Why Did Israel Execute Shireen Abu-Akleh?

They attacked the mourners because they weren’t in the casket

Steve Salaita, May 13, 2022

Immediately after Israeli soldiers executed Al-Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu-Akleh and fired at a group of her colleagues, observers began asking how such a horrible thing could happen. Why would Israel murder a journalist well-known throughout the Arab World? A noncombatant wearing appropriate press gear? A high-profile Palestinian with U.S. citizenship? At best, it seemed like a terrible PR move. It didn’t make any sense.

Except it did make sense. In fact, from a certain point of view killing Abu-Akleh was painfully sensible.

It’s natural to seek rational explanations for what appear to be mindless acts of violence. Explanation is contingent on material conditions, though, and so we have to understand the situation in context of Zionist settler colonization. Using the humanistic logic prevalent in most civil societies, Israel’s conduct was baffling. Its soldiers murdered a civilian in full view of people whose job is to report news. Those soldiers had to know that they couldn’t keep their act a secret, that targeting journalists would result in worldwide outrage. And yet they did it anyway.

Why?

To arrive at an answer, we have to discern the colonizer’s psyche. We’re not dealing with normal civil society standards, first of all. The relevant context is military occupation. In such a context, gratuitous state violence is normal. Obviously, killing Abu-Akleh has the immediate benefit of silencing a prominent voice of Palestinian resistance, one that had long exposed Israeli crimes of aggression.

There is more to the story, however.

We also have to explore the assumptions underlying a desire for simple explanations. By asking for reasons over and over again, observers seek answers to incongruous questions. In so doing they’re apt to tacitly implicate the victims in their own suffering. The journalists must have done something. There had to be a provocation. Israeli soldiers don’t just shoot innocent people for the hell of it.

But that’s exactly what Israeli soldiers do. Israel has murdered around fifty journalists over the past two decades. One or two might be an aberration. Fifty is a policy.

We needn’t turn to the victim’s behavior for answers to the colonizer’s violence. He is violent because of colonization.

So there’s no need to seek legible reasons for Abu-Akleh’s murder according the rationale of civic decency. The settler doesn’t need a “reason” to kill the native. The settler kills because deracinating the native is a precondition of his social identity. It is a function of his legal status and class position. Israeli forces viciously attacked a crowd carrying Abu-Akleh’s coffin—abusing our beloved martyr even in death—which only affirms the fact that the settler kills precisely when confronted by the native’s vulnerability. There is a higher purpose to his violence. The settler doesn’t kill simply to produce death; he kills to negate the native’s existence.

Israeli forces attacked Abu-Akleh’s corpse because killing her wasn’t enough. They needed to expunge her from a land they claim by divine mandate. Her body impedes a mythological birthright underlying the settler’s entire sense of self. She has to be rendered nonexistent in order for the settler to survive. Such is the logic of desecrating ancient Muslim cemeteries and planting flora over the ruins of ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages.

The same forces attacked hundreds of mourners not because they were unruly, but because they weren’t also in the casket.

The settler’s violence, in short, is endless. It is the only way he knows how to be a good citizen. And it is the only way, in the end, he can imagine a meaningful existence.

Steve Salaita is a scholar, author and public speaker born in Bluefield, West Virginia.

US Rabbis Call for End to Jewish Funding of Israeli Extremism


Extremist Jewish settlers, escorted by Israeli police, march in Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem. (File Photo: via ActiveStills.org)

The Palestine Chronicle, April 8, 2022

19 influential rabbis in New York City have signed a letter accusing a major American Jewish charity of indirectly funding right-wing extremists in Israel, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported on Thursday.

The rabbis called on the $2.4 billion Jewish Communal Fund (JCF) to cease funding to the Central Fund of Israel (CFI), part of a network that funnels donations to Lehava and other violent Israeli groups.

The JCF receives thousands of donations a year and distributes funding according to donor recommendations – including $23 million in “general support donations” to CFI.

