AMERICAS FIRST VICTIM OF THE WAR IN GAZA

ACADEMIC FREEDOM?
FREEDOM OF SPEECH??

AMERICA’S DREAM IS SLOWLY BECOMING A NIGHTMARE!

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Steven Salaita was fired from his position as associate professor in the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) apparently over views critical of Israel, especially its current massacre in Gaza.

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University of Illinois fires professor Steven Salaita after Gaza massacre tweets

A mock-up of Israel’s apartheid wall erected by Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (Benjamin Stone/Flickr)

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Steven Salaita was fired from his position as associate professor in the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) apparently over views critical of Israel, especially its current massacre in Gaza.

Meanwhile, Cary Nelson, former president of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), who has publicly supported the university’s decision to remove Salaita, gave frank comments to The Electronic Intifada revealing the extent of his own pro-Israel views.

Nelson acknowledged that he had been monitoring Salaita’s social media use for months.

This indicates Salaita may be the victim of a retaliation campaign. Salaita is the author ofIsrael’s Dead Soul and The Uncultured Wars, Arabs, Muslims and the Poverty of Liberal Thought, as well as a contributor to a number of publications including Salon and The Electronic Intifada.

He was a prominent campaigner for the American Studies Association’s decision to boycott Israeli academic institutions last December.

In May, Salaita wrote a post for The Electronic Intifada called “How to practice BDS in academe.”

Fired not “revoked”

This morning, Inside Higher Ed reported that Salaita had merely had a job offer “revoked.”

Salaita was “recently informed by Chancellor Phyllis Wise that the appointment would not go to the university’s board, and that he did not have a job to come to in Illinois, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation,” Inside Higher Ed said.

“The sources familiar with the university’s decision say that concern grew over the tone of [Salaita’s] comments on Twitter about Israel’s policies in Gaza,” it added.

Neither the university nor Salaita have commented on the matter. Salaita did not respond to requests for comment.

But a source with close knowledge of the situation, who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly, disputed Inside Higher Ed’s version. The source told The Electronic Intifada that Salaita had actually been “fired.”

The source said they had seen documentation indicating that Salaita’s appointment had been through all the ordinary procedures for hiring faculty, up to and including the scheduling of new faculty orientation.

Salaita had already resigned from his position as associate professor of English at Virginia Tech, according to Inside Higher Ed. It would not make sense for Salaita to resign from a secure position without already having been fully and properly hired to a new one.

Even though Inside Higher Ed’s sources say the opposite, the publication’s own analysis supports The Electronic Intifada’s reporting that Salaita has actually been fired.

“As recently as two weeks ago, the university confirmed to reporters that he [Salaita] was coming,” Inside Higher Ed reported. “The university also declined to answer questions about how rare it is for such appointments to fall through at this stage.”

Target

Salaita’s exact status at the university is likely to be important to the outcome of his case.

If a job offer was merely “revoked,” as Inside Higher Ed’s sources claim, then Salaita would likely have far fewer protections than if he had already been hired, and then fired.

Opponents of Palestinian rights are already seizing on this distinction to spin and legitimize the decision to remove Salaita for his opinions expressed in public forums.

According to Inside Higher Ed, AAUP past president Cary Nelson, who is also an English professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said that “it was legitimate – at the point of hiring – to consider issues of civility and collegiality. In this case, [Nelson] said, that would lead him to oppose Salaita’s appointment.”

Nelson’s views are important because his former role at AAUP means he is often cited as an authority on academic freedom issues, though his own anti-Palestinian biases are rarely examined.

In a telephone interview with The Electronic Intifada from his Urbana-Champaign home, Nelson went even further, claiming that Salaita’s supposed social media transgressions “are more serious than collegiality and civility.”

Nelson accused Salaita of “incitement to violence” for retweeting a tweet by another Twitter user, stating: “Jeffrey goldberg’s story should have ended at the pointy end of a shiv.”

Goldberg, a former Israeli prison guard who participated in and helped cover up the torture and abuse of Palestinian prisoners, and now a writer for The Atlantic, is one of the most prominent defenders of Israel’s bombardment that has killed more than one in every one thousand Palestinians in Gaza over the last month.

While Salaita is known for an acerbic sense of humor – a likely reason he would have retweeted the tweet – it is an oft-stated norm of Twitter that “a retweet does not equal an endorsement.”

When pressed, Nelson could provide no example of any tweet written by Salaita that “incited violence.”

Nelson acknowledged, however, that he has been closely monitoring Salaita’s Twitter account for months. “There are scores of tweets. I have screen captures,” he said. “The total effect seems to me to cross a line.”

Salaita has “always tweeted in a very volatile and aggressive way,” Nelson asserted, but “recently he’s begun to be much more aggressive.”

Another example Nelson gave was an 8 July tweet by Salaita, at the beginning of Israel’s current massacre in Gaza, stating, “If you’re defending #Israel right now you’re an awful human being.”

Nelson claimed that this might mean that students in one of Salaita’s classes who “defended Israel” could face a hostile environment.

But Nelson acknowledged that he knew of no complaints about Salaita’s teaching and that Salaita was not even scheduled to teach classes on Palestine and the Israelis.

Asked if he therefore supported a “pre-emptive firing” based on a Tweet, Nelson again insisted that Salaita had not been “fired,” but merely not hired. Nelson claimed that if Salaita had already been hired, he would defend him.

When asked if he would oppose the hiring of a person who said that “someone who defends Hamas firing rockets towards Tel Aviv is an awful person,” Nelson answered: “No.”

There could be no clearer admission that Nelson’s opposition to Salaita is based on the content of his views, specifically criticism of Israel.

Resistance to Israel is “criminal”

This became clearer when Nelson expanded on his views on Palestine and the Israelis.

Nelson defended Israel’s attack on Gaza as part of its “right to self-defense,” although he stressed that many aspects of the attack were “unethical” and “immoral” and that pictures of children killed by Israel were “horrific.”

When asked whether he would condemn Israel’s bombing of the Islamic University of Gaza, Nelson used cautious language: “It’s very difficult for someone from a distance to judge particular artillery strikes. My personal view is that Israel should have been more careful. From what I know, there are military actions as part of the Gaza incursion that seem regrettable to me and should not have taken place.”

While asserting Israel’s right to bomb Gaza, Nelson denied that Palestinians have any right to armed resistance to the onslaught.

“I don’t know where that right would come from,” he said. “I don’t view Gaza under as under occupation so I don’t see a right to resistance.”

When asked if the International Committee of the Red Cross and other international bodies were incorrect in their view that Israel’s siege of Gaza constitutes “collective punishment” and is therefore a war crime, Nelson insisted he was unable to make legal judgments.

Nelson added that he did not see that the situation in the occupied West Bank “warrants resistance,” either. “I don’t think there’s a right to violent resistance on the West Bank.”

Asked if he thought “all Palestinian military resistance is criminal,” Nelson answered: “Yes. I think that is my view.”

When asked if any of Israel’s actions could be labeled “criminal,” Nelson repeated that many were “immoral” and “unethical,” but that he was not qualified to give legal opinions about Israel’s actions.

Nelson, an outspoken campaigner against the nonviolent, Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS), said that Palestinians should resort to “civil disobedience” in the West Bank such as “blocking roads.”

Israel has shot dead 17 Palestinians just in the last month in the occupied West Bank.

BDS is “political violence”

Nelson reaffirmed his strong opposition to the BDS movement because some of its prominent advocates – he named Omar Barghouti and philosopher Judith Butler – dispute Israel’s “right to exist as a Jewish state.”

“I consider that to be a form of political violence,” Nelson said.

Asked if he called himself a “Zionist,” Nelson answered: “Yes.”

If there were doubts about Nelson’s clear bias against Palestinians and their pursuit of their rights by any means (except of course the most invisible and ineffective), his frank comments to The Electronic Intifada put them to rest.

On 21 July, Salaita was attacked for his Twitter use in the right-wing, anti-Palestinian website The Daily Caller.

It seems clear that with Nelson now publicly leading the charge, Salaita is the latest victim of a nationwide campaign to intimidate into silence anyone on campus who criticizes Israel or supports effective campaigns to secure Palestinian rights.

