The Committee for Fundamental Rights and Democracy, publishes its „informations“ for members four times a year. This time we also wrote contributed with a text about the current situation in Palestine and Israel, which we share here with you.

In addition to the corona pandemic, it is current political developments on the local as well as global level that preoccupy our participants and staff members. In Israel, many politically active people are angry: angry with Benjamin Netanyahu’s government who, instead of trying to contain the second wave of corona, is promoting the annexation of the Jordan Valley; angry with the police, who also in Israel treat People of Color (many of them Palestinians) with increasing brutality. At the same time, there is a feeling of powerlessness: “The decay of the regime reeks now more than ever and the answer to the question what we can do about it slips further and further away” writes Leah Z.*[1](participant of the women*seminar 2019). “Basically, everything has felt even more extreme and impossible since the beginning of the corona crisis. The categories through which I’m used to look at the world begin to collapse and … every move I make to protest just leads me and everyone else to a dead end.” Like many other people in Israel, Leah has taken part in numerous rallies and demonstrations in recent weeks. Many people in Palestine and Israel see in the murder of a 32-year-old autistic Palestinian by Israeli border policemen in Jerusalem at the end of May 2020 a parallel to the murder of George Floyd: it’s about structural racism. In addition to Palestinians in Israel, this often affects also Jews as People of Color. In Israel and Palestine, several thousand people took to the streets in solidarity under the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #PalestinianLivesMatter against police violence and the annexation plans. „The terrible murder of Eyad Al-Hallaq was another strike to my unbearable comfort zone“, says Leah. At demonstrations, she feels like „screaming while no one listens“.

The Westbank discouragement about own political options and that of the Palestinian Authority in dealing with the pandemic and the threats of annexation to Israel prevails. “Palestine is not an independent state and has no control over its borders. The health system has suffered from a lack of medical equipment and expertise for years. All of these factors influence the range of measures and decisions that the Authority can take. Since the pandemic broke out, there has been a public debate about the Authority’s competence and capacities” says Rhana K.* (Palestinian coordinator of the women’s* seminar). A renewed lockdown with a strict curfew, in which most places are completely isolated from one another, makes political action almost impossible at the moment.

Online meetings are indispensable for many activists right now and they are encouraging, as they offer an opportunity for exchanging ideas with allies and remaining active despite all the uncertainties. Martha D.*, Israeli coordinator of the women’s* seminar, sums this up: “At the beginning of the lockdown, our group of Israeli participants from last year decided that we’re going to be videoconferencing once a week to share and learn together. (…) These digital meetings fill me with hope, inspiration and pride in this challenging time. As much as I mourn the fact that we had to cancel this year’s seminar, I am looking forward to nurturing and strengthening our growing community here in Israel and Palestine.”

Photo (Detail): ABIR SULTAN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (10722668d) People attend a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu corruption charges, outside his residence in Jerusalem, Israel, 25 July 2020, published in Der SPIEGEL.

[1] All names marked with * were changed for security reasons.