Wisconsin Democrats’ silence on Gaza is predictable and unconscionable


A photo shows a large flag combining the red, green, white, and black of the Palestinian flag with an image of a large red fist and text reading “Free Palestine.”

After condemning the killing of Israeli civilians, Tammy Baldwin and others fail to oppose atrocities against Palestinians.

If you’re looking for Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation or other key elected officials to show any sense of perspective and conscience amid the ongoing escalation of the Israeli-Palestine conflict—to match their rightful condemnation of Hamas’ killings of Israeli citizens with proportionate, also rightful condemnation of the U.S.-backed and -enabled slaughter of Palestinians on a much greater scale and demand restraint on the part of a key U.S. ally—well, don’t hold your breath. 

Reactions from our Congressional Republicans have been as expected in their bloodthirsty xenophobia and nationalism: Tom Tiffany and Glenn Grothman making it about Islam, Bryan Steil making it about “borders,” Derrick Van Orden throwing tantrums

The contrast on the other side of the aisle is shamefully pale.

As Israel this month indiscriminately bombed Gaza and cut off its population of 2 million from electricity and humanitarian aid, and ordered the “evacuation” of 1 million people who have nowhere to go, Wisconsin’s most prominent elected Democrats said little in defense of innocent Palestinians. Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin condemned Hamas and joined a bipartisan group of legislators in casting suspicions on Iran, and joined in another statement calling on the Biden administration to send more ammo to Israel. 


But since this latest wave of violence began, Baldwin has not issued any statements acknowledging the Israeli Defense Forces’ mass murder of Palestinian children and other civilians, or the fact that Israel has blockaded Gaza. Neither have Rep. Gwen Moore, Gov. Tony Evers, or most of the Democratic Wisconsin Assembly members who supported a bipartisan resolution condemning Hamas—one that, of course, says nothing about the suffering or humanity of Palestinians. Ann Jacobs, a Democratic appointee to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, issued a wildly inappropriate call to oust Assembly Rep. Ryan Clancy, apparently because Clancy made a Facebook post comparing the death toll among Palestinians and Israelis in recent years. There is very little tolerance among Wisconsin Democrats, apparently, for wrestling with the full context of the conflict, or for merely acknowledging that Palestinians are human beings and that it is wrong to kill them en masse.

At best, we have Rep. Mark Pocan pointing out that it is impossible for more than 1 million people to “evacuate” within 24 hours, and offering some context about Gaza. Though refreshing in context, Pocan’s remarks leave room to believe that the IDF is just perhaps, in some universe, willing to exercise restraint as it pursues a legitimate military target. Look at what the IDF is actually doing. This isn’t how you fight a specific group of armed combatants. It is how you subjugate and quite possibly annihilate a massive group of human beings. To frame this as a legitimate act of defense or even an understandable reprisal is to launder the sheer horror of it. If a state with Israel’s advanced military and intelligence capabilities intended to specifically target Hamas, it would be doing so, and with much greater precision. Still, Pocan is doing better than most. The bar has passed clean through the core of the earth and out the other side. 

All of these people have a responsibility to do better and show some political spine. Right now, full-on fascists like Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton are salivating for destruction in Gaza. Democrats who don’t push back wholeheartedly against this sort of rhetoric are abjectly failing to do their jobs as a political opposition. They are standing back and sanctioning genocide. Baldwin’s statement on Tuesday that “Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas’s horrific terrorist attacks, but more innocent people cannot pay the price,” is too little, too late, especially coming from someone who has actively enabled the IDF.

I think most Americans have a suspicion of rigid ideologies and strident, absolutist posturing. That can be healthy, until it devolves into utter fecklessness, an unwillingness to commit to specific outcomes, an absence of any coherent framework that holds when the going gets tough. What we end up with is not pragmatism freed of blinders, but a shell game. If you’re not careful, your politics become the sum of the evils you are willing to ignore and the excuses you are willing to make. 

Let’s review some ground truths

The political conversation around Israel in the U.S. is so distorted and so selective that at times you’ve got to pull back and reiterate some very basic things. 

We as Americans are responsible for the choices we make, and for the effects of those choices. They are, in fact, choices, not inevitabilities. We make them in the presence of alternative choices. We enact them from a position of almost incomprehensible advantage and leverage. To spend billions upon billions of dollars arming the State of Israel is a choice. To back up Israel’s impunity, counseling only the most minimal restraint, is a choice, even when Hamas commits atrocities of its own.

One does not plop an entire new state down, from scratch, without killing and displacing other people on a massive scale. When we talk about violence in the context of Israel, it is profoundly dishonest to pretend that the State of Israel was founded without devastating violence, or maintained without devastating violence. Further escalation and aggression will also endanger Israeli citizens, not all of whom are on board with the authoritarian zealotry that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu represents. In fact, some of the Israelis who have suffered grievously this month have spoken out against the IDF killing innocent people in their names.

Israel is a heavily armed, highly sophisticated state. It is not a fragile, endangered waif on the world stage. It boasts a sizable defense industry of its own, and a thriving cybersecurity industry. Companies based in Israel provide spyware tools like Pegasus to the surveillance states and despots of the world. Israel can and does commit violence of a frequency and scale that far outstrips anything Hamas has ever done or ever could. 

Israel is bombing civilian targets, including hospitals and residential buildings. We know this because the IDF is announcing its intention to do so ahead of time, as if evacuating someone’s home before destroying it makes it somehow humane, as if it is remotely possible to evacuate an entire hospital on short notice. It is impossible to drop bombs on a densely populated area without killing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure, further immiserating those who survive.

The State of Israel does not treat Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank as citizens with equal rights. Arab citizens who have equal rights in a legal sense still face discrimination and structural disadvantages.

Netanyahu’s government is extreme, bigoted, and belligerent even by the standards of right-wing Israeli politics. He has stocked his cabinet with extremely antagonistic hard-liners like National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir. Netanyahu has faced multiple corruption charges and has attempted to gut the authority of Israel’s judiciary, provoking large-scale protests. Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi announced a plan on Sunday to enact wartime censorship against the public and the press. The bombs are falling on journalists, too. When American politicians offer pieties about standing with Israel as a fellow democracy, keep in mind that Israel is doing about as well as we are on that front.

It’s a warped debate, but it can change

The fundamental dynamic of Israel-U.S. relations is that Republicans want to give far-right Israeli leaders like Netanyahu and Ben-Gvir 100 percent of what they want, while most Democrats only want to give them, say, 90 to 99 percent of what they want. American politicians and commentators tend to treat that gap as a vast chasm: If Democrats basically uphold the same policy choices that allow Israel to act with impunity, but caution Israel not to overdo it on human-rights abuses, they open themselves up to bad-faith charges of betrayal and anti-Semitism. 

