As Thanksgiving approaches, we reflect on what we were once thankful for …
When Senator Barack Obama visited the Israeli town of Sderot, as part of his presidential election campaign in June 2008, he received an enthusiastic welcome despite the fact that his father was from Kenya.
But migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers from African countries arriving in the town today receive a very different welcome, as local rabbi Ariel Bareli works to drive them away.
Journalist and videographer David Sheen caught Bareli on video explaining his tactics “to convince people to not rent them apartments.”
“We pressured people in various ways, talking to people in the community,” Bareli said, “and we patrolled to try to make things hard for them.”
“We had a battle here when they began to create communal institutions, and especially a church and a community center,” Bareli added. “We fought against it, and eventually the Sderot city council shut the place down.”
“It’s very important to me that in Sderot the people in my community won’t have to deal with Sudanese people who pray in churches, because that’s how Sderot begins to change.”
Bareli, who said he has lived in Sderot for 15 years, identified himself as the rabbi of a synagogue called “Demanding Good.”
Bareli’s anti-African campaign is reminiscent of a call by hundreds of Israel’s state-financed rabbis urging landlords in cities across the country to refuse to rent homes to Palestinian citizens of Israel.
It also comes amid an intensified atmosphere of racism and incitement against Africansencouraged by top Israeli government officials and politicians.
Bareli defended the idea of Israel being a “Jewish state” in which one group has superior rights.
“If we blur this message and say this is a country for all its citizens,” he warned, “and the other automatically becomes a citizen with equal rights, and you don’t have any special privileges just because you are a Jew, unfortunately, in moral terms, that’s like scoring a goal against your own team.”
“Why bother fighting … killing people?” asks the Israeli rabbi, in defense of inferior rights for non-Jews.
Bareli accused Sudanese people in particular of causing a “demographic problem” and urged the government to pay them to leave the country.
Following the success of his anti-African campaign in Sderot, Bareli is now moving to Tel Aviv to set up a similar effort there, which was inaugurated by Israel’s deputy minister for religious affairs.
Sderot is a small town in present-day Israel located a few miles from Gaza. It has featured prominently in Israeli propaganda in recent years, due to the frequency with which it was hit by rockets, fired at Israel by resistance groups in Gaza, resulting in several deaths and injuries of Israeli noncombatants as well as property damage over the years.
Palestinian resistance groups have said that the rocket fire was aimed at deterring frequent Israeli attacks on the civilian population in Gaza.
However, the 2009 UN-commissioned Goldstone report found that because the rockets are “uncontrolled and uncontrollable,” their firing amounts to “the commission of an indiscriminate attack on the civilian population … a war crime, and may amount to crimes against humanity.”
Obama’s 2008 visit came as Sderot became an obligatory stop for politicians to declare limitless sympathy and support for Israel, while ignoring the utter devastation and mass killing regularly wrought by Israel in Gaza just a few short miles away, usually when Israel breached an effective ceasefire.
Summer camps aim to reconnect Palestinian youth to their ancestral villages. (Photograph courtesy of Baladna)
Activities occurring throughout the Galilee region of present-day Israel have been held which reaffirm the connection of the younger generation of internally displaced Palestinians to their ancestral villages. Events and projects simultaneously take practical steps to realize this long-denied, fundamental right.
The right of return is one of the most evocative and central issues for Palestinians ever since the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948, which saw the destruction of more than 530 Arab villages and the displacement of approximately 800,000 Palestinians. The majority of them ended up as refugees in neighboring Arab states, or in those parts of Palestine which initially remained outside of Israeli control, namely the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Between 30,000 and 40,000 managed to remain inside the new state of Israel, however, finding refuge in nearby towns which had survived the ethnic cleansing of the majority of Palestine’s villages.
Attempts by the original inhabitants to return to their villages in the immediate aftermath of the Nakba were fought against by the new state, which used all the means at its disposal, often brutally.
Dispersed villagers attempting to return from outside the borders of the new state were often shot dead on sight by the Israeli army. Meanwhile, villagers attempting to return who had managed to remain within the borders of the new state were routinely rounded up and deported as “infiltrators.” Legislation such as the Absentees Property Law enabled the confiscation of property of those Palestinians who had been made into internally displaced persons, while denying their rights to live there or even to enter the site of their ancestral lands.
Between 1948 and 1955, the majority of these villages were destroyed by the Israeli army and covered either with pine forests or new Jewish-only settlements. In many cases, a cemetery, mosque or church was the only remaining evidence of a village’s existence.
The new wave of movements which have gained prominence this summer can be traced back partly to a group of third generation, internally displaced youth from the village of Iqrit, who in August 2012 decided that they would take matters into their own hands and return to their ancestral village.
Iqrit’s residents were originally ordered out of their village for two weeks shortly after the Nakba for so-called security reasons. Exceptionally, three years later they obtained Israeli high court approval to return, and received information that they would be able to return on Christmas Day, especially symbolic for the Christian community.
On that day in 1951, as the villagers waited to return, the Israeli army razed the village to the ground.
Now living in two small rooms built as extensions of the still-standing church, Iqrit’s youth activists today sleep in the village in shifts in order to maintain a permanent presence there. This summer a small football stadium was also built, a potent symbol of the will and permanence of their return.
Iqrit’s community has been organizing summer camps for its younger members annually since 1996; this year approximately 200 youth between the ages of 8 and 16 attended. The aim of the camp was to help the youth develop their identity by teaching them about their own history, and connecting this to the wider Palestinian history before 1948.
