Ku Klux Kourt Kills King’s Dream Law, Replaces Voting Rights Act With Katherine Harris Acts

By Greg Palast*

Protestors gather outside of the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, in Washington, Feb. 27, 2013. The Supreme Court on Tuesday morning, June 25, 2013, announced a vote of 5 to 4 in the Shelby County, Ala. v. Holder case, striking down part of the act. (Photo: Christopher Gregory / The New York Times)
Protestors gather outside of the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, in Washington, Feb. 27, 2013. The Supreme Court on Tuesday morning, June 25, 2013, announced a vote of 5 to 4 in the Shelby County, Ala. v. Holder case, striking down part of the act. (Photo: Christopher Gregory / The New York Times)

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

Written FOR


Here’s just one of many reasons …. Notice how it’s denied after being admitted;
Amusement park denies entry to Arab teacher, students

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

Shahar Chai


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.

‘No place in Israeli society’

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.”



“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.”

Leo Branton Jr., Activists’ Lawyer, Dies at 91

Associated Press

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.”



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.

Lessons from the civil rights movement on an important anniversary

By Alice Rothchild


Martin Luther King Jr.
A few months after writing the “Letter from Birmingham jail,” Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C. (File photo) 

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. 



“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.”

Paris court fines Air France for following Israeli order to interrogate passenger whether she was Jewish

 by Ali Abunimah 

An Air France jet at Nice airport. (Source)

 (Mathieu Marquer / Flickr)

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 they ask you if you’re Jewish, tomorrow if you’re Muslim…”

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.

Israeli “airline security” a front for Shin Bet secret police

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.





Passover comes early this year, starting a week from today. Observant households are in a frenzy of ridding their homes of all forms of leaven, in some cases even rice and legumes.
The new Israeli government is also in a frenzy as to when to ‘lock the gates’ closing off all of Israel to its Palestinian residents for the duration of the 8 day holiday. President Obama’s visit to the region makes that a bit awkward, but the timing is perfect as he will be leaving a few days before the holiday actually starts as not to witness the true meaning of apartheid.
Latuff”s view of the settlement’s new government …
The Jewish ‘Festival of Freedom’ means that Palestinians lose whatever vestiges of  freedom they might have. They will be unable to go to work, unable to visit friends and family, unable to live, period! All in the name of ‘Freedom’ …. (sic)
The following rap song appears on the FaceBook page of the US Consul General in Jerusalem … The US is obviously aware of the situation but chooses to be silent about it. ‘Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose, Freedom ain’t worth nothing but it’s free’ … Yup, it’s free until you don’t have it!
Below is a repost of my annual Passover message, unfortunately still valid today …



My maternal grandmother was a simple Shtetel Jew. She came from a place not much different from the small town portrayed in Fiddler on The Roof.
Traditionally the womenfolk from those areas were uneducated in matters of anything other than home making and child raising, while the menfolk studied their Holy Books for hours on end. Life was simple for them, and they themselves were basically a very simple folk.
I remember my grandmother going through the frenzy of cleaning the house this time of year…. the traditional Passover cleaning. All traces of leaven had to be removed from the home before the start of the Holiday. To her, that process included the removal of any trace of dust or smears on the window panes. The house sparkled when she was finished. Most of our non-Jewish neighbours were going through the same process, but simply called it ’spring cleaning’, ridding the house of all unwanted matter, including broken furniture and junk.
I remember asking my grandmother why she was going through such a frenzy…. her answer was simple and to the point…. “If a Jew eats bread during Passover he will die!” That was what she was taught, that’s what she taught us….
In Israel today, things are not much different from life in the Shtetel when it comes to Passover preparations. But today there is a growing number of non observant Jews as well as a growing number of non Jews. This is a threat to the lifestyle of the self-imposed Shtetel Jew living here today.
Christian Pilgrims from abroad, as well as local Christians are denied access to their Holy Sites. Where is the uproar against this?
Where is the uproar against the Neanderthal rabbis that have recently called for the expulsion or the genocide of the Palestinians? WHERE??? As in previous years, the Palestinians living on the ‘other side’ of the great wall of apartheid will be sealed in for the duration of the Holiday (8 days), literally making the State of Israel Arabrein for that period of time. Where is the uproar against this? WHERE???
Israel does need a cleansing… a good one; not only of bread during the Holiday season but also of hatred. Both are violations of the Holy Teachings.


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.





A Holocaust survivor who truly lived the mantra Never Again
 Stéphane Hessel, whose pamphlet Indignez-Vous! sold 4.5m copies in 35 countries
Stéphane Hessel, whose pamphlet Indignez-Vous! sold 4.5m copies in 35 countries. The French president, François Hollande, said of Hessel: ‘He leaves us a lesson, which is to never accept any injustice.’ Photograph: Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty


Stéphane Hessel, writer and inspiration behind Occupy movement, dies at 95

Hessel, resistance fighter, diplomat, writer of Time for Outrage! and co-author of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, dies
By Kim Willsher for The Guardian

The story of the French author Stéphane Hessel’s long and extraordinary life reads like a Boy’s Own adventure.

From his childhood in Berlin and then Paris, where he was brought up by his writer and translator father, journalist mother and her lover in an unusual ménage à trois, to his worldwide celebrity at the age of 93, when a political pamphlet he wrote became a bestselling publishing sensation and inspired global protest and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

And then there was everything in between: his escape from two Nazi concentration camps where he had been tortured and sentenced to death, his escapades with the French resistance and his hand in drawing up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Sometime between Tuesday and Wednesday, just a week after his last big interview was published, Hessel’s long and extraordinary life came to an end. He was 95 years old, but as one French magazine remarked: “Stéphane Hessel, dead? It’s hard to believe. He seemed to have become eternal, the grand and handsome old man.”

Le Point magazine added that the man with an “old-fashioned politeness and elegance from another age” had “danced” with the best part of a century.

“When one is received by the world in television studios, when one writes bestsellers, when one has baptised an international mobilisation movement, does one still die?” the magazine asked.

In 2010, when most people are winding down and after a long career as a diplomat, Hessel’s life took yet another dramatic turn when his 48-page pamphlet Indignez-Vous!, sold 4.5m copies in 35 countries. It was translated into English as Time for Outrage.

The work was originally written as a speech to commemorate the resistance to Hitler’s occupation of France during the second world war. It served as a rallying cry for those appalled by the gap between the world’s rich and poor.

Hessel said afterwards he aimed to imbue French youth with the same passion and fervour as had existed in the resistance. He compared the 21st-century struggle against what he described as the “international dictatorship of the financial markets” to his generation’s struggle against oppression as a young man during the war.

His wife, Christiane Hessel-Chabry, told France’s AFP news agency on Wednesday, that the writer had died overnight. No other details were given.

The French president, François Hollande, said Hessel was an “a huge figure whose exceptional life was devoted to the defence of human dignity”.

“It was in pursuit of his values that he engaged in the resistance,” he added, concluding: “He leaves us a lesson, which is to never accept any injustice.”

The French prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, also paid tribute to Hessel, whom he described as “a man who was engaged” and who was the incarnation of the “resistance spirit”.

“For all generations he was a source of inspiration, but also a reference. At 95 years, he epitomised the faith in the future of a new century,” Ayrault said.

As a committed European and supporter of the left, he was behind the Socialist François Hollande’s successful presidential election bid last year. On Wednesday after news of his death broke, French politicians lined up to express their admiration, respect and sadness.

Hessel was born into a Jewish family in Berlin in 1917, the son of a journalist and a writer. The family moved to France when Hessel was eight and he took French nationality in the late 1930s, having passed his baccalauréat at the young age of 15.

His parents’ unusual living arrangement was said to have inspired the celebrated François Truffaut film Jules et Jim.