To her credit, Baldwin has opposed Israeli annexation of West Bank settlements, and called for an investigation after the IDF killed Palestinian-American Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May 2022. Baldwin also joined Gwen Moore in calling for an investigation into the January 2022 death of Omar Assad, a Palestinian-American who spent much of his life in Milwaukee. Baldwin has opposed the  Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel but has stopped short of supporting blatantly unconstitutional anti-BDS legislation at the federal level. (At the state level, Wisconsin does have an anti-BDS law on the books, aimed at state agencies and contractors.) Like a lot of folks condemning violence against Israel, Baldwin also doesn’t much approve of non-violent protest against Israel. It’s a mixed bag, but the context makes her current silence on Palestine especially dispiriting.

One might argue that it’s politically practical for someone like Baldwin to take a hawkish stance as she heads into another reelection campaign, that you need to do some saber-rattling to get a “purple-state” electorate to take you seriously. It is also hard to see the pragmatism of continually electing people who aren’t interested in changing our approach to the conflict. A politician unwilling to take risks and advocate for a much-needed shift in perspective is really not so useful after all. Such is the drab, defeated state of the Democratic Party.

No amount of hawkish statements or actual votes in support of Israel will ultimately shield Democrats like Baldwin from Republican narratives about them being weak or anti-Israel or soft on Iran or any other thing. Republicans are always willing to be more extreme, and they go with whatever narrative they feel advantages them politically, because they can, because they answer only to a cultish base that dwells entirely in a realm of delusion. Baldwin could join the IDF and personally shoot up a Palestinian hospital. It wouldn’t stop Republicans from calling her “anti-Israel,” any more than Joe Biden’s support for Israel will stop Republicans from leveling the same accusation against him. You cannot beat the right at warlike chest-beating, ever.  

By the way, these kinds of accusations didn’t stop Baldwin from beating Tommy Thompson in 2012. There is also evidence that Democratic voters are growing more sympathetic toward Palestinians and more critical of Israel’s government. There is more open debate about military aid to Israel, too. Sticking up for Palestine might not be as politically risky as it used to be. Even if it were, there’s no excuse for turning a blind eye as our ally kills and brutalizes the people it has trapped in Gaza, using weapons we paid for. It’s on us Americans—especially in pivotal states like Wisconsin—to reject the lethal cowardice of our politicians.

Who has power and what are they doing with it?

Help us create fiercely independent politics coverage that tracks power and policy across Wisconsin and the Madison area.

Editor-in-chief and publisher Scott Gordon has covered music and the arts in Madison since 2006 for publications including The A.V. Club, Dane101, and Isthmus, and has also covered policy, environmental issues, and public health for WisContext. He co-founded Tone Madison in 2014.

Foregrounding the political and decolonization after October 7

October 7 reminds us that resistance to settler colonialism is ever-present. The only way forward is decolonization, and that requires a political solution.


The present crisis did not begin on October 7, as Israel (and Biden) would have it. Focusing on immediate events, particularly the gruesome and indefensible killing of Israeli civilians, feeds right into Israeli hasbara. Not that the attack should not be at the center of attention in its own right, but taking it as the cause of Israel’s retaliation — indeed, proof that Israel is an innocent victim of Palestinian terrorism and must be allowed to “defend itself” — effectively conceals the wider political context which defines what is happening from the micro to macro: Zionist/Israeli settler colonialism. Indeed, it shuts down all political discussion. 

That is precisely why we need to view events such as October 7 through an informed and critical political lens. Only by understanding them as part of the Palestinians’ century-long struggle for liberation from Zionist/Israeli colonization can we explain why many Palestinians felt a sense of pride at the Hamas breakout from Gaza and continue to support the operation despite its tragic aftermath.

What is the lens through which the October 7 events and the disproportionate Israeli retaliation must be viewed?

It is the lens of Zionist/Israeli settler colonialism.

Now, the term “settler colonialism” has become very fashionable when talking about Zionism and criticizing Israel’s consolidation of its apartheid regime throughout historic Palestine, but is used mainly as an accusation, a way to delegitimize Israel and its expansionism — not as an analysis that leads to a political program. Only by understanding its logic and intentions can we interpret events big and small, from why the two-state solution never was to why Israel’s assault on the Palestinians of Gaza is so ferocious and, beyond exacting vengeance from Hamas, what political designs lie behind it. 


Settler colonialism is a deliberate, structured, and prolonged process in which one people not only takes over the country of another — violently, by necessity — but seeks to transform it from what it was at the time of invasion into an entirely new entity, a new country reflecting the settlers’ presence, entirely erasing the natives’ presence and history.

It is not a “conflict.” There are no “sides,” no symmetry of “violence.” The settler project is a unilateral one that must deny the indigenous population’s existence as a people endowed with rights to their land and identities if it is to claim the country exclusively for itself. Following from that is the need to move the indigenous off their land, killing them, driving them out of the country, or confining them to tiny enclaves, so as to settle the land with the settler population itself.

Then comes the process of erasure: erasing the physical and cultural presence of the indigenous from the landscape and replacing it with the settlers’ own manufactured history, heritage, national narrative, and national identity. After a prolonged process of violent displacement and the pacification of those amongst the indigenous who remain, the settler project concludes quietly.

Now, the world is presented as a normal, peace-loving, democratic country remade in the settler’s image. The settler colony fosters a popular perception that it is the “real” country. (Try buying a plane ticket to Palestine.) The process of normalization is complete; any further resistance on the part of the native population is criminalized as “terrorism” and, as such, is effectively de-politicized and delegitimized. 

Such was the history of settler colonialism in the United States and Canada, in Australia and New Zealand, in apartheid South Africa, and in Russified areas of the Ukraine and Tibet, among many other places. And so it is in Israel, now entering into the final stage of the Zionist national-colonial project that began some 130 years ago — that of normalizing its settler state over the entirety of historic Palestine from the River to the Sea.

This is not to deny genuine Jewish ties, historic, and religious, to Palestine/the Land of Israel, or the national character of Zionism. The problem is not Jewish aspirations to nurture a national life in that country. What delegitimizes Zionism is that it chose violent conquest, displacement of the local population, and an exclusivist settler colonialism over acknowledging the presence of a local population and accommodating its national project to their prior rights. And if that could not be done — and it was never even considered by the Zionist movement — then the Jews had to accept their status in Palestine as one of the national, ethnic, and religious communities comprising that society, as Jews had long done peacefully under the Ottoman Empire.   

Ever-present resistance

The indigenous, of course, can never reconcile with the loss of their lands, their patrimony, their culture and heritage, their identities, and their very communal, if not national, rights. Resistance is ever-present, whether armed (and colonized peoples possess the right to armed struggle in international law), political, or symbolic. This, then, is the lens through which the October 7 events must be viewed. One need not accept Hamas’s Islamic agenda or its illegal, indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilian populations to see it nevertheless as a resistance group.

And, indeed, their October 7 action represented agency, perhaps in the only form still available to the Palestinians. All other “acceptable” options had been foreclosed to them. Negotiations failed (Oslo collapsed under the weight of Israeli settlement after seven years of open-ended “talks” with no declared political aim; there have been no diplomatic initiatives since 2014). Appeals to international law have fallen on deaf ears (the U.S. refuses to support the implementation of the Fourth Geneva Convention since Israel’s blatant violation of virtually every article would cause the collapse of its occupation under the weight of its illegality. Even non-violent resistance, as in the First Intifada, was met with excessive military repression. Only armed resistance, delegitimized by Israel and its G-7 allies as “terrorism,” appears to many Palestinians as the only way, if not to defeat Israel, then to prevent it from completing its colonial project. 

