Update: On-The-Ground Jewish Solidarity with Masafer Yatta

Thanks to those who attended our webinar “On the Ground Jewish Solidarity with Palestinian Resistance in Masafer Yatta” with Peter Beinart, Awdah Hathaleen, Nur Zahor, and Zack Witus. If you didn’t have a chance to see it, you can watch the recording. The testimony by our panelists was emotional and powerful.

It was apparent that the expulsion of Palestinians from Masafer Yatta is happening right under our noses in daily increments. Many left the webinar wanting to take action. Below are resources and suggested actions for you to take today!

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Join us for an exciting webinar, moderated by Peter Beinart, exploring the role of Jewish activists as they join Palestinian-led resistance to the escalating violence of the Israeli occupation. Together, they stand against the state policy enabling daily army and settler violence, home demolitions, and mass expulsions in Masafer Yatta.

The webinar will focus on the connections between Jews (diaspora and Israeli) and Palestinians in the justice movement in Masafer Yatta. We will discuss the imbalance of power and the responsibility Jewish activists have in standing in solidarity, the personal transformations that take place through this work together, how each of the speakers carries this work forward, and the central importance that this joint struggle activism has. Going beyond personal connections, the work creates space for us to stand up together against Israeli settler and army violence and oppression, and make an impact today and in the future.

  • Peter Beinart, moderator – journalist and professor of journalism at CUNY.
  • Nur Zahor – an Israeli Arabic and Hebrew teacher and activist in Masafer Yatta.
  • Awdah Hathaleen – Palestinian Human rights activist, English teacher, and journalist from Masafer Yatta
  • Zak Witus – Young Leadership & Education Coordinator for New Israel Fund and a recent participant in the Center For Jewish Nonviolence Sustained Solidarity Hineinu delegation in Masafer Yatta.

South Hebron Hills Watch is a group of Israeli American volunteers who forged a strong connection with Palestinian residents of the South Hebron Hills and Jewish activists who are providing witness and physical support to these communities. We are not affiliated with any political party or organization but partner with like-minded people and organizations that support nonviolent activity on the ground and amplify the plight of these Palestinian families in the face of a broader effort to remove them from their lands. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Israeli occupation soldiers close the main gate of Qortoba school in Hebron

The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project has helped build playgrounds for both Qortuba Elementary School and the Al Samud Shuhada Street Kindergarten

Human Rights Defenders, 30th of August 2022

Hebron, Palestine 🇵🇸

The Israeli occupation soldiers close the main gate to the students of CorToba School and Shuhada Street Kindergarten in the center of Hebron, and they are being detained for a while without any reason.

And the Israeli settlers make fun of Palestinian children during their detention.

This is a violation of the right to education, the right to freedom and the right of childhood according to international laws.

جنود الإحتلال الإسرائيلي يقوموا بإغلاق البوابة الرئيسية لطلاب مدرسة قرطبة وروضة شارع الشهداء في وسط مدينة الخليل ،و يتم احتجازهم لفترة من الوقت دون سبب يذكر.

والمستوطنين الإسرائيليين يقوموا بالسخرية من الأطفال الفلسطينين خلال فترة احتجازهم.

وهذا انتهاك الحق في التعليم ،والحق في الحرية وحق الطفولة حسب القوانين الدولية.

تصوير المتطوع : زيدان الشرباتي

Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) are people who, individually or collectively, work peacefully on behalf of others to promote and defend internationally recognized human rights. They are defined by their actions rather than their profession, job title or organization.