In addition to the summer camp and the newly permanent presence, villagers hold religious celebrations during Easter and Christmas in the local church. The village’s cemetery is also still in use.
The youth-led, grassroots approach of Iqrit is very much indicative of the movement as a whole. Youth took the lead in 2013’s “Summer of Return,” ensuring that demands for the right of return find a renewed voice among the latest generation of the dispossessed.
One village which has adopted Iqrit’s strategy of youth-based return is Kufr Birim. Located close to the boundary between Israel and Lebanon — not far from Iqrit — for the past few years Kufir Birim has played host to summer camps for children.
This summer, people with family connections to Kufir Birim have also decided to maintain a permanent presence in the village, centered around the old community’s surviving church. However, their initiative has not been without obstacles.
In August, the Israel Lands Authority told the camp’s members that they had to leave within a week or they would be removed by force (“Authorities threaten displaced community’s return to village,” +972 Magazine, 22 August 2013).
On 28 August, Iqrit also received a visit by inspectors from the Israel Lands Authority, accompanied by border policemen. They came during the morning and confiscated tents and beds, uprooted the small garden, removed signs and destroyed property, including the new football stadium.
However, as in Kufr Birim, the youth are not willing to leave their ancestral land.
This summer has also witnessed a very successful summer camp in the village of Ghabisiya, while Baladna (the Assocation for Arab Youth) and a number of other groups initiated the Udna (Our Return) project with the participation of five ethnically cleansed villages: Saffuriyya, Miar, Maalul, Lajjun and Iqrit, with one youth group in each village.
The project aims to educate the new generation with family connections to these villages of their history and rights, with film screenings and storytelling featuring residents who survived the expulsion. Practical approaches to the issue of return such as town planning and logistics were also explored, while musical events by local artists added a cultural feature.
Iqrit, Kufr Birim, Ghabisiya, Saffuriyya, Miar, Malul, Lajjun. These are just seven of the Palestinians towns and villages which were destroyed and whose inhabitants were displaced during the Nakba.
Yet the combined activities of these villages during the summer of 2013 represent the most significant movement in the struggle for return since the years following the Nakba. Far from forgetting their roots and historical injustices, the latest generation of Palestinians inside Israel are showing their dedication to their right of return.
This, combined with the youth’s energy, enthusiasm and innovative approaches, has resulted in a grassroots, youth-led movement unprecedented in the history of activism for the right to return. Whatever the immediate reaction of Israeli authorities to the return of villagers in Iqrit and Kufr Birim, these movements have captured the imagination of people across historic Palestine, young and old.
And while the future of the movement is full of uncertainty, the determination and energy of our youth alone is reason for optimism.
*Nadim Nashef is is the director of the Haifa-based Association for Arab Youth-Baladna.
I spent eight hours today amongst thousands at the March on Washington, and the people present were some of the most remarkable, resilient people I have ever had the privilege to be around. The number-one face on T-shirts, placards, and even homemade drawings was not President Obama or even Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was Trayvon Martin. I also witnessed homemade signs calling for jobs programs, speaking out against the school closures and in solidarity with those overseas victimized by US militarism. The people at this march are the face of resistance to what Dr. King called the “evil triplets of militarism, materialism and racism.”
The main speakers at the march, however, did not match the politics and urgency of those who gathered in the Saturday heat. Even more frustrating is that few tried. I expect to get all kinds of hate mail for what I’m about to write, but not to write it would be an act of duplicity based on what I saw and what I heard. I saw the great Julian Bond get only two minutes to say his piece before being shuttled from the stage. I saw Reverend Jesse Jackson, who has done remarkable work in recent years against the banks and Chicago school closures, also get less time than a pop song. I saw Reverend Lennox Yearwood, who is doing some of the most important work in the country connecting climate change to racism, get ninety seconds before being cut off. There was one speaker at the 8 am pre-rally who said the word “drones,” and that was it for any discussion of US foreign policy.
Based upon the speeches during the main portion of today’s events there can be little doubt that the Dr. King who was murdered in Memphis in 1968 would not have been allowed to speak at this fiftieth-anniversary commemoration of his life. There was no discussion of the “evil triplets.” Instead, we had far too many speakers pay homage to the narrowest possible liberal agenda in broad abstractions with none of the searing material truths that make Dr. King’s speeches so bracing even today.
As Representative Nancy Pelosi spoke, it was difficult to not think of her defense of the NSA spying program or her vote against cutting funding to stop the mass monitoring of phone calls.
As future New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Wall Street’s best friend, spoke at the front of this March, it was difficult to not think of the Dr. King who said, “The profit motive, when it is the sole basis of an economic system, encourages a cutthroat competition and selfish ambition that inspires men to be more concerned about making a living than making a life.”
As Attorney General Eric Holder, the person who is not bringing federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, was allotted 30 minutes—fifteen times that of Julian Bond—to speak from the front stage, it was difficult to not think about the fact that it has taken five years for him to say anything about mass incarceration in this country. The late Bayard Rustin insisted, as the lead organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, that no politicians or political appointees be allowed to speak. Clearly, there were different principles at work today.
Yes it was profoundly moving to see Representative John Lewis, the only living speaker from the 1963 March on Washington. Yes, it was right on time for the march organizers to give the incredible Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, time to speak – albeit far too briefly. But the closest thing to an administration critic was 9-year-old Asean Johnson, who has been on the front lines fighting school closures in Chicago, bringing the fire to both President Obama’s confidante Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and the education agenda of Arne Duncan. I love Asean Johnson, but given the problems we face, far more was needed.
