The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Upcoming Events: August 29 — October 16, 2023

Tuesday, August 29, 7 pm CT
Reparations and the Palestinian Right of Return as Teshuvah (Repentence) for the Nakba: An online talk by Peter Beinart

Organizers suggest you may want to read this article by Beinart in Jewish Currents before the talk.

Details and registration here. Part of a series sponsored by Reconstructionists Expanding the Conversation on Israel-Palestine.

Saturday, September 16, 7 pm CT
Sep 16: Bright Stars of Bethlehem’s Virtual Fundraising Gala

Monday, October 16, 12 noon – 1:05 pm
Arab Women’s Revolutionary Art: Between Singularities and Multitudes
Ingraham 206, UW-Madison

Profesor Nevine El Nossery will discuss her latest book in which she explores the ways women in the contemporary Middle East and North Africa have re-imagined revolutionary discourses through creativity and collective action as a means of resistance. More information here.

Free Sami Huraini

Started January 10, 2021

Petition to United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’

Why this petition matters

Started by Palestine Partners

Palestinian human rights activist Sami Huraini was convicted by an Israeli military court on August 22, despite video evidence and multiple witnesses proving he was not guilty of the charges against him. He will be sentenced October 30.

Sami was arrested by Israeli forces during a pre-dawn raid on his home in the West Bank village of At-Tuwani on January 9, 2020.  The arrest occurred just hours after Sami’s participation in a nonviolent demonstration in the neighboring village of Al Rakeez, where Israeli soldiers shot and paralyzed an unarmed Palestinian man on New Year’s day.   Despite a complete lack of evidence and the peaceful nature of the protests, Mr Huraini has been charged with obstructing the peace and assaulting an Israeli soldier.  

Mr Huraini is a leading human rights activist in the Masafer Yatta (South Hebron Hills) area.  Residents of At Tuwani believe that his arrest is part of an effort to target him for his effectiveness as a community organizing and leadership of the nonviolent protests that have followed the January 1 shooting in nearby Al Rakeez. His arrest is an example of the widespread targeting  of activists by the Israeli military courts.  The Israeli practice of trying Palestinians in Israeli military courts results a conviction rate of over 99 percent and cannot be defended as just or democratic. 

We ask that you call on the Israeli government to drop the politically-motivated charges against Sami Huraini so that he can continue his work to protect human rights.

Here is Sami’s statement:

Today, 22 August 2023, Israel’s Ofer Military Court convicted me of two of the three charges against me, and for which I have been on trial since the start of 2021. The sentence that will be imposed on me by the Israeli military judge is set to take place in a court hearing on October 30, 2023 at 10.00 am in Ofer Military Court. The penalty that will be imposed on me is not known yet, but might include banning me from the peaceful activist work I am engaged in, imprisoning me, or forcing me to pay a fine. I will be punished for crimes I never committed. This unjust and unfair trial, in a court run by the Israeli occupation and operated by Israeli settlers, began when I and other activists called for justice for Harun Abu Aram by participating in a peaceful protest in 2021. Harun was shot by an Israeli soldier in the neck at point blank while he was trying to stop the army from confiscating a power generator belonging to his family in January 2021. Harun was paralyzed for two years until his death in February 2023 after he succumbed to his wounds. The Israeli murderer of Harun is free and was never, and will never be held accountable by Israel. On the other hand, as a human rights defender, I am being punished for defending my people’s human rights. This is part of Israeli attempts to silence and repress HRDs in their struggle for justice, freedom and human rights. Thank you all for attending today’s verdict hearing and for your solidarity and support. Please raise your voices in support of HRDs in Masafer Yatta and beyond. #DefendTheDefenders, #StopTargetingSami

Signatures: 4,242  Next Goal: 5,000

Sign this petition


New Masafer Yatta Project: Planting Olive Trees

Dear Friends,

I wanted to let you know that I will be returning to Palestine soon for the September 6th  trial of the settler who assaulted me and fractured my skull this spring.   I also wanted to let you know about an exciting new olive planting project in the village of Tuba.

I am so grateful to everyone who helped me recover – to all of you who helped me pay for medical care, for the excellent care I received in Palestine, and the friends who cared for me so well after the attack.

Now, as I return to Palestine, I am asking once again for your help, encouragement and support — not only for myself, but more importantly for the people there who I’ve grown to love and admire. All too often as I check Instagram and Facebook, I see the faces of  people dear to me — not celebrating births or weddings, but being viciously attacked by settlers living illegally on stolen land, or violently arrested by the Israeli army just for farming and  going about their daily life ON THEIR OWN LAND.

Just days after I was assaulted,  settlers from the same Illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on attacked a shepherd from Tuba village as he grazed his sheep, beating him as he lay on the ground and spraying pepper spray directly into his eyes and face. Over the summer settlers have stolen sheep, crops and land, broken, burned  and uprooted olive trees, forced their way into homes, broken up furniture, destroyed personal belongings, destroyed the village’s well, assaulted shepherds and generally waged a campaign of terror aimed at forcing residents to abandon their village.

None have faced legal consequences, making it abundantly clear that it is only my US citizenship (and your pressure on our elected officials to make that citizenship mean anything) that has resulted in any charges at all against the settler who hit me.

It is especially painful for me to see that in the many online images, in the background or even holding the camera, are the children I have watched grow up and the new generation that has followed.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO: Israeli settlers and soldiers prevent Palestinians from using their water well, located on privately owned land in the village of Tuba.

As I head back to Palestine, the new school year is about to begin in Masafer Yatta. Once again what should be a source of joy for children from Tuba and Maghyer al Abeed  will instead mean a terrifying daily walk through lands newly stolen and colonized  by the same settlers who have violently attacked their families throughout the summer, watched by the same soldiers who have repeatedly invaded their homes and arrested their fathers.

Students in Sfai and Jinbah will likely attend class without a school.  Last spring the children of Sfai watched  Israeli bulldozers destroy their school and then the tent put up to replace it. As I write this, Israeli authorities have announced that the Jinbah school could be demolished any day. Indeed, all of the villages within Masafer Yatta are facing complete demolition to make way for Israeli Firing Zone 918 and  Israeli settlers who are moving so aggressively to establish new outposts.

These children need to know they and their families are not alone.  As I get ready to go back, I’m inviting you to help me send that message by sponsoring an olive tree to be planted in Masafer Yatta in the coming growing season, as a practical act of solidarity, and a means of helping families to hold onto their land.

Along with friends from Tuba, I’ve partnered with the Dutch organization Plant An Olive Tree (Plant een Olijfboom) to plant a grove of trees on these lands. In this short video you can see the trees, and hear from my friend Ali on the importance of keeping the olive trees on the land.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO (Text is in Dutch, but audio is in English)

Israeli law allows for the seizure of land as “state land” if the landowner cannot prove the agricultural use of it for three years.  The planting of these trees, with international involvement, both replaces  trees destroyed by settlers, and creates proof of cultivation that can help private landowners keep their land in court. Plant An Olive Tree has been working with families in Palestine for decades to replace some of the one million olive trees destroyed by Israeli settlers and soldiers since 2001. I’m grateful to them for helping us to create the Madison-Masafer Yatta Grove and send a living message of support for nonviolent resistance. 