Call for action

Brooklyn College political science professor Corey Robin has also pointed out that in the past, Nelson himself has criticized how “claims about collegiality are being used to stifle campus debate, to punish faculty, and to silence the free exchange of opinion by the imposition of corporate-style conformity.”

Nelson has also previously supported academic boycotts, though never for Palestinian rights.

But now, Robin says, Nelson’s about-face is “a symptom of the effects of Zionism on academic freedom, how pro-Israel forces have consistently attempted to shut down debate on this issue.”

Robin urges people to write to UIUC Chancellor Phyllis Wise asking her to reverse her decision.

“As always, be polite, but be firm,” Robin writes. “Don’t assume this is a done deal; in my experience, it often is not.”

Supporters have also launched an online petition, which as of this writing, had already gathered more than 1,500 signatures.

THE PALESTINIAN CONNECTION TO HIROSHIMA

The following is a post from the Archives written a year ago …
Palestinian in Hiroshima

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

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I and Oliver Stone both spoke at Hiroshima on the anniversary of the first nuclear bombing in human history and we are slated to speak in two days at Nagasaki on the anniversary of the second nuclear attack.  My speech is below in English (I will send the Japanese version later).  These remain the most starkest of acts of state terror in Human history.  I had seen images and video before that made me shudder but being in the City is different.  At 8:15 AM on a sunny hot day we laid down next to the dome for three minutes with people from all backgrounds and I stared at the sky and tried to imagine through the tears the terror that came and exploded 600 meters directly above us in the sky 68 years ago.   But how can one imagine the horror of dropping a nuclear weapon on a population incinerating and skeletonizing tens of thousands and leaving tens of thousands with burned body skin hanging in rags and worse. Harder to imagine yet is the darkness of the human hearts and minds that took the decisions to do that to fellow human beings.
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Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick explained eloquently about the real reasons for dropping the bombs instead of the mythology that is told in school books in America.  But does that really make any difference on the horror of what Truman and his generals visited on humanity? Those of us in the medical field understand clinically what radiation poisoning does to the human body but politicians also know that and Truman had detailed reports from the earlier experiments.  I met so many hibakushas (survivors of the nuclear blast) and their children and grandchildren.  Many told us of the dramatic death of children by leukemia and other cancers and of the congenital deformities.  It was more than we could take even as visitors so I can only begin to imagine the actual feelings of people here.
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Clearly the monuments to victims were slanted strongly away from nationalism and war; something that reminded us that it is possible for victims to learn that war and nationalism are not the answer.  I wished more people can learn that lesson and change the misleading pro-war pro-Zionist message of many holocaust museums to build instead a pro-peace structure.
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On the positive side, we were thrilled to see so many children and youth taking the banner of peace.  Middles school children collected signatures to ban nuclear weapons around the world. Hundreds of us marched to the electric company in town to ask that they stop using nuclear power (especially poignant after the disastrous Fukushima plant meltdown).   Our colorful Palestinian Kuffiyas were welcomed among the colorful banners in our march. We felt love and peace. We saw alternating images of hope and pain and of beautiful people who face-up to right-wing politicians and the few racists who even deny what Japanese soldiers did in China and Korea. Like a roller-coaster, a tour of Japan brings mixed emotions.
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As a visiting Palestinian I am struck most of all by the neatness and orderliness of the cities.  Everything runs perfectly.  Trains are accurate to the minute.  Millions ride on these trains both within cities and between cities.  Streets are clean and no walls or checkpoints stop us from freely moving around.  It is all orderly and peaceful.  Crossing streets on cues, trash in its receptacles, lines are straight, and cars and homes are clean and orderly.  Just about everyone speaks in low tones and people are courteous to each other.
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Japan like most countries is a society burdened by Western style capitalism.  Here you see also things like McDonalds, Starbucks, prostitution, and corrupt politicians.   Though more homogeneous than other countries, Japan is a very large country of 120 million people and even in a short visit one sees remarkable diversity of ideas and concepts.  In Nagoya, we visited an educational table at the main square that tried to challenge the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty (a US Dominated agreement favorable to corporations at the expense of people). The organizer of this table belonged to one of the few native communities of Japan, a great man by the name of Esaman.  People stopped by bringing food and sharing stories.  In the same square a lone young musician played his guitar asking for donations to build a school in a remote area of Pakistan.
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In Nagoya, I attended a discussion of writings by Kobayashi Takiji.  The audience were some 30 individuals of diverse background who put their shoes at the entrance of the lecture hall and wore red slippers as they listened intently to a retired bookstore seller discuss and pass around the books by Takiji.  Takiji was born in 1903 and showed a talent for writing at an early age. His writings did not please authorities and he was fired from his job and eventually executed by the government at age 30 y.o. His most famous short novel is called  Kanikōsen and it is a story about workers at a boat fishing for crabs.  The story takes you into an incredible world of suffering of the workers, humanity to fellow workers, and cruelty of their boss.  There seemed to be a revival of the interest in this genre of literature after the last Japanese economic bubble burst.
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Many Japanese yearn for a more caring society and support global solidarity, including with Palestine. This was shown vividly in our visit to Nagoya and Hiroshima.   I reflect on the people I met and saw in get-together, on the streets, in trains, and in restaurants.  Here I would see people who reminded me of people I met in America, in Palestine and elsewhere.  I thought someone should do a documentary on this carrying a camera around different countries to show that there are individuals in each country virtually twins with those living in other countries.  Perhaps this film can bring us all closer to one another.  In the meantime, I cannot wait for our upcoming visit to Nagasaki, Osaka, Tokyo, and Kyoto. And I cannot wait to go back to Palestine where hope against all odds still survives.  Stay tuned.
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Speech by Professor Qumsiyeh in Hiroshima on the 68th anniversary of the First Atomic Bomb
Kumbunwa and thank you for this invitation.  It is a special honor for me to visit Japan.  Here in Hiroshima we are most reminded of the horrors of war.  Here we have a chance to reflect on the fact that there is no “good war”.  We are reminded that nations do not win or lose wars.  Wars cause the suffering of common people and makes rich people richer.   Money wins wars, people lose wars. That is why President Eisenhauer warned about the power of the military-industrial complex.  It is a power we were reminded of by Oliver Stone earlier today. It is this complex that was enriched as US taxpayers were left with 3 trillion dollars more in debt due to the criminal war on Iraq.    And it was the same Truman that lied publicly about why he created the catastrophes of Hiroshima and Nagazaki and also the catastrophe (Nakba) of Palestine.
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War, as General Butler correctly observed, war is a racket.  It is a way to make money for rich people at the expense of poor people.  And that is why wars will continue unless common people revolt to stop them. And we the people were able to stop wars before for example in Vietnam and in South Africa. It is this power of the people that I am most optimistic about.
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I am one of 12 million Palestinians in the world, 2/3rd of us are refugees or displaced people and the rest live under rule of a foreign government.  How did this come about and how can we stop this war on the people?
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Palestinians are the endogenous people of the Western Part of the Fertile Crescent in Western Asia.  Key milestones in human civilization occurred in this Land of Canaan: animal and plant domestication, development of the alphabet, and development of laws and religions.
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We had over 11,000 years of civilization with religious and cultural developments.  Short attempts to transform Palestine into one thing or another failed.  This included short lived attempts to make it all Christian or make it all Muslim or make it all Jewish.  The European crusades were a good examples of this. But for 97% of our history, Palestine remained mutli-religious and mutli-cultural.
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Since the late 19th century, the new political idea of Zionism was developed to create a “Jewish state” in Palestine. At that time less than 3% of the population in Palestine was Jewish. This Zionist colonization was aided by western countries notably England and more recently the USA.
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An organized and ruthless project to ethnically cleanse the native Palestinians was organized resulting in countless massacres and total destruction of 530 Palestinian villages and towns. It is still the largest refugee crisis after World War II. In that sense my grandmother is a hibakusha.
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Today 7 million Palestinians are refugees and five million of us still live on 8.3% of our historic land.  The state of Israel was built on the destruction of Palestine. Israel has 55 laws that specifically discriminate against native Palestinians. It fulfills the international legal definition of an apartheid (racial discrimination) state.
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Zionists like all other colonial imperial powers try to portray the victims as terrorists. European colonization always did that whether in the Americas or in Africa or in Asia.  It maybe convenient to say that we are white civilized people who “circle the wagons” to protect ourselves from native savages. But the truth is that colonization is violence and 10 times more native civilians are killed than invading people.
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I can tell you hundreds of stories of the brutality of occupation and colonization.  I can tell you about home demolitions, about removal of people from their land, about murders, and about torture. I can tell you about breaking bones of Palestinian children, about using white phosphorous on schools and about Israel’s nuclear weapons. I can tell you about toxic waste dumped on Palestinian villages. I can tell you about prisoners held for years without seeing lawyers or judges.I could tell you about friends I lost killed in peaceful demonstrations.  I could tell you my own family stories of suffering. But we do not have time.
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I will tell you that Palestinians resisted for the past 100 years this onslaught.  This Palestinian resistance took hundreds of forms, most of them unarmed. We had 13 uprisings, on average one every 10 years. South Africa under apartheid had a long struggle with 15 uprisings.
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We Palestinians have been innovative in our struggle.  We had the first demonstration in human history to use automobiles (cars) when in 1929 Palestinian women gathered 120 cars and drove down the old streets of Jerusalem. We lobbied the Ottoman Empire and the British empire to stop supporting colonialist Zionism. We engaged in tax revolts and other forms of civil disobedience.
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We also asked and still ask the international community to help us.  Tens of thousands joined our struggle. There is the International solidarity movement.  As in the struggle against apartheid in south Africa, there is also the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS).  We ask you to join us because this struggle is the most important.  It is important because it exposes clearly the hypocrisy of Western governments who speak of democracy and human rights but directly support racism, tyranny, war, and all violations of human rights.
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We share this one small blue planet and the era of nuclear weapons when a country like Israel could destroy the earth, we cannot afford to be complacent.  We must prove Haegel wrong when he wrote that “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.” We do learn from our common history and today in the age of the internet, we are beginning a global uprising against nuclear weapons and against war. When people power is finally realized through global solidarity, we can not only win over war but also over poverty and over climate change and over apathy/indifference.  That is really a future worth sacrificing for.
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The Budhists tell us to have “joyful participation in the sorrows of this world”.  Participation is the key.  So indeed may you all have  joyful participation in the sorrows of this world….  Arigatu, thank you, shukran, peace, salam.
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Also see THIS post from the Archives