The young Hessel refused to follow Marshal Philippe Pétain’s collaborationist Vichy government and fled to London, where he joined General Charles de Gaulle’s resistance fighters. As a prominent figure in the resistance, he was arrested by the Gestapo in 1944 and deported to Buchenwald and Dora concentration camps, where he suffered waterboarding torture. He escaped being executed at Buchenwald by exchanging identities with a prisoner who had died of typhus, and later escaped from Dora during a transfer to the Bergen-Belsen death camp. After fleeing his German guards, he met advancing American troops.

After the war, he worked with the US first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, in editing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Time for Outrage! argued that the French needed to become as outraged now as his fellow fighters had been during the war. He was highly critical of France’s treatment of illegal immigrants, and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and passionate about the environment, a free press and France’s welfare system. His call was for peaceful, non-violent insurrection.

During the eurozone crisis, one of the names given to the protests against austerity programmes and corruption in Spain was Los Indignados, taken from the title of Hessel’s work. These protests, along with the Arab spring uprisings, inspired protests in other countries and the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States.

“The global protest movement does not resemble the Communist movement, which declared that the world had to be overturned according to its viewpoint,” Hessel said in an interview a year ago.

“This is not an ideological revolution. It is driven by an authentic desire to get what you need. From this point of view, the present generation is not asking governments to disappear but to change the way they deal with people’s needs.”


On Occupy Wall Street

From Democracy Now



As the Occupy Wall Street movement expands across the United States, drawing inspiration from the Arab Spring and the protests in Spain, Democracy Now! spoke with former French Resistance fighter, Stéphane Hessel, whose pamphlet-length book, Time for Outrage, helped inspire some of these uprisings. His book has sold more than 3.5 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 10 languages, with several more planned. Hessel, 93 years old, has occupied many positions in his life: immigrant, French Resistance fighter, concentration camp survivor, diplomat, advocate and author. He joined the French Resistance during World War II, was caught by the Gestapo and sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp. He escaped during transfer to Bergen-Belsen and later helped draft the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, then became an honorary “Ambassador of France,” appointed to special government missions. He has since been a fierce advocate of the Palestinians. Democracy Now!’s Juan Gonzalez interviewed Hessel earlier this month. 

“You must find the things that you will not accept, that will outrage you. And these things, you must be able to fight against nonviolently, peacefully, but determinedly,” Hessel says, noting his support for the Occupy Wall Street encampment. “They’re there determined to see that their values are to be respected.”

Speaking at the Russell Tribunal in New York City this past October
Photo © by Bud Korotzer
Palestine loses a friend and supporter …
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine mourns the passing of Stéphane Hessel

Stéphane Hessel, author of the bestseller « Time for outrage »,
French ambassador, human rights’ advocate and great philosopher, died
last night at the age of 95.

The Russell Tribunal on palestine (RToP) mourns the passing of its
honorary president and huge supporter.

Pierre Galand, RToP general coordinator says :
« The Tribunal has always ben his project, and he was its soul as he
has always inspired us with his ideas and supported us with concrete
gestures. He would have participated in the last session of the
Tribunal, in Brussels on 16 and 17 March, but now that he’s passed
away we will pay him the tribute he deserves. With his death, we loss
a last eye-witness of the drafting of the Human Rights’ declaration.
If the World loses a great personality and a distinguished
intellectual and activist, at a personal level, I will miss him as a
comrade and a friend ». 

In all sessions of the RToP held in Barcelona, London, Cape Town and
New York, Hessel has denounced the outragious  complicity of third
parties in the continuous violation of the Palestinian people’s rights
and the failure by Israel to comply with the international law. He’s
also called on individuals and organisations around the World to put
pressure on the international community so that politicians and
decision-makers adopt all possible measures to reach peace in the
Middle East and enforce the existing sanctions on those countries
which don’t comply with UN resolutions.

On 18 February 2013, Stéphane Hessel gave a last interview on his
involvement in the RToP. The interview will be published in a book by
the French publisher Editions de L’Herne, due out in mid March. You
can read the interview at this link (French only).


Jim Crow in Palestine: parallels between US and Israeli racism

Curtis Bell *

There are no shortage of parallels between oppression of blacks in the Jim Crow South and Israel’s present-day oppression of Palestinians.

 (Issam Rimawi / APA images)

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama does a good job of showing what blacks endured before the civil rights victories of the 1960s. I visited there last fall and was especially struck by one particular image — a 1926 map of the small and isolated patches of Birmingham where city zoning regulations allowed blacks to live.

What struck me was the similarity of this map to maps of the isolated patches of the West Bank including East Jerusalem where Palestinians are allowed to live. The map then made me think about other similarities between the oppression of blacks in the Jim Crow South and Israel’s present-day oppression of Palestinians.

The methods for keeping blacks within their enclaves in Birmingham were more direct and brutal than the redlining agreements among banks and realtors that maintained a de factosegregation in the North. Municipal zoning laws in Birmingham prevented sales to blacks outside designated areas, and if a black person somehow acquired a house outside the designated area, even if just across the street, the house would be blown up.

Similarly, the Israeli legal system keeps Palestinians within restricted areas of East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank. Palestinians living outside those areas have been evicted and their homes destroyed or occupied by Jewish settlers. Eighteen thousand Palestinian homes have been destroyed by Israel since 1967, according to theIsraeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

The black areas and white areas of Birmingham were very different physically. The black areas often lacked municipal amenities or services such as street lighting, paved streets, sidewalks, garbage collection and sewers that the white areas had. Similarly, the Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem often lack these same basic facilities and services, and the differences between Palestinian areas and those reserved for Israeli settlers are clear to all.

Arbitrary arrests

Suppression of the human rights of blacks in the South was maintained by both “legal” and extralegal means. State and municipal Jim Crow laws restricted residence, use of public facilities, use of public transport, interracial marriage and other aspects of life in the South. White courts and police forces enforced these laws and the whole system of segregation. Arbitrary arrests under vagrancy laws yielded large numbers of black prisoners (who were often forced to do hard labor). Nonviolent civil rights marches and protests were met with police and state National Guard violence.

Similarly, Israeli control over the lives of Palestinians is maintained by a system of laws, courts, police and Israeli military that discriminates against Palestinians. Laws restrict where Palestinians can live, where they can travel, what roads they can travel on, and whether they can live with their spouse in another part of the country. Permits to travel from the West Bank to East Jerusalem for work are tightly controlled and dependent on “good” behavior.

Administrative detentions” have led to the indefinite incarceration of thousands of Palestinians without trials. The Israeli military meets unarmed protests against theseparation wall and the taking of Palestinian land with violence.

Black compliance with the system of segregation in the South was ensured by extralegal as well as legal means, including economic threats, harassment of various sorts, and extreme violence. More than 5,000 lynchings were recorded between 1882 and 1959, and many beatings and killings went unrecorded. Violence against blacks increased as the civil rights movement grew in strength during the 1950s and 1960s. In one year alone 30 black homes and churches were bombed in Birmingham. The white-controlled legal system only rarely prosecuted white-on-black violence.

Daily violence

Similarly, harassment and violence against Palestinians by Israeli settlers in the West Bank including East Jerusalem occurs almost every day. The settlers try to force Palestinians off their land or to leave the region entirely. The settlers threaten or attack children on their way to school and shepherds in the fields. Palestinian land, wells and olive groves are occupied. The Israeli military protects the settlers, and the Israeli legal system only rarely prosecutes settler harassment or violence.

Blacks in the Jim Crow South had no control over the governments that oppressed them and denied them their share of common resources. The 15th Amendment of 1870 gave blacks the right to vote, but that right was progressively taken away in Southern states following the failure of reconstruction. Discriminatory registration procedures were introduced and were enforced by violence. As late as the 1960s, many counties in the South, even those with black majorities, had no registered black voters. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 finally changed that.

Similarly, the four million or so Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have no say in the government that in fact controls them. They cannot vote in the Israeli elections.