The day was symbolized for me on multiple levels by seeing DC Park police seize 200 professionally printed placards from activists that were distributing them for free. The placards read, “Stop Mass Incarceration. Stop the new Jim Crow.” Police said that it was “unlawful solicitation”, even though organizers were clearly giving them away. When those having their signs seized complained, they were threatened with fines or arrest. I heard one DC police officer say, “Hey, you can get them back at the end of the day. On second thought, given your attitude you cannot. “
I have never seen free placards confiscated at a national gathering by DC police. Then again, I’ve also never seen a demonstration so thickly monitored, with park police, the Department of Homeland Security and the military on every corner.
Today, those “triplets of evil” King warned us about 1967 still strangle this country. If we are not talking about the New Jim Crow, Wall Street and militarism, then what are we doing? King said, “If an American is concerned only about his nation, he will not be concerned about the peoples of Asia, Africa, or South America. Is this not why nations engage in the madness of war without the slightest sense of penitence? Is this not why the murder of a citizen of your own nation is a crime, but the murder of citizens of another nation in war is an act of heroic virtue?” Given US foreign policy, how can one say that they stand in King’s legacy and not raise these issues?
I would ask those who find this objectionable to ask themselves, “What would Dr. King/Ella Baker/Fannie Lou Hamer/Malcolm X think about today’s march?” I don’t presume to know the answer to that question, but I know that we only honor their memory by asking it.
For more from the March on Washington, Ari Berman reports on the new civil rights movement and the most important speakers at the march.
That White Skin
Another man gone done
He could not stand his ground
Another man gone
Ah those riflin’
Standin’ your ground
Black skin huntin’
White skinned privileged motherfucker
Judged prosecuted defended juried
three card Monty playin’
Strange fruit swingin’
A shot to the heart
The dead man’s on trial
The shooter whines
Feared for his life
The heads talk
And talk of
Post racial America
A black presidented America
A beyond reasonable doubt America
Not a murmur
Of a million stop and frisks
A thousand legal lynchings
The 21st century Jim Crowed prison complex
And never not ever
0f white skin privileged America
Another man done gone
He could not stand his ground
Another man done gone
Another man done gone
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed–
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)
Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek–
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!
I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean–
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today–O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.
Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home–
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”
Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay–
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.
O, let America be America again–
The land that never has been yet–
And yet must be–the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine–the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME–
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose–
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain–
All, all the stretch of these great green states–
And make America again!
Israel Prize laureates, artists and intellectuals sign petition claiming ‘racist rabbi who incited against Arabs’ cannot become one of State’s symbols. Habayit Hayehudi party must be removed from government for backing his nomination, they add
Referring in their statement to a series of halachic rulings and responses issued by Rabbi Eliyahu in recent years, the artist determine that “he is the rabbi of incitement from Safed, the one who ruled that apartments must not be sold or rented to Arabs, the one who has been inciting for years against Arabs and non-Jews in general – incitement which led to racist riots in Safed, the one who organized the inciting rabbis’ letters, the one who incites against sexual relations with Arabs.”
The manifesto was drafted by writer Sefi Rachlevsky and has so far been signed by 30 men and women: Sculptor Micha Ullman, Prof. Yehuda Bauer, author Hanoch Bartov, Prof. David Harel, Cinematheque founder Lia van Leer, graphic designer David Tartakover, photojournalist Alex Levac, actress Hanna Maron, contemporary dancer and choreographer Ohad Naharin, Prof. Gavriel Salomon, sculptor Dani Karavan, composer Arik Shapira and former Knesset Member Yael Dayan.
Singer Achinoam Nini. Signed letter (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Other signatories include Prof. Rachel Erhard, Prof. Avner Ben-Amos, Prof. Helena Syna Desivilya, Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal, artist Yair Garbuz, Prof. Zvi Tauber, Prof. Danny Jacobson, Dr. Shlomo Cohen, Prof. Avner Katz, author Hadara Lazar, conductor Uri Segal, playwright Joshua Sobol, singer Achinoam Nini, artist Izhar Patkin and Prof. David Shulman.
The petition notes that Rabbi Eliyahu had been indicted in the past for incitement to racism, although according to the signatories the State Prosecutor’s Office is usually “weak and paralyzed in the face of the forces of religion.”
This didn’t prevent Housing Minister Uri Ariel from holding a meeting with Safed’s rabbi recently and expressing support for his nomination as Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi, they say.
“The housing minister, who is responsible for selling and renting apartments to citizens, supports a person who forbids selling and renting to Arabs!” they argue. “He (the rabbi) who demanded revenge against seculars. He who mocked the ‘moderates’ who will oppose the concentration camps we’ll set up in the future – he is the person who ministers in Israel want to appoint as the State’s symbol.”
The petition also calls on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to remove Habayit Hayehudi from his government and boycott the national-religious party.
“Every minute this is not being done is a black stain on the State of Israel. Every moment Habayit Hayehudi party sits in the government is complete contempt toward the victims of racism in Israel, in the world and in the history of the Jewish people, which is filled with victims of racial persecutions.
“Every moment that the leaders of the coalition parties – Benjamin Netanyahu, Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni – cooperate with Minister Ariel and Habayit Hayehudi in the government, makes them responsible and stains them with serious racism. This cooperation make Netanyahu, Lapid and Livni, as well as the members of their parties, worthy of complete denouncement. They are guilty of contempt towards the victims of history’s racial persecutions.”
The petition concludes by saying that the question whether Rabbi Eliyahu will be allowed to compete or will be elected is marginal, as “the entire Rabbinate institution is false,” but that his supporters must be censured.