By the dint of their own refusal to be erased, the Palestinians have begun to reverse attempts by Israel and its powerful to eliminate them from history and their own homeland. If the Hamas operation proved disastrous to the people of Gaza, and arguably to the cause of the Palestinians in the Court of Public Opinion, it did achieve (again, cold political analysis) a strategic political goal: after years of Israeli and American attempts to marginalize the Palestinians, to by-pass them completely through a normalization process with the Arab and Muslim world that would seal their fate and signal the triumph of the Zionist settler project, it was Hamas that returned the Palestinians to the political game. No more can they be ignored. That represents the transformational change that the Hamas attack released, intentionally or not.

Foregrounding the political

The political lens of settler colonialism plays yet another, far more important role when evaluating the present stalemate. It sets out what and what is not a (substantially) just and workable resolution. While that discussion may seem fanciful at this particular moment, the Hamas operation and the political and military forces it has set in motion have created an opening. Even the most transactional Western and Arab states see the need for a settlement. The Palestinians have been shaken out of their despair and given a new sense of agency, and world public opinion, while taken back by the brutality of the Hamas killings, has gained a much better sense of the suffering of the Palestinians and Israel’s role as occupier and oppressor. The impending ground invasion is, tragically, to strengthen support for the Palestinians’ plight.  

What becomes obvious through the lens of settler colonialism is how misguided and futile are attempts to resolve a colonial situation through means of conflict resolution and negotiations.

A wholly different approach is required — that of decolonization.

The colonial structures of domination and control must be thoroughly dismantled. Only then may a new body politic emerge in which the indigenous regain their place in their country. An anti-colonial struggle can engender only one post-colonial reality: liberation, the restoration of the national rights of the colonized, and, in the case of the Palestinians, the return of the refugees. Settler colonialism is different from classical colonization. On independence, the colonists left India, Nigeria, and Malaya. A settler state can be decolonized, but if the settlers have become strong enough to establish a state, and if they enjoy the backing of other powerful countries — as do Israeli Jews — they are too strong to drive out. There are few, if any, cases in which settlers have ever been forcibly removed (in Algeria, the Pieds-Noirs fled back to France, although some Jews re-settled in Gaza, but the FLN did not drive them out and did not even demand their expulsion). 

Palestinians will have to struggle with how to reconcile their aspirations for liberation in a Palestinian state with the post-colonial reality of a bi-national society. Israeli Jews will remain a large and powerful segment of the population and continue to identify themselves as a national group. This is not the place to get into a discussion of the One Democratic State Campaign’s political program, to which I subscribe. But only the establishment of a common civil state of equal citizens that will enable national expression of the two groups yet possesses the authority to constrain their hegemonic impulses will be able to cope with the complex post-colonial process of constructing a new, shared state and civil society.  

Only by foregrounding the political, even in times when immediate events grab all our attention and emotions, are we able to understand what is occurring. We must not allow ourselves to be diverted by the outrages that are part of any anti-colonial struggle. Foregrounding the political enables us, even at times like these, to differentiate between acts of genuine resistance and terror, and particularly between acts of resistance — including the lashing out of the oppressed, which can be understood if not excused — and massively more violent and destructive acts of pacification by the oppressing power’s military apparatus intended to maintain, in our case, the Israeli settler state. 

As I write this, Biden has left Israel, having given the Israelis the green light to invade Gaza. As a settler colonial president, he follows in the footsteps of those presidents, from Washington to Harding, who waged the Indian Wars. The ground invasion of Gaza is imminent. Foregrounding a political settlement has become that much harder, yet so much more urgent.

Before you go – we need your support

Mondoweiss’s work is more important than ever. We are bringing you fact-checked news from trusted sources at a time when identifying the truth has become almost impossible. Our readers are asking our staff for more coverage. We need your help to provide it.

We are one of the few independent media outlets with staff in Palestine. We have the capacity to do more, but we need resources to do it. We need your support!

Show your commitment to truth-telling by donating to Mondoweiss today.


‘The most successful land-grab strategy since 1967’

Settlers push Bedouins off West Bank territory

Herders report violence driving them from their homes in accelerating, aggressive and highly effective campaign

Emma Graham-Harrison and Quique Kierszenbaum in Ein Rashash, The Guardian, 21 Oct 2023

Sliman al-Zawahri, 52, prays in the empty village of Ein Rashash in Area C of the West Bank. (Photograph: Quique Kierszenbaum/The Guardian)

The tiny settlement overlooking the Bedouin village of Ein Rashash is named “Angels of Peace”, but, says Sliman al-Zawahri, its residents have visited only violence, fear and despair on his family.

This week the Bedouin community packed up most of their belongings and drove all the women, children and elderly people from the West Bank ridge they had called home for nearly four decades, perched above a spring and beside an archaeological site.

“They didn’t leave us air to breathe,” said Zawahri, 52, describing a months-long campaign of violence and intimidation that intensified in the last two weeks. First villagers were barred from grazing lands, and the spring, then violence reached their homes.

“They came into the village and destroyed houses and sheep pens, beat an 85-year-old man, scared our children. Slowly our lives became unlivable.”

A few men are trying to stay on amid the shells of homes, empty animal pens, smashed solar panels and broken windows, staking a fragile claim to their own village.

The empty village, Ein Rashash. The Bedouin community left this week.
The empty village, Ein Rashash. The Bedouin community left this week. Photograph: Quique Kierszenbaum/The Guardian

This was not an individual tragedy. Men from Angels of Peace are part of a broad, violent and very successful political project to expand Israeli control of the West Bank that has accelerated, say activists, since the 7 October attacks by Hamas launched a war with Israel.

The unlikely agents of this land grab are sheep and goats, herded by radical settlers on small outposts.

Taking land by building homes and communities on it is slow and expensive. Taking control of large swathes of dry hills needed to feed a herd of animals, by intimidating and isolating Palestinian shepherds and bringing in another herd, is much more efficient.

“This has been the most successful land-grab strategy since 1967,” said Yehuda Shaul, a prominent activist who is director of the Israeli Center for Public Affairs thinktank, and a founder of Breaking the Silence, an NGO that exposes military abuses in occupied areas.

Over the last year alone, 110,000 dunams, or 110 sq km (42 sq miles), was effectively annexed by settlers on herding outposts, he said. All the built-up settlement areas constructed since 1967 cover only 80 sq km.

It was also the biggest displacement of Palestinian Bedouins since 1972, when at least 5,000 – and perhaps as many as 20,000 – people were moved from the northern Sinai to make way for settlements, Shaul added.

Settlers and their political allies have celebrated this relatively new approach.