Palestinians did vote for a virtually powerless Palestinian government in 2006 in which a majority of seats in the parliament went to Hamas, a political party. The Hamas legislators were immediately arrested and jailed by Israel. Many were kept in prison for more than five years and the elected parliament has never been able to meet. Even if the parliament could meet, it would have only limited control over limited enclaves of the West Bank. Israel controls the water, electricity, borders, airspace, exports and imports of the enclaves, and the Israeli military enters the enclaves and arrests Palestinians at will.

Nonviolent methods such as marches, boycotts and direct actions are a critical tool for the success of any human rights movement, such as the American civil rights movement, that confronts a power structure with a monopoly on physical force. The civil rights movement in the United States maintained the practice of nonviolence to a heroic degree over many years, even in the face of violent repression from the Southern white power structure. Participants aroused the conscience of the rest of the nation and the world.

Tactics of resistance

Similar methods are now of central importance for the Palestinian rights movement. Protest marches against the separation wall, “Freedom Rides” on Israeli-only public transit, and “camp-ins” on land illegally expropriated for Israeli settlements are becoming common now in Palestine. Internationally, boycotts of all sorts and divestment from companies that maintain and profit from the occupation of Palestinian land are taking hold.

The blacks in the American civil rights movement made their appeal to the federal government for redress of wrongs committed at the lower levels of state and local governments. The federal government was already formally committed to the rights of blacks through the 14th and 15th amendments as well as various Supreme Court decisions. They also had authority and power over local governments.

The aroused conscience of the nation and of the world finally forced the United States federal government to act. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson could not continue to present the United States to the world as the land of freedom and democracy when its own citizens were being beaten for asserting their freedom and their right to vote.

Here too there are parallels between the civil rights movement in the American South and today’s movement for Palestinian rights. Israel cannot indefinitely present itself as a law-abiding, humane and democratic state when it denies the human rights of the four million or so Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

The federal government of the United States shares responsibility for the continuing denial of Palestinian human rights, just as for many decades it shared responsibility for the denial of human rights to blacks in the Jim Crow South by not enforcing federal law. Now, and for many decades, United States diplomatic support has allowed Israel to violate international law with impunity.

The United States has blocked United Nations sanctions against Israel for such violations of international law as the occupation of Palestinian land, the colonization of the West Bank by placing settlers on that land, and the annexation of East Jerusalem, the historic home of Christian and Muslim Palestinians.

America breaks own law

In addition, the United States federal government provides about $3 billion in military aid to Israel every year, and may be violating its own laws in doing so, as pointed out by a recent letter to Congress from 15 leaders of major American Christian churches (“Religious leaders ask Congress to condition military aid to Israel on human rights compliance,” Presbyterian Church USA, 5 October 2012).

The letter urged an “investigation into possible violations by Israel of the US Foreign Assistance Act and the US Arms Export Control Act, which respectively prohibit assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations and limit the use of US weapons to ‘internal security’ or ‘legitimate self-defense.’” The letter cited evidence for human rights violations on the part of Israel and for Israel’s use of US arms against Palestinian civilians.

The tactics for resisting segregation brought significant changes for blacks in the South. Hopefully, with commitment and perseverance, similar methods may someday accomplish the same for Palestinians.

*Curtis Bell is a peace activist in Portland, Oregon. He is a member of the board of Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East, an organization that works for Palestinian rights within the Unitarian Universalist denomination.

Written FOR


gabe 1
First some background of the case …
The Story of the Scottsboro Trials: The court case that shaped the Civil Rights Movement
The Martin Luther King “I have a Dream” speech, Rosa Parks, and the ground breaking decision from Brown v. Board of Education were the foundation that helped construct the civil rights movement. It is well known that the Civil Rights movement began in the mid to late 1950’s well into the 1980’s. Whether it was African Americans fighting for the end of segregation to gender equality movement to the Chicano Movement, the foundation of these struggles were the necessity to become equal. These groups sought to change the national staple that label these groups as inferior, an issue that plagued the lower class for decades. Prior to the Civil Rights movement, Alabama was at the center of the Jim Crow Law, where a train ride greatly altered the lives of nine African Americans boys. This may quite have been the beginning of the Civil Rights movement for many reasons.
Throughout the early 1900’s it was common in the South that once an accusation was made against an African American, regardless of its legitimacy, the law proclaimed that suspect guilty until proven innocent. This issue was a common practice among lawyers, judges and prosecutors, who would deny the liberty and fair trial of African Americans. The Scottsboro trail was no exception. These boys were being prosecuted after a rumble ensued on a freight train traveling throughout Alabama. The nine Scottsboro boys left a group of white kids stranded after they were kicked out the train following the fight. Thus leaving two white women on the train with the remaining nine black boys. After word got out about the fight and that two white women were left on the train, a group of armed civilians and officers were waiting in Paint Rock, Alabama, the stop that altered the lives of these men forever. After these nine men were arrested, the two women, Victoria Gates and Ruby Price, were taken into custody and asked if they were assaulted. It was reported that the police officer that questioned the woman place this misleading notion that these black boys raped these woman. In an attempt to harm these boys, much greater than an assault against the white gang, the public wanted these boys to suffer by charging each with rape of the two white women.
The court case, which was widely controversial for its lack of evidence and severe illustration of racism, received national attention from several radical legal-action organizations such as the NAACP and the International labor defense. These organizations wanted to broadcast to a national level the inequities in the Alabama justice system. As the court cases went to trial the initial verdict rendered that all nine suspect were guilty in the rape of Victoria Price and Ruby Gates. In 1932, the International labor defense sought to challenge the initial verdict on the grounds that these men were discriminated against, grounds for an immediate re-trial. The case was appealed up to the Alabama Supreme court, in which the decision was upheld. It was not until the landmark supreme court ruling of Powell v. Alabama stated that it is deemed unconstitutional to deny the right to counseling from the time of their arraignment up to the time of the trial. This was the second landmark decision that allowed African Americans the right to receive equality in the justice system. This may well in fact have been the start of the civil rights movement.
Following the decision from Powell v. Alabama, another major precedent was set in Patterson v. Alabama where an African American is denied his due process constitutional right if the jury pool excludes African Americans. These two major precedents laid the foundation to allow African Americans the opportunity to fight for equality. This was during an era where the United States justice system have finally shun the light on developing a system based on equality. The actions from this case was ahead of its time, the precedents were the only staple in allowing African Americans to fight back. Society was too fearful to combat these issues because this was still during the time of lynching, Jim Crowe and post-reconstruction. 
These court decisions were made during the time of the great depression, continuous culture battle between the north and the south, and legal violence within the justice system. Although there weren’t any major upheaval among the black community with riots and protest, the subject of the case allowed African Americans to seek justice. This court case provided an alternative to persecution. It allowed African Americans to help develop the idea that justice may finally be available to them. This case demonstrated that in order to seek some form of liberation from a deeply rooted racial society one must fight. The fight that was shown in this court case was a legal battle that the nine Scottsboro and their lawyers would never give up, that in order for an issue to finally change one must fight for it. The state of Alabama was against the nine boys whether it was the legal system or the white community. The only thing that those nine innocent children had were the fight and determination to stop these reckless acts of social injustice.
These men filed for their freedom. Although there were not completely successful, those nine African American boys opened the door to the civil rights movement. It took sacrificing their freedom and lives to allow the African American community to change the ideology of what it meant to be free. It was clear that nothing was going to be given to them; they had to take matters into their own hand. Showcasing that freedom and peace will only be guaranteed if you fight for it.
Eighty years later …

Exonerating the Scottsboro Nine

Decades too late, the Alabama Legislature is moving to grant posthumous pardons to the Scottsboro Boys — the nine black teenagers arrested as freight train hoboes in 1931 and convicted by all-white juries of raping two white women.

