2021 in review: A year of struggle and victories for the Palestinian cause

Palestinians take part in a protest against the Israeli decision to declare six Palestinian human rights groups as “terror organizations”, in Gaza City on November 10, 2021. (credit: Mahmoud Nasser / APA Images)
2021 was a watershed year for Palestinians. The struggle for Palestinian freedom and liberation saw unprecedented levels of global solidarity and unity amongst Palestinians despite their forced fragmentation

By Yumna Patel | Mondoweiss | Dec 28, 2021

From the streets to the digital sphere, Palestinians were suppressed and censored at every turn. And yet still, their voices were heard around the world more than ever before.

2021 was a watershed year for Palestinians. The struggle for Palestinian freedom and liberation saw unprecedented levels of global solidarity. From Jerusalem, to the West Bank, Gaza, and Palestinian communities inside Israel, Palestinians rose up together in defiance of the Israeli occupation, and demanded a better future. The fight against forcible expulsion of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan reached the global stage, and more human rights groups joined the calls to end Israeli Apartheid.

Despite the strides made towards justice and equality this year, 2021 was not without its challenges for Palestinians. Palestinians entered the second year of the coronavirus pandemic, and like much of the global south, struggled to get their hands on the life saving vaccines being hoarded by the world’s richest countries.

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A most moral violence

Soldiers from the Kfir Brigade at an IDF swearing-in ceremony at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, December 24, 2015. (credit: Israel Defense Forces / CC BY-NC 2.0)
A new collection of essays explores how the Israeli army justifies its violence against Palestinians — and why Israeli society so readily accepts its abuses.

By Noam Sheizaf | +972 Magazine | Dec 29, 2021

Technically, Israel views the West Bank as “disputed” rather than occupied, and, since the 2005 disengagement, Israelis no longer believe Gaza to be under Israeli occupation. Yet in practice, the Israeli military controls both.

In late August, on the eve of Naftali Bennett’s White House meeting with President Biden, the Israeli prime minister gave an interview to the New York Times in which he outlined his government’s agenda. “This government will neither annex nor form a Palestinian state, everyone gets that,” Bennett said. “I’m prime minister of all Israelis, and what I’m doing now is finding the middle ground — how we can focus on what we agree upon.”

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Church leaders warn of a ‘systematic attempt’ to drive Christians out of Jerusalem and the Holy Land

Orthodox Christians mark Holy Saturday at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in East Jerusalem on May 1, 2021. (credit: Mostafa Alkharouf / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Church leaders in Jerusalem raise concerns about ongoing assaults and vandalization of holy sites.

By Alia Shoaib |  Insider |  Dec 19, 2021

Church leaders warned that radical groups continue to “acquire strategic property” in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem with the goal of diminishing the Christian presence.

Church leaders in Jerusalem warned that Christians had become the target of “frequent and sustained attacks by fringe radical groups” across the Holy Land in a strongly-worded statement.

The Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches in Jerusalem pointed to “countless incidents” of physical and verbal assaults and the vandalizing of holy sites and churches.

In March of this year, the Romanian church monastery in Jerusalem was vandalized and its entrance set on fire. It was the fourth such attack on the monastery in a month, Daily Sabah reported.

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Israel’s Systematic Surveillance of Palestinians

A man points at surveillance cameras in the Palestinian West Bank city of Hebron, on Nov. 9, 2021. Recent reports have exposed the magnitude of Israel’s surveillance program targeting Palestinians. (credit: Hazem Bader / AFT via Getty Images)
Reaction to the threat of new surveillance technologies being used on Palestinians and the potential for use in a global context.

By Janna Aladdin | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs | Dec 17, 2021

The Palestinian Policy Network, both emphasized that such surveillance not only entails political and security threats for Palestinians, but also works to hinder their free expression.

Waging Peace

HOW DOES the Israeli government’s reliance on cyber spyware and surveillance technologies pose a risk not only to Palestinians and their supporters, but also the global community? This question underscored much of the discussion surrounding the webinar, “Welcome to the Panopticon: Israel’s Systematic Surveillance of Palestinians and the Implications for the World,” hosted by the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) on Nov. 18.

A recent Washington Post investigation, which demonstrated that Israel has been systematically increasing surveillance on Palestinians in the West Bank by building a database that integrates facial recognition, set the stage for much of the talk.

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This was the deadliest year for Palestinian children since 2014

Palestinian children light candles during a protest near destroyed buildings in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, May 25, 2021. (credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/  Flash90)
Instead of holding perpetrators accountable, Israel is criminalizing the work that organizations like mine are doing to protect Palestinian children’s rights.

By Khaled Quzmar | +972 Magazine | Dec 14, 2021

Based on our findings, a total of 67 Palestinian children were killed during the 11-day military escalation between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups in May.

This year was unlike any other I can remember from my decades of defending Palestinian children’s rights. Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip in May, amidst a mass youth-led uprising across historic Palestine, sparked an outcry around the world, with more people than ever demanding Israel be held accountable for its violence toward Palestinians and calling for an end to its apartheid regime. It felt like our movement for justice, accountability, and liberation was finally in the world’s spotlight.

And yet, that attention has not resulted in any meaningful change for Palestinian children living under Israeli military occupation. In fact, 2021 has been the deadliest year for Palestinian children since 2014, a year which included Israel’s devastating military assault in the Gaza Strip codenamed “Operation Protective Edge.”

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‘Haaretz’ publisher says Israel is ‘an apartheid state’ — as his paper continues to warn against an Israel-Iran war

Amos Schocken (credit: Haaretz)
Haaretz publisher acknowledged for significant role in Israel news coverage and commentary.

