Hundreds protest Bezalel Smotrich visit in DC

Jewish Voice for Peace activists protest Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich in Washington DC, March 12, 2023.  (photo credit: Jamal Najjab)
Hundreds of protesters greeted Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich outside an Israel Bonds convention in Washington, DC.

By Michael Arria | Mondoweiss | Mar 13, 2023

 “This is a moral emergency… We must name this deep pain that so many of us feel for what’s happening in Israel right now, a place that we love.”
— Sheila Katz, CEO, National Council of Jewish Women

Hundreds of protestors greeted Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, DC on Sunday, where he gave a speech to an Israel Bonds convention.

Last month, amid surging settler violence, Smotrich called for the Palestinian village of Huwwara to be “wiped out.” His remarks have received widespread condemnation. The U.S. State Department called them “disgusting,” but approved Smotrich’s visa.

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Shrinking the Conflict: Debunking Israel’s New Strategy

Protest against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan in Nablus, Palestine - 25 Nov 2022
November 25, 2022, Nablus, West Bank, Palestine: A Palestinian protester holding a flag argues with the Israeli soldier during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus. (Credit Image: Nasser Ishtayeh/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/APAimages)

By Walid Habbas | Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network | Mar 6, 2023

The “shrinking the conflict” approach falsely assumes that Palestinian resistance is apolitical and unrelated to the struggle for liberation from Israeli apartheid and occupation.


Since 2021, a growing number of Israeli leaders have proposed new policies to manage their occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. These policies are rooted in the new concept of “shrinking the conflict” — an approach introduced in 2018 by Israeli historian Micah Goodman recommending the management of “the conflict below the threshold of war, while improving the fabric of life for the Palestinian population.”

The approach, which is a revised version of Benjamin Netanyahu’s “economic peace” model, aims to entrench the Israeli regime’s military occupation in order to prevent the establishment of either a Palestinian state or a one-state reality. Unlike the “economic peace” strategy, the “shrinking the conflict” approach is designed to reduce Palestinian “waves of terror and violent clashes” by purportedly broadening Palestinians’ freedoms within Israel’s system of apartheid.

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Why Europe sees Ukrainians as victims, but Palestinians as ‘the other’

Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff, ambassador of the European Union in Palestine, speaks during a visit to Palestinian families after an Israeli settlers’ rampage in Huwara on 3 March 2023. (credit: Reuters)
Unlike Ukrainians, who are recognized as belonging to the European ‘self’, Palestinians remain subject to stigmatising representations despite what they suffer at the hands of the Israeli occupation.

By Elena Aoun & Jeremy Dieudonne | Middle East Eye | Mar 6, 2023

There is no questioning here of the legitimacy of the Ukrainian struggle or the relevance of the support given to this besieged country, but rather, a questioning of European attitudes towards the Palestinians.

The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in the occupied territories has been sliding back into a new cycle of heightened tension and violence in the last few months, and more so since the beginning of 2023.

Whereas this development hardly comes as a surprise to most observers, what is striking is the increasingly unbalanced attitude of Western states, and especially the usually more “equidistant” Europeans. Though many examples can be derived from recent events, one instance is particularly illustrative of this trend.

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A mass wave of Israeli army refusal could be a transformative moment

Israeli reserve soldiers, veterans and activists protest outside the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, against the government’s planned reforms, February 10, 2023. (credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)
Civil resistance against the government has put the Israeli military in an unparalleled crisis, presenting an opportunity for those fighting apartheid.

By Shimri Zameret | +972 Magazine | Mar 5, 2023

Internal army chat groups are reportedly flooded with rank-and-file soldiers stating they either refuse or will refuse to serve if the judicial coup succeeds.

During the Second Intifada, as the Israeli army was killing thousands of Palestinians in its effort to suppress the uprising, I was part of a movement of Israeli youth and soldiers who refused to serve in the army. From the age of 18 to 20, I spent 21 months under arrest and in prison, alongside many others, in protest of the occupation and its brutal policies. It was one of the largest campaigns of conscientious objection seen in Israel — one that, until recently, seemed very unlikely to occur at such a scale again.

Over the past two weeks, however, and for the first time in two decades, a new movement of Israeli army refusers has emerged in opposition to the far-right government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, as it advances a slew of anti-democratic legislation. The proposed laws, described as a “judicial coup” by opponents, will severely weaken the country’s courts, giving the ruling coalition almost unlimited power. While impacting the rights of women, LGBTQ people, secular people, and other minorities, it is Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line who will face the heaviest brunt of the legislation.