IN PHOTOS ~~ 10,000 STRONG MARCH IN NEW YORK MARCH FOR GAZA’S CHILDREN

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The continuing slaughter of innocents in Gaza brought a crowd of what one police officer estimated to be 10,000 people into the streets of New York on Friday.  They met at the headquarters of CNN and then marched through the crowded theater district to the Fox News Building.  At both places they accused the corporate news entities of lying to the public and shouted “Shame!” repeatedly.  The crowd was mostly young, multi ethnic, sad, and very angry.  The tourists on the streets along Broadway looked astonished and fascinated.  They read the signs and explained what was happening to their children.  Some gave a thumbs-up and said they were glad to see people out protesting what was happening.  It seemed that very many of the demonstrators were young Palestinian Americans who felt a strong tie to the Palestinian people  struggling in Palestine and Israel and wanted to express strong feelings of solidarity with them  as well as protest the torment that Israel was inflicting.  Golda Meir is reputed to have said, in reference to the Palestinian people, the old will die and the young will forget.  Judging by who has been in the streets over the past 3 weeks, she couldn’t have been more wrong.  These young people know exactly who they are, what has happened to them, and they are not about to forget anything.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer … Commentary above by Chippy Dee

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WE CANNOT SAY
WE DID NOT KNOW

ONCE AGAIN IN SHOCK
ONCE AGAIN IN SORROW
ONCE AGAIN ENRAGED

We carry the names of the dead in Gaza.
In the name of decency we must act.

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Photo credit Laura Krasovitzky
 
On July 31, 2014, we gathered to mourn Palestinians killed in Gaza by Israeli military forces. We read some of their names aloud.  We marched silently from Bryant Park to the Israeli Consulate in New York City wearing names of those who were murdered.

The March of The Dead continues.

Some of us wore death masks to represent the massacre of civilian populations throughout Gaza. At the site of the Israeli Consulate
eight masked activists were arrested.

Actions around the world continue in solidarity
with the people of Palestine.

We will not be silent.

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Photo credit Bud Korotzer
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Photo credit Michael Nigro
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   Photo credit Belén Suárez

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   Photo credit Belén Suárez

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Photo credit Len Tsou

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Photo credit Lisa Guido

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Photo credit Belén Suárez

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Photo credit Bud Korotzer

[] Photo credit Lisa Guido

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Photo credit Lisa Guido

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Photo credit Laura Krasovitzky

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Photo credit Laura Krasovitzky

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Click here to view more photos. 

PHOTOS OF ‘DIE-IN’ AND MARCH FOR GAZA IN NEW YORK

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The demonstrators made a short tour of financial institutions in midtown Manhattan that are supporting Israeli policies financially and aiding in colonization.  The demonstrators stopped at 2 banks and walked through the diamond district where many were glad to have a heavy police escort since the business owners appeared to become
agitated and threatening.  In front of one of the banks 6 people performed an act of civil disobedience by having a die-in after spraying the bank and street with fake blood.  Using passive resistance, the police were forced to lift  and carry them to the police van to arrest them.
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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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The Die-In and arrests …
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And the march …
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In the afternoon several thousand people of every age, race, and ethnicity
converged on Times Sq. for a rally against the Gaza massacre.  Families came
with their flags, posters, and beautiful children.  After the rally everyone
marched across busy 42nd St. to the Israeli Consulate. They got considerable
support from people standing aside to watch the marchers pass.
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Diamond merchants seem to have a problem with the marchers … I guess zionism is their BEST FRIEND
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PHOTOS ~~ THOUSANDS PARICIPATE IN COALITION MARCH FOR PEACE IN NEW YORK

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The demonstration and march, organized by a coalition of groups supporting justice in Palestine, began at Foley Sq. where the names of children murdered in Gaza were read.  Some in the crowd of approximately 2,000 were weeping.  Led by the Rude Mechanical Orchestra the mile and 1/2 march weaving west through the busy streets of lower Manhattan to the shore of the Hudson began.  It was a noisy chanting group carrying Palestinian flags and signs demanding an end to the U.S. funding of Israel, an end to the occupation, and a cease to the slaughter by Israel in Gaza.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Also see THIS report from the Forward

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Not in Our Name: New Yorkers rally against Israeli war in Gaza in lower Manhattan.

MARTYNA STAROSTA
Not in Our Name: New Yorkers rally against Israeli war in Gaza in lower Manhattan.

THE WAR IS MAKING ‘CRIMINALS’ OF ALL OF US

Jewish Activists Arrested in Sit in at Friends of Israel Defense Forces NYC Office

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Following is a letter I received this morning from The Jewish Voice of Peace

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Dear Steve,

Yesterday, I was part of a delegation of activists from Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No! who took over the Friends of the IDF headquarters in New York.  Until we were arrested, we read the names and ages of the dead and sang songs of mourning, often with our voices breaking and tears rolling down our faces. We stood there for an hour, reading the names steadily, and still did not read them all.

As I was taken out in handcuffs to face a sea of about 30 police officers, I asked a staff member of the Friends of the IDF standing nearby, “Did you hear the names we read? Did you see that we read them for an hour and didn’t reach the end? Is this what you support? Are these the Jewish values you grew up with?”

As Jews, so many of us have been brought up on stories of our families’ lives hanging in the balance based on the courage of someone who had the choice to speak up or remain silent.

We are in that kind of moment now. And that is why I, and so many other people like me, are taking action. And why we need you to stand up with us.

Over 600 people in Gaza killed in the last three weeks. Thousands of homes destroyed, another 4,000 people wounded. US tax dollars have helped pay for that army, and Israel claims to act in the name of all the Jews the world over.

But you can do something about it. We all must do something about it.

Click here to send a message to President Obama and Congress demanding they withdraw support for Israel’s unacceptable, intolerable actions.

The glimmer of hope I have in these very dark days comes from you – our members, supporters, and allies who are standing up, all over the world.