By James North |  Mondoweiss  | Dec 12, 2021

“The product of Zionism, the State of Israel, is not a Jewish and democratic state, but has instead become an apartheid state, plain and simple.”
— Amos Schocken, Haaretz publisher

Amos Schocken is Israel’s equivalent of the latest Sulzberger to inherit control of the New York Times. Schocken, in his mid-70s, is the third generation of his family to run Haaretz, the most respected newspaper in Israel, and he speaks out regularly in columns and on social media.

Just the other day, Schocken called Israel “an apartheid state.” He was indignantly responding to a right-wing member of the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament. Here’s the full quotation:

The product of Zionism, the State of Israel, is not a Jewish and democratic state, but has instead become an apartheid state, plain and simple.

Continue reading “‘Haaretz’ publisher says Israel is ‘an apartheid state’ — as his paper continues to warn against an Israel-Iran war”

From Birchbark Books to Palestine: Takeaways from Louise Erdrich’s The Sentence

Rasha Ghabayen explains to a group of students the history of Native American Literature. (credit: Yousef Aljamal, Palestine Chronicle)
A look at the ways literature crosses borders and unites people in a common anti-colonial struggle.

By Benay Blend | Palestine Chronicle | Dec 5, 2021

…what both Palestinians and Native Americans have in common are “white saviors,”

In the past few years, several articles and books have focused on the ties between Native American and Palestinian activists/scholars. See, for example, Steven Salaita’s ‘Internationalism:  Decolonizing Native America and Palestine’ (2016), ‘Holy Land in Transit: Colonialism and the Quest for Canaan’ (2006), and Marion Kawas, “Solidarity Between Palestinians and Indigenous Activists Has Keep Roots” (2020).

Louise Erdrich does not draw these links in her most recent novel ‘The Sentence’ (2021), but it nevertheless brings to mind several commonalities as well as differences between the Palestinian solidarity movement and various forms of Native activism. Moreover, Erdrich highlights those moments in 2021 that called for alliances between various movements for social justice, including climate change and the murder of unarmed black men by local police, in particular George Floyd, so it makes sense to look for lessons regarding the Palestine solidarity movement that could be taken from the book.

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Voices from the Holy Land Online Film Salon: “Christians in Palestine”

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Please join our brothers and sisters from Voices from the Holy Land for an Online Film Salon discussion this month focusing on Christians in Palestine today, as we approach the Christmas story.  The 2 films are: “Bethlehem – The Living Stones” and “Christians of Palestine, Life Behind the Wall”.
Date: Sunday, December 12, 2021
Time: 3:00 pm EDT / 12:00 noon PDT
Location: On-line
Information: Event information here →
Tickets: Free with registration
Event Details

“Bethlehem – The Living Stones”: So often, Christian pilgrims travel to the Holy Land to experience where Jesus lived, walked and performed miracles. Churches now stand over ancient stones on the places where Bible events occurred. The tours come; the tours go. But most of the pilgrims/tourists don’t encounter the Palestinian people in Bethlehem. This film opens the aperture to experience the land where Jesus walked, through the eyes of “the living stones,” Palestinian Christians who descend from the disciples.

“Christians of Palestine, Life Behind the Wall”: This short documentary focuses on how the Israeli occupation impacts the Palestinian population of today. The story, told by Christian-Palestinians, sheds light on different perspectives of the conflict that we don’t hear about in the United States. Watch the film. Witness the Christmas celebration and hopeful spirit of those living in the walled city of Bethlehem. This film conveys a message of peace, along with a deeper understanding of what the Bethlehemites face.

View these films in advance (links provided upon registration) and join our salon discussion on Dec. 12 with Yousef AlKhouri , lecturer at Bethlehem Bible College & member, Christ at the Checkpoint and Elizabeth, a community builder and former teacher at Jerusalem School in Bethlehem. The discussion will be led by Rev. Susan Wilder, Co-Moderator of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of The Presbyterian Church (USA).

More information here →

Reflections on Palestine Day by a former Israeli Refusenik

Demonstration of israeli refusniks in front Dan Haluz the head of IDF. “refuse to be war criminal”, July 2006. (credit: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)
What brought an Israeli Jew to that point of refusal?

By Charles Lenchner | CounterPunch |  Dec 2, 2021

Imagine looking at the moon, without realizing you only ever see half of it. Then one day you learn, it rotates in such a way as to keep the dark side hidden from human eyes, for eternity. Such was the logic of Israeli education, at least for Jews. Suddenly I got to see the other side.

About 34 years ago I willingly walked into the processing center for draftees in Israel. This was after an intense 18-month period of organizing, wherein I helped create a group of Israeli Jews willing to publicly commit to refusing to support the Occupation.

As it happened, I was the first one to be called up from those that signed our official letter. It had 16 names. This was before the first Intifada, a time when Israelis thought the Occupation was cost free and would last forever.

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Ben, Jerry and Hochul’s boycott hypocrisy

Ben & Jerry’s (credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images)
The differing interpretations of boycott legitimacy.

By Katherine Franke | New York Daily News|  Nov 28, 2021

Yet in the same week that the Biden administration signaled that it was inclined to boycott China over its human rights violations, the governor of New York announced that she plans for state government to divest from the company that owns Ben & Jerry’s over the ice cream manufacturer’s decision to restrict sales in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Last week, Republican members of Congress issued adamant calls on the U.S. government to boycott the Winter Olympics in Beijing to protest the Chinese government’s abuses of the human rights of Uyghurs and the crackdown on protesters and journalists in Hong Kong. The Biden administration has signaled an inclination to do so. Meanwhile, the Women’s Tennis Association threatened to pull all of its tournaments in China after the disappearance of Peng Shuai, a top female tennis player was who has claimed to have been sexually assaulted by a Chinese government official.

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