Sponsoring a tree costs 20 euros or about $24 US Dollars. You can use PayPal or a credit card.  Plant an Olive Tree will send a lovely printable certificate of sponsorship by email so you can gift your tree to honor a friend or relative who cares for both freedom and the planet. If you prefer, you can send a check made payable to Palestine Partners or Cassandra Dixon and marked “Olive Grove” to 3579 County Road G, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965. You can also donate through Palestine Partners online HERE .

Finally, I also plan to visit the talented women of Women in Hebron Cooperative, and my dear friend Laila while I am there. WIH provides women in the Hebron area with a way to earn money for their families through the sale of handmade jewelry and traditional Palestinian embroidery. I’m happy to invite you to purchase their lovely products in the US HERE, or click the link below to shop for wonderful gifts for yourself or a friend, and support these hardworking and talented Palestinian women. If you’d like to offer their handmade products at an event, please contact me and I would be thrilled to bring them.

Laila looks on from the entrance to Women in Hebron’s shop as Israeli soldiers fill the streets of Hebron’s Old City market. Photo by amer_shallodi #شاهد_صور

Thank you so much for your care, support and solidarity, and for caring about these people who have become so dear to me,


PS: If you would like to donate towards the cost of travel to Palestine, you can use this go-fund-me link, make a tax deductible donation to Palestine Partners HERE, or use the links below. If you prefer, you can mail a check, made out to either Palestine Partners or Cassandra Dixon, to Palestine Partners, PO Box 8414, Madison, WI 53708.

The violent lies of Israel’s president

When members of Congress applaud falsehoods about Israel being a vibrant democracy, they are aiding and abetting further oppression of Palestinians.


Israeli President Isaac Herzog at the Federation of Local Authorities conference in Tel Aviv, December 6, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Israeli President Isaac Herzog at the Federation of Local Authorities conference in Tel Aviv, December 6, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Israel’s president stood before a joint session of the U.S. Congress earlier this month and told a story — one the American lawmakers in attendance dearly wished to believe. The sound of their applause filled the room as he described Israel as a “strong and resilient” democracy that “stand[s] for liberty, equality, and freedom.” But wanting to believe a story doesn’t make it true. 

The deception and falsehoods in Isaac Herzog’s story are easily detectable these days. Everyone can see that it is absurd to speak of Israel as a thriving democracy even as hundreds of thousands of Israelis flood the streets to defend their rights and freedoms, fearful of a government that is pushing a racist, conservative, authoritarian, and violent worldview. But Herzog’s story is a lie not because Israel is suddenly in danger of no longer being a democracy, or because of the moves being carried out by extremist ministers in the current government, but because Israel has maintained a racist and discriminatory regime for as long as it has existed. 

To deflect criticism that might expose this lie, Israel raises the false flag of antisemitism to attack Senator Sanders, Congresswomen Jayapal, Tlaib, Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, and anyone else who insists on describing Israeli reality as it truly is: a reality of oppression and ongoing human rights abuses. A reality of apartheid

Over the years, Israel has developed various tools to help it maintain Jewish supremacy. While, as Jewish citizens, we can exercise our rights anywhere in the area Israel controls — whether we live in Tel Aviv or in a settlement in the West Bank — Palestinians’ rights hinge on where they live in the geographical divide-and-rule system Israel imposes and maintains: within the Green Line, in East Jerusalem, in the West Bank, or in the Gaza Strip. 

While Israel allows any Jew anywhere in the world to become a citizen, millions of Palestinians in the diaspora and in their homeland are denied citizenship, even if their parents were born here. Correspondingly, every Jewish citizen gets the right to vote for the Israeli parliament, while over five million Palestinians who live in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip cannot vote in the general elections as they are not considered citizens. 

A billboard by anti-occupation group B'Tselem in Bethlehem, ahead of the arrival of U.S. President Joe Biden's visit to the country, on July 14, 2022. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

A billboard by anti-occupation group B’Tselem in Bethlehem, ahead of the arrival of U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to the country, on July 14, 2022. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

The state has almost total control over land within the Green Line (over 90 percent of it is under state control), and since 1948, it has built hundreds of communities for Jews and almost none for Palestinians. In the West Bank, Israel built more than 200 settlements for Jews and allowed land use to serve the needs of Jews alone. Palestinians, on the other hand, are denied almost any sort of construction and development. 

The Israeli regime’s logic is realized in its most brutal form in the territories it has been occupying since 1967. In the West Bank, the killing of Palestinians is a daily affair, while entire communities are forced to leave their homes due to intolerable living conditions produced by the army’s restrictions and violence on the one hand, and on the other, an increasingly emboldened settler population that descends upon Palestinian villages to carry out pogroms with impunity. Meanwhile, in the Gaza Strip, more than two million people live in inhumane conditions, unable to leave or escape the world’s largest open-air prison

These are not stories, narratives. or opinions. These are facts.

As painful as it may be to admit, it is undeniable that Jewish supremacy is the Israeli regime’s guiding logic, and this isn’t being suppressed or hidden: five years ago, Israel enshrined it as a constitutional principle in Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People. The current government’s founding guidelines are even more explicit: “The Jewish people have an exclusive, indisputable right to the entire expanse of the Land of Israel,” the term used to refer to the whole area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. 

Israeli soldiers shoot tear gas at Palestinian protesters during a protest following Friday prayers at the main entrance to the West Bank town of Dura, south of Hebron, August 4, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/FLASH90)

Israeli soldiers shoot tear gas at Palestinian protesters during a protest following Friday prayers at the main entrance to the West Bank town of Dura, south of Hebron, August 4, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/FLASH90)

An apartheid regime is characterized by one group perpetuating its supremacy and control over another through government practices, laws, and organized violence. The Israeli regime is just that. We pride ourselves on being “the only democracy in the Middle East”; citizens of Apartheid South Africa, a country similarly divided into areas on the basis of race, told themselves and the world that they were “the only democracy in Africa.” They, too, had free and “democratic” elections — for whites only. But again, telling yourself a lie does not make it true. 

When members of Congress stand and cheer falsehoods about Israel being a vibrant democracy, they are not helping us move toward a different future, one based on equality, democracy, and human rights. They are aiding and abetting more oppression and more violence. They are upholding a lie that is turning us into a scared, broken, and cruel society. 

To change reality, you must first recognize it. Instead of applauding fairy tales, the world must recognize reality and help us dismantle the apartheid regime. Because everyone living between the river and the sea deserves to live in a true democracy.

Settler attacks and their impact on the Palestinians by Hamdan Huraini

“Saleh Awad, this is my name. I live in the village of Wadadah, in the South Hebron Hills, with eleven members of my family. My life is a simple and beautiful life. I rely on our sheep to earn a decent life for my children and my family, going out in the morning to graze them and returning home in the evening very tired. When I see my children though, my fatigue goes away immediately, as I eat and enjoy dinner with them.

But, you know, we are under a ruthless occupation by the Israeli military. My whole life has changed in the last three years. I have become fearful, anxious, and lack a sense of security, due to the Israeli settlers who built a sheep farm on the mountaintop just west of my house. The farm is only four hundred meters from my house. These days, the settlers from the farm regularly chase me from my land and expel my sheep from the pastures. I have suffered great losses from their actions, but I still say, I have to bear it, I will not leave my land.