“This isn’t a slip of the tongue, this isn’t even shrapnel in the rear end, it’s an essence – a horrifying essence. The Israeli government is being put to a major test. Whoever fails will be responsible for the most serious delinquency against the memory of the history which led to the State of Israel.”
Choreographer Ohad Naharin. Signed too (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Rabbi Eliyahu said in response that he saw his possible election as Israel’s chief rabbi with great respect, and had taken upon himself to respect every man’s way – including criticism from intellectuals.
According to a statement issued on behalf of the rabbi, “Intellectuals supporting tolerance, attentiveness and respect for fellowman should be expected to accept the rabbi’s invitation to meet with him and listen to his views without any mediators and distortions, but in a direct and honorable manner.
“Many of the remarks attributed to the rabbi were never said, and are a radicalized and distorted interpretation. The rabbi is a Jewish and Israeli patriot, who supports the way of Torah and the sanctity of the land.”
Habayit Hayehudi party offered the following statement in response: “The involvement of left-wing intellectuals in the Chief Rabbinate elections is extremely moving. Habayit Hayehudi has only announced its support for Rabbi David Stav as Israel’s chief rabbi.”
The national-religious party invited the petition’s signatories to “draft a letter of support for Rabbi Stav in light of the harsh attackhe is subject to these days. They may also take this opportunity to condemn boycotts against the residents of Ariel like the one we saw last week, and in general we would be happy to suggest some ideas for additional letters, if they’re already at it.”
Eliyahu’s nomination for Sephardic chief rabbi (also known as the “Rishon LeZion”) has been criticized due to racist remarks he allegedly made in the past, including calling on Safed residents not to rent their apartments to Arabs, as one of the initiators of the 2010 “rabbis’ letter.”
Afterwards, we all gathered at a nargila bar to sit and relax after this terrible event. One of my friends sat at the table next to me. She looked very troubled and she started to speak. “This is the same reaction my grandmother faced in Germany when the Nazis would stop Germans from walking with her, because she was Jewish.”
*Attack in Tel Aviv: ‘Jewish girls do not go out with Blacks!’
A year has elapsed since the May 23, 2012 anti-African pogrom in Tel Aviv, and though there have been no other full-scale race riots since, the city continues to witness low-level anti-African attacks on a regular basis. Their occurrence is so commonplace that they rarely merit any mention in the media, but by North American standards, any one of these incidents would be considered scandalous.
On Friday, I received an email from a fellow native of Toronto, Canada, who is currently living in Israel, detailing such an attack. In her letter, 27-year-old international development researcher Leah McDonnell describes how she was accosted the night previous [June 27], while out walking with a group of friends, as the city celebrated an outdoor art festival into the early hours of the morning. Without any provocation, two men who presented themselves as religious Jews and members of some kind of security force berated the group for befriending an African man and physically assaulted their dark-skinned friend.
It is important to understand the context in which these regular racist attacks occur. For the past several years, high-level Israeli politicians have competed with one another to vilify Africans in the most dehumanizing language possible, casting them as diseased, criminals and terrorists. In the last two years, the government has built both a desert fence to prevent any more Africans from crossing Israel’s border to seek asylum, and a series of desert jails to indefinitely hold without trial any others who arrive and increasing numbers who are pulled off the streets. In recent months, it has secretly deported thousands of Africans back to the countries they fled from, and is trying to bribe other African nations with arms shipments to convince them to take in all the other non-Jewish Africans living in Israel, 55,000 in number.
Although the government is considering proposals to sweep all the Africans off the city streets and into jails and out of the country, it has refrained from doing so on a large scale as yet, knowing that this will not photograph well. But its official policy, as publicly expressed by former Interior Minister Eli Yishai and never disavowed since, is to “make their lives miserable“, so that the Africans will pick up and leave of their own volition. With the blessing of the government, gangs of Jews continue to prey upon any African they can get their hands on, to add to the misery-making.
I include below McDonnell’s letter in full.
Myself and several of my friends (6 of us in total, one being African) were out to celebrate Laila Lavan, or the “White Night”. As we were on out way back home, our night took a very dark turn. We were walking to the South and were at the corner of Ha Aliya and Levinski when we were approached by two young men wearing matching black security uniforms and kippas [skullcaps]. They first asked, “Is the kushi [nigger] with you?”
A conversation between my friend and the aggressors went as follows:
My friend: “He is my boyfriend, leave us alone.”
Aggressor: “In that case we have a few questions for you.”
My friend: “I am not interested in your questions.”
Aggressor: “Why? Are you an idiot? We are from the security!”
At this point they started to scream at us, demanding to know if we were Jewish, then if we spoke Hebrew. My African friend tried to say, “What happened?”, in honest and utter confusion of the events taking place. One of the young men answered by putting his finger to my friend’s face and angrily told him, “You don’t talk”. The other started to scream, “What happened? What happened?”, as if he had been personally offended – he then started to brandish pepper spray in a threatening way and yelled, “Jewish girls do not go with Blacks!”. We tried to separate these aggressors from our friend, putting our bodies in between theirs, yelling, “No, stop, go away!”.
The men kept tugging at our friend, trying to push him and us out of their way. We started to walk, trying to evade them. They followed us down the street. One of the men tried to punch our friend, but was held back by his accomplice; we can only assume that, as we were in front of a store, they did not want to attract any further attention.
They both continued to follow us while trying to grab our friend, attempting to push us out of the way. Three of my friends managed to distract the men, blocking them from our African friend. The other three of us ran down the street, then turned onto a side-street, leading us away.
