Ahead of Biden visit, Israel launches biggest eviction of Palestinians in decades

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Safa Muhammed Aba al-Najjar, left, and Yusara al-Najjar sit on a bed frame in front of what used to be their house in the West Bank, before it was demolished by the Israeli army on May 11. (credit: Steve Hendrix / The Washington Post)
A continuing Catch-22 situation for Palestinians.

By Steve Hendrix and Shira Rubin | Washington Post | May 22, 2022

“There is the law that works for the Jews, but for us it is nonexistent,”
— Nidal Younes, head of the Masafer Yatta village council,

AL-MARKAZ VILLAGE, West Bank — The Najjar family knew what to expect on the morning of May 11 when a neighbor called: “The bulldozer is coming.” For the second time in five months, the Israeli military had come to knock down their house.

But this time there was reason to fear that the house would be gone for good. After decades of demolition, rebuilding and a more than 20-year legal battle, Israel’s highest court this month gave the military permission to permanently evict more than 1,000 Palestinians here and repurpose the land for an army firing range.

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Google and Amazon face shareholder revolt over Israeli Defense Work

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An Israeli border police stands guard as Palestinians make their way through Qalandia checkpoint to attend the last Friday prayer of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Al Aqsa Mosque, Palestinian Territories, Ramallah, on April 29, 2022. (credit:  Ilia Yefimovich/Picture Alliance via Getty Images)
“Project Nimbus” would insulate the Israeli government’s cloud computing from political pressures stemming from the military occupation of Palestine.

By Sam Biddle | The Intercept | May 18, 2022

“This technology allows for further surveillance of and unlawful data collection on Palestinians, and facilitates expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements on Palestinian land,”
— letter from anonymous Google and Amazon employees

GOOGLE AND AMAZON are both set to help build “Project Nimbus,” a mammoth new cloud computing project for the Israeli government and military that is spurring intense dissent among employees and the public alike. Shareholders of both firms will soon vote on resolutions that would mandate reconsideration of a project they fear has grave human rights consequences.

Little is known of the plan, reportedly worth over $1 billion, beyond the fact that it would consolidate the Israeli government’s public sector cloud computing needs onto servers housed within the country’s borders and subject solely to Israeli law, rather than remote data centers distributed around the world. Part of the plan’s promise is that it would insulate Israel’s computing needs from threats of international boycotts, sanctions, or other political pressures stemming from the ongoing military occupation of Palestine; according to a Times of Israel report, the terms of the Project Nimbus contract prohibit both companies from shutting off service to the government, or from selectively excluding certain government offices from using the new domestic cloud.
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Israel: An Apartheid State?

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In this edition of Cornerstone, the ecumenical grassroots liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians, Sabeel,  reflects on the reality of apartheid in Palestine and its effects on the lives of people.

By Sabeel Staff | Sabeel | Spring 2022

Do we weaponize the Bible to harm others for our own gain? Or do the words of scripture move us to sacrificial love for our neighbor?

This month’s issue of Cornerstone reflects on the issue of apartheid. It is notable that in both South Africa and Israel leaders utilized the scriptures to justify their racist regime, arguing that they were set apart—chosen exclusively by God—to rule over those who were already living in the land. Both the white Afrikaners in South Africa and Israeli settlers have used the exodus narrative to claim that they alone have sovereignty over the land. This reality humbles us to be careful how we read the scriptures. Do we weaponize the Bible to harm others for our own gain? Or do the words of scripture move us to sacrificial love for our neighbor?
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Jerusalem’s Heads of Churches protest settler takeover of hotel in Old City’s Christian quarter

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A view of the Little Petra Hotel at the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s old city as Christian Religious leaders held a meeting on March 29, 2022. (credit: Jeries Bssier / APA Images)
Israeli radical extremist groups are targeting and hijacking the character of Jerusalem for Christian pilgrims who visit each year.

By Jeff Wright | Mondoweiss | Apr 8, 2022

“The seizure of the Little Petra Hotel by the radical extremist group Ateret Cohanim is a threat to the continued existence of a Christian Quarter in Jerusalem.”
— Greek Orthodox Patriarch Beatitude Theophilos III

On Sunday evening, March 27, radical members of an extremist settler group were accompanied by Israeli police as they took control of the Little Petra Hotel in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Located near the Jaffa Gate in occupied East Jerusalem, the hotel is the subject of a years-long and as-yet undecided legal battle between the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and Ateret Cohanim, a settler group which describes itself as “the leading urban land reclamation organization in Jerusalem, which has been working for over 40 years to restore Jewish life in the heart of ancient Jerusalem.” The group seeks to increase Jewish settlement in occupied East Jerusalem, illegal under international law.

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Palestinians use social media to out the Israeli undercover agents haunting their protests

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Israeli security forces and undercover police arrest a young Bedouin demonstrator during a protest in January. (credit: Menahem Kahana / AFP / Getty Images)
Demonstrators are increasingly effective at countering undercover agents.

By Hiba Yazbek | The Guardian | Apr 6, 2022

The shift in the power dynamic might mean that these agents are not as powerful as they once were.

