes amputated prisoners’ limbs due to injuries sustained from constant handcuffing; of medical procedures sometimes performed by underqualified medics earning it a reputation for being “a paradise for interns”; and where the air is filled with the smell of neglected wounds left to rot. According to the accounts, the facility some 18 miles from the Gaza frontier is split into two parts: enclosures where around 70 Palestinian detainees from Gaza are placed under extreme physical restraint, and a field hospital where wounded detainees are strapped to their beds, wearing diapers and fed through straws. “They stripped them down of anything that resembles human beings,” said one whistleblower, who worked as a medic at the facility’s field hospital…Reports of abuse at Sde Teiman have already surfaced in Israeli and Arab media after an outcry from Israeli and Palestinian rights groups over conditions there. But this rare testimony from Israelis working at the facility sheds further light on Israel’s conduct as it wages war in Gaza, with fresh allegations of mistreatment. It also casts more doubt on the Israeli government’s repeated assertions that it acts in accordance with accepted international practices and law.”

Israeli Academia, Police Wage War on Palestinian Students and Faculty (Adalah)

“Since the beginning of the war, Israeli universities and colleges initiated a severe crackdown on the freedom of expression rights of Palestinian students seeking to suspend or even expel them for their posts on social media platforms. Adalah has represented 95 Palestinian students from 34 Israeli academic institutions in disciplinary proceedings prompted by complaints by far-right Jewish Israeli student groups and individuals. The academic institutions’ actions occur amid an organized campaign of incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel (PCI) as a whole, which aims to criminalize any opposition to the war.”

The Army Has a New Strategy (Awdah Hathaleen//Humans of Masafer Yatta)

“The occupation army has a new strategy: closing the roads that connect all of the villages and cities in Masafer Yatta… If any emergency occurs, there is no road for us to reach the city, or for an ambulance to reach us. There is no means of access between us and others, isolating us all from one another. We cannot bring medicine or food. We cannot go to the doctor, to the hospital, to the clinic, or even to the pharmacy.”

Do Palestinians Have Human Rights? (Hamdan Huraini//Humans of Masafer Yatta)

“Here in the village of Susya, every day, Israeli settlers throw stones, attack Palestinian homes, and attack shepherds. There is not a moment when you feel that you are safe. With every passing moment, you can’t imagine what will happen. You are a Palestinian, so you do not have rights. The first and last right is for the settler. So what does this occupying settler do? They break into homes, threaten Palestinians with death, destroy agricultural crops and trees, and demolish water wells. As a Palestinian, you should not defend yourself or protect your family, and if you do, you will go to prison. If you, as a Palestinian, do nothing, you must just die in silence.” See also West Bank: Israeli Forces’ Unlawful Killings of Palestinians (Human Rights Watch); Israel accused of possible war crime over killing of West Bank boy (BBC)’

A Diary of a Palestinian Living in Israel (Diana Buttu//Zeteo)

“People often ask what it is like to be a Palestinian living in Israel. Here’s what it’s like: We are the remnants and reminders of the 1948 Nakba, people whose nation was destroyed, communities razed, and whose families remain scattered around the world to make way for Jewish immigrants to take over our country and homes. We are the “enemy from within” for whom laws are enacted to enshrine our subservient status while at the same time being told we should be grateful for being “allowed” to live in our homeland. As Palestinians in Israel, we must maneuver a system of Jewish supremacy and open racism every day, while living with the very people who perpetrated the Nakba or support it. Israeli politicians have made it clear that we are only here because David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister and who spearheaded the Nakba, did not, they say, “finish the job” in 1948, referring to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine…Since Oct. 7, genocide fever has been in full swing. For seven months, Israeli politicians and pundits have spewed genocidal statements on Israeli television and social media on a daily basis.”