During Ramadan in 2021, the extremist group Lehava organized a march through occupied Jerusalem where hundreds chanted “Death to Arabs”, “their villages will burn”, and wounded more than 100 Palestinians without intervention from the Israeli police.

“Lehava, which bases itself in the genocidal philosophy of Meir Kahane, is known for violence against both Palestinians and Israeli Jewish progressive activists,” said the letter from the rabbis, most of whom come from largely progressive Jewish denominations, according to the JTA.

Lehava – a Hebrew acronym that stands for the Prevention of Assimilation in the Holy Land – was founded by followers of the banned Kach movement, a racist group designated as a terrorist organization in Israel, the US and the EU.

The letter was published in response to an escalation in violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, and fears that Ramadan may bring a repeat of Israel’s assault on the besieged Gaza Strip last year, in which more than 250 Palestinians were killed.

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Israeli settlers and police seize part of historic hotel

Petra hotel in East Jerusalem’s Old City is the subject of an 18-year legal battle between the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and the powerful settler group Ateret Cohanim


An Orthodox Jewish man raises his hand as he walks past the Petra hostel in the Old City of Jerusalem near the Jaffa Gate, 11 June 2019 (AFP)

Mustafa Abu Sneineh, Middle East Eye, 28 March 2022

Israeli police and settlers have taken control part of the historic Petra hotel, the subject of a years-long legal challenge between the Greek Orthodox Patriarch and settler group Ateret Cohanim, in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem.

On Sunday evening, dozens of Israeli policemen and members of Ateret Cohanim moved into the first floor of the hotel, near Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate.

‘The settlers’ intrusion came without any right and without any legal justification. We are the owners of the right to protect the hotel, which will remain an Arab property’ — Basma Qirresh, owner

The area is part of the Christian quarter in Jerusalem and is located strategically near the western walls of the city, which is thriving with tourists and pilgrims visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Petra has been the subject of an 18-year legal battle between the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and Ateret Cohanim, a powerful and active settler group that pushes for increased Jewish presence in East Jerusalem neighbourhoods.

In 2004, Ateret Cohanim bought the leases to Petra’s first floor and two other properties owned by the patriarchate in the Old City through three foreign private companies. 

The patriarchate controls the top floor of the Petra which it leases to the Qirresh Palestinian family.

The buildings are highly sought after due to their strategic position in both the Christian and Muslim quarters of the Old City.

On Sunday evening, the Israeli police arrested three Palestinians and prevented the hotel’s tenants, Palestinians and lawyers from entering the building, Wafa news agency reported.

Some Palestinians gathered outside the hotel and performed the evening prayer in protest.

The Qirresh family, who rent the building from the patriarchate and run the hotel, said that the Israeli police and settlers were trespassing on their property.

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March is a month of resilience and bravery for the Palestinian people

As Americans Muslims for Palestine commemorates Land Day on March 30th, we concurrently remember the brave and resilient people of Gaza’s Great March of Return, and their defiance amidst the infamous Israeli Operation Defensive Shield.  

This Land Day, AMP joined several groups in a global coalition for Palestine, signing a joint statement calling for sanctions on apartheid Israel. Read the statement here.

Land Day

On March 30th, 1976, the National Committee for the Defense of Arab Lands declared ‘Land Day’ in response to the Israeli government’s decision to confiscate 5,000 acres of Palestinian land. This confiscation of land was required for the expansion of Israel’s illegal settlement project, and more specifically, an effort to Judaize the Galilee. On that day in 1976, 6 unarmed Palestinians were killed, close to 100 were wounded, and hundreds of others were arrested. Almost every year on Land Day commemorations, Palestinians are subject to murder, harassment, and imprisonment.

Great March of Return

In March of 2018, the Great March of Return began, a series of Palestinian protests in the Gaza Strip demanding the right of refugees expelled during the Nakba to return to their homes. The protesters also demanded an end to the Israeli blockade, described by the United Nations as collective punishment. The Israeli regime cracked down on the demonstrations, killing almost 300 Palestinian men, women, and children, and injuring almost 30,000 others in one year, according to Gaza’s health ministry. The Great March of Return would come to an end in December of 2019.