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Eric Alterman on the history of the US debate over Israel

Peter Beinart’s Notebook this week is hosting Eric Alterman, who teaches at Brooklyn College, was for many years a columnist at The Nation and is author of the new book, We Are Not One: A History of America’s Fight over Israel. Beinart syas reading the book, he was struck by how often over the last seventy-five years the same pattern has repeated itself: An American president wants Israel to change its behavior, Israel and its American allies push back, the American president backs down. Are the political dynamics, especially in the Democratic Party, changing enough to break this pattern?
Date: Friday, March 3, 2023
Time: 9:00am PST / 12:00pm
Location: On-line
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Israel’s far-right government is at the heart of a surge in violence

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Palestinians clean a burned shop a day after the clashes between Jewish settlers and Palestinians in Huwara, West Bank, on Monday. (credit: Kobi Wolf for The Washington Post)

By Ishaan Tharoor] | The Washington Post | Feb 28, 2023

“The combination of a far-right Israeli government that is escalating confrontations with Palestinians in the West Bank and a Palestinian youth movement that is newly dedicated to terrorism and armed struggle as preferred forms of resistance will only ensure more such days.”
— Israel Policy Forum

When confronted by scenes of bloodshed and destruction in Israel and the occupied territories, there’s a tendency to talk of “the cycle of violence.” In this view, the entrenched enmities and existential imperatives that drive conflict between Israelis and Palestinians are so powerful that they create their own lethal logic, a tortuous chain of atrocity that winds its way back a whole century.

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Another mainstream Israeli voice warns of Apartheid

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich in occupied East Jerusalem. (credit: from his Twitter feed, Dec 22, 2022)
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich published a shocking plan in 2017 to advance Israeli apartheid. Now that it is being put into action veteran journalist Ron Ben-Yishai finally recognizes the danger.

By Jonathan Ofir | Mondoweiss | Feb 22, 2023

 …Israel has so far been framing its deportations, its military crackdowns, its whole occupation, as a temporary state of emergency. Smotrich wants to do away with this: Drop the pretensions and say it like it is – that it’s a state of Jewish supremacy from the river to the sea, and that Palestinians need to accept it officially, or leave, or die.

Jimmy Carter is now approaching the end of his life in hospice, and we must remember all those who called Carter antisemitic when he published “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” in 2006. Abraham Foxman, the former head of the Anti-Defamation League, and Deborah Lipstadt, Biden’s special envoy on antisemitism, should apologize while they still can, Peter Beinart has said, reminding us that Nancy Pelosi, then chair of the Democratic Party, rebuked Carter by saying “it is wrong to suggest that the Jewish people would support a government in Israel, or anywhere else, that institutionalizes ethnically-based oppression.”

That was a really long time ago, and meanwhile, the human rights community has caught up with Carter’s appraisal. He got it right. Now, with a government that openly declares “exclusive” and “unquestionable” rights for the “Jewish people” in the “Land of Israel” (all of historical Palestine), Nancy Pelosi’s indignation appears as a very dusty statement, not to mention its disingenuous strawman accusation.

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You Can’t Save Democracy in a Jewish State

Protesters in Tel Aviv hold placards that say “Israeli students fighting for democracy” and “Without democracy there is no academy.” (Credit…Jack Guez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

By Peter Beinart | The New York Times |  Feb 19, 2023

The principle that Mr. Netanyahu’s liberal Zionist critics say he threatens — a Jewish and democratic state — is in reality a contradiction.

The warnings come every day: Israeli democracy is in danger.

Since Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government announced plans to undermine the independence of Israel’s Supreme Court, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have demonstrated in the streets. All of Israel’s living former attorneys general, in a joint statement, have warned that Mr. Netanyahu’s proposal imperils efforts to “preserve Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.” Liberal American Jewish leaders are cheering on the protests. Earlier this month, Alan Solow, the former head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said he and other American Jewish notables “share the concerns of tens of thousands of Israelis determined to protect their democracy.” In a public declaration, Mr. Solow and 168 other influential American Jews warned that “the new government’s direction mirrors anti-democratic trends that we see arising elsewhere.”

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The drones never sleep

Palestinian protesters run from tear gas canisters fired by an Israeli quadcopter drone. (credit: Ashraf Amra / APA images)
Israeli drones have proven their lethality, with over 2,000 Palestinians killed by drone strikes in the past 12 years.

By Ola Mousa  | The Electric Intifada | Feb 7, 2023

“Drones take videos, track and assassinate; they also direct bomber aircrafts”
— Yousef al-Sharqawi, a retired Palestinian Authority major-general

Atallah al-Attar, 35, gets anxious in the evenings.

He lives on his family’s farm in the town of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, close to the boundary with Israel.

Evenings are when Israeli drones most often fly overhead.

On this particular January afternoon, he softly explained why he has an acute fear of drones.

“The incident is very painful,” he said.

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The Trap of Palestinian Participation


An open letter considers the impossible choice facing Palestinians: Participate as a token in conversations premised on their oppression, or be branded rejectionists.

By Tareq Baconi | Jewish Currents | Feb 10, 2023

To be clear, I am not rejecting discussion in itself; rather, I am rejecting the terms of debate

Dear Ambassador David M. Satterfield,

I’ve been reflecting on your recent invitation to participate in the “Israel at 75” conference and accompanying “celebratory dinner” to be held at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy in April, which I declined last month. I must confess that I was initially perplexed by the offer. I would have assumed that my public statements and writings on the State of Israel would have precluded me from consideration for an event of this kind. Then I thought that my position might be precisely the reason I was invited—that the offer constituted a genuine effort to engage with my analyses. But once I examined the invitation and proposed agenda more closely, I knew I had to reject it. The same reasons that informed my decision also compelled me to compose this open letter: to voice my concerns publicly and explain not only why I declined, but how this entire performance of perfunctory offers and obligatory refusals serves to further undermine Palestinian voices.

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