One day, I was grazing my sheep near my house. Suddenly, I heard that three settlers were attacking my house and my children. I left my sheep and went to defend my house and my family. I know that I can’t confront them because they carry weapons, but you know the heart of a father. And it happened again, and again. They kept coming, to attack my house, my children, and my family. I became very anxious, I couldn’t sleep at night for fear of the settlers attacking my home.

So, I decided I needed to leave. I demolished my house with my own two hands. I was dying inside every moment of it, I felt so sad and depressed. But I told myself for the sake of my children and my family’s safety, it is what had to be done.

I left to an area close to the village and said that my family and I would be safe there, or that’s what I thought. But before I even built my house, the so-called Civil Administration of the Israeli military came and stopped me. They didn’t allow me to build, so here I am living in the open under the scorching sun with my family.”

Saleh Awad left his house in order to protect his family from the oppressive violence of the settlers. He was so scared in his house, he feared he would lose one of his children. He left his house thinking that he would be safe, but that didn’t happen. Instead, the Israeli occupation pursued him and stopped him from building a tent for him and his children.

It is hard to believe, to see Saleh in a world that lies when they call for human rights. What is happening here in the South Hebron Hills is a shame for those who call for human rights while not seeing the crimes that the settlers are committing against the Palestinians people.

Support Humans of Masafer Yatta

Launched a year ago
Keep up to date about what’s going on in Masafer Yatta.

The narcissism that blinds Israelis to Jenin’s oppression

Not only did the anti-government protests not condemn the assault on Jenin, its leaders even praised the ‘brave men’ who took part in the invasion.

Israelis block the Ayalon Highway during a protest against the Israeli government’s planned judicial overhaul and in response to the removal of Tel Aviv District Commander Amichai Eshed in Tel Aviv, July 5, 2023. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Orly Noy, +972 Magazine, July 7, 2023

As the drums of Israeli protesters continued to beat in Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport, and other locations across the country this week, the Israeli army began winding down a brutal invasion and assault on Jenin refugee camp that left behind destruction, devastation, and blood.

The sight of Palestinian refugees fleeing their homes in the dark, their hands raised over their heads, not only conjures memories of the Nakba. It is a reminder that the dispossession of Palestinians has never ended — that these very families either lost their homes in 1948, or are the descendants of those who did. Palestinians know full well that they are facing a belligerent, uninhibited state that, in the guise of security and victimhood, will spare no effort — dispossession, killing, ethnic cleansing. And perhaps the worst is yet to come.

Banner homepage/post desktop

Israel is used to presenting the occupation to the world as an internal Israeli matter, while its Jewish citizens are used to treating it as a matter of foreign affairs, disconnected from everyday life, like a war in some distant country. This, along with the deeply-seated militarism and the blind worship of the army in Israeli society, means that not only did the anti-government protests not come out against the assault on Jenin, its leaders even praised the “brave men” who took part in the invasion — the same ones who, among other things, bombed the Jenin Freedom Theatre, which serves as a paragon of the human spirit amid the hell that Israel has created in the camp.

As usual, it was Palestinian citizens of Israel who, together with a handful of Jewish activists, immediately led the protest against the army’s crimes in Jenin, and faced severe police violence in return. Meanwhile, faint criticism could also be heard from some on the Zionist left, who accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of launching a military operation in order to divert attention from and ultimately silence the public protest against him.Yet we must not reduce the invasion of Jenin to Netanyahu’s political calculus vis-à-vis the protest movement. The oppression of the Palestinians did not begin this past January with the beginning of the demonstrations, nor will it end when the demonstrations cease. The frequent, lethal attacks on Jenin, as well as the routine assaults on Gaza, the ongoing ethnic cleansing in the occupied territories, the encouragement of pogroms by settlers, and the crackdown on Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line — all of these are part of a greater Israeli policy, which is formulated with chilling precision in what Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich calls his Decisive Plan, which seeks to bring Palestinians to heel, and wholesale expel those who refuse to bow their heads.Those who wish to fight for true democracy must let go of the Jewish-Israeli narcissism that stops us from opening our eyes to the places where Israel tramples not only on the idea of democracy, but the very idea of what it means to be human, and begin our struggle from there.


Israel does not have a right to self-defense for its occupation

Israel’s “right to defend itself” is invoked constantly by its supporters, but international law says Israel cannot simultaneously occupy Palestinian land and attack it as a “foreign” threat, or treat those resisting as enemy combatants.



As Israel was invading and bombing Jenin this week, AIPAC was pumping out a simple message: “Israel is right to protect its citizens from terrorism.” Others echoed the same line, often including the false theory that Iran—which supports and backs Palestinian armed militant groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad—actually controls the Palestinian resistance, implying, ridiculously, that but for Iranian malfeasance, Palestinians wouldn’t be fighting against Israel’s occupation. 

Israel’s message from its own leaders makes the same case, with slightly different language. Opposition leader Yair Lapid, for example, put it this way: “”Our children are being slaughtered, and Israel has every right on earth to defend itself, and we from the opposition support the Israeli defense forces and the Israeli government on this matter.” Lapid made that statement in English, meaning it was the version of Israel’s message that was meant for foreign audiences, particularly Americans.

Members of Congress were also sure not to miss an opportunity to support the killing of Palestinians. There was Josh Gottheimer, the New Jersey Democrat: “Israel has every right to defend itself, especially as the PA loses control of Jenin, which has become a hub of Iranian-backed terrorist activity in the West Bank.”

And there was Florida Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz: “Israel has the unequivocal right to defend itself against perpetrators of violence and terrorist attacks.” And of course, several Republicans chimed in with similar support

The so-called “progressive Democrat” Ritchie Torres of New York would never let such an opportunity to pay back AIPAC and similar groups for their largesse. He tweeted, “The Palestinian Authority has all but abandoned Jenin, leaving behind a power vacuum that has been filled by terrorists. In the past six months, those terrorists made Jenin a launching pad for more than 50 shooting attacks against Israelis. Israel is responding with a counterterrorism operation aimed at surgically removing these terrorists and their terror infrastructure. There’s a word for this: self-defense, which is the right of every sovereign country, including Israel.”

The mantra of Israel’s “right to defend itself” is repeated incessantly and rarely questioned. Even Palestinians and Palestine advocates are often reluctant to debate the “right to self defense.” From the beginning of Israel’s existence as a state, this justification has been used to deny Palestinians the right to their property, to their homes, and to their freedom. It was used to justify the theft of Palestinian property in the wake of both the 1948 and 1967 wars, and to excuse the imposition of martial law on Palestinians in side the new state for nearly two full decades. 

The mantra of Israel’s “right to defend itself” is invoked at virtually every turn not only by Israel and its supporters, but also by friendly governments in the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, and other places. 

So here’s a news flash: Israel actually does not have the right to defend itself in terms of the West Bank and Gaza. It has the right to protect its citizens, but it does not have the right to use overwhelming military force against people under its occupation. 

Israel may take measures to protect its citizens—one of the most obvious would be to desist from putting them in harm’s way by planting settlements in the middle of occupied territory.  It may also protect them using the police powers an occupier must have, powers which, it must be emphasized, are primarily in place to maintain law and order and protect the safety of those under occupation for whom Israel is ultimately responsible. It cannot sign an agreement like the Oslo Accords and thereby remove that responsibility for the welfare of people under occupation from itself. Palestinian Authority or no, the occupier remains responsible for the welfare of the people under occupation. 