Protesters block roads to demand Israel accept ceasefire-hostage deal, halt Rafah push (Times of Israel)

“Angry protests erupted in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem late Monday as families of hostages held in Gaza and anti-government activists calling for a deal to free the captives took to the streets to rally against the government’s rejection of a Hamas ceasefire offer. Police forces twice dispersed hundreds of protesters blocking traffic on Tel Aviv’s Ayalon highway, with demonstrators banging drums, blowing on bullhorns, and lighting fires.”



Biden’s Public Ultimatum to Bibi (Susan Glasser//New Yorker)

“It took seven months almost to the day, but Joe Biden appears to have, finally, reached a public moment of reckoning over Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza. On Wednesday morning, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed that the Biden Administration had paused delivery of thirty-five hundred heavy bombs to Israel. That evening, the President himself explained why, admitting that “civilians have been killed in Gaza” as a result of American-supplied weapons and saying flatly that he could not accept them being used in a military offensive against Hamas in the densely populated city of Rafah, which Israel has threatened to carry out. Biden insisted that the U.S. would continue to help Israel secure itself from external threats, but he laid down what appeared to be an uncrossable line for the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. “If they go into Rafah,” the President told CNN’s Erin Burnett, “I’m not supplying the weapons.” His decision amounts to the most high-profile example in decades of a U.S. President publicly imposing such limits on American military assistance to Israel, and it came accompanied by a stark rebuke of how Israel has treated Palestinian civilians. “It’s just wrong,” Biden said…The reaction from the American right was swift, loud, and hyperbolic. Republican congressional leaders put out a statement on Wednesday night warning that Biden “risks emboldening Israel’s enemies…But even some Democrats who are vocal supporters of Israel expressed concern about Biden’s “mistake,” as Dennis Ross, the former longtime U.S. envoy in the region, put it.” See also from Jewish Insider: Center-left Democrats break with Biden over Israel arms threat; White House stands by plan to withhold arms to Israel over Rafah disagreement; Biden’s Israel threat slammed by pro-Israel lawmakers, mainstream Jewish groups; See also Israel due to get billions of dollars more in US weapons despite Biden pause (Reuters); ‘Didn’t fall from the sky’: Biden threat follows months of feeling PM ignored his warnings (Jacob Magid//Times of Israel); Democratic backlash grows over Biden pausing Israel arms sales (Axios); Republicans want to force Biden to send arms to Israel (Axios); White House Aide Warns Israel Against ‘Smashing Into Rafah’ (NYT)

A disturbing national security bill could silence nonprofits and college protests (The Hill)

“This week, the Senate may pass a bill granting the executive branch extraordinary power to investigate and strip nonprofits of tax-exempt status based on a unilateral accusation of wrongdoing. The potential for abuse under H.R. 6408 is staggering. If it were to become law, the executive branch would be handed a tool perfectly designed to stifle free speech, target political opponents and punish disfavored groups. This week, the Senate may pass a bill granting the executive branch extraordinary power to investigate and strip nonprofits of tax-exempt status based on a unilateral accusation of wrongdoing. The potential for abuse under H.R. 6408 is staggering. If it were to become law, the executive branch would be handed a tool perfectly designed to stifle free speech, target political opponents and punish disfavored groups…Several members of Congress have repeatedly, without evidence, conflated students involved in the protests regarding the conflict in Gaza with Hamas and other foreign terrorist organizations. If this law were to pass, it stands to reason that the executive branch could threaten to strip a university of its tax-exempt status on the grounds that allowing student groups exercising protest rights to operate on campus qualifies as providing material support to terrorist organizations.” See also Lara Friedman’s Legislative Round-Up (May 3) on this bill and Criticizing Israel? Nonprofit Media Could Lose Tax-Exempt Status Without Due Process (The Intercept)

Biden Is Not the First U.S. President to Cut Off Weapons to Israel (NYT)

“Mr. Reagan used the power of American arms several times to influence Israeli war policy, at different points ordering warplanes and cluster munitions to be delayed or withheld. His actions take on new meaning four decades later, as President Biden delays a shipment of bombs and threatens to withhold other offensive weapons from Israel if it attacks Rafah, in southern Gaza…But what the Reagan comparison really underscores is how much the politics of Israel have evolved in the United States since the 1980s. For decades, presidents and prime ministers have quarreled without permanently damaging the robust relationship between the two countries.”