I then ran back to meet my friends who stayed to distract these attackers. When I reached them the men had vanished. They told me they yelled very loudly, “I don’t know you” and a couple passing by on a scooter stopped and yelled, “Do you want us to call the police?”. The men then dispersed. I am so thankful the couple stopped and offered their assistance.
Afterwards, we all gathered at a nargila bar to sit and relax after this terrible event. One of my friends sat at the table next to me. She looked very troubled and she started to speak. “This is the same reaction my grandmother faced in Germany when the Nazis would stop Germans from walking with her, because she was Jewish.”
June 27, 2013 at 09:46 (Action Alert, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Collective Punishment, DesertPeace Exclusive, Dictatorship, Ethnic Cleansing, Illegal Evictions, International Solidarity, Israel, Occupation, Palestine, zionist harassment)
The Prawer Plan is an attack on Bedouin People, and on universal human rights
photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org
So we’re asking you to send a message to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren: we are appalled by the Prawer Plan, and all it represents.
From the years I lived in Israel, I remember visiting “unrecognized” Bedouin villages in the Negev that had been destroyed multiple times.I remember children and grandmothers sitting near the rubble of their homes, and especially the young man who had been called to serve in the Israeli Army – on the very day his home had been destroyed.
The Prawer Plan threatens that level of destruction on an unprecedented scale.
It is appalling that transfer based on nothing more than ethnic identity is even under consideration.
And if our government is going to offer unconditional support to Israel, we need to send that message to Ambassador Oren, Israel’s official representative to the U.S.
Send email to ….
They might as well have burned a cross on Dr. King’s grave. The Jim Crow majority on the Supreme Court just took away the vote of millions of Hispanic and African-American voters by wiping away Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
When I say “millions” of voters of color will lose their ballots, I’m not kidding. Let’s add it up.
Last year, the GOP Secretary of State of Florida Ken Detzner tried to purge 180,000 Americans, mostly Hispanic Democrats, from the voter rolls. He was attempting to break Katherine Harris’ record.
Detzner claimed that all these brown folk were illegal “aliens.”
But Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act requires that 16 states with a bad history of blocking black and brown voters must “pre-clear” with the US Justice Department any messing around with voter rolls or voting rules. And so Section 4 stopped Detzner from the racist brown-out.
I’ll admit there were illegal aliens on Florida voter rolls – two of them. Let me repeat that: TWO aliens – one a US Marine serving in Iraq (not yet a citizen); the other an Austrian who registered as a Republican.
We can go from state to state in Dixie and see variations of the Florida purge game.
Yet the 5-to-4 Supreme Court majority ruled, against all evidence, that, “Blatantly discriminatory evasions [of minority voting rights] are rare.” As there’s no more racially bent voting games played in states including Florida, Georgia, Arizona and Alaska (yes, pre-clearance goes WAY north of the Confederacy), then, the justices said, there’s no more reason for pre-clearance.
Whom do they think they’re fooling? The court itself, just last week, ruled that Arizona’s law requiring the showing of citizenship papers was an unconstitutional attack on Hispanic voters. Well, Arizona’s a Section 4 state.
You’ll love this line from the Ku Klux Kourt majority. They wrote that the “coverage” of Section 4 applies to states where racially bent voting systems are now “eradicated practices.”
“Eradicated?” I assume they didn’t see the lines of black folk in Florida last November. That was the result of the deliberate reduction in the number of polling places and early voting hours in minority areas. Indeed, if the Justice Department, wielding Section 4, didn’t block Florida from half its ballot-box trickery, Obama would have lost that state’s electoral votes.
And that’s really what’s going on here: the problem is not that the court majority is racist. They’re worse: they’re Republicans.
We’ve had Republicans, like the great Earl Warren, who put on the robes and take off their party buttons.
But this crew, beginning with Bush v. Gore, is viciously partisan. They note that “minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels.” And the Republican Supremes mean to put an end to that. See “Obama” and “Florida” above.
And when they say “minority,” they mean “Democrat.”
Because that’s the difference between 1965 and today. When the law was first enacted – based on the personal pleas of Martin Luther King – African-Americans were blocked by politicians who did not like the color of their skin.
But today, it’s the color of minority voters’ ballots - overwhelmingly Democratic blue – which is the issue.
In California – one of the “Old South” states that is singled out for pre-clearance – an astonishing 40 percent of voter registration forms were rejected by the Republican Secretary of State on cockamamie clerical grounds. When civil rights attorney Robert F. Kennedy and I investigated, we learned that the reject pile was overwhelmingly Chicano and Asian – and overwhelmingly Democratic.
How? Jim Crow ain’t gone; he’s moved into cyberspace. The new trick is lynching by laptop: removing voters, as was done in Florida and Arizona (and a dozen other states) by using poisoned databases to pick out “illegal” and “felon” and “inactive” voters – who all happen to be of the Hispanic or African-American persuasion. The GOP, for all the tears of its consultants, knows it can’t rock these votes, so they block these votes.
Despite the racial stench of today’s viciously antidemocratic ruling, the GOP majority knew they were handicapping the next presidential run by a good 6 million votes. (That’s the calculation that RFK and I came up with for racially bent vote loss in 2004 – and the GOP will pick up at least that in the next run.)
And the court knew full well that their ruling today was the same as stuffing several hundred thousand GOP red votes into the ballot boxes for the 2014 Congressional races.
The races have not yet started, but the “Katherine count” has already begun.