Giant eye murals bear witness to Palestinians in Jerusalem

Murals that are part of the public art project 'I Witness Silwan' depicting the eyes of local and international figures, including George Floyd, a Black American killed by police, top right, in the Silwan neighbourhood of east Jerusalem, Friday, Aug. 26, 2022. Eyes are always open in this flashpoint district. Now, new eyes emerged; they were painted on the walls of the decaying Palestinian homes. The eye murals, and graffiti of Palestinian symbols, are so giant that make you feel they are watching you wherever you walk in the neighborhood. (AP Photo/ Mahmoud Illean)
Murals that are part of the public art project ‘I Witness Silwan’ depicting the eyes of local and international figures, including George Floyd, a Black American killed by police, top right, Aug. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/ Mahmoud Illean)

Associated Press, August 27, 2022

JERUSALEM — A group of artists has filled a Palestinian area of east Jerusalem with paintings of large, wide-open eyes. The murals are a reminder that all eyes are on the neighborhood of Silwan, a flashpoint where Palestinians say Israeli forces and settlers are working to drive them out of their homes.

Palestinian children walk between murals that are part of the public art project 'I Witness Silwan', in the Silwan neighbourhood of east Jerusalem, Friday, Aug. 26, 2022. At right are the eyes of Silwan Community Member Nihad Siyam; at left, eyes inside two poppies, which Palestinians call their national flower. Eyes are always open in this flashpoint district. Now, new eyes emerged; they were painted on the walls of the decaying Palestinian homes. The eye murals, and graffiti of Palestinian symbols, are so giant that make you feel they are watching you wherever you walk in the neighborhood. (AP Photo/ Mahmoud Illean)
Palestinian children walk between murals in the Silwan neighbourhood of east Jerusalem, Aug. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/ Mahmoud Illean)

The eye murals are so giant that they make you feel they are watching you wherever you walk in the neighborhood. Many are painted on the walls of decaying Palestinian homes alongside national symbols.

“The staring eyes say to people that we see them and they should see us too," says Jawad Siyam, director of Madaa-Silwan Creative Center.

“We want to say that we are here — we love our land and our home.”

Since 2015, the center has worked with U.S. artists to create the murals and maintain them. In total, they have made about 2,000 feet of graffiti and paintings.

Israeli border police stand on a street lined with Palestinian homes painted in murals including one depicting goldfinches and an olive tree, that are part of the public art project 'I Witness Silwan' in the Silwan neighbourhood of east Jerusalem, Friday, Aug. 26, 2022. Palestinian and American artists have painted giant murals in an east Jerusalem district. The art project is meant to draw attention to the suffering of Palestinian residents of Silwan, a neighborhood near the Old City, who face Israeli arrests, home raids, demolitions, and the threat of evictions. (AP Photo/ Mahmoud Illean)
Israeli border police stand on a street lined with Palestinian homes painted in murals including one depicting goldfinches and an olive tree, Aug. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/ Mahmoud Illean)

The “I Witness Silwan” art project depicts the eyes of Palestinian and international leaders and influencers. It also features symbols such as the goldfinch and poppy, which Palestinians call their national flower.

Organizers say the art project aims at drawing attention to the displacements the Palestinians face in this neighborhood near the Old City of Jerusalem.

Murals that are part of the public art project 'I Witness Silwan' depicting the eyes of local and international figures are painted on houses in the Silwan neighbourhood of east Jerusalem, Friday, Aug. 26, 2022. Eyes are always open in this flashpoint district. Now, new eyes emerged; they were painted on the walls of the decaying Palestinian homes. The eye murals, and graffiti of Palestinian symbols, are so giant that make you feel they are watching you wherever you walk in the neighborhood. (AP Photo/ Mahmoud Illean)
Murals on houses in Silwan, Aug. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/ Mahmoud Illean)

Israel occupied Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed the holy city as its indivisible capital. The Palestinians claim the eastern part as the capital of their future state. Peace talks between the two sides ground to a halt years ago.

The Silwan project says it aims to counter Israeli settler groups that work to boost the Jewish presence in predominantly Arab or Palestinian areas of the contested holy city.