In Washington, D.C., Jewish Voice for Peace members, alongside members of CodePink, interrupted a Christians United for Israel conference while Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer was speaking. Despite being violently attacked, they continued their protest.

In Boston, over a thousand people, JVP’ers and a large coalition of allied organizations rallied in front of the state house and blocked traffic for several hours.

In Chicago, five activists from JVP and AFSC were arrested protesting at Hewlett Packard, and in the Bay Area JVP’ers conducted a die-in at HP to protest its profiting from Israel’s war crimes. Seattle members did the same at Boeing.

I could go on and on:  protests in Ithaca; Portland, OR; Portland, ME; St. Louis, Jersey City. There are more places than I can count, and more to come.  Everywhere we—you—are getting our pro-peace, pro-justice, pro-equality message out. We are taking a stand.

All over the world, you’ve signed Open Letters, gone to rallies, contacted elected officials, written Letters to the Editor, shared educational materials, and dared difficult conversations with your family and friends.

But the attack continues. The siege continues. We’re going to have to continue to step it up.

I hope you’ll join us in action, as long as it takes. Click here for a listing of actions nationwide JVP is participating in.

It is our shared responsibility to end this bloodshed. And I know we can.

Sincerely,

Rebecca Vilkomerson
Executive Director

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And here you can see a debate between Ali Abunimah and J.J. Goldberg, editor-at-large and columnist at the newspaper The Jewish Daily Forward. The topic, needless to say is the war on Gaza …..

ANOTHER SANE JEWISH VOICE IN AN INSANE WORLD

This kneejerk labeling of critics of Israel as “anti-Semitic” (or in my case, a “self-hating Jew”) made me even more firm in my conviction that it was the special obligation of U.S. Jews to stand against racism in Israel. As more of us demanded equal rights for all in Israel/Palestine, it became harder to smear supporters of Palestine as “anti-Semitic.”

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Gaza—Ellen_web

Ellen Davidson (center) participates in a vigil for Palestinian rights. Photo: Carl Strock

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This Jew can’t support Israel

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Growing up in my Jewish family, it was a given that Jews supported civil rights, opposed the Vietnam War and believed in education, science and progress. This didn’t make it easy to be a teenager in a small working-class town in central Pennsylvania, an area not known for either diversity or liberal views at the time. Israel was a distant place where survivors of the brutal European Holocaust struggled to live in peace, occasionally beset by terrorists and attacking armies from the surrounding countries.

When I went to college, naturally, I became active in the late-1970s campus movement for divestment from South Africa. Somewhere along the line, I realized that Israel was the only country in the world that violated the international arms embargo on the apartheid state, and that Israel was on the wrong side of all the struggles for freedom and national liberation I supported, that it backed dictatorships in Guatemala, Chile, Brazil and elsewhere.

The more I learned about Israel, the more I realized that what I had been taught growing up was a lie. But I also discovered that, even in the progressive movements in the 1980s, the issue was contentious. I spent my twenties working at the Guardian radical newsweekly, a paper that staunchly supported Palestinian rights; periodically we would lose a significant segment of our readership due to our alleged “anti-Semitism,” and we would receive occasional bomb threats from the Jewish Defense League, a nasty organization whose members would physically attack participants in pro-Palestine demonstrations.

This kneejerk labeling of critics of Israel as “anti-Semitic” (or in my case, a “self-hating Jew”) made me even more firm in my conviction that it was the special obligation of U.S. Jews to stand against racism in Israel. As more of us demanded equal rights for all in Israel/Palestine, it became harder to smear supporters of Palestine as “anti-Semitic.” The needle on this debate has moved considerably since the 1980s, when just to say the word “Palestinian” was considered inflammatory, even in some left circles.

These days, as Israelis rampage through the streets of Jerusalem calling for killing all Arabs and Gaza is once again bombarded in a storm of collective punishment, the racist underpinnings of the Jewish state become harder to ignore. This is drawing larger numbers of people into pro-Palestinian protests on the streets of this country.

Indeed, at a July 13 vigil I attended in Woodstock, New York, there were many faces I had never seen before. But not everything has changed. A hostile group of tourists walked by and began berating us for our stance. “You should try talking to some Jews,” said one man. “We are Jews,” two of us answered simultaneously. “Then you’re fucked up,” he snapped.

In the past decade, I have made a point of traveling to Israel/Palestine, so that I can both show my solidarity in person and bring back firsthand accounts of the conditions in the occupied territories and within the formal borders of Israel. I have never encountered anything but warm welcome from the Palestinians I encountered.

When I return, every time I speak as a Jew of personally seeing demolished Palestinian houses, military checkpoints, the concrete wall separating communities from their farmland, the overcrowded refugee camps built as temporary solutions 60 years ago, I like to think that it widens the crack that has been opening up in the U.S. Jewish community, leaving just a little more space for honest discussion of what is being done in our name.

NEW YORKERS HONOUR THE MARTYRS OF GAZA ~~ IN PHOTOS

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Mock Funeral held for the victims …

We met in Bryant Park behind the 42nd St. library, read the names of the dead, and then began a silent walk, only the sound of a drum, across 42nd St to the Israeli Consulate on 2nd Ave. We carried signs, Palestinian flags, figures of people wrapped in white, and some wore blood stained shrouds.  People on the crowded streets stood aside and watched our long line pass.  Some took photos.  When we got to the consulate we chanted and after about an hour we went to the Egyptian Consulate and did the same there.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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ISRAEL TRIED TO DROWN THE HOPE OF GAZA

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One of the greatest sources of inspiration and hope in Gaza is the Gaza  Ark Project …. a constant threat to zion as they worked tirelessly to destroy it.

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However, it is now clear that Gaza’s Ark was deliberately targeted by Israel (for the second time). Israel is not worried about its security as it claims, what it is worried about and afraid of are peaceful projects like ours that expose its atrocities.

The good news is that no one was killed or injured in this attack as we had decided to pull the guard off the boat two days earlier, for his own safety.

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One of the participants of the project wrote the following FOR

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Why Did Israel Target Gaza’s Ark?

Ehab Lotayef*

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After being kidnapped from international waters, imprisoned in Israel, then deported for being on the Canadian boat to Gaza challenging Israel’s illegal blockage of the Gaza Strip in November 2011, I was only more determined to continue challenging that inhuman, unjustified and illegal blockade of a civilian population.

Throughout the months that followed myself and others put a lot of thought into how to continue challenging the blockade in a peaceful but effective manner. The naval challenges of the Israeli blockade of Gaza had started in 2008, before operation Cast Lead, the attack Israel launched against Gaza which left 1,400 dead in addition to the thousands injured. It continued throughout the years in the form of boats financed by civilians and NGOs worldwide and sailed from Cyprus, Greece and Turkey to Gaza.

After the first few missions reaching Gaza in 2008, Israel started fiercely attacking the boats and the activists on board. The violence Israel was showing reached new criminal heights on May 31, 2010, when it killed nince activists on the Mavi Marmara in cold blood. But as you can see, these murders did not stop our attempts to challenge the blockade.

In 2012 we decided to challenge the blockade in a new way. We decided to build a cargo ship inside Gaza using whatever resources were available and filling it with local products, purchased and paid for in advance by buyers all over the world. We planned to sail it out from Gaza — challenging the blockade from the inside out.

Gaza’s Ark had elements that other blockade-challenging efforts did not. Building a boat in Gaza created work opportunities in an area where unemployment is rampant due to the Israeli blockade. It gave the Palestinians in Gaza a a sense of empowerment by participating in the effort to challenge the blockade rather than wait for international boats to do so. It encouraged trade and manufacturing as international buyers ordered and paid for local products.

Above all, it totally disarmed Israeli claims that the blockade is for security reasons. If Israel would stop it from sailing what would be the rational? If Israel would stop the Ark, it would be exposed that the reason for the blockade is not security. How does a boat sailing out of Gaza threaten Israel’s security?

It seems Israel feared our peaceful plans supported and financed by thousands and thousands of normal individuals worldwide more than we expected or anticipated. On April 29 our boat, Gaza’s Ark, was subjected to a terrorist attack and nearly sunk in the port of Gaza just as we were finishing up construction.