It can feel counterintuitive to confront this reality of international law and norms. When it was first pointed out to me, I was shocked, and in fact, pushed back against the notion. Yet international law is clear on this point. For the full explanation, I refer you to this remarkable article by Palestinian legal expert and scholar Prof. Noura Erakat, which lays out the case in clear, meticulous language. It is an indispensable read for anyone advocating for Palestinian rights. 

The short of it, though is that Israel treats Jenin, indeed the entire West Bank and Gaza, as enemy territory. In Gaza, Israel actually formalized that label in 2007, designating the Strip “enemy territory.” It can’t do the same in the West Bank because of the settlements dotted throughout that territory, and the attack this week on Jenin shows it doesn’t need to. The designation of Gaza was part of Israel’s attempt to convince the world that, despite controlling Gaza’s eastern and northern land border, coordinating control of its southern border with Egypt, controlling the sea on Gaza’s west, and controlling Gaza’s airspace, Israel’s decision to withdraw its troops and settler from inside the Strip and turn it into the world’s biggest open air prison meant that Gaza was no longer occupied. 

But Israel found that it didn’t matter. They could fire missiles at Gaza, murder children on its beaches, and gun down people protesting on their side of the border with absolute impunity, just as it would in time of war, and could do all of that whether or not anyone accepted the argument that Gaza was no longer occupied, an argument most of the world rejected. Israel is now demonstrating that same, elevated level of impunity in the West Bank, further diminishing the already meager restraint there has been on Israel’s use of overwhelming force. 

As Prof. Erakat explained, “A state cannot simultaneously exercise control over territory it occupies and militarily attack that territory on the claim that it is ‘foreign’ and poses an exogenous national security threat. In doing precisely that, Israel is asserting rights that may be consistent with colonial domination but simply do not exist under international law.”

Israel’s defenders elide this point by creating an alternative reality. One piece of that reality is that there is a Palestinian government that was created by the Oslo Accords and which governs parts of the West Bank to varying degrees. In the designated Area A, which includes Jenin, that governance is argued to be the same as any government. 

That’s simply not true, as the repeated incursions, not to mention the regular closures and presence of soldiers and checkpoints around Jenin make clear. Israel, which has never declared its own borders, occupies the entire West Bank. It collects, and often withholds, taxes from the PA, while Palestinian security forces are focused primarily on coordinating with Israel to combat militants—in other words, Palestinian security is primarily set up to protect Israelis, and, secondarily, the increasingly illegitimate and authoritarian rule of the Vichy-like Palestinian Authority, not to protect ordinary Palestinians. 

Yet Israel then claims it has a right of “self-defense.” Of course, the fact that such a right does not exist does not mean it must sit idly while its citizens are attacked. But, again quoting Prof. Erakat, “As long as the occupation continues, Israel has the right to protect itself and its citizens from attacks by Palestinians who reside in the occupied territories. However, Israel also has a duty to maintain law and order, also known as ‘normal life,’ within territory it occupies. This obligation includes not only ensuring but prioritizing the security and well-being of the occupied population.”

There is a distinction between the right—indeed the responsibility—to protect the people under its authority, citizens and occupied people alike; and the right of self-defense in war or something akin to it. While Israel’s apologists like to characterize Israel-Palestine as a war, it is not. In the West Bank and Gaza it is an occupation. In an occupation, the occupied people have a right to resist, including armed resistance, although doing so via arms means those individuals participating are combatants and not protected civilians. 

Not only is Israel shunning its responsibility to protect those under occupation, it is willfully putting its own citizens in danger by using them as a means to enhance and solidify its occupation and by permitting civilians to take up arms and commit acts of violence against the occupied people. You can’t, on the one hand, maintain a draconian military occupation which, by definition, conveys the right of resistance to the occupied and then, on the other hand, claim that you have the right to use overwhelming military force against the occupied people and consider those people an extra-territorial enemy. You get to have your cake or to eat it, not both. 

Former UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories John Dugard explains the distinction between a state acting in self-defense and one using force to maintain a military occupation. In Israel’s case, its efforts to slowly annex the territories it occupies instead of working toward a withdrawal and ending of that occupation, as it is legally obliged to do, mean that the occupation itself is illegal. Nonetheless, it is still subject to the international laws of occupation. 

As Dugard puts it, “A state seeking to enforce its occupation, like a state acting in self-defense, must comply with international humanitarian law. This includes respect for the principle of proportionality, respect for civilians and the drawing of a distinction between military and civilian targets, and the prohibition of collective punishment. Both Israel and Palestinian militants are obliged to act within the confines of these rules.”

Both Israel and Palestinian militant groups violate the principle of distinction, but Israel has a much greater capacity to avoid this, and fails to do so, despite repeatedly claiming it makes every effort to comply. Israel also routinely violates the principle of proportionality and collective punishment which Palestinian groups, for the most part, are not capable of violating due to their vastly more limited military capabilities. 

The claim to self-defense sounds right. We feel like even if someone is in the wrong in a dispute, if that person is confronted by violence, they have the right to respond and defend themselves. But occupying states, or states engaged in armed conflict, are not the same as individuals. Occupying powers, in particular, have a responsibility to maintain law and order for all under their control and to work to end that occupation. These guidelines are meant to work to minimize the causes of violence, and, to the extent they fail, the occupier has police powers to address this. But it does not have right to treat those resisting an illegal and brutal occupation as enemy combatants. Nor does it have the right to treat the areas under occupation as enemy territory as if in a war. And it really doesn’t matter how many racist presidents, secretaries of state, or members of Congress say otherwise.  

  • Mitchell Plitnick

    Mitchell Plitnick is the president of ReThinking Foreign Policy. He is the co-author, with Marc Lamont Hill, of Except for Palestine: The Limits of Progressive Politics. Mitchell’s previous positions include vice president at the Foundation for Middle East Peace, Director of the US Office of B’Tselem, and Co-Director of Jewish Voice for Peace.

    You can find him on Twitter @MJPlitnick.

Jenin by American Jewish Cartoonist Eli Valley


Jenin by Eli Valley, July 7, 2023

Jewish Cartoonist Eli Valley Sparks Angry Debate About anti-Semitism

His comics often employ Nazi imagery satirically and he’s explicit about the point: To him, Trump and his allies are modern-day Nazis, and their Jewish supporters are ‘worse-than-kapos’

Eli Valley (Credit: Loubna Mrie)

JTA and Ben Sales, Haaretz, May 12, 2019

Is Eli Valley a brave Jewish artist speaking truth to power at a moment of national crisis? Or is he a self-hating Jew spreading anti-Semitic caricatures and slandering the state of Israel?

Judging by those who’ve stoked the Twitterstorm that’s raged around Valley this week, those seem to be the only two available options.

After a pro-Palestinian group at Stanford University posted flyers about his upcoming appearance as the keynote speaker for Palestine Awareness Week, critics pounced. Bad enough that a Jew would speak at an event sponsored by anti-Zionists, they said, but the cartoons advertising his talk were themselves anti-Semitic in their message and imagery.