It was investigative reporter Greg Palast, for The Guardian and BBC Television who uncovered Katherine Harris’ purge of black voters in 2000. He is also the author of the recent New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal and Election in 9 Easy Steps. His film, Election Files, may be downloaded without charge at www.GregPalast.com.
Superland Rishon Lezion is trying to minimize damage after its decision not to allow Arab students in its gates on certain days caused tumult. Education Minister to discriminated teacher: I’m shocked
A Jaffa school teacher complained that Superland Rishon Lezion prevented him from buying tickets for Arab students, a complaint which was followed by the amusement park’s management admission that the park is open to Jewish schools on certain days and Arab schools on other days. The park management released another statement on its Facebook page Thursday morning, announcing that the policy, which provoked fierce public criticism, will be reexamined.
“Throughout most of the year, Superland is open to the entire public without any difference to different segments of the population,” the management tried to explain the discrimination.
“In June, various schools ask to use Superland grounds to hold end of year events. The Superland management received requests from both Jewish and Arab schools to conduct the events on separate days. We have taken the requests into consideration and this month a few different days were set for different sectors. However, in the next few days, we will reexamine the decision to agree to these requests.”
The exposure of this discrimination led the Chairman of the Education, Culture and Sports Committee MK Amram Mitzna to hold an urgent hearing on Monday. Mitzna called on Education Minister Shai Piron to stop schools from sending their students to Superland and the mayor of Rishon Lezion to take legal actions against the discriminators. “This behavior is a slap in the face of the efforts to deal with racism within Israeli society,” said Mitzna.
Piron himself spoke on the phone with Khaled Shakra, the Jaffa high-school teacher who exposed the story. The minister said: “I’m shocked at the face of such acts that have no place in Israeli society. I see a joint life, between Jews and Arabs, as one of the fundamental values of the Declaration of Independence. Values of equality, partnership and tolerance are at the heart of the Education Ministry’s policies.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon referred to the story on his Facbook page: “When I hear the teacher who was discriminated against at Superland, and when I read Superlan’s unprecedented response, I ask myself how any one of us would respond if in any other country there would be a discrimination in parks between regular and Jewish schools. I believe I would be as shocked and ashamed as I am now.”
The Abraham Fund Initiatives, operating a venture to promote coexistence between Jews and Arabs, responded to the discrimination: “It is important that the Education Ministry send a clear message that there should be no activity in or with places that racially segregate between Jewish and Arab students.
Minister Piron spoke last week in front of the Knesset Education Committee about the importance he finds in programs that bring Jewish and Arab students together, and the severe incident at Superland highlights the urgency in implementing these measures in the education system.”
HaShomer HaTzair youth movement decided in response to these events that its thousands of members would not go to Superland as part of their summer camps. Hashomer Hatzair spokesperson Ofer Neiman said that “racism is a criminal and sick act that must stop leading the discourse in the Israeli public. If the Superland management conducts a proper investigation and deals with those responsible for this embarrassing behavior we will reconsider our collaboration with the park.”
The National Student and Youth Council said “this is contempt of the Israel democracy. Here, on our piece of land, to which we returned after many years of persecution and discrimination, it is inconceivable we would do the same thing. We call on school principals to cancel any agreements with Superland and demand the company operating the park to renounce this criminal act.”
Leo Branton Jr. with Angela Davis during her 1972 trial on murder, kidnapping and conspiracy charges. She was acquitted.
Leo Branton Jr., a California lawyer whose moving closing argument in a racially and politically charged murder trial in 1972 helped persuade an all-white jury to acquit a black communist, the activist and academic Angela Davis, died on April 19 in Los Angeles. He was 91.
His death was confirmed by Howard Moore Jr., another lawyer who represented Ms. Davis.
Mr. Branton, a black veteran of World War II who served in a segregated Army unit, represented prominent black performers, including Nat King Cole and Dorothy Dandridge, argued cases on behalf of the Black Panthers and the Communist Party, and filed numerous cases alleging police abuse. But the case with which he was most closely associated was that of Ms. Davis.
“Friends of mine said we couldn’t get a fair trial here in Santa Clara County,” Mr. Branton told jurors in his final remarks, on June 1, 1972, in a courtroom in San Jose, Calif. “They said that we could not get 12 white people who would be fair to a black woman charged with the crimes that are charged in this case.”
Ms. Davis, a 28-year-old former instructor at the University of California, Los Angeles, was accused of murder, kidnapping and conspiracy in the 1970 death of a state judge who was shot with one of several weapons she had bought. The year before, Ms. Davis had lost her teaching job after she expressed support for the Communist Party. After the charges were filed, she became a fugitive, one of the F.B.I.’s 10 most wanted. She said the weapons had been stolen from her.
Her flight had been an important part of the prosecution’s case. But Mr. Branton, who had argued numerous cases of police abuse in the 1950s, urged jurors to view her behavior in the context of centuries of slavery, racism and abuse against blacks.
At one point he showed jurors a drawing of Ms. Davis bound in chains. Then he removed the drawing to reveal another showing her freed.
“Pull away these chains,” he said, “as I have pulled away that piece of paper.“
Some jurors cried, and after she was acquitted, so did Ms. Davis. She also hugged the jurors.
“Angela Davis Found Not Guilty by White Jury on All Charges,” said a headline in The New York Times on June 5, 1972.
Decades later, Mr. Branton said the case stood out to him not just because of the verdict or the distinctiveness of his final appeal, but also because of the defense’s preparations. During jury selection, defense lawyers hired psychologists to help them determine who in the jury pool might favor their arguments, an uncommon practice at the time, he said. They also hired experts who undermined the reliability of eyewitness accounts, which were important to the prosecution.