The trials were feverish displays of American racism and injustice that stirred a lynch mob outside the Scottsboro jail. The travesty drew worldwide attention and eventually resulted in landmark Supreme Court rulings on the right to adequate counsel and prohibiting the exclusion of black people from juries. The case consumed the lives of the nine men, even after the rape accusation was recanted by one of the women and the testimony of other witnesses fell apart in a series of retrials and appeals. All but one defendant were sentenced to death, and though none was executed, all served time.

The trials epitomized the South’s Jim Crow culture and are viewed by historians as a major spark for the modern civil rights era. Gov. George Wallace of Alabama, in a populist gambit for national attention, made a show of pardoning one of the Scottsboro nine in 1976. But the fate of the others was left to drift from sight across the years, with the last of the group dying in 1989.

This week, the State Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bipartisan bill that would change state law to allow the posthumous pardons. A second measure exonerates the nine as “victims of a series of gross injustice.” Final enactment is expected. This will not in any way deliver full justice to those men and their families. But it will confirm what happened in Scottsboro eight decades ago, when street mobs cheered the rapid-fire guilty verdicts. And the pardons will put a spotlight on the town’s newest tourist attraction, the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center.






The Legacy of a Civil Rights Hero

By Peter Amsel

You have heard the name, but do you know the story of Rosa Parks and the role she played in the Civil Rights Movement? What happened in Montgomery in 1955 was far more important than anyone imagined when the events were unfolding at the time. Rosa Louise McCauley did not begin her life dreaming of becoming the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement”, she was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, the granddaughter of former slaves and the daughter of a carpenter and rural schoolteacher. Rosa moved to Montgomery, Alabama, and attended Alabama State College, an all-black school. It was there, in 1932, that she married Raymond Parks, who worked as a barber. It was at this time that Rosa also became active in Montgomery’s chapter of the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People.

Her work with the NAACP was more than just passive membership; when she joined the organization in 1943 she worked with the state president, Edgar Daniel Nixon in mobilizing a voter registration drive in Montgomery. Rosa Parks was also elected Secretary of the Montgomery branch of the NAACP in 1943. There should be no doubt that the heart of a true activist beat within the chest of this future Civil Rights leader, even years before the most significant act of her career would take place; an act that was born out of a desire for nothing more than fairness.

In the 1950s Rosa Parks began working as a tailor’s assistant in a department store, Montgomery Fair, she also worked part-time for a white liberal couple who encouraged Parks in her Civil Rights work. Six months before the arrest that would change the history of the Civil Rights movement Rosa received a scholarship to attend a workshop on school integration held at the Highlander folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee. The workshop was aimed at community leaders, and Rosa Parks spent several weeks there.

In the segregated South public transportation allowed for anyone to use the service, but it was anything but “public” in the sense that if you were a “coloured” person you had to surrender your seat to a white person, and move to the back of the bus. African Americans were required to pay to ride the bus at the front of the bus and then re-board through the back door, they were not even good enough to take a seat through the front of the bus: that is how they were perceived at the time. The first ten seats on the buses in Montgomery were permanently reserved for the white passengers, and when the bus become crowded the drivers would instruct any black passengers to make room for white passengers. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to move.

The ramifications of this action shook Montgomery to its core, changed America, and began an action that was watched by the world. It also launched the career of another Civil Rights activist, someone who would galvanise the movement, and transform it in ways no one could have foreseen before Rosa Parks’s actions that day.

After the arrest of Rosa Parks she was released on a $100 bond that was posted by her employers, the Durrs, and the president of the NAACP, Edgar Nixon. Rosa decided to allow the NAACP to take on the case and another organisation, the Women’s Political Council, which was led by JoAnn Robinson, came up with the idea of having a one day bus boycott coinciding with the date of Park’s trial. The WPC printed and distributed more than 52,000 fliers spreading the word about the boycott, on December 5, the day Rosa Parks would stand trial.

On that day the buses went through Montgomery almost empty and Rosa Parks was convicted by the local court and fined $14. With the assistance of her lawyer, Ed Gray, she immediately filed an appeal to the circuit court. While her appeal languished in red-tape, the U.S. District court was dealing with another case having to do with racial segregation and public buses, ruling that it was unconstitutional. That case, Browder v. Gayle, was ruled upon on June 4, 1956, by a three-judge panel that included Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr. The decision was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in November 1956. Rosa Parks never paid her fine.

On the day of the boycott, December 5, 1955, there was a new minister in the town of Montgomery named Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. He became the president of the boycott committee, urging the residents of Montgomery to stay off the buses, fighting for justice by opposing those who denied them the same. The boycott ultimately lasted 381 days and propelled King into the spotlight of national prominence as a Civil Rights leader whose voice could not be ignored. The Montgomery bus Boycott remains as one of the seminal Civil Rights actions, a marking post in the history of the movement, and it all began with the actions of one woman named Rosa.
Written FOR


I was considered a ‘normal’ kid while growing up in New York …. BUT one day in 1960 everything changed….
I was walking on the main street in my neighbourhood when I spotted a picket line in front of the local Woolworths. They were handing out leaflets calling for a boycott of the chain. Reason being that Blacks in the Southern states were denied service at their lunch counters.
Picketers protesting the F.W. Woolworth store’s policy on lunch counter segregation NY,NY 1960
I joined the protesters and continued on with them for the next year or so …. we finally won as Woolworths reversed their policy. But, one thing led to another and it certainly was not the end of the struggle.
Unlike the title of James Dean’ movie, we were rebels WITH a cause …
Today in Israel, history is once again being repeated. As was our victory in the States, it will be so here as well …. somewhere there is a ‘normal’ kid that will get involved in changing this situation …. that’s how it starts.

‘Mahmoud’ can’t get table at an Israeli eatery, but ‘Tamir’ can

A popular restaurant in Rishon Letzion has been accused of racism after an Arab couple claimed they could only make a reservation using Jewish names.

Mahmoud Safouri and his wife, Sama
Mahmoud Safouri and his wife, Sama, who were refused dinner reservations by Rishon Letzion restuarant Soho, below. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum

A popular restaurant in Rishon Letzion has been accused of racism after an Arab couple claimed last week they had been denied reservations when using their real names, but were able to book after calling back and using Jewish names.

Mahmoud Safouri and his wife, Sama, said that on two different occasions, they had recorded calls made to the Soho restaurant in Rishon Letzion, where they had often eaten without making reservations first.

According to Mahmoud, from Jaffa, they first encountered suspicious behavior in May. Restaurant staff took down all of Sama’s particulars but then refused to accept her reservation because “the computer was down.” Suspecting that there might be discrimination involved, the couple decided to record subsequent conversations.

Sama called back and once again tried to make a reservation under her own name, but was refused. Mahmoud immediately called the restaurant and was able to make a reservation for “Tamir,” for the exact same time and date. Sama then called back and once again tried to make a reservation under her own name. She succeeded in doing so only after reprimanding the restaurant hostess and revealing the trick they had played.

The couple then tried again earlier this month. Mahmoud called Soho and asked to make a reservation for two under the name Walid. The restaurant took his name and phone number, and transferred him to another representative, who asked for his particulars again. “Walid” was told there was no room for the day and time he was requesting: “It’s all full, you can maybe try again later to see if something opens up.”

Sama called the restaurant minutes later, and succeeded in making a reservation for two, for “Michal,” at the same time and date. Sama says she later learned the same thing had happened to other acquaintances.

Maisa Grabali, a resident of Jaffa, said that after her sister, Manar, had tried to make a reservation at Soho for two under her own name and was told there was no room, she called back and succeeded in making reservations for two, at the same time, for “Anat.”

Safouri posted the story on his Facebook page Thursday and received numerous responses as friends shared his story across the social media network. “This is the first time we’ve reached a level of disappointment that forces us to share this with all of you,” he wrote. “It’s important for us to note that the food in the restaurant is terrific, but their racist attitude is shameful.”

