Newsletter of September 19th, 2020
Updated: Oct 27, 2020
External and Internal Current Events
September 15th, 2020, the United Arab Emirates, represented by Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed, Bahrain, represented by Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani, Israel, represented by Benjamin Netanyahu, and the United States, represented by Donald Trump, finally formalized and signed the Abraham Accords normalization/peace treaty (Newman, 2020). The protests that the world had awaited against the deal, which did not occur during the announcement, finally came – and they were as brief and short as one might expect. In Palestine, Bahrain, Yemen, and the USA, some Arabs of a multitude of backgrounds came out to protest the deal, but the demonstrations were relatively small, and in some cases seemingly play into larger issues at hand (Kerstein, 2020) (AFP, 2020) (“Yemenis”, 2020) (Hammad & al-Hajjar, 2020).
The protests in Yemen, for example, largely occurred in the UAE-occupied island of Socotra of the country, while the US protests included the usual groups: SJP, JVP, CAIR, as well as some assorted allies of those groups (“Yemenis”, 2020) (Kerstein, 2020). Even Bahraini unrest can be somewhat attributed to the Sunni-Shia government-populace divide (AFP, 2020). These pop-up protests, including the ones within Palestine itself, are almost banal. This is not to say that there is nothing noteworthy coming from these protests – Bahrain itself, for example, typically does not see much civil strife in its authoritarian regime – but the standard anti-Israel statement, day of marching and shouting, followed by relative quiet in the following weeks are nothing compared to the Jordanian protests discussed last week (AFP, 2020).
One could blame Coronavirus for the lack of public outrage, but both the US and Israel have seen weeks upon weeks of civil unrest, even with the disease looming overhead. With 2 new Arab nations now recognizing Israel, and perhaps more on the way, the arguments of a MENA region better off without Israel is becoming harder to make by the day (Newman, 2020). An action that would have potentially caused assassinations if it had happened even 20 years ago, but is now met with such little resistance, is telling of a new age where Israel-as-Ally is a much more promising opportunity than Israel-as-Enemy.
AFP. (2020, Sept 21). US issues security alert for citizens in Bahrain after normalization with Israel. The Times of Israel. https://www.timesofisrael.com/us-issues-security-alert-for-citizens-in-bahrain-after-normalization-with-israel/#gs.gy2ip2
Hammad, S., & al-Hajjar, M. (2020, Sept 15). Palestinians stage 'day of uprising' against normalisation deal between Israel, UAE and Bahrain. Middle East Eye. https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-uae-bahrain-deal-palestinians-protest-normalisation
Kerstein, B. (2020, Sept 15). Top Muslim-American Group Protests Against Signing of Peace Agreement Between Israel, UAE, and Bahrain. The Algemeiner. https://www.algemeiner.com/2020/09/15/top-muslim-american-group-protests-against-signing-of-peace-agreement-between-israel-uae-and-bahrain/
Newman, M. (2020, Sept 15). After UAE, Bahrain deals signed, Trump says 7-9 countries seek peace with Israel. The Times of Israel. https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog-september-15-2020/
Yemenis protest normalisation on Socotra island amid reports of Emirati-Israeli base. (2020, Sept 20). The New Arab. https://english.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2020/9/20/yemenis-protest-israeli-normalisation-on-socotra-island
Public Security Minister Amir Ohana recently spoke about a crackdown by the police that will be taking place towards those that violate the guidelines of the imminent lockdown. This statement was in regard to gatherings; however, many have said that this message was targeted at protesters against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This statement from Ohana has cast fear on what the lockdown is actually about. This fear is due to the fact that the pandemic has given Netanyahu the power to justify drastic measures and the violation of fundamental rights. The recent version of the proposed lockdown states that a person can only demonstrate 500 meters from their residence. It has also come to the public’s attention that this is not Ohana’s first attempt to use the pandemic as a way to get rid of protest. Recordings have come out that have Ohana pressuring Police Commander Major General Doron Yadid into acting against the protesters back in July. Ohana has also tried to move the location of protesters and is trying to challenge the court’s ruling on this issue. Police Commissioner Moti Cohen and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit have both spoken up against restricting protests.
Editorial, Haaretz. “Israel's Anti-Protest Lockdown: Opinion,” September 14, 2020. https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/editorial/israel-s-anti-protest-lockdown-1.9152668.
Israeli singer-songwriter Idan Raichel has had a nearly 20 year long, successful career. With nearly 700,000 album sales and 2 million downloads, his work features many different languages, genres, and featured artists, including Alicia Keys. (2) His love of music began at the age of 9, with his fascination with Romani music. He learned to play the accordion and appreciate the culture that came with it. (1) With his group, the Idan Raichel Project, he has been able to produce music that highlights his home country’s immigrant population. (2) This collaborative group includes about 90 musicians with a large age range scaling from 16 to 89.
Some of his most successful music pieces specifically highlight Ethiopian and Moroccan communities in Israel, as Idan gives them a platform to share their sound. (1) According to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, “the Project’s blend of African, Latin American, Caribbean and Middle Eastern sounds, coupled with a spectacular live show, has enchanted audiences worldwide.” Idan’s group headlined many distinguished venues throughout the years. Some of these places include: Radio City Music Hall, Central Park SummerStage, Kodak Theater, The Apollo Theater, and the Sydney Opera House. Here at these venues he captivated his audience and was able to give an inspiring multigenerational and multicultural performance. (3) During the coronavirus pandemic, Idan Raichel had to postpone and cancel his 2020 tour dates, but instead has been able to put on virtual concerts for his fans to still be able to listen to his live music.
NPR. (2009, May 10). An Israeli Pop Producer With A Global Cast. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103953328
The Idan Raichel Project. (2020, July 15). Home Page. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://idanraichelproject.com/en/
University of Massachusetts Amhurst. (2020). The Idan Raichel Project Artists. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://fac.umass.edu/Online/default.asp?BOparam%3A%3AWScontent%3A%3AloadArticle%3A%3Apermalink=IdanRaichelArtists
Yossi Klein Halevi
The author behind the award winning ‘Letters to my Palestinian Neighbor’, Yossi Klein Halevi continues to wow the world repeatedly with his works of profound depth and insight (Halevi, 2014).
In this latest book, Halevi attempts to explain to his Palestinian neighbors through a series of letters, Jewish peoplehood and identity. It’s through these letters he describes how he sees things from his point of view- figuratively and literally from his house in Jerusalem.
These letters of his didn’t go unchecked. The best feature of this book is that Halevi includes the extensive response letters from Palestinians (and others), that he had received after initially publishing the book (Halevi, 2014).
It’s through these responses and Yossi’s writing, that someone who knows nothing of the conflict can understand the perspectives of both sides and the nuance within.
This book is a must read for anyone that wants to understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Halevi, Y. K. (2014). BIO: Yossi-klein-halevi. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://www.yossikleinhalevi.com/bio
Brenner, F. (2020). Yossi Klein Halevi. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://www.harpercollins.com/blogs/authors/yossi-klein-halevi