Operation Defensive Shield

On March 29, 2002, at the height of the Second Intifada, Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield, a devastating military assault that killed nearly 500 Palestinians, wounded over 1400, and left over 17,000 Palestinians homeless.

Though these events all happened years apart, they serve as a great representation of the realities of ongoing Israeli settler-colonialism, ethnic cleansing, occupation, and apartheid today. Whether it be 46, 20, or 4 years ago – it has all been and continues to be, the same colonialism, the same occupation, and the same apartheid.

Want to continue resisting settler colonialism and Israeli apartheid? Join this webinar led by Stop The Wall and organized by a global Palestinian coalition on April 1, 2022, at 12 PM Eastern Time. Continue reading

March 28, 2022
Land Day Event by the Palestinian Feminist Collective

Palestinian Feminist Collective

Online Monday, March 28th at 4PM Pacific, 6PM Central and 7PM Eastern

This event features PFC members Lila Sharif, Ayah Hamdan, Sherene Seikaly, and Noura Erakat, moderated by Selma Al-Aswad, discussing what we are fighting for — Land, Life, Love and Liberation.

Held during International Women’s Month, with this event we also commemorate Palestinian Land Day, the one-year anniversary of our release of the “Pledge that Palestine is a Feminist Issue” and our work and growth over the past year.

Demonstration on the anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre

Human Rights Defenders تجمع المدافعين عن حقوق الانسان, February 25, 2022

Hebron, Palestine — The Israeli occupation army brutally suppresses the peaceful demonstration of the ghetto in commemoration of the 28-year anniversary of the Hebron massacre. The demonstration began in front of the Sheikh Ali Baka Mosque in the Sheikh neighborhood, towards the military checkpoint in front of Al-Shuhada Street in the center of Hebron.


#DefundRacism: The Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre

#DefundRacism | defundracism.org

On February 25 Palestinians in Hebron will be mobilizing in protest as we commemorate the 28th anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre, in which an Israeli settler murdered 29 Palestinians and injured over one hundred.

In response to the murder of 29 Palestinians on Feb 25, 1994, Israeli forces increased restrictions on Palestinians’ most basic rights. This cycle of settler violence and oppression is funded in part by the Hebron Fund, a US-based “charity.”

Since 1994, Palestinians have been denied access to Shuhada street, a former major economic hub, while settlements continue to expand around them. These actions are supported by the Hebron Fund. It’s time to revoke its charitable status.

Every day acts of violence are carried out against Palestinians in Hebron. This systemic and perpetual violence is a result of illegal settlements in the city and those who support them, like the Hebron Fund. Raise your voice with ours.

As we remember the victims of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, join us to speak out against the Hebron Fund, a group dedicated to the continuation of settler colonialism and the elimination of Indigenous Palestinians from their own lands.

The Israeli settler movement works to dominate and erase indigenous Palestinians. The 1994 Ibrahimi Massacre is just one example. Organizations like The Hebron Fund support ethnic cleansing with “charitable” funds — but we have the power to stop them.

The colonial violence Israeli settlers carry out against Palestinians is financed by US charities like the Hebron Fund. Settler colonialism is not charitable.

Sign our petition
Stand with Palestinians to #DefundRacism

As Violence Rises in the West Bank, Settler Attacks Raise Alarm

Attacks by settlers and Palestinians have both reached a five-year high. But unlike Palestinian suspects, violent settlers are rarely prosecuted.


Palestinian farmers harvesting olives last fall under the eye of Israeli soldiers. Some farmers are afraid to tend their groves without military protection. (Samar Hazboun for The New York Times)

Patrick Kingsley, New York Times, Feb. 12, 2022

BURIN, West Bank — The Israeli settlers streamed down the hill toward Palestinian farmland, some waving sticks, some throwing stones, all masked.