Valley dismisses the charge. A Jewish political cartoonist, he has skewered American Jewish leaders — and especially Jewish Republicans — as hypocrites for more than a decade. He’s unsparing in his leftist criticism of Israel and its treatment of Palestinians and what he depicts as the Jewish establishment’s unwavering support of it. A book of his comics, “Diaspora Boy,” was published in 2017.

Since 2015, his pen has stabbed at President Donald Trump, Jared, Ivanka and the people he sees as the administration’s Jewish enablers. His targets include conservative pundit Ben Shapiro, New York Times writers Bari Weiss and Bret Stephens, and, of late, Meghan McCain, the philo-Semitic co-host of “The View.”

Often, those comics — mostly drawn in a ghoulish black and white — employ Nazi imagery satirically. He’s explicit about the point: To him, Trump and his allies are modern-day Nazis, and their Jewish supporters are “worse-than-kapos.” He pointed to Trump retweeting a white nationalist last week and, earlier, a Republican congressman quoting “Mein Kampf” from the floor of the House.

“Trump is a hero of American Nazism,” Valley told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “That the GOP is merging with Nazism, merging with anti-Semitism, and merging with virulent Jew-hatred is astonishing.”

He’s dived into that idea in his art: One shows Gary Cohn and Steve Mnuchin, at the time both Jewish Trump appointees, in concentration camp uniforms with the label “Sr. Kapo.” Another shows the Republican Jewish Coalition hoping to “Make America Judenrein,” German for empty of Jews. A third shows Weiss, Stephens and others featured in a “Haggadah for Nazi-Friendly Jews.”

For those on his wavelength, Valley is exposing his Jewish targets as hypocrites, enablers and worse.

To Valley’s critics — including some of the aforementioned targets — he is simply attacking Jews in ways that are indistinguishable from the way they’d be portrayed by an anti-Semite.

What sparked the latest Twitter conflagration is an op-ed in The Stanford Daily, the school’s student newspaper, comparing Valley’s comics to Der Stürmer, the Nazi paper.

Valley is scheduled to speak on campus Friday, co-sponsored by two pro-Palestinian groups, Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine, and some of his comics were posted to advertise the event. One featured Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew, justifying the White House’s draconian immigration policies by inverting the messages of the Passover seder.

“For those unfamiliar with Mr. Valley’s work, it ranges from the morally repugnant to ethically disgusting,” wrote Ari Hoffman, a Stanford law student who is Jewish. “Like most hate, it’s remarkably lacking in insight. It is crude and disgusting, and its ceaseless recourse to Nazi imagery is matched only by its slavish devotion to the age-old tropes of Jewish caricature.”

Then Weiss, an editor for The Times’ op-ed page, shared Hoffman’s essay on Twitter and endorsed his assertion that Valley’s work traffics in “hatred that gloms onto Jews and the Jewish State.”

Then the whole thing blew up. Pro-Israel advocates attacked Valley, like the Israel on Campus Coalition, which also compared the art to Der Sturmer.

Linda Sarsour, the Democratic Socialists of America’s unofficial Jewish caucus and a range of other leftists defended him.

Two women also accused some of Valley’s supporters on Twitter of harassing them with sexist obscenities. Writer Ariel Sobel called it the “worst sexual harassment I’ve ever received online,” and progressive activist Naomi Schmahl tweeted screenshots of the harassment, including someone calling her a “kapo b****” and a “c***.” In a reply to Sobel, Valley wrote that the harassment is “inexcusable and obscene.”

Still others accused Weiss and Hoffman of seeking to censor speakers they disagreed with.

Because of the controversy over the op-ed, Valley’s Stanford talk has been limited to students and faculty.

“I’m not going to let bad faith malicious assholes get me down, but it’s disturbing that a smear campaign was spearheaded by a New York Times columnist, and that lies about my work were spread through the ecosphere,” Valley told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

He added later that he sees Hoffman’s op-ed as of a piece with right-wing attempts to divert attention from white supremacists.

“Nobody has said I’m a member of the Nazi Party,” he said. “But they’re making flat out connections between my work and Nazis at a time when we’re dealing with a white nationalist horror-show.”

Hoffman stands by the comparison, and said Holocaust imagery can “preclude useful conversation rather than enable it.”

“He has every right to his extraordinarily hostile positions on Israel and certain individual Jews,” he said. “But the use of Holocaust imagery is over the line when it’s tied to a kind of grotesqueness, and it’s used to dehumanize certain Jews with which he has political disagreements. That’s a tactic that is gross and is anti-Semitic.”

Valley agrees that his work is grotesque — and to him that’s precisely the point. He says he’s following a long tradition of grotesque artists and political cartoonists, from Otto Dix after World War I to Mad Magazine. Calling his comics Der Sturmer-esque, he and his supporters say, betrays a lack of knowledge of his discipline.

“When people started calling his art ugly or saying that the ugliness of his art matched the vitriol, he decided to lean into that,” said Miriam Libicki, an Israeli-American graphic novelist living in Canada who has known Valley for more than a decade. “There is definitely a tradition of the grotesque … It’s definitely part of his brand. He doesn’t need to make anything look good.”

For a while, much of Valley’s work was directed toward Jewish communal leaders and organizations, along with the politics of Israel among American Jewry. It’s a world he knew well, as the editor of the Steinhardt Foundation’s now defunct magazine of Jewish ideas, Contact.

Since the 2016 election, he says, he’s widened his lens to the broader political conversation and Trump.

“The major difference between now and then is that my comics have become angrier because of what has happened in this country,” he said. “We’re off the cliff right now and we’re like Wile E. Coyote rapidly moving his legs, hoping he’s not gonna plummet. How can you not be enraged by what’s happening?”

But much of his work still revolves around Jews and Jewish institutions. Hoffman believes that’s damaging to Jews, especially when his images are posted across campus, in a place where people may not understand the Jewish and historical context Valley is referencing.

“Could I see a context in which intra-Jewish conversation is the scene of harsher and more vociferous or even vicious satire and argumentation? Of course,” Hoffman said. “But when these are put up on a campus, co-sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine and seen by students of all backgrounds, what’s important is not that he’s Jewish but how Jews are depicted in these cartoons.”

Valley sees the bifurcation of the world into Jewish and non-Jewish spheres as a confining separation during a time when urgent action is needed.

“If you’re suggesting that Jewish artists should not engage in critical commentary because some viewers out there might be ignorant of the personalities and issues, what you’re suggesting is self-censorship in favor of the lowest common denominator consumer of art at a time of resurgent fascism throughout the world,” he wrote in an email. “That’s horrifying to me.”

Valley has embraced the invective his art has attracted. The publisher’s web page for “Diaspora Boy” features praise from several publications. Then, at the bottom, there are quotes from longtime Valley critics calling his work “bigoted,” “wretched” and “One of the most antisemitic things I’ve ever seen.”

The author of that last quote? Meghan McCain, in a tweet.

‘Why did this happen?’

Israel’s raid on Jenin, through the eyes of one family

Hussein Shibly looks out Saturday from his home, which was damaged in the Israeli raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank this month. (Lorenzo Tugnoli for The Washington Post)

Steve Hendrix and Sufian Taha, The Washington Post, July 9, 2023

JENIN REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank — Hussein Shibly walked home after Friday prayers through a city struggling to return from devastation to mere poverty. A bulldozer lifted a crushed car; men patched bullet holes in a rooftop water tank; a fire engine washed soot from a crowded street.