“One action that we’ve expanded over the years is the shepherding farms,” Ze’ev “Zambish” Hever, the secretary general of the settler organisation Amana, told a 2021 conference.

“Today they cover close to twice the land that the built-up communities cover … we understand the significance of the matter: see, it is a lot.”

ruin of small house on the hillside with only stone foundations and rubble remaining
Houses and sheep pens were destroyed at Ein Rashash in the violence, said Sliman al-Zawahri. Photograph: Quique Kierszenbaum/The Guardian

About 450,000 Israelis have settled in what is now Area C of the West Bank – the area under full Israeli military and political control – since the occupation of the Palestinian territories began in 1967, some motivated by religious or nationalistic reasons, and others by the cheaper cost of living.

Their presence is viewed by most of the international community as a major obstacle to lasting peace, but until recently most focus has been on communities of houses rather than herder outposts.

In September, the UN warned about rising settler violence targeting Palestinian herders and driving them from their homes and land.

“A total of 1,105 people from 28 communities – about 12% of their population – have been displaced from their places of residence since 2022, citing settler violence and the prevention of access to grazing land by settlers as the primary reason,” the United Nations office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs (OCHA) said.

Now with the Israeli military preparing for a ground invasion of Gaza, diplomats concerned about rescuing hostages in Gaza and averting regional war, and a national mood of fury after the massacre of 1,400 people on 7 October, there is little focus on the West Bank.

The abandoned village of Wadi a-Seeq.
The abandoned village of Wadi a-Seeq. Photograph: Quique Kierszenbaum/The Guardian

In a climate of fear for Palestinians – the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said soldiers and settlers have killed 62 Palestinians over 10 days – the displacement of herders has sped up, say activists.

The Guardian visited two villages abandoned in less than a week, Ein Rashash and Wadi a-Seeq, and a third where some families were discussing leaving.

“This was already the most significant displacement we’ve seen since the 1970s. Now you have seen two villages abandoned in one week,” Shaul said. “This is on steroids.”

Herder settlers living near the village of al-Mu’arrajat had begun stopping Palestinians, asking for their IDs and telling them they had 24 hours to leave their homes, said Alia Mlehat, 27.

They had blocked people from leaving the village, pulled people out of their cars, and driven between homes, she said. They all had assault rifles and sometimes shot into the air.

“Since the beginning of the war, no one can go anywhere,” she said. “It is a slow process of deepening fear … there is no way out, as the war has restricted our lives.”

The only journeys out of her community now were one-way trips. “One man left already with his wife and children. Five other families are considering leaving,” she said.

Alia Mlehat, from al-Mu’arrajat – young woman wearing black headscarf and red lipstick, standing against stark landscape
Alia Mlehat, from al-Mu’arrajat: ‘No one can go anywhere … there is no way out,’ she said. Photograph: Quique Kierszenbaum/The Guardian

Israeli herder settlers had taken control of 10% of Area C and 6% of the entire West Bank in about five years, Shaul said, citing figures compiled by Kerem Navot, an NGO that tracks settler activity.

The denial of grazing access adds economic warfare to physical violence. Cutting off land for grazing and growing fodder forces herders to sell off some animals, and with smaller flocks, they make less money and are more vulnerable to sickness, injury or other loss.

“Palestinian herders should be self-reliant based on their established livelihoods. Instead they need humanitarian assistance because of settler violence and the failure of Israeli authorities to hold perpetrators accountable,” the UN OCHA report said.

The impact was so serious, it may amount to a war crime, the statement added. Along with demolitions, evictions and restrictions on movement and construction, the attacks on herders created “a coercive environment that contributes to displacement that may amount to forcible transfer, a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva convention”.

The enclosure of herding lands has also left some villages virtually besieged, with people forced to take long circuitous routes to land that is near home but on the other side of a section claimed by settlers.

The abandoned village of Wadi a-Seeq – empty animal sheds and buildings with loose sheets of corrugated iron, an upturned plastic barrel and torn vehicle tyres on the ground
The abandoned village of Wadi a-Seeq. Photograph: Quique Kierszenbaum/The Guardian

In the most extreme cases, villagers are so frightened of travelling on roads controlled by settlers that Israeli activists from groups that try to protect Bedouin communities – living with them, walking with them as they herd flocks and documenting abuses – are bringing them food and water.

They too sometimes become targets. Hagar Gefen, 71, was beaten so violently last year that she ended up in hospital with broken ribs and a punctured lung.

“Nothing could make me stop,” said Gefen, an anthropologist whose sense of humour matches her courage. “Unless maybe they cut off my legs – you have to be able to walk to be with the shepherds.”

No one has been prosecuted for that attack, and activists and Palestinians say they have little faith in Israeli authorities in the West Bank. The UN said that in four out of five communities, residents had filed complaints about settler violence, but only 6% knew of any follow-up.

For many communities the displacement is a second upheaval driven by the Israeli state and its citizens. Al-Zawahri’s family were forced out of the Negev area in 1948, and wandered for several years before settling in their current homes.

They hope that when the war is over, the Israeli state – or international pressure – will ensure this new exile is not permanent.

“We are eager for the war to finish, to try to come back home,” said Ayoub al-Zawahri, 50. “We are living in places that don’t belong to us.”

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you move on, I was hoping you would consider taking the step of supporting the Guardian’s journalism

From Elon Musk to Rupert Murdoch, a small number of billionaire owners have a powerful hold on so much of the information that reaches the public about what’s happening in the world. The Guardian is different. We have no billionaire owner or shareholders to consider. Our journalism is produced to serve the public interest – not profit motives.

And we avoid the trap that befalls much US media – the tendency, born of a desire to please all sides, to engage in false equivalence in the name of neutrality. While fairness guides everything we do, we know there is a right and a wrong position in the fight against racism and for reproductive justice. When we report on issues like the climate crisis, we’re not afraid to name who is responsible. And as a global news organization, we’re able to provide a fresh, outsider perspective on US politics – one so often missing from the insular American media bubble. 

Around the world, readers can access the Guardian’s paywall-free journalism because of our unique reader-supported model. That’s because of people like you. Our readers keep us independent, beholden to no outside influence and accessible to everyone – whether they can afford to pay for news, or not.

If you can, please consider supporting us just once from $1, or better yet, support us every month with a little more. Thank you.

Betsy Reed
Editor, Guardian US

Madison women concerned for friends living in the West Bank

Cody Taylor, Spectrum News, Oct. 20, 2023

MADISON, Wis. — Cassandra Dixon is a Madison resident who has been traveling to the Palestine territories for over a decade.

What You Need To Know

During that time she has developed a close relationship with Women in Hebron, which is a Fair Trade Co-Operative. 

“These women are incredible, they are brilliant, artistic and creative,” said Dixon. “ They have a fantastic sense of humor and a lot of them have suffered things that would make you lay down and curl up in a ball.” 

Prior to the pandemic, Women in Hebron would make enough money selling embroidery in their city, but as things changed financially, they were forced to broaden their reach to countries like the U.S. 

That’s where Dixon came into play. 