An Israeli border police officer watches Israeli Jewish settlers walk on a street lined with Palestinian homes painted in murals in the Silwan neighbourhood of east Jerusalem, Friday, Aug. 26, 2022. A group of artists has filled a Palestinian area of east Jerusalem with paintings of large, wide-open eyes. The murals are a reminder that all eyes are on the neighborhood of Silwan, a flashpoint where Palestinians say Israeli forces and settlers are working to drive them out of their homes. (AP Photo/ Mahmoud Illean)
An Israeli border police officer watches Israeli Jewish settlers walk on a street lined with Palestinian homes, Aug. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/ Mahmoud Illean)

Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem face Israeli arrests, home raids, demolitions, and the threat of evictions. Israeli rights group B’Tselem says Israel is “enjoying far-reaching powers with no accountability for their actions" in running the lives of Palestinians in the area.

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Daniel Levy: Apartheid Label Must Be a Wakeup Call

Daniel Levy, President of the U.S./Middle East Project

Meeting of the United Nations Security Council, Thursday, August 25, 2022
“The Situation in the Middle East Including the Palestinian Question”

I would like to thank the Council and the Chinese presidency in particular for allowing me to share some thoughts with you today. The events of earlier this month covered in detail by Special Envoy Wennesland are as concerning as they are predictable. To be very clear, Israelis deserve security; Palestinians deserve security.

Mr President, month in and month out the Council meets to repeat its familiar condemnations, formulas and slogans. I want to use this opportunity to rethink and re-appraise some assumptions and beliefs that may inadvertently contribute to the intractability in Israel-Palestine—to consider afresh, reasons why this conflict remains so prone to stalemate and human suffering.

I suggest to do this through 5 concepts that may assist us in such an endeavour:

First, Justice: The permanent dispossession and denial of the most basic rights and freedoms to the Palestinian people will never be a recipe for achieving sustainable security: this, the illegal blockade of Gaza and the unlawful occupation, represents forms of structural violence and collective punishment that we cannot ignore.

While the need for a political horizon is acknowledged, the dimensions of that horizon shrink and shrivel, becoming ever less ambitious.

There can be no effective or prolonged approach to Gaza in isolation—it is part of broader Israeli-Palestinian realities—in terms of security, the separation policy and closure. And crucially, there is a need to respect international law across the board—whether in state responses to armed threats or partisan resistance against state occupation.

Also in this context, there is a need for Palestinian political renewal, internal reconciliation and overcoming of divisions as well as an international need to engage all relevant actors without applying unrealistic and selective preconditions.

Second, Equilibrium: Any attempt to resume negotiations between the parties without addressing power asymmetries is a hollow and redundant exercise. As Comfort Ero, president of Crisis Group—with whom my organization the U.S./Middle East Project cooperates extensively—noted to this Council recently— “the structural power imbalance between an occupying state and an occupied people must be acknowledged.” A focus on relations of power rather than both sides-ism offers a path to clarity of thinking and policy.

As an example, attempts at economic confidence building measures are consistently too little, too late, and too ephemeral when attempted under conditions of a permanent, relentless and expanding matrix of occupation. This defies principles of harmony and reciprocity.

Especially with global resources stretched thin, the Palestinian economic predicament must be understood primarily as a function of politically imposed obstacles—on movement, borders, access to land, confiscations, demolitions and ever-expanding settlements—rather than an absence of charity. Economic palliatives under occupation deepen dependence and enmity.

We have heard the briefing of UNRWA Commissioner General Lazzarini. There must be an
economic commitment to a predictably resourced UNRWA capable of delivering services, not only a security necessity but also a political commitment to the Palestinian refugees who continue to be denied a solution.

Third, Accountability: I have previously highlighted to this Council two core problems; a legitimacy deficit in Palestinian politics and an accountability deficit viz Israel’s policies. It is Israel’s actions as the powerful occupying party that pre-eminently determine the direction of travel of this conflict.

Profound shifts are occurring as a result of the unwillingness to hold Israel to account not least on settlements.

Recent months have witnessed a disturbing intensification of that trend as Israel has targeted those least able to protect themselves and those most in the frontline bearing witness to violations of international law.