But the boat did not sink. We pulled it to shore and started repairing it. Repairs were going well and we were projecting a September sailing date when the current Israeli attack on Gaza started.

Early morning on Friday, July 11, Gaza’s Ark received a direct hit by a shell fired from an Israeli navel vessel which badly damaged the boat and started a fire on board. The civil defense and fire brigades could not get to the boat to extinguish the fire quickly enough due to the continuous shelling of the port that night and the boat was completely destroyed.

The loss of Gaza’s Ark pales in comparison to the loss of life and injuries the people are facing in Gaza. If we can sacrifice a dozen boats to save one child’s life we would without hesitation. But Israel obviously thought Gaza’s Ark was very valuable and targeted it specifically.

Israel commits its atrocities hiding behind a smoke screen of lies and half truths, claiming always to be the victim. There is nothing as threatening to Israel as a peaceful project that will expose its lies. Thus it had to kill Gaza’s Ark.

We may build another boat. We may not and find other ways to challenge the blockade. Either way we will continue to work hard till the blockade of Gaza ends.

* Ehab Lotayef, a member of the Steering Committee of Gaza’s Ark and a spokes person for the project, is an IT engineer at McGill University in Montreal.

NEW YORKERS CONTINUE TO SHOW SUPPORT FOR GAZA ~~ IN PHOTOS

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As the bombings continue, so do the demonstrations for Peace in Gaza. Here at the UN Building yesterday, New Yorkers (mostly young Muslims) stand (and drive) for Justice in Palestine.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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And tomorrow in New York …

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Emergency Vigil & Flyering – Friday, July 11 6 PM @ Union Square

 

Click HERE to see photo gallery

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Also planned …

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In the words of our beloved friend and the martyr Vittorio Arrigoni:

“Stay human”
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IT IS NOW ‘KOSHER’ TO OPPOSE AIPAC AND COMPANY

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Organizations like the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and Jewish Voice for Peace have both taken advantage of and pushed forward this discourse shift. The real challenge now is how to use this change, how to use the near-normalization of criticism of Israel to broaden the work, to engage with organizations and institutions and—gasp!—even members of Congress who have never touched this issue before and who still assume it’s political suicide to criticize Israel. We know now it certainly isn’t, and we have to figure out how to move to the next, far more difficult stage of turning discourse shift into real policy change.

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Why Opposing the Israel Lobby Is No Longer Political Suicide

ANTI WAR ACTIONS IN NEW YORK THIS WEEK

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Sent by our Associates Chippy and Bud

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NYC Rally For Israel, Pro-Palestinian Protesters Counter-Demonstration

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And on Friday …

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In the words of our beloved friend and the martyr Vittorio Arrigoni:

“Stay human”
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IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORKERS DEFY THEIR ELECTED OFFICIALS AND STAND WITH PALESTINE … NOT WITH ISRAEL!

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NY elected officials say that New York Stands with Israel? Let’s tell them where we stand!
Our elected officials including City Councilmembers Mark Levine and David Greenfield, Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler, NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Assemblymember David Weprin are using their positions as representatives of the people of New York to lend support to Israel’s abuses and violations of international law.
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While the toll in Gaza climbs above 150 people dead and 1100 wounded, while Israel continues to attack and oppress Palestinians in its 67th year of dispossession and colonization, while the international BDS movement grows, we say these officials don’t speak for us!
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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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Other actions of support …
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From South Africa
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From Detroit
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From Israel itself

THE WORLD STANDS WITH GAZA ~~ IN PHOTOS

Worldwide protests against Israeli attack on Gaza

Francece
France

 San Francisco, USASan Francisco, USA

Francefrance

GreeceGreece

 

Chicago,USA
Chicago

Glasgow, ScotlandGlasgow, Scotland

Edinburgh, ScotlandEdinburgh, Scotland

Lebanon (photo:AP)Lebanon

Tokyo, ,JapanTokyo, ,Japan

NorwayNorway

San FranciscoSan Francisco

SeattleSeattle

SeattleSeattle

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Buenos Aires, ArgentinaBuenosAires, Argentina

Sydney, AustraliaSydney

Milan, ItalySpain

Bogata, ColumbiaBogata, Columbia

Chicago, USAChicago

GermanyGermany

Frankfurt, GermanyFrankfurt, Germany

NorwayNorway

All of the above from Annie Robbins AT

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Protests in the West Bank ….

From Kelly Lynn, also AT

 

 

Palestinian youth gathered again for the ninth consecutive night near Rachel’s Tomb on Bethlehem’s Jerusalem-Hebron Road on Friday, June 11th.  Clashes began on July 3rd in response to the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir and have continued with the Israeli government’s current operation in Gaza.  At least 8 young people have been treated for wounds sustained from Israeli forces’ use of live ammunition and dozens more for injuries from rubber bullets and tear gas inhalation.

Approximately forty IDF soldiers and Border Police fired tear gas, skunk water, rubber bullets, sound grenades and live ammunition at demonstrators last night.  During a relatively quiet moment toward the end of the evening, a military jeep sped down Jerusalem-Hebron Road and fired ten rounds of tear gas from its high-capacity, variable-payload system.  Most demonstrators fled down the street while a few remained in nearby Al Azza Refugee Camp to seek shelter from the plumes.  Medics reported four families not involved in the demonstration were treated for tear gas inhalation and two youths were treated for gunshot wounds in the leg from live ammunition. The unconscious young man who was rushed to the hospital at the end of the clip was released in good condition after being treated.

Clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians have swept the West Bank since the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir on July 2nd and only increased in frequency and intensity.  Hundreds have been injured in the latest bout of clashes across the West Bank.  According to IMEMC, in the last week, the use of live ammunition has been reported in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat, Tulkarem, Kufr Qaddoum, Ramallah, Al Ram, Yatta, Al Arroub Refugee Camp and multiple villages in the districts of Ramallah and Hebron.

NEW YORKERS MARCH FOR PEACE IN GAZA ~~ PHOTO ESSAY

 

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There were over a thousand participants in the march. The general mood was one of anger and pain but not discouragement. Determination might best describe the mood. There were a few speeches, lots of loud chanting, and then a march from the Israeli Consul on 42nd & 2nd Ave. along 42nd St. (very crowded area, marchers were seen by many) and then turned north on 6th Ave. to FOX News on 48th St. 
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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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People of all ages took part …
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Jews and Muslims united
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The martyred were remembered
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From The Forward

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Jewish-Led Protests Draw 1,000 as Anger Erupts Over Israel Attack on Gaza

Pro-Israel Groups Plan Counter-Rallies

By JTA

Protests against Israel organized by Jewish Voice for Peace drew a thousand demonstrators in 15 cities, organizers said.

Cities where “We Divest National Week of Actions” protests took place included Boston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, according to Rabbi Alissa Wise, a director of organizing for the group and a member of its rabbinic council. The Oakland, Calif. group supports boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

Sponsors of the Boston protest, which attracted about 100 people, included the American Friends Service committee, Grassroots International and Ads Against Apartheid, a group that has run an anti-Israel poster campaign on the Boston transit system.

After a rally on the Boston Common, the group, including many students and young people as well as members of a few faith and labor groups, marched through downtown streets and picketed briefly in front of three companies they say are complicit in the violence. One was Macy’s which was targeted as part of a boycott campaign of SodaStream products made in a West Bank settlement, and TIAA-CREF, a retirement investment fund.

“We are here to condemn Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians, to mourn the loss of lives, and to hold accountable the corporations that enable this violence,” said Lisa Stampnitzky, an activist with the Boston chapter of JVP.

Boston’s Jewish establishment did not stage any counter protests.

“We’re devoting all our energies to supporting Israelis who are facing an impossible situation with a reprehensible enemy sworn to Israel’s destruction,” said Elana Margolis, assistant director of the Jewish Community Relations Council.

A rally in support of Israel is being planned by the Boston area chapter of StandWithUs, a national pro-Israel organization with a presence on college campuses, according to Aviva Malveira, a recent Boston University graduate who is now the group’s New England campus and community organizer.