“They need this stuff to come to countries where the money is, and that’s how I started helping them sell their products here,” said Dixon. “From a business standpoint here it is very small but for them it makes a difference because it is all they have.” 

Over the years, Dixon has developed a very close relationship with many of the women. Most nights, she speaks with a woman named Lyla, who is living in the West Bank. 


“Lyla lives in a household with 14 people, more than half of them are children,” said Dixon. 

Before the war started, their conversations were positive and enjoyable, but Dixon said that enjoyment and happiness are all gone now. 

“When I talk with Lyla on the phone, which I do most evenings, I can hear the rockets hitting Gaza from there,” said Dixon. 

(Photo Courtesy: Cassandra Dixon)

The night a rocket hit the Al-Alhi hospital and killed hundreds of people, Lyla heard it happen. 

“When that hospital was bombed, my friend Lyla could hear those rockets going over,” said Dixon. “I could hear her door rattling in the frame.” 

Thousands of Palestinians have lost their lives in the Israel-Hamas war, and Dixon said the lives of everyone living in the Palestinian territories has been changed forever. 

(Photo Courtesy: Cassandra Dixon)

“It is trauma beyond anything that we have capacity to understand, we can’t make pictures of that for ourselves in our minds because we have never seen that,” said Dixon. 

Dixon wants the public to know that citizens are not powerless when it comes to putting a stop to this war. 

She encourages everyone to speak up or write to their local representative to help find a peaceful solution. 

(Spectrum News 1/Cody Taylor)

If you are interested in buying embroidery to support the Women of Hebron you can go to Palestinepartners.org

You can also get involved by adopting an Olive tree in the Palestinian territories


Jewish extremists plan to “lynch” Palestinians in chat apps


A fire blazes beside a burnt car amidst the destruction caused by a nearby building.
Fire and destruction following a settler attack that killed three Palestinians, and a fourth killed by a soldier, in Qusra, a village near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, on 11 October. (Wahaj Bani Moufleh/ActiveStills)

Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank and other Jewish Israeli fanatics have been coordinating attacks on Palestinians on chat apps WhatsApp and Telegram – attacks that they themselves refer to as lynchings.

They “sell and buy weapons, curse, incite, spread fakes and ‘warm up’ each other to carry out acts of revenge,” according to FakeReporter, an Israeli research organization that documents these activities.

They even discuss kidnapping Palestinian children.

This comes as Israeli soldiers and settlers have killed more than 60 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since 7 October.

This includes at least 16 Palestinian children.

At least five Palestinians were killed by settlers, who have been deputized by Israel’s top leadership to carry out pogroms.

Israel’s army has fired rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters that have injured more than 1,000 Palestinians. More than a quarter of those injuries were by live ammunition.

“Last week was the deadliest week for West Bank Palestinians since OCHA began recording casualties in 2005,” the UN monitoring group said.

This would be a major news story.

But since Israel’s campaign of extermination by air, land and sea in Gaza started on 7 October, the apartheid regime has allowed its foot soldiers to run amok in the occupied West Bank, committing atrocities against Palestinians.


Settlers carried out more than 80 attacks against Palestinians during that period, as has been documented by OCHA. These figures include injuries against Palestinians as well as property damage.

Israeli forces were involved in some attacks, according to the monitoring group.

Settler attacks double

The number of settler attacks has more than doubled since the start of the year, to an average of seven incidents per day.

Settler attacks target many Palestinian communities that Israeli authorities are already threatening with forcible transfer. There were instances when settlers gave Palestinians an ultimatum to leave their homes. Some families did in fact leave.

Israeli settlers then destroyed tents, water pipes and solar panels belonging to the Palestinians who were forced to leave their homes. 

In one video, a settler armed with a rifle shoots a Palestinian at point-blank range, severely wounding him, in al-Tuwani village in the occupied West Bank’s South Hebron Hills.

The settler is seen walking away, and the soldier does nothing to reprimand or arrest him on the spot. Meanwhile, Palestinians rush to attend to the wounded man. 

Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz reported that “the army confiscated the gun and the assailant was questioned by police.”

Another video in al-Tuwani shows an adult man in uniform firing his gun in the direction of Palestinians.

The Israeli army told Haaretz that the man was a reservist who supposedly fired into the air.

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem documented settlers throwing Molotov cocktails at Palestinian property and cars in Sheikh Jarrah last week:

Another video posted by Yesh Din – an Israeli group that monitors settler activity in the occupied West Bank – shows Israeli forces escorting and protecting settlers as they invade the village of Burin, south of Nablus:

The settlers, some of them armed and masked, are filmed throwing stones at Palestinians and uprooting trees. One of them even has a chainsaw.

Government-backed pogroms

“There is no law enforcement, only revenge and collective punishment,” the group said.

“Nothing is stopping these militias from attacking Palestinians.”

In fact, the Israeli government is actively encouraging the most fanatic Jewish settlers to attack Palestinians, working as extensions of the Israeli state.

It is doing so by arming and distributing weapons to Jewish extremists.

Israel’s national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said his ministry is purchasing 10,000 rifles to distribute to Israeli civilians in the southern colonies along the boundary fence with the Gaza Strip, as well as in towns where Palestinian citizens of Israel live and in Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Ben-Gvir said he had already acquired 4,000 rifles from an Israeli manufacturer that will be distributed immediately along with helmets and bulletproof vests to “hundreds of towns.”

This is intended to form “civilian security teams” – in other words, Jewish extremist pogrom groups.Ben-Gvir is urging them to prepare for a “Guardian of the Walls 2” – a reference to Israel’s 11-day killing spreeof Palestinians in Gaza in May 2021, which triggered an uprising across historic Palestine.

At that time, Jewish Israeli extremists carried out organized pogroms against Palestinian citizens of Israel and the occupied West Bank.

Planning violence and terror online

FakeReporter, the Israeli research group which has documented how the settlers organize their violent activities online, has shared screenshots of conversations between Jewish extremists.

The chats include members discussing weapons and how to obtain them and planning violence and terror against Palestinians.

They’ve also exchanged information on how to make Molotov cocktails, when and were to meet up to attack Palestinians and what weapons to bring. They also share tips on how to disguise themselves.

All of this takes place amid a toxic stew of racism against Palestinians with which they rile one another up.

“We will also carry out a lynch there on some Arab car,” one user said in a group.

In another, someone calls for the “burning” of Jisr al-Zarqa, a Palestinian town in Israel’s northern coast.

“Come to the coastal road, you fags,” he adds. A picture of what appears to be a Molotov cocktail is attached to his messages.

“Let’s start a terrorist organization,” suggests another Jewish extremist. One of his comrades responds, “Alright we need weaponry.”

One group on Telegram titled Am Yisrael Chai (“The Jewish People Lives”), sets the following rules for its 148 members: “Post every weapon or means of self-defense you want, without porn or graphic images, and I am against selling to Arabs, call me whatever you want, I won’t accept it, I prefer no attacks in the country [on Jews].”Group members discuss attacks on Palestinian citizens of Israel living near Bat Yam, a town south of Tel Aviv and Jaffa.