Charles Ogletree, a Harvard law professor and defense lawyer who met Ms. Davis in 1970 when she was being detained before trial and he was an undergraduate at Stanford, said in an interview on Friday that Mr. Branton had emphasized to the jury “who she was as a person.”
“He didn’t want her convicted because of her race or her politics,” he said.
Mr. Branton was born on Feb. 17, 1922, in Pine Bluff, Ark., the oldest of five children. He received a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee State University in 1942 before serving in the Army. He earned his law degree at Northwestern University in 1948 and soon moved to California.
In 1952, Mr. Branton represented 14 members of the California Communist Party who were accused of advocating the overthrow of the government through force. They were convicted in lower courts, but the convictions were vacated by the United States Supreme Court in 1957.
His survivors include three sons, Leo L. Branton III, Tony Nicholas and Paul Nicholas; a brother; a sister; and five grandchildren. Geraldine Pate Nicholas, his wife of more than 50 years, died in 2006.
Mr. Branton began representing Nat King Cole in 1958 and eventually helped him secure ownership of his master recordings from Capitol Records, said Mr. Moore, his fellow lawyer in the Davis case. Many years later, Mr. Branton represented the estate of Jimi Hendrix until he and others were sued by members of the Hendrix family. The suit was dropped in 1995.
Mr. Moore said he first met Mr. Branton when they represented different clients in civil rights cases in Mississippi in the 1960s. Mr. Branton was already well known for his work in Hollywood and before the Supreme Court.
“Leo was good in his seat and on his feet,” Mr. Moore said. “He could perform in a courtroom in a trial, and then he could write an excellent brief. Then he could do transactional work. Many lawyers can do one but not the others.”
By Alice Rothchild
As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the protests against Southern segregation in Birmingham and celebrate today’s anniversary of Martin Luther King’s penning of his fiery “Letter from Birmingham jail,” we are challenged by King’s deeds and voice.
King wrote: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” He talked about the importance of grappling with the underlying causes of popular resistance; the powerful role of nonviolent direct action “to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.”
King was not only deeply committed to nonviolence, to fighting “the triple evils” of racism, materialism and militarism, but toward the end of his life, he also turned his passion to opposing the Vietnam war, thus entering the international realm and the struggle for human rights for all oppressed peoples.
Now, 44 years after his assassination and decades of unity between African-American and Jewish communities fighting racism and anti-Semitism, a new challenge is arising. African-Americans are feeling growing pressure to stand with their Jewish brothers and sisters, despite mounting distress over the policies of the Israeli government towards Palestinians. At the same time, the U.S. Jewish community is increasingly agonized and fractured over criticism of Israeli policies and the growing Jewish voice, from activist organizations to campuses, for an end to the occupation and for boycott, divestment, and sanctions towards Israel until there is a just resolution to the conflict.
What can we learn from King’s legacy about this contentious issue?
In October 2012, under the leadership of the Dorothy Cotton Institute, a delegation of African-American civil rights leaders, theologians, scholars and activists, (many of whom are Jewish), traveled to Israel and the West Bank to see for themselves. Informed by our experiences and knowledge of the segregated South, sit-ins, bus boycotts and nonviolent marches, many were unprepared for the striking parallels we faced.
“Why didn’t I know?” was a common, disturbing question.
While Israel is usually presented as a vibrant, productive, democratic society, the delegates learned about a reality that is usually hidden from public discourse. We learned that from 1948 to 1966, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship lived under military rule with checkpoints and permits to travel within their own country. There are now more than 35 laws that explicitly privilege Jews over non-Jews. Approximately 93 percent of Israeli land is in actuality for use by Jews only through the work of the Jewish National Fund and various state agencies. There are Jewish towns and Arab towns with major discrepancies in funding, infrastructure and schools, not to mention unrecognized Palestinian villages within Israel that receive no services whatsoever.
Numerous studies document an increasingly frightened, racist society: large numbers of Israeli Jews would not allow an Arab in their home, neighborhood, or children’s school, favor preference for Jews over Arabs in governmental hiring, and both societies live increasingly ghettoized lives.
Our experiences within East Jerusalem and the West Bank were even more troublesome; whether it was the aggressive Judaization of old Arab neighborhoods in the Holy City or the efforts by Israeli authorities to make it increasingly difficult for East Jerusalemites to retain their IDs. We witnessed the extensive systems of bypass roads (intended for Jewish settlers only), separate bus systems, the rapid growth of Jewish settlements, much on private Palestinian land, the crushing checkpoint system for Palestinians and the separation wall snaking through the West Bank.
Jewish settlers in the West Bank live under Israeli civil law, Palestinians under military law. Settlements receive ample water, electricity and infrastructure; Palestinian villages are marked by their scarcity.
In Hebron where militant Jewish settlers, guarded by heavily armed soldiers, have established an enclave in the middle of the Old City, there are streets that are “Arab-rein” (“clean of Arabs”) and a high level of daily harassment by well-armed settlers toward the local Palestinian population.
Given Israel’s reputation as the victim of Palestinian intransigence and terrorism, the other surprise for some members of the DCI delegation was meeting Palestinians deeply committed to nonviolent activism, well-versed in the teachings of King and Gandhi, placing their bodies on the line Friday after Friday in the villages of Bi’ilin, Budrus, Nabi Saleh and others. We learned of years of boycotts and nonviolent marches, campus actions, Freedom Rides and a growing commitment to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Just as King wrote, “Where do we go from here?” today’s African-Americans and American Jews are struggling with the terrible consequences for a society that was once a source of pride and comfort, but is now more publicly reaping the cost of privileging one group of people over another. Discrimination, racism and segregation are the prevailing reality and what leaders from Jimmy Carter to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu have compared to apartheid.