Bar Cohen, a Holon resident who trained to be a hostess at the restaurant, told Haaretz there were specific instructions to politely refuse reservations from Arabs. “They said, ‘OK, when someone calls and you have to answer the phone, what do you say?’ And I answered, ‘Hi, you’ve reached Soho, this is Bar.’ And they said, ‘No. First you have to ask, ‘To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?’”

Cohen said her trainer made it clear what that question was for. “‘You’re asking because you want his name, to hear if he’s an Arab or not,’ she said. And I looked at her and asked, ‘Why is that relevant?’ And she said, ‘What do you mean, why is it relevant? You know we’re one of the most successful restaurants in the country, and we don’t want to ruin our good name. If people see Arabs here, they will leave the restaurant. It’s happened to us more than once.’

“At the end of the day, they called me to assign shifts and I told the shift manager that this was a racist restaurant, that they should be ashamed of themselves and I didn’t want to work there,” said Cohen.

Many users posted comments on Soho’s own Facebook page, where the page administrator wrote on Saturday, “Since the issue is indeed important to us, both as a company and in order to maintain the great relationship we have with our guests of all nationalities, we will respond later on and things will come to light. Meanwhile, we are enjoying the exposure and the interaction on our page.”

Despite two calls to Soho by Haaretz Saturday, there was no response from the restaurant’s management.

Written FOR


 Watch them live standing up to the enemy ….
They are the children of the prisoner Bassem Al Tamimi and the recently released prisoner Nariman Al Tamimi. The occupying forces also arrested journalists, five internationals. [Ynet interpretation of this, "Palestinian girl tries to goad soldiers into lashing out" can be found here]
Ynet’s whitewashed version can be seen below.


“I come from an American situation in which apartheid has been in one shape or another the reality of the country from its beginning up to the 1950s and 1960s, and then a struggle with how to get rid of it. As I have listened to my sisters and brothers here I felt familiarity and identification. I could identify on both levels – it’s important to emphasize I came here as someone deeply in love with specific Jewish people, and deeply concerned by the great tragedy of the Holocaust experience. I came here as someone who experienced and fought against racial segregation and racial domination for half a century or more. So all this was very fresh and painful to me and very recognizable.”

You need to have a dream, veteran U.S. civil rights activist tells Obama after visiting West Bank

Vincent Harding, a friend and associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, says Washington should reexamine its relationship with Israel in light of its ‘official policy toward the indigenous Palestinian populace.’

By Amira Hass

Harding in A-Nabi Saleh.
Harding in A-Nabi Saleh, in the Tamimi home. Photo by Amira Hass

“In one of my letters to my brother and son, Obama, I suggested to him that what he needed was the courage of his mother and the willingness to take chances that she represented in her life.” The writer, Dr. Vincent Harding, is familiar to U.S. President Barack Obama, and we can assume that he also arouses feelings of affection, admiration and gratitude in him.

To Americans his name is immediately connected with Dr. Martin Luther King, because Harding was a close friend and partner of this leader of the struggle for equal rights in the United States, who was assassinated on April 4, 1968. The 80-year-old historian and theologian, a native of Harlem and a believing Christian, wrote (and says ) in polite words that Obama’s problem is that he was not sufficiently daring.

“I quoted somebody [in the letter] who mentioned Franklin D. Roosevelt. One of the ways he developed to serve the nation was that he was willing to go outside the traditional borders in search of advisors. He sought out advisors that nobody ever heard of, because he was willing to go out of the expected respectable ways.

“Obama was not able, was not free maybe to make those kinds of choices. Because, cautious man that he so often is, he probably didn’t want to bring in too visible associates with him, too many people that would simply be counted as African Americans. I think he has continued to suffer from the paucity of creative inventiveness that deviate from the accepted norms.”

Harding does not conceal the warm place in his heart for the black president: He formulated his opinions based on a reading of Obama’s memoirs, which were written before Obama thought of running for the presidency. He saw Obama as a man of “deep integrity, intelligence and deep concern for those who were in trouble in this society and around the world,” and in his opinion “he probably came into the presidency not recognizing all of the mechanism of American presidential power and responsibilities that he should take on and work with. I think he did think he was going to change much and did hope, but didn’t know what a fight it would require.

“He still has a magnificent heart. What is happening to that heart, when he allows himself to be the keeper of the hit list of the CIA drones, is another deep and difficult question that I would not try to go into very much, but I often wonder what is the nature of the conversation that he has when, thank God, he tries as often as he can to sit at the dining room table with his daughters and wife and mother-in-law, because his girls are going to a Quaker school [belonging to a Christian denomination that is committed to social equality and an anti-militaristic approach, which supported King and his friends] and I wonder what kind of questions are coming up about what their father is doing, in the light of what I hope the school is teaching them.”

Those remarks about Obama were given three days ago in the village of Nabi Saleh, in the home of Neriman and Bassem Tamimi, among the leaders of the popular struggle in their village.

Harding is a member of a delegation that is currently visiting the West Bank, composed of American social and political activists including several veterans of the struggle for equal rights in the United States, such as Harding and Dorothy Cotton, an educator and a dedicated activist since the 1950s who worked alongside King. The initiative for the visit came from the eponymous Dorothy Cotton Institute, an education and resource center that trains leaders for a global human rights movement.

Harding wrote King’s speech against continuing the war in Vietnam, which was delivered to a huge audience at a New York church exactly a year before King’s murder. Harding reassures us that King usually wrote his speeches by himself, but “at the time he apparently assumed that college professors had more time than freedom leaders.”

They formulated their views against the war together. Harding and King told the skeptics within the black community that “we have been very glad whenever voices came from outside the U.S., especially from the Third World, to stand in solidarity with us.”

For the same reason it is natural for Harding and his friends to come now and listen to the Palestinians and Israelis who are actively fighting the occupation: In Jerusalem and Bil’in, Ramallah, Hebron, the Deheisheh refugee camp and the village of Walaja. One of the things that he learned immediately in the first two days was “how ignorant I was about what is really happening in this part of the world, how little I know and how little I have thought about how little I know – which is not characteristic of me. I come to this situation not simply as somebody who has been involved with non-violent actions of various kinds over many years, but as someone who for some known and unknown reasons, ever since I was in high school, was deeply concerned about learning about the Holocaust.

“Part of it was inspired by the Jewish teachers that I had in high school, a number of whom loved me deeply and inspired me to take my own possibilities very seriously, and then going on to the City College of New York. When I went there in 1948 it was still about 96 percent Jewish in the student body, I was surrounded by the world of the children of the Holocaust and survivors themselves, and that was all part of my reality.

“I also was closely related to some of the many Jewish people who had come to join us in the freedom movement in the South, and some gave their lives for that. So I came to this situation with all kinds of sensibilities. That’s part of the large space that I have, to be deeply hurt by what I have seen and felt.

“I come from an American situation in which apartheid has been in one shape or another the reality of the country from its beginning up to the 1950s and 1960s, and then a struggle with how to get rid of it. As I have listened to my sisters and brothers here I felt familiarity and identification. I could identify on both levels – it’s important to emphasize I came here as someone deeply in love with specific Jewish people, and deeply concerned by the great tragedy of the Holocaust experience. I came here as someone who experienced and fought against racial segregation and racial domination for half a century or more. So all this was very fresh and painful to me and very recognizable.”

And what will you do now with what you’ve learned?

“I have been gifted with a great network of acquaintances, friends and colleagues, and I see a great responsibility right now to disseminate this knowledge and information in writing and by word. I will meet with lawmakers.”

And with Obama? “If I could I would, if people I know, who have some access [arrange a meeting]. I believe deeply in participatory democracy, so that my focus is not simply on Obama but on the people who must push Obama for a reexamination of what our relationship to Israel is all about, in the light of the official Israeli policy toward its indigenous Palestinian populace.”