Last May, as war in Gaza raged and clashes over Palestinian access to Jerusalem intensified, large protests swept across almost every Arab and mixed city in Israel. In Haifa, the Israeli coastal city with a mixed Arab and Jewish population, Yousef Ibrahim attended almost every demonstration.

Over the years, the activist and organizer from Daburiyya, an Arab village in the north of Israel, has had his fair share of confrontations with Israeli undercover agents who pose as Arab citizens, known as Mista’arvim. But this time was different, he said.

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Al-Haq Statement on World Water Day calls on corporate actors to end business operations that enable water apartheid in the OPT

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(credit: Al-Haq)
World Water Day is an annual United Nations observance day held on 22 March that highlights the importance of fresh water.

By Al-Haq – Defending Human Rights | Mar 22, 2022

Israel’s control over all aspects of water in the OPT renders the Palestinian economy captive and entrenches an apartheid regime of discriminatory and segregating laws and policies.

Water Day, the annual United Nations day of observance on the importance of freshwater, draws attention to the billions of people around the world who are denied their basic human right to live with clean, accessible, and affordable water. This year, Water Day focuses on groundwater and the critical importance of cooperation in managing transboundary groundwaters.

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AIPAC’s bet against democracy

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Peter Beinart speaking at Temple De Hirsch Sinai, Seattle, Washington, May 23, 2019 at an event sponsored by J Street (CC by Joe Mabel via Wikimedia)
The analogies between Ukraine and Israel are problematic.

By Peter Beinart | The Beinart Notebook | Mar 21, 2022

The message is clear: Since Israel faces its own existential foes, it too needs bipartisan support.

On Friday, AIPAC—the influential pro-Israel lobbying group—issued a statement I suspect historians of American Jewry will scrutinize for decades to come. It argues that in order to preserve US support for Israel’s ability to rule undemocratically over Palestinians, AIPAC must support politicians who seek to rule undemocratically over Americans. Authoritarianism there requires authoritarianism here.

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The right’s selective outrage on antisemitism is a scam

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An anniversary of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting. (credit: Jeff Swensen / Getty Images)
Conservative media distort the public’s perception of the real threats of anti-Jewish bigotry

By Elad Nehorai | Daily Beast | Mar 14, 2022

Right-wing media have massive power to shift attention in any direction they choose.

When I was a columnist for the Jewish publication The Forward a few years ago, I was an outspoken critic of the Women’s March leaders, who despite their progressive politics, had questionable associations with antisemites. I felt that Tamika Mallory, in particular, had used antisemitic rhetoric herself.

At the time, I was surprised and gratified at how quickly the story was picked up by other news outlets and how easily attention was brought to my sincere concerns. In a matter of days, I was appearing on cable news, and a social media debate raged for weeks.

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Knesset Renews Ban on Permanent Residency for Palestinian Spouses of Israeli Citizens

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The Israeli Knesset in Jerusalem, October 30th, 2018. (credit: Juergen Schwenkenbecher /AP)
The Citizenship and Entry Into Israel law impacts thousands of families.

By Alex Kane | Jewish Currents Tuesday News Bulletin | Mar 15, 2022

“We’re talking about a law that basically tells Palestinians, ‘You are not equal.’ It tells them, ‘You cannot gain citizenship. You don’t have the privilege that we grant Jews coming from abroad.’”
— Adi Mansour, an attorney for Adalah- The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

On Friday, Israel’s Knesset approved a law reauthorizing a ban on giving Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens permanent residency status. Passed with 45 Knesset members in favor and 15 opposed, the Citizenship and Entry Into Israel law impacts thousands of families, though the exact number is unclear. It bars Palestinians living in the West Bank or Gaza who are married to Israeli citizens from gaining the legal benefits foreign spouses typically receive in liberal democracies. (The law also applies to citizens of so-called “enemy states”—Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, and Syria—but in practice it mostly impacts Palestinians from the West Bank or Gaza.)

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Justifications for destroying a people

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Vladimir Putin speaks at a televised press conference broadcast in Ukraine, February 25th, 2022.  (credit: Igor Golovniov / SOPA Images / Sipa USA)
The arguments Russia’s government deploys to dehumanize Ukrainians are strikingly similar to the ones Israel’s government uses to dehumanize Palestinians.

By Peter Beinart | Jewish Currents | Mar 8, 2022

Official Russian and Israeli discourse differs in at least one important way. Putin argues that Ukrainians are really Russians, who must be dominated and absorbed. Meir and Netanyahu never argued that Palestinians are really Israelis or Jews.

In the days since Russia launched its full-scale invasion, Ukrainians and their supporters have been lionized for the same forms of resistance to oppression for which Palestinians are routinely condemned. Western television networks have approvingly broadcast video of Ukrainians assembling Molotov cocktails. Governors who signed legislation penalizing boycotts of Israel have promoted boycotts of Russia. When Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced last month that he would join a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council because “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine underscores the Council’s mission to promote human rights and respond when they are violated or abused,” the Palestinian American writer Yousef Munayyer noted that the US had left the Council because it “didn’t want to see accountability for human rights abuses and violations of law committed by Israel.”

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