“Gang it seems we will head out to fuck the Arabs tomorrow at night in the area of The Border Bakery between Bat Yam and Jaffa. Whoever is interested should join us,” one user says.

“We will split up and stay in touch by telephone, we will be dispersed everywhere, more than 50 people.”

In another chat, Israelis discuss attacking Palestinians in Jerusalem. One user threatens that “Zion Square will be soaked with blood tonight” – referring to a site in the occupied city.

Jewish extremists call on the kidnapping of Palestinians in multiple chats, including children.

“We must kidnap Arabs, kidnap terrorists, at least three to four,” one writes.

“We want to organize a few people to catch some Arab and to beat him up a little, to seek them out like Pokemon,” writes another.

“Who’s with me to snatch some cousin?” one user writes in a chat, referring to a Palestinian, “I’ll open him up with [uninterpreted] remove a few things from his body.”

In another chat, one calls for the kidnapping of Palestinian children from Hebron.

“Sorry but it’s already unclear to me who is a good Arab and who is bad, they should all get the hell out of here, without clarifying who is good and who is bad. There is no place for Arabs in this state.”

The same user says, “It’s no mistake to drive to Hebron and collect a few small children.”

In another chat, a user incites attacks on Palestinian workers inside Israel.

Israeli authorities have detained hundreds of Palestinians with work permits inside Israel, and transferred over a thousand to the occupied West Bank, UN OCHA said.

“Friends, start from when you see construction workers and rip them apart,” he says. “Humiliate them.”

“Every Arab that you see on the street, fuck him and film it,” one writes in another chat.

“Burn Arab businesses,” the user adds.

In another chat shared by FakeReporter, Jewish extremists call for a second Nakba.

“Here we won’t have Guardian of the Walls 2. There will be Nakba 2,” one says.

“We need to turn the state upside down, like in Guardian of the Walls, to fuck all the Arabs,” says another.

Journalist attacked

While the hatred and violence of the Israeli Jewish extremists is overwhelmingly focused on Palestinians, Jews can be targeted as well if they are not deemed sufficiently racist.

Israel Frey, a leftist Israeli journalist, was harassed by extremist Jewish fanatics on Saturday night.

They gathered around his house and shouted “traitor” because he posted a video praying for Palestinian victims in Gaza.

Frey reported to his confidants in real time that extremists were throwing flares at his building as others attempted to break into his apartment. The police had to come and escort him and his family out of their apartment.

But Frey said officers spat on him, elbowed him and accused him of “supporting Hamas.”

The police denied that they spat on Frey or subjected him to violence.

Frey’s address was circulated in WhatsApp groups where Jewish Israeli fanatics organize attacks, an Israeli journalist with news website Ynet reported.

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada. Translations by David Sheen.

Events in South Mt. Hebron Since the Outbreak of the War

October 14, 2023

At the request of supporters from abroad, we applied to friends of us, residents of south Mt. Hebron, and asked them to send reports about the current events in their places in the midst of the war in Gaza. Below is the detailed report sent to us. This report covers much of the events in the region between last Saturday and yesterday [October 7-13].

Dear friends,

I want to begin by expressing my gratitude for all the friends who have reached out to check on us during these difficult times. Your concern means the world to us.

The situation is very tragic and horrifying right now in all of Palestine, and what is happening in Gaza right now is unimaginable. On the small margin of that, here are some of what is happening in the region of South Hebron Hills. These were what I could record in a small geographical area, which we call South Hebron Hills and Masafer Yatta.

• On Saturday morning, precisely at 6 o’clock, things turned upside down as people awoke to the sound of explosions echoing from all directions. An unsettling sense of worry began to grip the population as it marked the onset of the ongoing war. By nearly 10 am, one of the rockets struck a mere 100 meters away from the village of Al Khirwah, situated to the east of Umm Al Khair. Following that, and shortly after the commencement of the war, settlements experienced an escalation in military security measures. This included settlers donning military uniforms and an increased military presence, leading to a tightening of daily life for the region’s residents. Many villages were closely tied to the ongoing circumstances. The proximity of the Carmel settlement to Umm Al Khair community, for example, has resulted in heightened security measures, with settlers and soldiers guarding the settlement fence vigilantly, sometimes pointing their weapons in people’s direction. This constant threat has left them feeling vulnerable and fearful of even accidental gunfire.


• On Sunday, at least three people were injured due to shootings and attacks perpetrated by both the military and settlers. Soldiers at Susyiah military camp checkpoint shot towards the feet of [name withheld], where he was injured because of shrapnel from the bullets that were shot on the ground. The soldiers seemed to [terrorize] people, even though it would be a dangerous action and would hurt people. In the morning of that day, and as a collective punishment, the occupation military began an unsettling practice of obstructing all the roads in our region by indiscriminately heaping piles of [dirt] along their paths. This deliberate action has resulted in the disconnection of various communities, particularly impacting those residing in the remote corners of our region. The consequences of these roadblocks are far-reaching, as they hinder essential access to vital services and disrupt the daily lives of the affected residents, amplifying the isolation of those living in these remote areas. The situation has raised concerns and anxiety among the local population, as the communities grapple with the abrupt disruption of their connections and the uncertainty surrounding these military actions.

• Monday, the attack on [name withheld] in the village of Khalet Adabe was a distressing incident. [He] was merely trying to protect his community when a group of settlers attempted to forcefully enter it. In the ensuing confrontation, he was violently assaulted, resulting in a broken arm. Fortunately, he was swiftly transported to the hospital by a Palestinian ambulance. The departure of the settlers left a lingering sense of terror among the local families, highlighting the tensions and challenges faced by many in this region. We also witnessed a series of distressing incidents that unfolded, with multiple reports of individuals falling victim to violence. One particularly unsettling case involved a man from Khalet Al Maieh, who was pulled over by the military while driving his tractor on the highway. After being detained for two hours, his keys, cell phone, and ID were confiscated, and he was subjected to severe physical assault by the military and ended up in the police station for investigation. It didn’t stop with the military; settlers have also started deploying bulldozers to further restrict people’s movement, taking advantage of the situation. Near Atwaneh, Ajawaieh, Sadet Atha’la, and many other villages. In Sadet Atha’lah, for example, settlers opened fire on those who approached them while they were blocking the road to their village, fortunately without causing injuries. People are already grappling with harsh living conditions, including a shortage of basic necessities like food and medicine, which could worsen if the current situation continues the same. The future appears uncertain and filled with fear.

• On Tuesday, settlers in military uniforms invaded Umm Al Khair village and terrorized the residents. They temporarily detained, for more than an hour, the village’s youth for questioning, checked their IDs, confiscated their cell phones, and prevented anyone from documenting them. Afterward, they claimed that someone posed a security threat and was dangerously close to the settlement fence. [. . .] It’s difficult to fathom or even endure such an accusation, given that the Carmel settlement is located merely one meter from Umm Al Khair village. Before leaving the village, they issued a threat, warning that they would shoot anyone found in close proximity to the settlement fence. This situation has become even more distressing, especially after the events that transpired today.