“It’s important to speak out on behalf of Israel,” Malveira told JTA. “It’s unfortunate and sad that Jewish Voice for Peace aligns itself with an anti-Israel agenda. They blame solely Israel for the lack of peace and place no responsibility on the Palestinian leadership.”

Wise said that JVP mourns all of the victims of the conflict and said that it would be short-sighted to view last month’s kidnapping and murders of three Israeli teens as the launch of the current fighting. “This is a conflict that goes back 47 years,” she said referring to Israel’s capture of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Six-Day War. “To not see that context would miss the story.”

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D), who has led trade and academic delegations to Israel, said in a statement to JTA that the state’s residents extended their concern to all those in the region.

“It is difficult to imagine that only a few weeks after our most recent visit, sirens warn of rocket attacks from Gaza over Tel Aviv,” the statement from Patrick’s office said. “We hold close in our hearts our friends and loved ones in the region, and all innocent Israelis and Palestinians who are living in fear as a result of the recent violence.”

Separately, Ads Against Apartheid issued a statement on Thursday condemning the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority for taking down its pre-approved posters without prior warning, claiming it was the result of pressure from pro-Israel groups.

MBTA Spokesman Joseph Pesaturo in an email to JTA confirmed that after additional scrutiny by the transit authority, the three posters were removed, four days before they were scheduled to come down.

“The ad was deemed to be in non-compliance with the MBTA’s court-approved advertising guidelines,” Pesaturo said.

He said it was the responsibility of the agency’s advertising contractor to inform the ad buyer.

VIDEO ~~ HACKING AWAY AND DESTROYING THE OCCUPATION

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Philly BDS offers, “Recycle, Hack, Destroy”- a light video at a dark time

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Our thoughts are with the people of Gaza at this time, who are currently under military assault. Though this film is lighthearted, our hearts are heavy as we watch in horror the violence perpetrated by the Israeli government and the untold suffering of the Palestinian people.

In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a call to the world to apply boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law. Now, in the midst of Israel’s ongoing terror campaign, BDS remains the best way the international movement can show Palestine our solidarity.

SodaStream’s main production site is in Mishor Edomim, the industrial park of Ma’aleh Adumim, an illegal Israeli settlement in occupied Palestine. This facility is on land that was illegally confiscated from Palestinian owners.

Support Palestinian human rights.
Boycott SodaStream.
Boycott Israel.

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Also see THIS from Mondoweiss

PHOTO ESSAY ~~ NEW YORKERS WALK AND TALK TO END ISRAELI AGGRESSION

The photos speak for themselves …. no commentary needed

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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To the surprise of all involved, not even one passerby mentioned the missing teenagers … the demonstration was met by friendly response.

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AMERICAN JEWS HAVE BECOME THE GREATEST THREAT TO ISRAEL

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zionism is today confronted with its greatest challenge since 1948. It’s not coming from the Arab states or the Palestinians, but rather their problem is the American Jewish community itself.

Once the greatest support group for Israel, that support is dwindling daily as more and more Jews openly support the Movement to Boycott and Divest from Israel.

As the government of Israel continues its reign of terror against the people of Palestine, as more lands are stolen to build and expand the illegal settlements, a growing sector of Jewry is finally waking up to the fact that this is all wrong …. and are doing something about it.

This trend is growing globally at the moment as can be seen in the following report from Mondoweiss

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The growing support from Jews internationally for the BDS call and the boycott of Israel shows that the landscape of the debate around BDS and broader peace process in Israel-Palestine is shifting. Increasingly the question is no longer whether or not to boycott, but rather to what extent do we boycott? The emerging local and international constituency of Israeli Jews and the Jewish Diaspora, and their adoption and promotion of a range of methods that fall within the scope of the BDS campaign is significant. On the surface, this wide-ranging support of course reminds us of how non-sensical and futile it is to deploy classic anti-Semitic imagery in an attempt to delegitimize what is a growing international movement for human rights and legal equality. At a deeper level, however, this growing Jewish support is an indication that the spirit of the boycott call reflects a truly democratic vision that is shared by Jews internationally, a call that wants to see the preservation, not the demise, of a democratic Israel, an Israel that fairly represents all of its citizens, regardless of race or religion. Ignoring these efforts by Jewish organizations and individuals to promote democracy, human rights and a just peace in the Middle East is a dangerous mistake. Clearly in conflicts such as Israel-Palestine, governments don’t always have all the answers: free speech and open criticism of government policy is critical. Given the lack of success of official diplomacy in the region we should be encouraging, not dismissing, these growing local and international efforts.

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Growing Jewish support for boycott and the changing landscape of the BDS debate

A couple of weeks ago Jerusalem-based think-tank, the Jewish People Policy Institute, released the findings from its study “Jewish & Democratic: Perspectives from World Jewry”. The key findings demonstrate a growing trend towards a concern for the current Zionist policies of the Jewish state from the core of its international supporters—Jews themselves. This reveals a more critical portrayal of Israel’s “implementation of Jewishness” than ever before, including a growing tension associated with the idea of a state that is both a “Jewish” and “democratic”. Participants of the study said that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and “the continued building of Jewish settlements”, as well as its treatment of minorities falls seriously short of behavior expected from a democracy. The Jewish-only settlements are of course not only frowned upon by a growing number in the Jewish community, but also considered illegal by a large majority of states (as most recently demonstrated in UN General Assembly Resolution 68/82). Although Israel and its chief ally the United States continue to contest this, even U.S. officials blame Israeli settlements for the collapse of the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. There also appears to be an emerging consensus among government officials in Israel, Palestine, and the U.S., as well as among legal experts, that Israel and especially the Palestinian territories are in—or are rapidly heading towards—a situation of apartheid.

Unfortunately the extent of this new reality of Jewish criticism of Israel’s policies towards Palestinians that is taking hold appears largely unreported by mainstream media. One place where opposition to Israel’s policies finds concrete expression amongst Jews both within Israel and internationally is in a wide range of boycotts and divestments activities aimed at promoting legal equality and human rights in Israel-Palestine. Though not necessarily always explicitly linked to the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, these activities do fall within the scope of the movement and help to advance its goals. The call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions came in 2005 from an unprecedented coalition of over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations including NGOs, unions, professional associations, religious groups, human rights organizations, refugee networks, youth, and cultural organizations. The BDS campaign has three goals: an end to the occupation of Arab lands occupied by Israel since 1967, full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the right of Palestinian refugees displaced or expelled during conflict in the region to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194. The BDS movement was launched on the one year anniversary of the landmark 2004 International Court of Justice case that found that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory is illegal under international law. In addition to the large majority of the world’s countries, a wide range of legal experts and Israeli and international NGOs concur on the illegality of the occupation.

In this article we explore the growing Jewish support for both the BDS movement and other civil society boycott activities which advance the human rights goals of the movement. While not all of the individuals and organizations we mention actively support every aspect of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, they represent a multi-faceted approach to applying international pressure on Israel to abide by international law and human rights treaties.

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In the United States where debate over the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is heavy and heated, Jewish Voice for Peace, a coalition of Zionists, anti-Zionists, and non-Zionists, states clearly that it aligns itself with the methods as well as “the aims of the Palestinian Boycott National Committee– ending the occupation, achieving equality for Palestinians now living in Israel, and recognizing Palestinian refugees’ right of return.” Others in the U.S. who support the full goals and strategy of the BDS campaign include, both Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb and Rabbi Brian Walt, from the Jewish Voice for Peace’s Rabbinical Council. New York-based groupJews Say No!founded by Jewish boycott, divestment and sanctions advocate Donna Nevel,also takes a stance in full support of the BDS call. Other organizations include American Jews for a Just PeaceBreaking the Law of Return and the Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism, which “unequivocally” supports the movement.Jewish-American scholar and LGBT activist, Sarah Schulman has publicly declared her support for the BDS cause by advocating for the implementation of the boycott in its entirety. Udi Aloni, Israeli-American filmmaker also promotes BDS and the full goals of campaign. Similarly Jeremiah Haber (thenom de plume of Charles H. Manekin), an orthodox Jewish studies and philosophy professor dividing his time between Israel and the United States, backs BDS.

Elsewhere in North America, Canadian group Independent Jewish Voices (Canada)  has resolved to support the BDS call and urges the Canadian government to disengage from “its one-sided and uncritical support for Israel”. Naomi Klein, Jewish-Canadian journalist and author has likewise added her full backing to the BDS movement.