Reaching his family’s home, Shibly climbed the stairs to a living room, reduced to a charred cave by a shoulder-fired missile. “Is this fit to live in?” he asked, standing among the blackened skeletons of couches and chairs. “Why did this happen to us?”

Shibly and his neighbors are reeling from Israel’s largest military operation in the occupied West Bank in decades, a two-day incursion that unleashed firefights and air attacks on these steep streets densely packed with houses.

Israeli forces launch major operation in West Bank city, killing at least 8

Israel said the assault on the Jenin refugee camp, long known as a bastion of armed Palestinian militancy, was a security imperative — to erode the strength of an expanding terrorist base. At least 50 attacks inside Israel this year originated here, officials said. The 12 Palestinians killed in the operation were all known militants, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

But for families trapped in the camp by fighting, it was 44 hours of terror. Thousands of residents did manage to flee. Others hunkered down in bedrooms and bathrooms. Few suffered the range of horrors endured by the Shiblys.

Jenin camp residents clean up Friday after the destruction inflicted during the Israeli military operation July 3 and 4. (Lorenzo Tugnoli for The Washington Post)

The paved surface of the camp’s main road was bulldozed during the raid as a measure against hidden explosive devices. (Lorenzo Tugnoli for The Washington Post)

Hussein, 69, was up late watching television Sunday, his usual routine after years spent working the night shift at an Israeli meat processing plant. He was born in this camp, where at least 14,000 people, possibly many more, are packed into an area measuring less than half a square kilometer. Poverty and unemployment are rampant. Raids by Israeli commandos are common.

That night, rumors of a big operation were swirling. But no one knew what was coming.

Around 1 a.m. Monday, Hussein saw a report on Israeli news: IDF soldiers had entered the camp. Then he heard drones, many of them. “They are going to bomb,” he thought. Then came an explosion.

The Shibly family lives in nine apartments in three connected houses owned by Hussein and his two brothers. They are accustomed to Israeli raids. Within minutes, dozens of members of the extended family had rushed to the basement.

Almost 50 people were crowded in the low dark spaces that Hussein’s nephew Fadi uses to breed parakeets. Scores of birds fluttered and screeched as gun battles raged outside. All through the night and all day Monday, the family listened and waited, lighting candles after the power went out a few hours into the fight.

“The children were terrified,” Hussein said.

But Fadi, 34, worried about his pregnant wife and 3-year-old son in the crowded basement, stayed in his second-floor apartment. With his family huddled low in a living room, Fadi kept watch through a small bathroom window.

The Shibly compound, high on a steep street, commands a wide view of the camp. He could see Israeli troops moving below. Neighbors called neighbors with updates.

New weapons, tactics further entangle U.S. in Israeli-Palestinian conflict

“Now they are going into Jaffar’s,” Fadi recalled. “Now they are raiding your cousin’s house.”

Around 11 p.m. Monday, he got this call: “Fadi, they are coming to you.”

A view Friday of the Jenin refugee camp and Jenin city beyond from the roof of the Shibly family’s compound. Hussein Shibly said he thinks Israeli troops occupied his house during the raid because it affords a view of the whole camp. (Lorenzo Tugnoli for The Washington Post)

Fadi Shibly stayed in his apartment at the family compound with his pregnant wife and 3-year-old son when the raid began. Israeli soldiers took over the house and used it as a firing point before letting the three and the extended family hiding in the basement leave. (Lorenzo Tugnoli for The Washington Post)

He heard a racket downstairs, and, suddenly, the two doors of his apartment crashed in simultaneously, shattering the frames. About 12 soldiers poured in, all clad in body armor and wearing headlamps.

Fadi, with his son crying in his arms and his wife clutching his side, stood before them and pleaded in Hebrew: “Easy! Easy! A little one here!” he remembers saying.

“Your ID,” the leader commanded in Arabic. “Where are the terrorists?”

The soldiers blew out the candles, cuffed Fadi with plastic ties and ordered the three into the living room. Through the open door, they watched the troops search through cupboards. One set up at the wide kitchen window. Soon, he began firing in long bursts with his automatic rifle. Bullet casings fell by the hundreds onto the tile floor.

“Please!” Fadi shouted. “The boy is terrified.”

Below, the other family members were in despair. Fadi had stopped responding.

“We thought he was dead,” Hussein said. “The women were screaming and crying.”

The firing continued. Fadi’s wife asked to get a toy for the child, and a commander led Fadi to a bedroom filled with plastic trucks and scooters. When the soldier saw a toy machine gun by the door, he swore, Fadi said, hit him on the shoulder with his rifle butt and pushed him back to the living room.

They asked to join their family in the basement. The commander said no, Fadi recounted. They all would be leaving soon, he told them.

About midnight, calls came from a loudspeaker: “Get out! Get out! You will be safe.”

Fadi Shibly in the basement area where about 50 members of his extended family hid during much of the Israeli raid. (Lorenzo Tugnoli for The Washington Post)

Members of the Shibly family in the courtyard of their compound Friday evening. (Lorenzo Tugnoli for The Washington Post)

The people in the basement scrambled to gather documents and diapers and rushed to the courtyard, where they found a firetruck, a Red Crescent team and Fadi’s family. They surrounded them, hugging and crying, as a medic cut Fadi’s cuffs off.

“Walk out together,” a firefighter advised them. “Men should stay in a group with the women and children so they will not get shot.”

They picked their way down the lanes, over rubble and downed cables. One long street was plowed like a farm furrow where Israeli bulldozers had intentionally detonated explosives embedded in the pavement.

Once outside the camp, the family spread out to the homes of relatives. Hussein was glued to the television.

Late Tuesday, he saw reports that a shoulder-fired missile had struck near the Abdullah Azzam mosque in his neighborhood.

“I saw that it wasn’t the mosque that was harmed; it was our house,” he said. “I watched on TV, fire eating up my son’s house.”

It was still smoldering when he returned Wednesday morning, a few hours after Israeli forces pulled out of the Jenin camp. Fadi’s apartment was littered with bullet casings.

The first Friday prayers at the central mosque in the Jenin camp after last week’s Israeli military raid. (Lorenzo Tugnoli for The Washington Post)

The damaged basement of a mosque in the camp. Palestinian militants had fortified the space with sandbags, and the Israel Defense Forces said soldiers found tunnels and bombmaking materials in the complex. (Lorenzo Tugnoli for The Washington Post)

Hussein said that there had been no reason to target their compound — that no one in the family was involved with militant groups, and that none were wanted by the Israelis.

“We all have permits to work in Israel. They know us well,” said Hussein, recalling his years working side by side with Israeli Jews on a kosher-compliance team, led by a rabbi, that monitored animal health conditions.

The Israeli military did not respond to a request for comment on why the Shibly house might have been targeted.

On Friday, as a surveillance drone hovered overhead, life was returning to the compound. Women cooked in Hussein’s ground-floor apartment. Fadi tended to his birds. About 20 of them had died of lack of food during the incursion, he said.

The United Nations has called for donors to help rebuild Jenin. The United Arab Emirates pledged $15 million on Thursday. But Hussein is skeptical.