On the same day, not far from Umm Al Khair, inside Maghaier Al Abeed village, located within the so-called Firing Zone 918, a violent attack was launched by settlers, causing terror among families and physical assaults. The [name withheld] family was the target of this attack, leaving [name withheld], his wife, and their young children injured, necessitating their immediate transfer to a hospital. They were transported to the hospital by a Palestinian ambulance since driving on the highway was restricted due to the blockade. This incident underscores the ongoing challenges faced by Palestinian communities in this region, with Israeli settlers exploiting the situation.

Furthermore, settlers, accompanied by the military, brought a bulldozer to raid Simri village in the Shib Al Botom area. They took advantage of the absence of residents and proceeded to demolish five houses and two substantial animal barns. This demolition is not just illegal; it represents a grave crime against Palestinians and exposes the extent of the actions taken by these malevolent settlers.

• Wednesday, in several other villages, including Susyiah, Atwaneh, Adirat, Umm Al Khair, Al Karmel, and Ajawaiah, people faced gunfire from either the military or settlers, fortunately escaping injury. However, near Atwaneh in a harrowing incident, a lone shepherd found himself in a perilous situation when a random military patrol, who were traveling in a private civil car, opened fire on the shepherd without warning. Tragically, two of his sheep lost their lives in the crossfire, while two others suffered injuries. Miraculously, the shepherd managed to escape the relentless gunfire, leaving his flock behind in a desperate bid for survival.

Susyiah village has been plagued by a series of distressing night raids conducted by both the military and settlers. These incursions, carried out under the guise of security operations, have involved meticulous searches of each household, leaving families separated and detained outside their homes. These unsettling events have occurred at least twice in the village, with the most recent incident taking place in the dawn of Wednesday, casting a shadow of fear and uncertainty over the community.

• On Thursday, the residents of Atwaneh village faced a distressing situation when settlers, dressed in military uniforms, encroached on the village and began uprooting olive trees that belonged to the local people. The situation escalated when the settlers established a military point near the homes of the people. When people attempted to protect their trees, the settlers started shooting directly at them. Fortunately, no one was injured in the gunfire, but the settlers chased them back to their homes. This prompted the people to stand their ground, as the settlers had entered their community and were posing a direct threat. In response, the settlers resorted to violence, assaulting anyone in their path. The [name withheld] family, for example, was subjected to this brutality, with [name withheld] suffering an arm injury. Other members of his family and neighbors also sustained various injuries. The ordeal left a lasting impact on the people, especially the children, who had to endure this terrifying experience.

Later in the afternoon, a military patrol intercepted two vehicles owned by Jinba residents, who were on their way to Yatta for essential supplies. The occupants were detained for several hours, leading to a disturbing outcome. Eventually, one car’s passengers were released but had their vehicle confiscated, while those in the other car were arrested, and their vehicle was taken. Their ultimate destination remains unknown, and it is suspected they may be held at a nearby military facility, restrained and blindfolded. In a separate unsettling incident, a man from Arifaieh was apprehended by the military merely for standing near the highway, even though his house was right beside it.

Not far from there, in the villages of Anajadah, Khashem Al-Daraj, and Khashem Al-Karm, an occupation military patrol was stopping cars on the road and confiscating their keys, leaving people stranded at the roadside. Some individuals had to call mechanics to assist in starting their cars so they could return home. Meanwhile, others anxiously awaited the return of the military patrol to retrieve their keys, but unfortunately, the patrol never returned.

• Friday today marked a grim turn of events in Atwaneh village, where [name withheld] was tragically shot by a settler as worshippers left the mosque following Jumah prayers. This shocking incident raises concerns about the deliberate targeting of innocent villagers. [name withheld], rushed to the hospital in a private vehicle, currently fights for his life in critical condition. The absence of an ambulance, a result of the military blockade imposed on Palestinians in the region, has only compounded this dire situation.

These alarming incidents paint a grim picture of the situation here, and it’s important to note that these are localized events. The broader situation is equally dire. What is happening is unlike anything before; nobody can predict what tomorrow may bring. There seem to be no openings for hope or a clear vision of tomorrow at this time. As the ordeal enters its second week, the people endure immense suffering, despite limited media coverage of these distressing events. It begs the question: How much longer must Palestinians endure before the world takes notice and acts?

In these times, we turn to our faith and pray to Allah for safety and peace. Our hearts are heavy, and we stand together in solidarity with those affected by these tragic events. Please keep the affected individuals and their families in your thoughts and prayers during these challenging times.

In solidarity.
[name withheld]


Support Sami Huraini

On October 30th, Palestinian Human Rights Defender Sami Huraini will be sentenced by the Israeli Court in retaliation for his activism. Since Sami and his family have defended their home village of Masafer Yatta from Israel’s land theft, they have routinely been targeted by the Israeli military and court system with repressive tactics.

The Israeli Court wrongfully and unjustly convicted Sami on August 22nd, 2023, for “obstructing soldiers” during a protest in 2021. An obvious attempt to silence his activism. Now, it’s URGENT to call on members of Congress to defend Sami this month before his sentence hearing. Congress must pressure Israel to drop all charges against Sami, and roll back the unjust 99% conviction rate of Palestinians.

Email Congress now to get out the word on Sami’s case and remind our U.S. legislators of their role to defend human rights now and always.

Thank You from Palestine!

Hello friends,

Thank you all so much for helping me to come back to Palestine, and for sponsoring young olive trees to be planted in Masafer Yatta in the coming growing season.

I attended the September 6 hearing in the legal case  against the Israeli settler who assaulted me in March of this year in the Palestinian village of Tuba, but the judge did not issue a verdict. The court scheduled another hearing for November 2, during which the settler will testify. 

During the September 6 hearing both the prosecution and the lawyer for the settler questioned two of the doctors who cared for me after the assault.   Lawyers for the settler refused to accept written hospital reports and documentation, and insisted on questioning the doctors at length in an attempt to claim that the injury was not serious.  It was not easy for these doctors to travel to the hearing, and I am so grateful to them, both for their wonderful care when I was injured, and again now for their help in insisting on legal consequences for the settler.

The lawyer for the settler also argued that the settler should be released, however as I understand he remains on house arrest in the home of his grandparents.

The US consulate did not attend the hearing, which was held completely in Hebrew, and fairly early in the proceeding the judge forced the human rights lawyer who was accompanying me to leave the room. As a result I know only what the doctors were able to tell me about their  testimony, and what the prosecutor told me during a few minutes of conversation  after the day- long hearing.  I am trying to get a court transcript. 

Meanwhile in the area of Masafer Yatta, where the attack on me occurred last March, Palestinians continue to confront escalating attacks by settles, backed up by Israeli soldiers. In one village that I visited last spring, Widade, the violence from settlers has been so relentless and terrifying in these past months that the family has been forced to flee, leaving their home and barns and the livelihood they built over generations. Their sheep have been sold now and all they know has been lost.  Settlers have already arrived to destroy everything that remained, and there is now no hope of them returning to their land.