The UK group, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods claims solidarity with any individuals or organizations who share our anti-racist agenda in pursuing the non-violent goals of BDS”. European Jews for a Just Peace also shares this support for the methods and goals of the campaign.

Australia-based Jews Against the Occupation also actively promote the BDS movement. Sydney-based Jewish academic Peter Slezak supports the BDS call, as does Jewish-Australian journalist and author Antony Loewenstein, who is highly critical of attempts to label the nonviolent movement anti-Semitic. The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network echoes these sentiments, declaring that BDS is neither anti-Semitic nor anti-democratic and that the international body “stands firm” in support of the full BDS call.

Even within Israel, prominent individuals and organizations have pledged their support to the BDS movement and its vision of equality for Arab citizens of Israel, recognition of the Palestinian right of return, and ending the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory. The prominent group of Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel, BOYCOTT!, offers support for the Palestinian BDS call from within the Jewish state. The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions  and the Alternative Information Center likewise fully support the movement. Israeli Journalist, writer, and founder of the Alternative Information Center, Michel Warschawski, actively promotes BDS and has reiterated the call to Israelis to “boycott from within”. Rachel Giora, Israeli feminist and professor of linguistics at Tel Aviv University has also responded to the BDS call in a letter addressed to her colleagues at the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, expressing full support for the movement. Other Jewish-Israeli academics in support of the campaign include historian and activist Ilan Pappé, anthropologist Uri Davis, political scientist Marcelo Svirsky, and anthropologist Jeff Halper.

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The most widely adopted mode of targeted support for BDS from within Israel and by Jewish individuals and organizations worldwide is a boycott of the Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem). This can include a boycott of products manufactured or grown within the settlements, or businesses and academic institutions located in settlements or actively supporting their perpetuation.

Reasons for why a narrow settlement boycott is preferred over a broader BDS include that international law is less ambiguous regarding the illegality of settlements (as compared to the BDS goals of the right of return, or legal equality in Israel) and that it is easier to consistently boycott settlements (rather than boycott broader Israeli or international organizations involved in abuses of Palestinian human rights). However even among Zionists who still support legally mandated disadvantage for Israel’s non-Jewish ethno-religious groups (required for Israel to be fixed as a “Jewish state”), the settlement boycott is gaining ground. As noted above, a recent survey by the Jewish People Policy Institute appears to show a growing tension within the international Jewish community regarding the idea that Israel can be both fundamentally Jewish and a democracy.  Zionist boycott supporters typically differ from other boycott supporters in that they contend that even with the legally entrenched dominance of one etho-religious group (ie Jews) the state of Israel is still able to function as a “democracy”. These groups typically argue that the  realization of the third goal of the BDS movement, the Palestinian right of return, would spell an end to the demographic and political dominance of Jews in Israel. For similar reasons they are also less supportive of the BDS movement’s goal of equality for Israel’s Arab citizens. These Zionist groups call for a more narrow boycott, of Israel’s Illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem), in line with the first goal of the BDS movement. The rationale generally advanced by Zionists is that it is only with the end of the occupation of Palestinian territory that Israel can preserve both its Jewish and ostensibly “democratic” character.

Notably, in 2006 the Israeli peace activism group headed by Uri Avnery, Gush Shalom, published “a list of several hundred products made in areas beyond the Green Line. The list, comprised of many food products, also included businesses operating in the Golan Heights.” In the face of the 2011 Law for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott passed by the Knesset, the group stated that it could no longer afford to continue publishing the list, for fear of the threat of lawsuits. The law would allow for lawsuits to be filed -without any proof of damages- against those who promote boycott tactics against people associated with the state of Israel or any “area under its control”. Gush Shalom appealed to Israel’s Supreme Court to rule the law as unconstitutional, and was joined by several other notable minority rights groups, including The Civil Rights Association, Yesh Din, Adalah, the Women’s Coalition for Peace, The Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, Knesset member Ahmed Tibi and The Arab Monitoring Committee. Israeli peace group Peace Now has published a similar list of settlement products and likewise calls for a boycott of the settlements. Israeli politician, Zahava Gal-On, head of the Meretz opposition party, has also publically declared that she boycotts the settlements in her own purchases and hopes that a boycott campaign on settlement goods would encourage Israelis to think critically about the “economic cost of the Occupation.”  There are signs that the boycott of settlements among Israelis, has begun to cause manufacturers and producers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to “encounter obstacles” marketing goods “not just overseas, also in Tel Aviv”.

Support for a settlement boycott is also building among U.S. Jews. Distinguished Jewish-American jurist Richard Falk, as UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, has recently formally recommended that UN member states  and businesses and civil society impose sanctions and boycotts against Israeli settlements and international corporations supporting the occupation of Palestinian territory. Back in 2011, the American Liberal Zionist  organization Partners for Progressive Israel (then Meretz U.S.A) issued a call to American Jews to boycott West Bank settlement goods through their campaign: “Buy Israel – Don’t buy Settlements”.   Americans for Peace Now, describing themselves as a pro-Israel, pro-peace, American Jewish organization,echo this support.  Similarly, even other Zionists, who ostensibly oppose the broader BDS campaign, do support a boycott of the settlements. Well-known American Liberal Zionist Peter Beinart for instance has repeatedly written in support of a settlements boycott in order to “save Israel”. Beinart advocates a targeted approach to boycotting West Bank settlements. Addressing American Jews, Beinart declared: “We should lobby to exclude settler-produced goods from America’s free-trade deal with Israel. We should push to end Internal Revenue Service policies that allow Americans to make tax-deductible gifts to settler charities. Every time an American newspaper calls Israel a democracy, we should urge it to include the caveat: only within the green line”. Jeremy Ben-Ami, President of the influential liberal pro-Israel lobby group, J-Street also recently announced that if the BDS campaign were restricted to a boycott of the settlements J-Street would support it. Similarly, National President of Ameinu Kenneth Bob has declared that while he does not support the BDS movement he is “extremely sympathetic to the settlement boycott approach”. The New Israel Fund, through a statement their Vice President of Public Affairs from Naomi Paiss, has also shown support for the same type of targeted approach, stressing that “boycotting settlements is not anti-Israel”. After a visit to the West Bank, Rabbi Ellen Lippmann issued a statement reversing her initial opposition to the settlement boycott and claiming solidarity with Israeli rabbis who also support a boycott of settlement goods. Jewish-American political scientist and activist Norman Finkelstein supports an economic boycott of Israel in order to compel Israel to end its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory (also see the start of an interview with Finkelstein posted here). Prominent linguist, philosopher and activist Noam Chomsky has also publicly spoken out in support of BDS as a tactic, saying: “There is an interesting mythology that I have opposed the BDS movement. In reality, as explained over and over, I not only support it but was actively involved long before the ‘movement’ took shape…” Chomsky specifically supports boycott and divestment from companies that operate in the occupied Palestinian territories and also promotes forms of academic and military boycott.

Among the Jewish Diaspora in Australia, Ben Saul, Professor of International Law at Sydney University has written in favor of a targeted boycott approach focused on the Jewish-only settlements. What’s more, The Australian Jewish Democratic Society “has become the first Australian community-affiliated Jewish organization to adopt the view that some boycotts of Israel may indeed be justified.” The group supports “selected BDS actions designed to bring about an end to the Israeli occupation, blockade and settlement on Palestinian lands lying outside of the June 1967 Israeli borders.” The organization resolves to boycott settlement products as well as “specific academics openly supportive of the Occupation”.