Clearly, powerful forces within our own society, from Christians Zionists to AIPAC to our government-backed global military industrial complex make this all possible. This is further reinforced by a corporate news media frequently parroting the voices of the Israeli government rather than investigating the human rights concerns of Palestinians. But grassroots activists, joining together as part of an international movement, are developing a new discourse which is human rights-based, rather than focused on Jewish victimhood and exceptionalism at the expense of the Palestinian population.
Perhaps this can unite African-Americans steeped in the civil rights struggle and US Jews who feel Judaism has been hijacked by the increasingly isolated and dangerous policies of the Israeli state.
Alice Rothchild is a Boston-based physician, author, and filmmaker who is active in the US Jewish peace movement.
On 15 April 2012, Horia Ankour, 30, a French nursing student, boarded Air France flight 4384 from Nice to Tel Aviv. She was traveling as part of a solidarity initiative called “Welcome to Palestine.”
Just minutes before the aircraft was scheduled to take off, a cabin attendant approached Ms. Ankour, took her to a corner and asked her whether she had an Israeli passport. When Ankour answered “no,” the cabin attendant demanded to know whether she was Jewish. When she also answered negatively, Ankour was thrown off the flight.
Ankour was given a written statement from Air France documenting the incident and confirming that the questions were asked at the direct behest of Israeli authorities.
Today a court in the Paris suburb of Bobigny found Air France guilty of illegal discrimination against Ankour and fined the airline 10,000 euros ($13,000) in damages and another 3,000 euros ($3,900) in costs.
“The court declares Air France guilty of the crime of discrimination,” Judge Nabila Mani-Saada said in her ruling.
“We cannot tolerate this kind of conduct on our territory,” state prosecutor Abdelkrim Grini had said during the trial. “Today they ask you if you’re Jewish, tomorrow if you’re Muslim, after tomorrow if you’re homosexual or a trade unionist.”
Fabrice Pradon, the lawyer for Air France, had told the court that the demand to ask Ankour the questions about her religion had come “directly from Israeli authorities.”
Several other airlines were complicit in Israel’s effort to stop the Welcome to Palestine initiative by barring passengers on Israeli orders.
The incident is reminiscent of a row that broke out between Israel and South Africa in 2009 after Jonathan Garb, a former security official with the Israeli airline El Al told the South African investigative television program Carte Blanche that the airline’s security had been a front for Israel’s Shin Bet secret police for years and that it used explicitly racist tactics against black and Muslim travelers at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport.
“What we are trained is to look for the immediate threat – the Muslim guy,” Garb claimed. “The crazy thing is that we are profiling people racially, ethnically and even on religious grounds … This is what we do.”
After Carte Blanche sent in an undercover reporter whose experience confirmed the differential and unconstitutional treatment of Muslims, South Africa protested to Israel and deported an El Al security official.
While it is unclear whether French authorities will take similar steps to prevent Israel from exporting its racism onto French territory, it appears that it is still possible for citizens like Horia Ankour to receive vindication in French courts.
Video .. “Love in the Time of Israeli Apartheid”
Israeli forces on Saturday broke up a wedding procession organized at a West Bank checkpoint to challenge Israeli laws preventing Palestinians in the West Bank and Israelis from marrying.
Two buses left from Jaffa and Ramallah to meet at opposite sides of Hizma checkpoint, northeast of Jerusalem, for the wedding of Hazim, from Abu Dis and his bride, who is from Nazareth.
Both buses were stopped by Israeli forces before reaching the checkpoint and Israeli forces fired sound bombs at guests who had begun singing and dancing on the West Bank side of Hizma, an organizer told Ma’an. “While they were dancing and singing for the groom, Israeli occupation forces started throwing sound bombs and pushing people back. They then fired tear gas, forcing people to run away,” organizer Najwan Berekdar said.
Over 200 people participated in the wedding, including founder of the Palestinian National Initiative Mustafa Barghouthi and Palestinian author Rima Nazzal Kitana.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said that “100 rioters at Hizma threw stones at security services, who used riot dispersal means, including tear gas, to disperse the riot.”
The wedding was organized by the “Love in the Time of Apartheid” campaign, a grassroots initiative set up by Palestinian youth to challenge the Citizenship and Entry into Israel law, which denies residency status in Israel for West Bank Palestinians married to Israeli-Palestinians.”This Israeli law challenges Palestinian national unity and prevents Palestinians from even considering marrying another Palestinian from the other side,” Berekdar says.
“It divides Palestinians not only geographically but nationally, socially and culturally and has a severe economic and psychological affect on Palestinian families.
“We are calling for international pressure from the UN and civil society groups to put pressure on Israel to revoke this racist law, which interferes with basic human things like choosing a future life partner,” Berekdar says.
The Citizenship and Entry into Israel law was enacted by the Israeli Knesset in 2003, and prohibits granting residency or citizenship to Palestinians from the occupied territories who are married to Palestinian citizens of Israel, Adalah says.
Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website says the temporary order is “security orientated” and enacted after people took advantage of Israeli identity to carry out “terrorist attacks.”
Human Rights Watch has said that “the law violates Israel’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which applies not only to race but also to national or ethnic origin.”
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2003 called on Israel to revoke the law.