They began beating a group of Palestinian villagers and Israeli rights activists, who had been planting olive trees on the edge of a Palestinian village. One settler threw a flammable liquid across an activist’s car and set it ablaze. At least seven people were injured.

The mob attack outside the village of Burin last month, captured on video by human rights advocates, was part of an escalation of civilian violence across the occupied West Bank in the past year. In 2021, the number of injurious attacks by settlers on Palestinians, and by Palestinians on settlers, reached their highest levels in at least five years, according to the United Nations.

Settlers injured at least 170 Palestinians last year and killed five, U.N. monitors reported. During the same period, Palestinians injured at least 110 settlers and killed two, U.N. records show. The Israeli Army said that Palestinians had injured 137 Israeli civilians in the West Bank last year.

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Masked Israeli settlers attacking Palestinian villagers and Israeli activists last month near the West Bank village of Burin.

But if the numbers are roughly comparable, the power dynamic is different.

The settlers benefit from a two-tier legal system in which settlers who commit violence are rarely punished, while Palestinian suspects are frequently arrested and prosecuted by military courts. Of the 111 police investigations into settler attacks monitored by the Israeli rights group Yesh Din in the past five years, only three led to indictments.

Settlers, unlike Palestinians, have the protection of the military and are rarely in danger of losing the land they live on.

And it is the settler violence that is now attracting most alarm — not only among Palestinians, but also from the Israeli security establishment.

Benny Gantz, Israel’s defense minister, described it as “a serious phenomenon” and announced the formation of special military teams to patrol flash points like Burin. Three Israeli reserve generals wrote in January that settler violence posed a threat not only to Palestinians, but also to Israel’s stability and its global image.


The view from the settlement of Yitzhar: the Palestinian village of Burin in the valley below, and an illegal outpost of the Givat Ronen settlement on the hill above it. (Amit Elkayam for The New York Times)


“I was scared and shocked,” said Brusli Eid, a Burin resident who was attacked by settlers last month. (Samar Hazboun for The New York Times)

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Israeli settlers seize and fence off land in Sheikh Jarrah

The area is on high alert following the demolition of a Palestinian house north of the neighbourhood, which has been widely condemned


Israeli settlers install a fence while seizing land in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem (Supplied)

Middle East Eye Staff, 21 January 2022

Israeli settlers seized a land plot in occupied East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood on Friday, accompanied by police and the deputy mayor of Jerusalem municipality.

The settlers set up fences around the land that the Palestinian Salem family in Sheikh Jarrah said belonged to them.

Local media reported that Israeli police pushed locals and attacked protesters. A Palestinian woman from the Salem family claimed to have suffered a broken arm after Arieh King, the deputy mayor of Jerusalem municipality, attacked her.

The area has been on high alert over the past week, following the demolition of a Palestinian house north of the neighbourhood, which has been widely condemned.

Sheikh Jarrah has been a significant flashpoint over the past year after Israel tried to expel Palestinian families from the area last May to make way for Israeli settlers.

On Friday, settlers claimed ownership of the land and the Salem family’s house. The Nahalat Shimon settler group had been active in pursuing eviction orders issued by Israeli courts against Palestinian families. 

Nahalat Shimon is the Hebrew name of Sheikh Jarrah. Settlers say that Jewish families lived in the area before 1917, and that the properties belong to them.

Fatima Salem, 73, said she had been living in the house in Sheikh Jarrah with her son and daughter and their families for decades. In 1988 they were ordered by an Israeli court to vacate their property but froze the decision that year. In 2015, the Israeli court reactivated the eviction orders for the house. 

She told Middle East Eye that settlers had beaten her son, Ibrahim, and shoved her while they tried to face them on Friday morning. The Salems were woken up by the neighbours on their day off, to see settlers busy fencing the land.

“The Israeli police were standing and did not stop [it]. They were standing with the settlers against us and let them fence it, and then attacked us, my son and I was shoved pushed from my chair,” she said.

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