But this is American policy no less than it is Israeli policy, which people in America also want.

“People wanted segregation until a major movement against it created a change.” .



Forty nine years ago today we all shared a dream with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The main message of it was; ( speech on YouTube at end of post)
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
Forty nine years later we are still far from free. The dream has turned into a nightmare! Instead of men joining hands we see ….
Needless to say, the above was NOT a part of the dream. But, the dream can still become a reality if we all do our bit to make it so.
The marches continue, the Peoples’ Movements continue to grow. All efforts must continue until WE ARE FREE AT LAST!
Kudos to the Occupy Wall Street Movement for helping bring that day closer.


(Now you see it …. now you don’t)
While Eritrean asylum seekers cannot be deported due to the risk they would face upon return, the new Prevention of Infiltration Law enables Israel to keep them in prison indefinitely. 
Pretty pathetic reasoning, eh?

A scorching desert jail for asylum seekers, with no way out

While Eritrean asylum seekers cannot be deported due to the risk they would face upon return, the new Prevention of Infiltration Law enables Israel to keep them in prison indefinitely. New arrivals, most having faced rape and torture en route to Israel, are presently being held in a prison in the desert, and nobody knows how long they’ll be kept there. A visit to Ketsiot prison.

By Yonatan Berman*

Almost three years ago, I wrote about how much I hate the journey to Ketsiot prison; how frustrating it is there, even for the fleeting visitor who knows that at the end of the day he’ll be free and safe in Tel Aviv. I wrote about the despair of the asylum seekers, who are locked up for days on end, not knowing until when. Although I know the right thing to do is to visit again and again, as often as possible, lately I have been doing so less and less, for my own peace of mind. Because even though in the three years since I poured out my bitterness most of the Prison Service staff was replaced, the situation in this desert prison has only deteriorated.

But sometimes there is no choice, like yesterday, when Mesi, Yuval and I were forced to return to that awful place. The thermometer in Yuval’s car read 39 degrees Celsius as we were getting out. We waited in the central courtyard of the growing prison. To the north (or so at least it seemed to me), they had already added two-story buildings to hold additional asylum seekers. The detainees are currently imprisoned under the new Prevention of Infiltration Law, which allows for the administrative detention of immigrants without legal status for an unlimited period of time (or for a minimum period of three years).

In the two months since the authorities began to use this draconian new instrument for detention, not one person has been released. The Detention Review Tribunal, which has judicial oversight over the detention of asylum seekers under the Prevention of Infiltration Law, has become the law’s rubber stamp. In practice, there are no circumstances under which the new law enables the release of detainees, so all that is left for the judges to do is to see detainee after detainee, to hear his or her story, and to inform him or her that they have no option but to approve the detention order.

The heat in the courtyard is unbearable, and one can only imagine what it feels like in the prison wings, and particularly for the women and children, who are held in tents during this scorching summer. Most of the detainees are Eritrean. “They’re not refugees,” we’re told by the interior minister and the prime minister, who in the same breath admit that we can’t deport them, because deportation would place their lives at risk. The camp, therefore, is not meant for the “illegal immigrants” awaiting deportation, but intended to exhaust and discourage the asylum seekers who can’t be deported.

The camp exhausts and discourages us, too. Most of the Eritreans here endured many months of severe torture at the hands of the smugglers in Sinai, in order to extort money from their families. Most of the Eritrean women were brutally raped, repeatedly, by the smugglers in Sinai. The first asylum seeker we interview recounts being cuffed at the hands and feet, electrocuted, having cigarettes extinguished on his arms, being hung by his arms and burned with white hot iron rods. These descriptions are familiar, from conversations with other asylum seekers, from aPhysicians for Human Rights – Israel report and from the Hotline for Migrant Workers’ report. Yet this firsthand account terrifies us. But when we get to the third interviewee who tells us the same horror story, I’m already whispering to Yuval, “Compassion fatigue.” Yuval nods. Our psychological defenses have kicked in.

The High Court of Justice recently recommended that the State set out guidelines addressing the rights of Eritreans, whom it is forbidden to deport. The State’s response, which finds its expression in Ketsiot prison, is: “They have no rights; eternal detention for all.” If once we could take comfort in the fact that the Eritreans we met in prison fell under the “temporary protection” policy, and would be released soon, today we have no words to comfort those we meet. All that is left for us to say to them is that we don’t know how long they will wait in this boiling hell, and that we know how hard it is for them to be there. (Although we don’t really know, and apparently never will know quite how hard.)

One can assume that in the interior and justice ministries, they will read these lines and smile with satisfaction, saying that this was their very intention – for people to know they won’t be released for years, and to send a message: “Don’t come.” Yet anyone with even the slightest experience and understanding of migration issues knows that’s not how it works – walls, prisons, starvation and degradation have never deterred immigrants, whether they’re refugees or economic migrants. These instruments are good for satisfying public opinion thirsty for a heavy hand, and for shaking off a sense of idleness, but they do not prevent migration. The Interior Ministry is already boasting about the drop in entries into Israel in the last month, but if you want to know the reason for this ebb, you had better turn your attention to what’s happening in the Sinai Peninsula and Libya. This ebb has nothing to do with Bibi and Yishai’s magic tricks.

Around the prison, a huge area is being prepared for construction of a new facility, which will be able to hold thousands more asylum seekers. Making the desert bloom, indeed – bloom that is entirely evil. When we leave after a depressing day, we photograph the construction going on around us for awhile and travel north, leaving the men and women we met behind, where they’ll be staying for quite a while longer.

Joseph Carens wrote, over two decades ago, that citizenship in the “West” today is comparable to feudal privileges – a hereditary status that improves one’s chances in life. For those not born with this status, it is almost impossible to acquire. Like hereditary feudal privileges, this is very difficult to justify.

When I return to my two-room apartment in Tel Aviv after the visit to Ketsiot, it really does feel like a palace.


*Yonatan Berman is the director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at the Academic Center of Law and Business. This post originally appeared in Hebrew on the blog Laissez Passer, and was translated by Caroline Beck.


*Nakba; For the Palestinians it is an annual day of commemoration of the displacement that followed the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948 …. details HERE

Refugees uprooted again in bid to expel foreigners

Text by: Rami Gudovitch*
All photos by:

South Sudanese refugees board a bus taking them to Ben Gurion airport, where they will be deported to South Sudan. Arad, Israel, June 17, 2012. (Photo: Yotam Ronen/

“Do you know, Rami, that I was in ‘Mustafa Mahmoud?’” Regina, a 12-year-old South Sudanese girl, asked me after she and her family were released from 27 days in an Israeli prison. Her father, a tall man with noticeable facial scars from the torture he underwent in Khartoum, affirms her words, handing me an old newspaper clipping from Egypt, dated 2005. I cannot read Arabic, but I can see her mother, laying on the ground, surrounded by police officers in one photo, and the little body of a child covered by a white sheet in another. “This was my cousin. He was killed by the police there,” adds Regina.

“Mustafa Mahmoud” refers to a massacre committed by the Cairo police during a peaceful demonstration by South Sudanese refugees near the UNHCR offices. The massacre sparked the first wave of African refugees fleeing to Israel, crossing the Sinai desert and reaching the promised land.

For many of the members of the community, the years in Israel were the only calm years in their lives. For many of the children, these years were happy childhood years, spent living in multicultural neighborhoods, going to schools, learning a new language, meeting school teachers and staff who care for the well-being of any child regardless of gender, color, or nationality.