Following the shock expressed by Secretary General Guterres over the number of Palestinian children killed and maimed by Israeli forces last year, we have continued to see the same trend and suffering among the very young in Gaza this month.

We have witnessed the killing of those who report on and expose these crimes, Shireen Abu Akleh, being the latest journalist to pay with her life. And now the assault on those who document abuses and defend human rights, as well as community service providers, with Israel’s actions against six prominent Palestinian civil society organizations.

Following a terror designation having been made against the six NGOs by the Israeli authorities, a number of countries went on record that compelling evidence had not been forthcoming. Now in the past week, the offices of these organizations have been raided and shuttered and their workers interrogated.

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Winning Lawsuit Against Major Israeli Newspaper

We just won a defamation case against a major Israeli newspaper!
We made Israel Hayom retract its lies!

This is a rare success of holding Israeli tabloids accountable for their publications of lies about Palestinians.

The newspaper had published obvious lies against Palestinian Human Rights Defender Issa Amro after his play “How To Make A Revolution” opened in Tel Aviv. The play was centered around his trial in military court and was directed by Israeli playwright Einat Weizman in coordination with Issa himself.

Israel Hayom (“Israel Today” in English) is a right-wing Israeli tabloid owned by the family of Sheldon Adelson and is a publication friendly of ex-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In 2016, it formally endorsed the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. It has a circulation of around 250,000 readers.

The civil lawsuit forced the newspaper to retract their claims and issue a formal correction, seen below in Hebrew. The newspaper had published lies that Issa was charged or convicted of security offenses, had spent time in prison and that his cousin was the murderer of an Israeli baby. All of this is false and Israel Hayom withdrew these lies after losing the lawsuit and issued a correction that Issa is recognized as a Hebron activist committed to nonviolence and opposed to the occupation.

Justice is usually absent for Palestinians in the Israeli legal system, especially in the separate military court system.

Israel Hayom’s lies were the same lies about Issa that have often been perpetrated by the Israeli settlers in Hebron who terrorize the local Palestinian population on a daily basis in the city. These lies show that the newspaper had gotten used to publishing slander promoted by settler populations about Palestinians without any consequences, promoting these narratives without any actual journalistic standards or investigation.

Few Palestinians have the ability to mobilize a lawsuit, leaving no consequences for lies.

How many more direct lies have gone unnoticed?

Meanwhile the violations in Hebron continue. On August 9th, Israeli soldiers shot two 16-year-old Palestinian boys, wounding one and killing the other.

The soldiers dragged away the boy who survived after they shot him and left him to cry and scream behind the checkpoint without any medical care for more than half and hour.

Five days ago, soldiers were also seen conducting military drills inside inhabited Palestinian neighborhoods.

Friends of Hebron has a U.S.-registered IRS 501(c)3 charity status. Donations are tax-deductible.

With peace,

Friends of Hebron
Working for Peace and Justice

During these tense times, please consider supporting our work on the ground in Hebron by donating. Friends of Hebron is a U.S.-registered IRS 501(c)3 charity. Donations are tax-deductible.

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Bus company boots Palestinians at Jewish passengers’ behest

Company says passenger impersonated government official, pressuring rookie driver to force workers off

Palestinian laborers ride a bus en route to the West Bank from working in Tel Aviv area, 2013. (AP/Ariel Schalit)
Palestinian laborers ride a bus en route to the West Bank from working in Tel Aviv area, 2013. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

Michael Horovitz, Times of Israel, 9 August 2022

A public transportation company apologized on Tuesday after it was revealed that one of its drivers had removed 50 Palestinian workers from his bus at the behest of several Jewish passengers who refused to ride with Arabs onboard.

Tnufa issued the apology after it was approached by the Haaretz daily, which had spoken with one of the Palestinian passengers, many of whom were forced to find alternative, more expensive routes back to their homes in the West Bank last Thursday.