“We hear about money on the news, but we never see any of it,” he said. He has little faith that things will change. Jenin will remain poor, and Israeli forces will return.

“They will be back,” Hussein said. “They said they wanted to eliminate resistance in Jenin. But they will not.”

Shibly family members at breakfast Saturday. (Lorenzo Tugnoli for The Washington Post)

Emergency Aid for Jenin and Petition to Congress

As you know Jenin recently endured an especially deadly and destructive assault by the Israeli armed forces.  (See this AlJazeera link for details, pictures and videos).

Please consider donating to the emergency relief campaign organized by our friends at the Middle East Children’s Alliance, details below. You can also send a check to MECA’s mailing address below.

Please sign this petition to Congress from Jewish Voice for Peace condemning Israel’s military invasion of Jenin.

You may also want to read these analytical articles:

Middle East Children's Alliance

Dear Friend of Palestinian Children,

“ … it was impossible for the inhabitants of Jenin to sleep, young and old alike. My daughter, Salma, was terrified by the blaring warning sirens that announced the army’s incursion, her tears flowing uncontrollably.”

Mustafa Sheta, Director of MECA’s partner The Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp Palestine wrote these words on July 3rd as the Israeli occupation forces launched a brutal invasion of Jenin.

You can read Mustafa’s full account here but first, please make the most generous contribution you can so local initiatives can get aid to people immediately.

For 48 hours the people in the crowded and besieged refugee camp experienced an unbelievable nightmare. The ground shook with the boom of explosions; rounds of Israel’s artillery and machine gun fire drowned out ambulance sirens and shouts and screams. Roads were littered with bullet casings and broken glass, and the air was filled with teargas. In scenes reminiscent of the Nakba, Israeli soldiers tear-gassed children and parents as they fled the refugee camp, their home since they were expelled from their villages 75 years ago, in search of somewhere safer.

3,000 people were displaced, 140 were injured (20 in critical condition) and 13 were killed, including four children.  Homes, roads, water networks, schools, clinics, and community centers are damaged or destroyed.  The physical and psychological damage is immense.

Please don’t wait.

Make your secure online contribution now so that MECA’s Palestinian partners in Jenin can continue to deliver food, water, first aid, and more to the traumatized and displaced children in Jenin.  

With appreciation for your solidarity and support,
The entire MECA Team

Middle East Children’s Alliance
1101 8th Street, Suite 100
Berkeley, CA 94710

In Jenin, Israel is unveiling the next phase of apartheid

Palestinians in West Bank cities are fast discovering that if their expulsion won’t be possible, Gazafication will be their future.

Palestinians gather around parts of an Israeli armored vehicle after it was destroyed during clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters in the West Bank city of Jenin, June 19, 2023. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
Palestinians gather around parts of an Israeli armored vehicle after it was destroyed during clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters in the West Bank city of Jenin, June 19, 2023. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Amjad Iraqi, +972 Magazine, June 30, 2023

This article originally appeared in “The Landline,” +972’s weekly newsletter. Subscribe here.

The horrifying sight of settler pogroms last week, in which hundreds of Israelis rampaged through Palestinian villages in the occupied West Bank after a deadly shooting in the settlement of Eli, has pushed Israel’s security authorities into a very uncomfortable corner. Embarrassed by the viral images of burning homes, charred vehicles, and destroyed businesses, the army, police, and Shin Bet jointly denounced the attacks as “nationalist terrorism” that “contradict every moral and Jewish value.” The IDF has been particularly eager to present itself as a responsible body that will restore law and order, promising to take every measure against those “who act in a violent and extreme manner inside the Palestinian towns.”

Putting aside the glaring fact that the army is one of the principal institutions providing settlers with the resources, protection, and confidence to carry out such wanton violence, there is another reason why this public relations maneuver should be called out for the farce that it is.

On June 19, just days before the pogroms, an Israeli Apache helicopter fired missiles into the West Bank city of Jenin during a fierce battle between raiding army units and Palestinian fighters, purportedly to “provide cover” for evacuating wounded soldiers; five Palestinians including a 15-year-old boy were killed, and 90 were injured. Two days later, an Israeli drone fired at a Palestinian militant cell near Jenin, said to target gunmen responsible for several attacks including at a checkpoint. Both operations were quickly overshadowed in the ensuing days by the Eli shooting and the settler violence that followed.

Far from being one-off incidents, the aerial assaults reveal a dangerous phase in the evolution of Israel’s occupation. The air strikes are reportedly the first in the West Bank in two decades, awakening the nightmares of many Palestinians who ran for cover or suffered wounds from helicopter attacks during the Second Intifada. In that time, though, aerial warfare became the modus operandi in the Gaza Strip, accelerated by Israel’s withdrawal of its settlements in 2005 and the total blockade of the territory following Hamas’ takeover.

Palestinians in Gaza protest in solidarity with Palestinians in Jenin following Israeli military raids into the West Bank city, at the Israel-Gaza border fence, east of Gaza City, June 19, 2023. (Atia Mohammed/Flash90)

Palestinians in Gaza protest in solidarity with Palestinians in Jenin following Israeli military raids into the West Bank city, at the Israel-Gaza border fence, east of Gaza City, June 19, 2023. (Atia Mohammed/Flash90)

This reconfiguration of military rule has intentionally produced a physical and psychological separation between the West Bank and Gaza, abetted by the fratricidal rivalry between Fatah and Hamas. As that distance normalized, the two territories became regarded as disconnected and incomparable. Even well-meaning advocates — in their heavy focus on settlements and annexation — often fell into the trap of forgetting Gaza outside the scope of wartime, deeming it an anomaly in the context of the “one-state reality.” But as many activists, scholars, and experts have warned, the structures used to confine and suppress Gaza are not a deviation from Israel’s methodology, but a natural continuation of it. And that was made clear over the skies of Jenin last week.

Like Gaza, Jenin has long been a center of Palestinian social life and political resistance — and as such, a target of vicious repression. For over a year, the Israeli army has carried out a deadly and protracted operation in the city, repeatedly closing off the region while ground troops break into civilian homes and destroy public infrastructure on a near-weekly basis. The Palestinian armed groups, led by young men who have only known a life of despair and death, have put up a relentless fight, and have recently shown that they can make it even more difficult for Israeli troops to invade — a fact that forced the army to desperately turn to air power last week. The bombardment of a populated urban area, together with the city’s collective punishment, is further justified by the demonization of Jenin as a “cesspool of terrorism” requiring constant intervention — in essence, the same doctrine of “mowing the lawn” that is applied in the blockaded strip a few kilometers away.

As such, Gaza is hardly an exception to the rule of Israeli apartheid. Rather, it is the ultimate bantustan — the model for controlling and weakening a native population in a besieged space, using modern weapons and technology, with local rulers to handle their basic needs, at minimal cost to the settler society surrounding them. West Bank centers like Jenin and Nablus, already subjected to various forms of closure and invasion, are now catching a glimpse of what is yet to come. For many people there, the main experience of Israelis may no longer be of raiding troops or marauding settlers, but of soaring jets and humming drones. If the expulsion of Palestinians won’t be possible, Gazafication will be their future.