Nearly 700 Jewish professors call on Biden not to sign controversial antisemitism legislation (The Hill)

“A group of nearly 700 Jewish college faculty signed a letter to President Biden on Wednesday encouraging him not to back the controversial Antisemitism Awareness Act. The academics took issue with the act’s use of the International Holocaust Awareness Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which has raised concerns that legitimate criticisms of the state of Israel could be seen as antisemitic under the bill…“Criticism of the state of Israel, the Israeli government, policies of the Israeli government, or Zionist ideology is not — in and of itself — antisemitic,” the letter to Biden and Senate leaders reads. “We accordingly urge our political leaders to reject any effort to codify into federal law a definition of antisemitism that conflates antisemitism with criticism of the state of Israel,” it continues.” See also I’m Jewish. Here’s why I voted against the Antisemitism Awareness Act. (Rep. Jerry Nadler//WaPo); Resources on “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act” & Related Efforts (Lara Friedman)



The Kids Are Not All Right. They Want to Be Heard (Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor//New Yorker)

“What explains this growing student movement? Sometimes the correct answer is the one right in front of you. The students want an end to a war that has been executed with breathtaking violence and killed more than thirty-four thousand Palestinians, most of them women and children…In ways reminiscent of the genesis of the Black Lives Matter movement, Palestinians have captured scenes of unimaginable brutality and narrated their experiences. Every smartphone has become a portal into Gaza. The obliteration of civil society, pictures of dead children, and the wails of their mothers are no longer mediated by the press. They come to you directly…The eruption of the student movement threatens to deepen the problem for Biden’s campaign. The singling out of students may make it appear as though they are extreme and out of touch with the public when, in fact, they are giving expression to widely held sentiment. Since Israel began its offensive, in the wake of Hamas’s attack on October 7th, American support for the war has steadily eroded. According to Gallup, last November fifty per cent of the public approved of Israel’s military action; by this past March, that support had dropped to thirty-six per cent with fifty-five per cent disapproving. And for Democrats the collapse of support for the war has been even more dramatic, falling from thirty-six per cent last fall to eighteen per cent.”

After Raids, NYPD Denied Student Protesters Water and Food (The Intercept)

“Students arrested during the police crackdown on protests at universities in New York City last week were denied water and food for 16 hours, according to two faculty members at Columbia University’s Barnard College who collected reports from students who were inside. Other students reported that they were beaten by New York City Police Department officers after their arrests and taken to the hospital for injuries before being returned to central booking. Photos of the injuries were provided to The Intercept. Police arrested 282 protesters at Columbia University and the City College of New York…Students arrested during the crackdown said at least two of them were put in solitary confinement for three hours and others reported much longer stays.” See also We Columbia University students urge you to listen to our voices (Columbia College Student Council//Guardian); US police break up Gaza protest encampment at George Washington University (Al Jazeera); Police break up pro-Palestine protests at Berlin, Amsterdam campuses (Al Jazeera); Hundreds of Jewish Columbia students express pride for Israel and their Jewish faith in open letter (Jewish Insider); Oxford and Cambridge students set up camps as campus protests against Gaza war gather steam (The Independent)

United Methodist Church votes to divest from Israel bonds (United Methodists for Kairos Response//Mondoweiss)

“On April 30, 2024, the General Conference of The United Methodist Church, being held in Charlotte, North Carolina, made a groundbreaking call for church investment managers to exclude the bonds of three countries – Israel, Turkey, and Morocco – that are holding subject populations under prolonged military occupation. In the first such divestment action by a major Christian denomination, the church has called on all its investment managers to avoid “the governmental debt of each such country until the time when each government ends their military occupation.”’