The Palestinian passenger, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Haaretz that he and a group of other construction workers waited at Tel Aviv’s Hamasger Junction for Bus 288 back to the West Bank only to see several of those buses pass them without stopping. Eventually, an empty bus stopped for them and roughly 50 Palestinian workers got on.

When it arrived in Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox suburb of Tel Aviv, three Jewish passengers boarded and immediately began urging the driver to kick the Palestinians off the bus. The driver eventually agreed to pull over and made a phone call to whom the Palestinian assumed was his boss. After ending the call, the driver ordered the Palestinians off the bus, in what constituted illegal conduct.

The bus company claimed that it conducted an investigation after the Haaretz inquiry and found that one of the Jewish passengers pretended to be a Transportation Ministry employee and intimidated a recently hired driver into kicking the Palestinians off the bus. The imposter told the driver he would lose his job or be heavily fined if he didn’t comply, Tnufa’s CEO Mikhael Kopilovsky claimed.

Jewelry for Clean Water Campaign, 7/22/22

Jewelry Sales for Clean Water is an emergency campaign by Palestine Partners to support members of the Women in Hebron cooperative in constructing a desperately needed cistern to assure access to clean water. (At last report, $3500 of the $6000 goal has already been reached!)

About the campaign

Laila lives with 14 members of her extended family in a small house near the city of Al Khalil/Hebron, in occupied Palestine. For two summers now they have been without safe water. Recently, three of seven small children and two pregnant women have fallen seriously ill. The youngest children, only 9 and 14 months old, have been hospitalized after drinking water that doctors say may have been chemically contaminated or stored too long in the heat.

Her West Bank village has rudimentary municipal water, but Israel has seized control of the Palestinian aquifer in order to supply its illegal settlers there with unlimited amounts of water. This results in restricted, interrupted, or non-existent water flow to Palestinian villages. Palestinians must buy water, either from small trucks in often unsanitary containers, or from water trucks capable of filling underground cisterns. Laila’s house has no cistern, so her family has been forced to rely on the risky small containers rather than water from the safer and more reliable large trucks

Laila is selling hand-made earrings and necklaces to raise the $6000 needed for materials so that her sons can build a sealed water cistern that will enable the family to purchase safe water from a reputable source year-round, instead of small unsafe containers of water at hugely inflated cost. But she needs our help NOW to sell enough of her work to purchase the construction materials, so that her sons can begin the work.

Links to
Learn More,
Make Donations,
Shop for Jewelry, or
Buy a Gift Certificate!

7/22/22
Work has begun. They got the space dug out and all went well with that; Laila got a good excavator and nothing crumbled or caved in. Now they are getting ready to pour the concrete bottom of the cistern.


Mid-August Virtual Advocacy Summit: Accountability Matters

Dear Friend,

We hope you are making plans to join us in mid-August at our virtual Advocacy Summit: Accountability Matters. This summit is in three parts and during the first on August 9th you’ll have the opportunity to hear from Ali Awad, an activist and journalist from the village of Tuba in Masafer Yatta:



Ali has been at the forefront of monitoring and reporting evictions in his village and others in Masafer Yatta. He is a key leader in his village’s efforts to raise international pressure to stop forced displacement and unjust demolitions. Awad is the co-founder of the new media project Humans of Masafer Yatta.

We are grateful to advocate with you!

The Plight of Palestinians in Masafer Yatta

Ayman Mohyeldin, MSNBC, Jul 15, 2022

On his first Middle East trip as president, Joe Biden began by visiting Israel, a country he’s been to 10 times since he was a senator in 1973. On this latest trip, Biden discussed how to address Iran’s nuclear program, and re-stated his support for a two-state solution.

But one thing he didn’t cover when he met with Israeli leaders is what’s happening in Masafer Yatta, a region of the occupied West Bank where mass evictions are taking place. And it encapsulates the plight of Palestinians in a way few other stories do.