That is why it is a morbid joke to hear IDF Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi, days after the settler pogroms, preaching at an army commencement ceremony: “An officer who sees an Israeli citizen, intending to throw a Molotov cocktail at a Palestinian house and stands idly by, cannot be an officer.” The army may feign distress over settlers committing “nationalist terrorism,” but it openly commands its soldiers to do the same, so long as it is done in uniform. Either way, despite Halevi’s claim, it is clear that an Israeli who oversees brutal violence in Gaza can easily find a path to becoming a general-turned-politician. An Israeli inciting the same violence in the West Bank, meanwhile, can now aspire to become minister of national security.

The Armed Revolt: Why Israel Cannot Crush the Resistance in Palestine

Palestinian residents confront Israeli occupation forces in the Shuafat refugee camp. (Photo: via

Ramzy Baroud, July 1, 2023

Numbers can be dehumanizing. However, when placed in their proper context, they help to illuminate wider issues and answer urgent questions, such as why is Occupied Palestine at the threshold of a major revolt. And why Israel cannot crush Palestinian resistance no matter how hard, or violently, it tries.

That’s when numbers become relevant. Since the start of this year, nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza. Among them are 27 children.

If one is to imagine a heat map correlating the towns, villages, and refugee camps of the Palestinian victims to the ongoing armed rebellion, one will immediately spot direct connections. Gaza, Jenin, and Nablus, for example, paid the heaviest price for Israeli violence, making them the regions that resist the most.

Unsurprisingly, Palestinian refugees have historically been at the forefront of the Palestinian liberation movement, turning refugee camps such as Jenin, Balata, Aqabat Jabr, Jabaliya, Nuseirat and others, into hot spots of popular and armed resistance. The harder Israel attempts to crush Palestinian resistance, the greater the Palestinian reaction is.

Take Jenin as an example. The rebellious refugee camp has never ceased its resistance to the Israeli occupation since the famous battle and subsequent Israeli massacre of April 2002. The resistance continued there in all of its forms, despite the fact that many of the fighters who defended the camp against the Israeli invasion of the Second Palestinian Uprising, or Intifada were killed or imprisoned.

Now that a new generation has taken over, Israel is at it again. Military incursions of Jenin by Israel have become a routine, resulting in a mounting number of casualties, though at a price for Israel itself.

The most notable and violent of these incursions was on January 26, when the Israeli army invaded the camp, killed ten Palestinians, and wounded over twenty others.

More Palestinians continue to be killed as Israeli raids become more frequent. And the more recurrent the raids, the tougher the resistance, which has swelled beyond the confines of Jenin itself to nearby illegal Jewish settlements, military checkpoints, and so on. It is common knowledge that many of the Palestinians who Israel accuses of carrying out operations against its soldiers and settlers come from Jenin.

Israelis may want to think of their violence in Palestine as self-defense. But that is simply inaccurate. A military occupier, whether in Palestine – or anywhere else, for that matter – cannot, by strict legal definition, be in a state of self-defense. The latter concept only applies to sovereign nations that attempt to defend against threats at or within their internationally recognized borders.

Not only is Israel defined by the international community and law as an ‘Occupying Power’, but it is also legally obligated to “ensure that the civilian population is protected against all acts of violence,” as a statement by the Secretary-General of the United Nations stated on June 20.

The statement was a reference to the killing of eight Palestinians in Jenin, a day earlier. The victims included two children, Sadil Ghassan Turkman, 14, and Ahmed Saqr, 15. Needless to say, Israel is not invested in the ‘protection’ of these and other Palestinian children. It is the entity that is doing the harm.

But since the UN and others within the international community are content with the issuing of statements – ‘reminding Israel’ of its responsibility, expressing ‘deep concerns’ about the situation or, in the case of Washington, even blaming Palestinians – what other options do Palestinians have, but to resist?

The rise of the Lions’ Den, the Jenin Brigades, the Nablus Brigades, and many other such groups and brigades, made mostly of poor and poorly armed Palestinian refugees, is hardly a mystery. One fights when one is oppressed, humiliated, and routinely violated. This role has governed human relations and conflicts since the very beginning.

But the rise of the Palestinians must be distressing for those who want to maintain the status quo. One is the Palestinian Authority.

The PA stands to lose much if the Palestinian revolt spreads beyond the boundaries of the northern West Bank. PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who enjoys little legitimacy, will have no political role to play. Without such a role, however artificial, foreign funds will quickly dry, and the party will be over.

For Israel, the stakes are also high.

The Israeli military under the leadership of Netanyahu’s enemy, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, wants to escalate the fight against Palestinians without repeating the full-scale cities invasion of 2002. But the internal intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, is becoming keener on a full-scale crackdown.

Far-right Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich wants to exploit the violence as a pretense to expand illegal settlements. Another far-right politician, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, is searching for a civil war, led by the most violent of Jewish settlers, the very core of his political constituency.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is struggling with his own political and legal woes, is trying to give everyone a little of what they want, but all at once. The paradoxes are a recipe for chaos.

This has resulted in Gallant’s reactivation of aerial assassinations of Palestinian activists, for the first time since the Second Intifada. The first such strikes took place in the Jalameh region near Jenin on June 21.

Meanwhile, the Shin Bet is expanding its list of targets. More assassinations are surely to follow.

Concurrently, Smotrich is already planning a massive expansion of illegal settlements. And Ben Gvir is dispatching hordes of settlers to carry out pogroms in peaceful Palestinian villages. The inferno of Huwwara on February 26 was repeated in Turmus’ayya on June 21.

Though the US and its Western partners may continue to refrain from intervening in supposed ‘internal Israeli affairs’, they should carefully consider what is taking place in Palestine. This is not business as usual.

The next Intifada in Palestine will be armed, non-factional, and popular, with consequences that are too difficult to gauge.

Though for Palestinians an uprising is a cry against injustice in all its forms, for the likes of Smotrich and Ben Gvir, violence is a strategy towards settlement expansion, ethnic cleansing, and civil war. Considering the pogroms of Huwwara and Turmus’ayya, the civil war has already begun.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is

Israeli forces invade West Bank city, killing at least 8 Palestinians

West Bank residents reported gunfire, drones and explosions as Israel launched extensive air and ground attacks on occupied Jenin early July 3. (Video: Reuters)

Steve Hendrix and Niha Masih, The Washington Post, July 3, 2023

JERUSALEM — About 1,000 Israeli soldiers backed by drone strikes stormed Jenin on Monday, targeting a militant “operational command center” in the most expansive Israeli military operation in the occupied West Bank in two decades.

The assaults marked the start of an “extensive counterterrorism effort” centered on the densely populated Jenin refugee camp, according to Israeli officials, and were ongoing as of Monday afternoon local time. At least eight people were killed and 80 injured, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, with 17 in critical condition. The Israel Defense Forces said the operation would continue indefinitely.

“We’ll do it as long as it is needed; there is no timeline on this right now,” Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, an IDF spokesman, told reporters. Another Palestinian was shot and killed by soldiers near the city of Ramallah while protesting the Jenin attack.

New weapons, tactics further entangle U.S. in Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Gunfire, drones and explosions were reported by Jenin residents and in videos posted on social media. Residents reported receiving text messages from Israeli numbers that warned them to stay inside for their protection. Separate messages directed at militants advised them to “surrender yourself for your safety and the safety of those around you.”