Letter from Palestinian Universities to students and faculty in Gaza Solidarity Encampments in US academic institutions (signed by 20 Presidents of Palestinian Universities)

“In a moment of great darkness, your protests erupt and give hope for humanity that justice is not an abstract concept but a continuous struggle that connects us all…We draw inspiration from the courage of those who refuse and resist the continuing injustices of settler colonialism and military occupation. We welcome you at our universities in a liberated Palestine.”

What we can learn from 4 schools that have reached agreements with Gaza protesters (NPR)

“Administrations at several schools have reached agreements with student protesters, pledging to take certain steps in exchange for the dismantling of protesters’ encampments as graduation approaches.
Protesters’ demands vary by school, though they generally call for an end to the Israel-Hamas war, disclosures of institutional investments and divestment from companies with ties to Israel or that otherwise profit from its military operation in Gaza. Northwestern and Brown were the first schools to announce agreements last week, followed quickly by others including Rutgers, Johns Hopkins, the University of Minnesota and the University of California, Riverside…None of the schools outright committed to divest from Israel. But they say they will provide more transparency around their endowments and limit disciplinary action against students, among other commitments. Several also pledged scholarships or aid for Palestinian students and improved space for Muslim students on campus…Here’s a look at how four schools made it to the bargaining table, and what they’re promising protesters next.” See also Some Universities Chose Violence. Others Responded to Protests by Considering Student Demands (The Intercept)

NJ may pull public investments from Japanese company for cutting ties with Israeli defense contractor (Politico)

“Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration may divest tens of millions of dollars from a Japanese conglomerate after the company severed ties with an Israeli defense contractor over the war in Gaza, according to records obtained by POLITICO. The state’s potential divestment from the Itochu Corporation would make New Jersey one of the first publicly known states since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel to penalize a company for cutting ties with an Israeli business. And it comes as college campuses across the country, including in New Jersey, face student protests demanding that colleges divest from companies linked to Israel…The state “preliminarily determined” that the company’s decision to cut ties with an Israeli-based military contractor triggered a 2016 state law that prohibits the state pension fund from investing in companies that boycott Israel or Israeli businesses, according to a letter obtained by POLITICO through a public records request. That law was in response to the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that pushes for economic punishment of Israel and businesses tied to the country over its policies towards Palestinians.”


American politicians forget: disruption and disorder are the point of protests (Patrick Gaspard//Guardian)

“I have trespassed in peaceful protest. I have shut down government offices in civil disobedience. I have made the powerful uncomfortable in their routines as I’ve dissented in peaceful but committed disorder. In each instance, disruption and disorder were precisely the point. I have done all this in the finest American tradition of the “good trouble” exhorted by the late John Lewis, which is oft quoted but seems little subscribed to by our political leaders, who are pleased to consign his legacy to a postage stamp…As an immigrant from an authoritarian society, and proud American activist all too aware of the relationship between unchecked state power and violence, I’ve been perturbed by unexamined claims against all these students that link them to “terrorism”, foreign agents and outside agitators. I’ve also been alarmed by calls from leading Democrats and Republicans for surveillance and investigations of students by the FBI. Dozens of state legislatures are advancing bills to designate street-blocking protests as “acts of terror” with federal-level punishments. This is shocking but in keeping with the darkest chapters of a history that haunts in its proximity to current affairs…Protest is never convenient, never comfortable and frequently unpopular. But dissent from indifference – and through the discomfort of disorder – is the work of choosing democracy.”