A representative of the Authority of Population and Immigration checks South Sudanese people boarding a bus for Ben-Gurion Airport. The refugees were gathered in a raid conducted by Oz Unit. Arad, Israel, June 17, 2012. (Photo: Yotam Ronen/

South Sudanese children board a bus taking them to Ben-Gurion Airport for deportation. Tel-Aviv, Israel, June 17, 2012. (Photo: Oren Ziv/

In recent years, I found myself lucky enough to be part of a small multicultural community in south Tel Aviv, and some of my closest friends were members of the small South Sudanese community. I heard so many life stories that reminded me of tales often told to me as a child by old family members, who escaped Europe in the 30s—now told by children who fled to gain peaceful years in a country where they were beginning to feel at home in. Now, this little universe has been destroyed.

The government’s deportation order, following the referendum in South Sudan that led to the independence of the country, caught us all unprepared. It is not that the South Sudanese did not wish to return to their country. In fact, at the peak in 2009, there were around 1,900 members of community residing in Israel. By in July 2011, when the county’s independence was declared, only some 900 members remained in Israel. Most of the single young men returned to South Sudan, wishing to help build the new country.

The ones who remained in Israel were mostly families with children. News from South Sudan portrayed a harsh picture of a land unprepared to offer a future for children or for other weak groups in society. It has the highest mortality rate for newborn babies and nursing mothers in the world. A girl of 14 has a higher probability of dying while giving birth than of attending school. One million people suffer from food shortages, and the World Food Organization has warned that the country will continue to suffer major disasters in coming years.

A South Sudanese child in his home fills a bottle of water on the morning of his deportation. Tel Aviv, Israel, June 17, 2012. (Photo: Oren Ziv/

South Sudanese refugees receive travel documents at Ben-Gurion Airport, Israel, June 17, 2012. (Photo: Oren Ziv/

With this dreadful reality in mind, we—a small group of representatives from different human rights organizations—opened a public campaign against the deportation to South Sudan. We were successful in getting the facts to the media, and for awhile we were convinced that we could stop it. But after attorney Anat Ben-Dor’s appeal to the district court against the deportation order was rejected, nothing could stop it besides the good will of the government. And that was the last thing we could expect.

Indeed, the deportation order went into effect. On the very next day, after a public statement by Interior Minister Eli Yishai requiring all South Sudanese to register for a “voluntary return” within a week, the Oz Unit of immigration officers began arresting South Sudanese in the streets of major cities in Israel.

For us, the Israeli friends, teachers, and neighbors of the community, these days are beyond comprehension. The streets are being emptied out, racist Israelis commit daily attacks against refugees, more and more of our beloved friends are sent to a country with very low chances of survival.

Walking down the streets of the neighborhood these days I can see only voids—circles of missing people, people who were sent like animals, hunted by immigration police, forced to sign that they “want to leave” or else, then detained and pushed out.

South Sudanese refugees board a bus in Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station taking them to Ben-Gurion Airport, Israel, June 25, 2012. (Photo: Oren Ziv/

South Sudanese refugees at Ben-Gurion Airport, Israel, June 25, 2012. (Photo: Yotam Ronen/

Israeli activists support South Sudanese during the second deportation, Tel Aviv, Israel, June 25, 2012. (Photo: Oren Ziv/

South Sudanese children board a bus for Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv, Israel, July 2, 2012. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.Org)

South Sudanese women board a bus for Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv, Israel, July 11, 2012. (Photo: Oren Ziv/

In recent few weeks, I have experienced some of the most horrifying moments of my life. Among the refugees arrested was Regina’s family. Upon their release, while waiting for their deportation, Regina’s 7-year-old sister Mer described to me how “the guards were at first good, at least some of them. But as we asked more questions and they lacked answers, they become more and more evil.”

Local activists protest against the deportation and attempt to disrupt the departure of the bus, arguing that conditions in South Sudan are not safe enough for the refugees to be returned there. Tel Aviv, Israel, July 25, 2012. (Photo: JC/

After failing at all fronts to stop the deportation, what we are left with are the voices of the recent deportees in South Sudan. Presently, dozens of children and adults from among the deportees suffer from malaria. Dozens of others suffer from typhoid. Many have been robbed—the property they gathered in Israel did not arrive. Many children are hungry, and every week we send, with the new deportees, pita bread, chocolate, and cereal to the families and children, at their request. The returnees have no water or electricity in their huts. The money they collected or received when they were deported is running out. There are no jobs, and schools are extremely expensive. In general, many just don’t see any future opportunities ahead of them.

The question many of us are left with is why did they—or rather we—have to do it? I witness the brutal pressure Israel is presently putting on the few families that still remain, mostly for serious humanitarian, medical or social needs involving many life threatening conditions. To me it seems like the State of Israel decided to carry out an ethnic cleansing campaign. Like a Passover house-cleaning, they decided not to allow a single South Sudanese to remain. The associations that this act brings to mind are dreadful. But that is the only explanation I can find for the systematic and obsessive persecution—carried out in seven well-planned deportations—of the South Sudanese community.

A woman holds a solidarity sign in Hebrew that reads: “The people demand to stop the deportations,” at the seventh deportation to South Sudan. Tel-Aviv, Israel, August 8, 2012. (Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/

A representative of the Authority of Population and Immigration checks the names of South Sudanese people that are being deported. Tel-Aviv, Israel, August 8, 2012. (Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/

woman trys to calm her child during the seventh deportation to South Sudan at Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station, Israel, August 8, 2012. (Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/

A South Sudanese girl holds a sign she wrote in Hebrew to her classmates, who came to say goodbye. The note reads: “Axsosa you are my best friend in school.” Tel-Aviv, Israel, August 8, 2012. (Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/

And if this is accurate, then I deeply feel that the people involved, actively, or by simply closing their eyes, will be punished. In fact, they are already being punished by not being able to look in the mirror and see a human figure. I cannot imagine a worse punishment than that.

Rami Gudovitch, an Israeli activist, says goodbye to a child who was under his care in recent years. Tel-Aviv, Israel, August 8, 2012. (Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/

*Dr. Rami Gudovitch is a social activist working with migrant communities in southern Tel Aviv and a philosophy instructor at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.



RELATED….. (click on link to access report)


Israel to provide ‘temporary housing’ in prison for migrant children


On 2 August 2012, Mr. Ghaith received a phone call from Israeli intelligence representatives requesting that he present himself immediately to Moskobiyyeh interrogation center in Jerusalem. Upon presenting himself the following day, Mr. Ghaith was ordered to sign an order banning him from travelling abroad. The ban, which is signed by Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai, will remain in place until 31 January 2013. The order claims that Mr. Ghaith constitutes a threat to “state security,” although no evidence is given to support such claim.

Deeming him “threat to state security,” Israel bans Addameer founder from travel abroad

Submitted by Ali Abunimah 

In a move that can only be seen as retaliation for the organization’s effectiveness in challenging Israeli abuses, Israel has imposed an international travel ban on Abdullatif Ghaith, the chair and one of the founders of AddameerPrisoner Support and Human Rights Association.

Over recent months, as Palestinian prisoners have staged a wave of hunger strikes forcing Israel to make concessions toward their rights, Addameer has played a key role visiting, liaising with and supporting the prisoners and getting information out to the world.

Ghaith, 71, is a prominent human rights defender, activist, and is himself a former “administrative detainee” held repeatedly by Israeli occupation forces without charge or trial.

The travel ban is reminiscent of the practices of apartheid South Africa and other police states.

This is not the first time Israel has targeted prominent Palestinian human rights defenders in this way. For more than six years, Israel has banned Shawan Jabarin, the head of Al-Haq, from traveling abroad, similarly without providing any evidence.

Summoned by intelligence and banned

In a joint statement, Palestinian human rights groups condemned the Israeli move and described what happened:

On 2 August 2012, Mr. Ghaith received a phone call from Israeli intelligence representatives requesting that he present himself immediately to Moskobiyyeh interrogation center in Jerusalem. Upon presenting himself the following day, Mr. Ghaith was ordered to sign an order banning him from travelling abroad. The ban, which is signed by Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai, will remain in place until 31 January 2013. The order claims that Mr. Ghaith constitutes a threat to “state security,” although no evidence is given to support such claim.