The majority of legal complaints made by Palestinians to the Israeli police against settlers are dismissed before they reach the prosecution stage and legal consequences for settlers involved in assaults  on Palestinians are almost unheard of.

At this time, in 2023, Palestinians are facing violent attacks by Israeli settlers at the rate of 2.8 per day in the occupied West Bank. This unrelenting pressure and violence is forcing families to flee, and resulting in the depopulation of villages that will be lost forever.

In addition to attacks on people, settlers continue to burn and slash olive trees, steal sheep and donkeys, vandalize homes, cars and personal belongings and destroy water wells and crops. The Israeli military and police routinely back up the settlers, and refuse to intervene to protect civilians.  US taxpayers send Israel 3.8 million dollars per day in aid, the majority of which is received by the military, so when these attacks occur, we own a piece of the violence. 

I hope that in response you will consider passing on to a friend this chance to sponsor an olive tree, at a cost of $24 per tree, to be planted here in Masafer Yatta in the coming planting season as an act of solidarity with these families who are struggling every day to hold on to their land.

Please visit https://tiny.one/MadisonOliveGrove

Many many thanks,

Click to sponsor an olive tree!

Please consider sponsoring one or more olive trees via the Madison-Masafer Yatta Olive Grove project. Thanks to your generous support, the initial goal of 40 trees has been met, and we are on our way to the next goal of 80 trees donated.

If you prefer to donate by mail, you can send a check payable to MRSCP and marked “Olive Grove” to:

    P.O. Box 5214
    Madison, WI 53705

Dixon Hopes Israeli Settler’s Trial Draws Attention to Attacks on Palestinians

Jerry Windley-Daoust, The Catholic Worker Movement, September 2, 2023

“These settlers act with impunity because Israel has impunity in the world, and they have that because of the U.S.,” Cassandra Dixon (Mary House CW) says. She hopes the September 7 trial of the Israeli settler who attacked her might help to change that.

After being assaulted by an Israeli settler earlier this spring, Cassandra Dixon of Mary House of Hospitality (Oxford, Wisconsin) is preparing to return to Israel for the settler’s trial on September 7.

If the settler is convicted, she hopes it might make some in the United States rethink U.S. policy toward Israel.

“i don’t think that some white woman from Wisconsin going or not going to a trial there is going to change anything” fundamentally for the Palestinians who live there, Dixon told CatholicWorker.org last week. “But what could change? Maybe U.S. citizens, U.S. taxpayers, would have second thoughts about supporting this. These settlers act with impunity because Israel has impunity in the world, and they have that because of the U.S.”

Dixon suffered a fractured skull after an Israeli settler attacked her and another international observer on March 7 in the Masafer Yatta area, near the Palestinian village of Tuba.

Dixon was treated for her injuries while still in Palestine, but it wasn’t until she followed up with a medical professional back home that she realized how serious the incident had been. “The doctor that saw me said, ‘You do have a very hard head.’ That’s kind of true. I think I was also very, very lucky.”

Some of the people who provided emergency medical aid to Dixon in the wake of the March 7 attack were not so fortunate. They themselves were attacked by settlers in their own homes in mid-August, Dixon says—part of a larger attempt to depopulate the area using violence and harassment.

“My hope is that our support for this kind of vigilante violence and the demolition of schools by the military and the shooting of unarmed civilians and the the system of checkpoints that makes it impossible for people to get medical care and the harassment of ambulance drivers—all of these things, at some point, we will have had enough and they’ll be history.”

U.S. taxpayers “own” the unchecked harassment and violence of Israeli settlers toward Palestinians, Dixon says, because of the millions of dollars of support it provides to the Israeli military on a daily basis.

Dixon is asking supporters to help plant olive trees in the area “as a practical act of solidarity, and a means of helping families to hold onto their land.” You can read her personal appeal here: Dixon Appeals for Help Planting an Olive Grove in Tuba – Catholic Worker Movement

A press release prepared by the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project follows.


Trial scheduled for Israeli settler accused in assault of Wisconsin Catholic Worker

A Wisconsin woman who was assaulted and seriously injured this spring  while visiting Palestine will travel to attend the September 6 trial of the Israeli settler accused in the attack.  

Cassandra Dixon, 64, was assaulted by Israeli settlers on March 7 while walking with another international on the outskirts of the Palestinian village of Tuba, in the occupied West Bank. The attack fractured her skull and broke an eardrum.  The settlers fled back to the Illegal Israeli outpost of Havat Ma’on, however Dixon’s assailant was identified and arrested some days later by Israeli authorities. He has since admitted to being present, and is on house arrest pending trial.

Since Dixon was assaulted in March, settler violence against Palestinians has escalated dramatically across the West Bank.  In the same area where Dixon was attacked, settler assaults have resulted in multiple hospitalizations after shepherds were beaten with sticks and bars and pepper sprayed at close range in the eyes.  Tuba village is located in Masafer Yatta, an area comprised of multiple small villages at the southern end of the occupied West Bank. These villages are experiencing a sharp rise in settler violence aimed at driving them out, including physical attacks on farmers, land and home invasions, theft & injury of livestock, destruction of personal belongings, theft of land, and destruction of a water well, crops and olive trees.

In addition, the villages lie inside Firing Zone 918, an area claimed by Israel for use as a military training area.  Israeli authorities have issued demolition orders for all structures, including homes, schools, animal barns and wells within the area after residents lost a legal appeal to remain on their lands last year. One school was demolished last April and another is slated for destruction by the military before the start of school this year.

The upcoming trial is an important test of whether the US government will hold Israel accountable for violence against American citizens. Earlier this year, US citizen Omar Assad, 78, of Milwaukee, died of a stress-induced heart attack brought on by being dragged from his car, bound, blindfolded, gagged and dumped on the ground in a cold construction site by Israeli soldiers in his childhood village in the West Bank. His family is still waiting for justice.

All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law. Until recently, unauthorized settlement outposts have been considered illegal even under Israeli law. But the Israeli government, now controlled by the extreme right-wing pro-settler movement, has moved to legalize a number of them, despite objections from the Biden administration.

This rise in settler violence, along with the internal anti-democratic measures being put in place by the current Israeli government, is causing many to consider reevaluating the $3.8 billion US taxpayer funded aid given to Israel annually. The figure is more than 10 times the US aid given to Niger, one of the world’s poorest countries.  

Cassandra Dixon works as a residential carpenter and lives at Mary House, a hospitality house for families visiting the federal prison at Oxford WI. 



United Nations report on displacement due to settler violence (also available in English on the page):




Ali Awad podcast on land theft in Tuba:

Cover image: By שי קנדלר – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Cassandra Dixon Interview on WORT

Sunday, August 27 on WORT’s World View
The interview begins at 33:00.

Cassandra talks with Gil Halstead about her upcoming trip to Palestine, where she will attend the September 6 trial of the Israeli settler who assaulted and seriously injured her last spring. She discusses that case and the broader situation in the Masafer Yatta area of the West Bank, where the attack took place.

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.