Let Israel’s Leaders Get Arrested for War Crimes (Gideon Levy//Haaretz)

“Israeli hasbara, or public diplomacy, does not try to deny the reality in Gaza. It only makes the claim of antisemitism: Why pick on us? What about Sudan and Yemen? The logic doesn’t hold: A driver who is stopped for speeding won’t get off by arguing that he’s not the only one. The crimes and the criminals remain. Israel will never prosecute anyone for these offenses. It never has, neither for its wars nor its occupation…But the human sense of justice wants to see criminals brought to justice and prevented from committing crimes in the future. By this logic, we can only hope that the International Criminal Court in The Hague will do its job…The killing and destruction in Gaza has gotten Israel in way over its head. It is the worst catastrophe the state has ever faced. Someone led it there – no, not antisemitism, but rather its leaders and military officers. If not for them, it wouldn’t have turned so quickly after October 7 from a cherished country that inspired compassion into a pariah state. Someone must stand trial for this.”

Under the Jumbotron (Anahid Nersessian//LRB)

“Over the weekend, following the formation of the [UCLA] encampment, a large group of counter-protesters, few to none of whom appeared to be UCLA students, arrived on campus. They screamed, hurled racial slurs and sexual threats (‘I hope you get raped’) at the students, and opened a sack full of live mice – swollen, seemingly injected with some substance – on the ground near the camp. When the counter-protesters dispersed, they left behind a Jumbotron – a massive flat-screen TV, about ten feet high – in the middle of campus facing the encampment and surrounded by metal barriers. Paid security guards remained inside the barriers to protect the screen. For the next five days, the Jumbotron played, on a loop, footage of the 7 October attacks along with audio clips describing rape and sexual violence in explicit terms. Mixed in among the clips were speeches by Joe Biden vowing unconditional support for Israel and ‘Meni Mamtera’, a maddeningly repetitive children’s song that went viral earlier this year when IDF soldiers posted a video of themselves using it as a form of noise torture on captive Palestinians. When I arrived on campus on Tuesday morning, to lead a class on Byron’s Don Juan, the sound from the Jumbotron was so loud it was impossible to hear myself think, let alone teach. I walked over with a colleague to take footage of the footage. You couldn’t ask for a better allegory: on one side, the encampment, full of young people risking their degrees, their future employment prospects and their physical and mental health to draw attention to the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza; on the other, a costly media machine, financed by D-list celebrities (who proudly posted their contributions on Instagram), unmanned except for a trio of hired guards who, when questioned, admitted they had nothing to do with the Zionist cause…At 11 p.m. on 30 April, a large group of men, mostly middle-aged, many wearing Halloween masks, arrived at the encampment carrying knives, bats, wooden planks, pepper spray and bear mace, which they used to attack the unarmed students. They shot fireworks into the camp and used its plywood barricades to crush students into the ground. Footage from ABC News shows half a dozen counter-protesters punching and kicking a student. Videos from independent journalists and people on the ground captured calls for a ‘second Nakba’. On the ABC newsreel you can hear a reporter shouting in disbelief: ‘Where are the police? Where is security? Where is authority here?’ The answer to the first two questions is clear: the police, as well as campus security forces, were there, but they did not intervene.” See also Ex-Israeli special forces agent says he went ‘undercover’ at UCLA protest encampment (Middle East Eye); More than 600 UCLA faculty, staff demand chancellor’s resignation over protest arrests (CBS)

In Israel, Jewish Extremists Worshipping a God of Holy War Are Getting Stronger (Michael Manekin//Haaretz)

“This mode of religious thinking, which sees God as a God of holy wars and vengeance and demands that Jews act violently in His name, has been gaining ground for more than half a century in some extremist corners of Israel and the Diaspora. But since October 7, it has developed into a more coherent and grotesque worldview, a political theology that licenses and even commends collective punishment and the proliferation of gun licenses while undermining or even dismissing efforts to return the hostages. This mode of religious thinking, which sees God as a God of holy wars and vengeance and demands that Jews act violently in His name, has been gaining ground for more than half a century in some extremist corners of Israel and the Diaspora. But since October 7, it has developed into a more coherent and grotesque worldview, a political theology that licenses and even commends collective punishment and the proliferation of gun licenses while undermining or even dismissing efforts to return the hostages.