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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The US’s empty commitment to a two-state solution

A man walks along a road by Israel’s separation barrier between the occupied West Bank village of Nazlat Issa and the Arab-Israeli town of Baqa al-Gharbiya in northern Israel on February 1, 2020. (credit: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images)
An outdated policy stands in the way of efforts to defuse violence in Israel and Palestine.

By Jonathan Guyer | VOX | Feb 6, 2023

The US policy does not take into account how entrenched the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem has become.

It’s a particularly dangerous moment for Israel and Palestine.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in the Middle East last week on a previously scheduled trip after 48 hours of violence: a terrorist attack in East Jerusalem killed seven Israelis and an Israeli raid on the refugee camp of Jenin killed nine Palestinians, culminating a month in which Palestinians experienced the highest level of killings at the hands of Israeli forces and Israeli settlers in more than a decade. The situation called for US leadership.

Blinken was there to “urge de-escalation,” as the Biden administration described it, at a time when an extreme far-right Israeli government pushes for incendiary changes to the judiciary that contradict Israel’s stated democratic tenets, reorders the way the occupation of Palestinian territory is administered, and pursues a variety of policies that likely violate international law.

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The US is right to show concern for the situation in Palestine-Israel but who’s listening?

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Palestinian stone throwers clash with Israeli border police in A-Ram town, north of Jerusalem, on January 27, as Palestinians all over the West Bank protested to condemn the killing of nine Palestinians in Jenin refugee camp during an Israeli raid on January 26. (Credit: EPA-EFE/ATEF SAFADI)
Many Jewish and other Americans are increasingly unable to ignore the reality of growing schisms

By Hussein Ibish | The National  |  Feb 1, 2023

The deepest tragedy is that the Israeli extreme right seems to be counting on Palestinian rage and desperation to provide them with the opportunity to go as far as they can in their twin goals of annexation and expulsion.

In the occupied Palestinian territories – especially East Jerusalem and the West Bank – 2023 is shaping up to be a volatile year. As a consequence, the normally sacrosanct US-Israeli relationship is headed into unusually choppy waters. The current flare-up of deadly violence will be hard to contain and the real question is, how bad will things get?

Last year was the most violent one in the West Bank since 2005, when the UN began keeping records of Palestinians killed there by Israeli occupation forces. Among the victims was the noted American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who had been infuriating Israeli authorities for decades with her coverage of the occupation.

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How a giant of responsible investing agreed to an Israel exception

The Morningstar website (credit: Louisa Svensson / Alamy Stock Photo)
After a multi-year campaign by Jewish groups, Morningstar—a major firm known for socially responsible investing—is softening its approach to Israeli human rights abuses.

By Mari Cohen | Jewish Currents | Jan 25, 2023

…human rights advocates warn that the policy changes are a blow to efforts to seek corporate accountability.

ON OCTOBER 31ST, the major investment research firm Morningstar, Inc. announced significant changes to the information-gathering practices of its subsidiary Sustainalytics, which gives companies social and environmental responsibility ratings. To arrive at these ratings, Sustainalytics takes account of businesses’ human rights records; accordingly, the firm has historically penalized companies that facilitate Israeli settlement construction or military aggression in the occupied Palestinian territories. Now, however, Sustainalytics was adjusting its approach to Israel/Palestine. It would cease to apply the term “occupied territories” to the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, and would stop using data from prominent sources like the United Nations Human Rights Council. Morningstar promised to provide “documented guidance” to its employees stating that a company’s operations in occupied Palestinian territory should not automatically raise red flags—despite the international legal consensus, reflected in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, that companies working in conflict areas like the territories merit additional scrutiny.

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