This is not the first time Mr. Ghaith has been targeted by Israel for his human rights activism. The current order banning him from travelling abroad is in addition to an existing ban that prevents him from entering the West Bank (as defined by Israel). This West Bank ban originally came into effect on 10 October 2011 for a duration of six months, although it was subsequently extended for an additional six months in April 2012 and is now due to expire in September 2012. Furthermore, since becoming Chairperson of Addameer, Mr. Ghaith has been held without charge or trial in Israeli prison under administrative detention on three separate occasions, lasting for six months on each occasion. Hismost recent administrative detention lasted from June 2004 to January 2005.

Will call for EU action be ignored?

In their statement, Palestinian human rights groups call on the “international community” to intervene and demand that Israel lift this abusive ban. They direct their call in particular at “the European Union, especially the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to act in accordance with its decision to ‘throw its full weight behind advocates of liberty, democracy and human rights throughout the world.’”

Indeed one can imagine strong statements from the EU’s High RepresentativeCatherine Ashton if any country other than Israel were treating human rights defenders in this manner.

But Ashton has been enthusiastically complicit in Israeli human rights crimes,defending its use of administrative detention and meeting and warmly welcoming Israeli officials responsible for these crimes, while the EU itself recently rewarded Israel for its abuses with an upgrade in relations.

It is Palestinians themselves – with international solidarity activism behind them – who will undoubtedly have to continue to raise pressure.

The travel ban on Ghaith must be seen as a sign of the success of the prisoners in putting pressure on Israel through their heroic hunger strikes and other actions, and it underscores the continued importance of prisoners and the Palestinian groups, such as Addameer, that help to shine light on their struggle.

Joint statement

Yet another Palestinian civil society leader targeted by Israel: Addameer Chairperson Abdullatif Ghaith receives ban from leaving the country

9 August 2012
Joint Statement

As organizations dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), the Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organizations (PCHRO), expresses its utmost dismay at the recent Israeli decision to ban Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association Chairperson Abdullatif Ghaith from travelling abroad. Mr. Ghaith, a 71-year-old East Jerusalem resident, is one of the founders of Addameer and has been serving on its Board for the past 20 years. He is also a well-known public figure resulting from his long history of human rights activism in Jerusalem and the rest of the OPT, in addition to his prominent political activism including his run for Palestinian Legislative Council elections in 2006.

On 2 August 2012, Mr. Ghaith received a phone call from Israeli intelligence representatives requesting that he present himself immediately to Moskobiyyeh interrogation center in Jerusalem. Upon presenting himself the following day, Mr. Ghaith was ordered to sign an order banning him from travelling abroad. The ban, which is signed by Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai, will remain in place until 31 January 2013. The order claims that Mr. Ghaith constitutes a threat to “state security”, although no evidence is given to support such claim.

This is not the first time Mr. Ghaith has been targeted by Israel for his human rights activism. The current order banning him from travelling abroad is in addition to an existing ban that prevents him from entering the West Bank (as defined by Israel). This West Bank ban originally came into effect on 10 October 2011 for a duration of six months, although it was subsequently extended for an additional six months in April 2012 and is now due to expire in September 2012. Furthermore, since becoming Chairperson of Addameer, Mr. Ghaith has been held without charge or trial in Israeli prison under administrative detention on three separate occasions, lasting for six months on each occasion. His most recent administrative detention lasted from June 2004 to January 2005.

The continued targeting of Mr. Ghaith cannot be viewed in isolation but must rather be viewed within a much broader context of a systematic attempt by Israel to suppress Palestinian civil society and stifle Palestinian development, while strengthening Israel’s occupation. Evidence of this repression can be seen in the increasing number of Palestinian civil society organizations that have been ordered to close, particularly in East Jerusalem, and the targeting of human rights defenders throughout the OPT. Other prominent members of Palestinian civil society have also been targeted in the same manner by Israel, such as the director of human rights organization Al-Haq, Shawan Jabarin, who has been banned from travelling abroad since 2006, with two exceptions this year in which his travel was highly restricted.

Human rights defenders are formally defined as persons who work, peacefully, for any or all of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Mr. Ghaith’s life’s work on behalf of political prisoners–inspired by his own experience as a prisoner–clearly falls within the category of a human rights defender, in that his activities are peaceful in nature and aimed at the promotion of human rights. According to Mr. Ghaith, “Israel considers every activity that tackles Israeli violations of human rights as a threat to state security. Israel wants its occupation to proceed without any accountability. This is not an issue of an individual; it involves all Palestinians.”

The PCHRO strongly condemns the travel ban imposed on Mr. Ghaith and continued Israeli attempts to silence Palestinian civil society. The ban on Mr. Ghaith not only violates his fundamental human rights, namely his right to freedom of movement, but also disregards the special protections afforded to him as a human rights defender according to the United Nations General Assembly Declaration on human rights defenders.

The PCHRO therefore calls on the international community to intervene immediately with the Israeli authorities to lift all bans restricting Mr. Ghaith’s freedom of movement so that he may continue to carry out his human rights work unimpeded. In particular, the PCHRO calls on the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders to intervene with Israel and raise the case of Mr. Ghaith and other Palestinian human rights defenders, such as Mr. Jabarin. The PCHRO also urges the European Union, especially the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to act in accordance with its decision to “throw its full weight behind advocates of liberty, democracy and human rights throughout the world” by consistently bringing up with Israel its continued infringements of the special protections afforded to Palestinian human rights defenders, as well as calling for the lifting of the travel bans imposed on Mr. Ghaith and Mr. Jabarin.

The Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organisations and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel:

Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association
Sahar Francis, General Director

Aldameer Association for Human Rights
Khalil Abu Shammala, General Director

Shawan Jabarin, General Director

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
Issam Younis, General Director

Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
Najwa Darwish, General Director

Defence for Children International – Palestine Section
Rifat Kassis, General Director

Ensan Center for Human Rights and Democracy
Shawqi Issa, General Director

Hurryyat – Centre for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights
Helmi Al-araj, General Director

Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights
Issam Aruri, General Director

Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies
Iyad Barghouti, General Director

Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling Maha Abu Dayyeh, General Director

Written FOR



Walker said Israelis policies were “worse” than the segregation she suffered as an American youth and said South Africans had told her it was worse than Apartheid.


“The Color Purple,” which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, was adapted into a movie in 1985 directed by Jewish filmmaker Steven Spielberg.



Alice Walker Won’t Release ‘Color Purple’ in Hebrew

Prize-Winning Author Slams Israel’s ‘Apartheid State’

Alice Walker, author of “The Color Purple,” refused to authorize a Hebrew translation of her prize-winning work, citing what she called Israel’s “apartheid state.”

In a June 9 letter to Yediot Books, Walker said she would not allow the publication of the book into Hebrew because “Israel is guilty of apartheid and persecution of the Palestinian people, both inside Israel and also in the Occupied Territories.”

In her letter, posted Sunday by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel on its website, Walker supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and offered her hope that the BDS movement “will have enough of an impact on Israeli civilian society to change the situation.”

It was not clear when Yediot Books, an imprint of the daily Yediot Achronot newspaper, made the request, or whether Walker could in fact stop translation of the book. At least one version of the book has already appeared in Hebrew translation, in the 1980s.

Walker said Israelis policies were “worse” than the segregation she suffered as an American youth and said South Africans had told her it was worse than Apartheid.

“The Color Purple,” which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, was adapted into a movie in 1985 directed by Jewish filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

The novel and the film, which was nominated for 11 Oscars, treat racism in the American South in the first part of the 20th century and sexism among blacks.

Walker has intensified her anti-Israel activism in recent years, traveling to the Gaza Strip to advocate on behalf of the Palestinians.


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