Support for BDS methods also takes the form of refusal to perform in the Jewish-only settlements on occupied Palestinian territory. In 2010, over 50 Israeli actors, directors, and playwrights released a statement declaring that they would not perform at the new theatre in Ariel, Israel’s fourth largest settlement, or in any other settlement. In a show of support for that petition over 150 Israeli academics and university faculty from across Israel released their own open letter, vowing to likewise engage in a cultural and academic boycott of the settlements. The Israeli academics declared: “We will not take part in any kind of cultural activity beyond the Green Line, take part in discussions and seminars, or lecture in any kind of academic setting in these settlements.” Signatories include Zeev Sternhell, Anat Biletzki, Shlomo Sand, Neve Gordon, Oren Yiftachel, among others. The declaration was also supported by several prominent Israeli authors, A. B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz, David Grossman, and Sami Michael. A letter drafted by the authors, as well as by well-known Israeli memorial sculptor and Israel Prize laureate, Dani Karavan, expresses further solidarity with the actor’s boycott.  Theodore Bikel, a Jewish American actor, has also been vocal in the settlement boycott also joined a separate petition for the boycott of the settlements, signed by over 150 Israeli entertainment professionals.

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Another aspect of the BDS movement is the boycott of Israeli academic institutions: specifically, the withdrawal of support from Israeli academic institutions complicit in the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and the violation of Palestinian human rights. This movement draws on a growing body of evidence detailing academic institutions support for the occupation of Palestinian territory and violation of human rights (including education rights) through a variety of military and public relations oriented research and training activities. One such in-depth report was released by the Israeli Alternative Information Center in 2009. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was launched in 2004 to challenge the unethical policies of these institutions. However boycotts of Israeli academic institutions to promote Palestinian human rights also predate the PACBI call. In April 2002 a call “for a European Boycott of Research and Cultural Links with Israel” was signed by around 700 Europe-based academics, ten of which are Israeli academics from various universities. More recently, in 2013 in response to the PACBI call a group of Israeli, Palestinian and other oral historians and academics from Europe, South Africa, Oceania, Asia, and the Americas issued an international call for the boycott of the “International Oral History Conference” organized by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In February this year, an international Jewish group, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, published a list of signatories endorsing and supporting the American Studies Association academic boycott. Israeli and international Jews have likewise joined the boycott of the 2014 Cinema and TV Studies Conference held at Tel Aviv University. Jewish-American academic, Colin Dayan has also written in support of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions as has Malcolm Levitt, professor at Southampton University and a fellow of the Royal Society in the UK. Levitt as well as Noam Chomsky joined a group of academics who successfully lobbied physicist Stephen Hawking to boycott the IsraeliPresidential Conference held in Jerusalem last year.

A number of Jewish and Israeli academics and organizations support BDS activities in forms other than the academic boycott (such as through a settlement boycott, support on the grounds of free speech, or in support of the full BDS Call), signifying that there  other forms of boycott activity at play within the academic world. Two instances of this  last year were Kings College and the University of Southampton  in the UK dropping their contracts with security firm G4S, in response to the British security firm’s role in supporting the Israeli occupation and abuse of human rights.

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Earlier this year human rights group Amnesty International published a report that recommended an international military boycott of Israel, citing the country’s “use of excessive force in the West Bank”. The conclusions of this report (and similar research efforts) lay out the rationale for the military boycott of Israel. One example of this is the  movement within Israel in opposition to the military draft. In March of 2014, The Israeli youth group, Conscientious Objectors of the Occupation, released an open letter addressed to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu “declaring their refusal of compulsory service in the Israeli military” because of their opposition to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. Another boycott movement within the military sphere is the call for the disinvestment of international companies and organizations that are part of the Israeli military-industrial-complex (such as the efforts by Kings College and the University of Southampton noted above). This military boycott is often included within broader BDS policies. The Australian Jewish Democratic Society statement of support for targeted boycotts for example also advocates for “divestment from military Research and Development (R&D) and boycott of industrial/military activities unrelated to Israel’s defense and security.” Noam Chomsky has also called for an end to U.S. and other international military aid to Israel.

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The status of the anti-boycott law opposed by Gush Shalom and other human rights groups in Israel is, as alluded to above, currently in legal in limbo through a challenge in the Israeli Supreme Court. Israeli human rights groups argue that the Law for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott aims to limit Israeli and Palestinian freedom of expression by threatening monetary sanctions on anyone who expressed support for the boycott of any Israeli organization or individual. Similar attempts to combat boycotts through legislation are also being made in the U.S.. In 2014 in a wave of right-wing reaction against the BDS movement several bills were proposed within state legislatures aimed at prohibiting academic institutions and individuals from engaging in boycotts of Israel. Following this a new flood of support has emerged both from within Israel as well as from Jewish supporters outside of Israel, advocating for the right of free speech in the face of these anti-BDS bills. The New Israel Fund, a U.S.-based group calling for social justice and equality for all Israelis, shows explicit support for the freedom of speech regarding BDS: “The New Israel Fund is committed to strengthening democracy in Israel, supports freedom of speech and promotes non-violent means of expression of belief and conscience. We oppose any attempt to criminalize the legitimate expression of support for any non-violent strategy or tactic, including those we do not ourselves support.” As noted above the New Israel Fund supports of boycott of the settlements, and they oppose the settlements outright, and as a matter of policy. Naomi Paiss, Vice President of Public Affairs for the New Israel Fund has also stated that her organization “will not disqualify organizations for funding if they support the boycott of settlement goods because we see it as entirely consistent with our opposition to the occupation, our defense of Israeli democracy and our support for a two-state solution.”

Elsewhere, in a letter opposing political censorship, over 150 U.S.-based academics, spearheaded by Jewish academic Judith Butler, and Rashid Khalidi, signed a statement condemning the “accelerating efforts to curtail speech, to exercise censorship, and to carry out retaliatory action against individuals on the basis of their political views or associations, notably support for BDS.” Calling on support from cultural and educational institutions to uphold and support “the principles of free expression”, the authors point out that “as non-violent instruments to effect political change, boycotts cannot be outlawed without trampling on a constitutionally protected right to political speech.” Even Israeli Foreign Ministry officials, “pro-Israel” lobby organizations such as Israel-based NGO Monitor, and most of the mainstream press in Israel have stated they oppose efforts to stamp out BDS through the courts. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, and other senior Jewish leaders in Australia have made clear they oppose attempts to suppress BDS through litigation, which they view as counter-productive. Elsewhere in Australia other pro-Israel organizations the Zionist Federation of Australia and the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council have also refused to support anti-BDS efforts through the courts..

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The growing support from Jews internationally for the BDS call and the boycott of Israel shows that the landscape of the debate around BDS and broader peace process in Israel-Palestine is shifting. Increasingly the question is no longer whether or not to boycott, but rather to what extent do we boycott? The emerging local and international constituency of Israeli Jews and the Jewish Diaspora, and their adoption and promotion of a range of methods that fall within the scope of the BDS campaign is significant. On the surface, this wide-ranging support of course reminds us of how non-sensical and futile it is to deploy classic anti-Semitic imagery in an attempt to delegitimize what is a growing international movement for human rights and legal equality. At a deeper level, however, this growing Jewish support is an indication that the spirit of the boycott call reflects a truly democratic vision that is shared by Jews internationally, a call that wants to see the preservation, not the demise, of a democratic Israel, an Israel that fairly represents all of its citizens, regardless of race or religion. Ignoring these efforts by Jewish organizations and individuals to promote democracy, human rights and a just peace in the Middle East is a dangerous mistake. Clearly in conflicts such as Israel-Palestine, governments don’t always have all the answers: free speech and open criticism of government policy is critical. Given the lack of success of official diplomacy in the region we should be encouraging, not dismissing, these growing local and international efforts.

About Paul Duffill and Gabriella Skoff

Paul Duffill is a part-time lecturer and researcher at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney. He is also project manager for an inter-university human rights curriculum project lead by the University of Sydney. Gabriella Skoff is a graduate of NYU where she majored in religion, politics and war. She is currently an intern at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney.

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The following report from The Forward is worth reading as well….

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“I used to believe that BDS is an idealistic and not a realistic approach,” said Holly Bicerano, a Boston University student activist. Bicerano, who helped found a pro-Israel campus group called BU Students for Israel, recently switched over to Jewish Voices for Peace, a pro-BDS Jewish organization. “When the peace talks collapsed I reached the conclusion that BDS is the practical way forward,” she said.

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After Presbyterian Win, BDS Advocates Trumpet Divestment as Path to Two States

With Peace Talks Dead, Boycott Pressure Gains Allure

Presbyterian Protest: Demonstrators calling for action against Israel confront Rabbi Rick Jacobs at the Presbyterian Church’s recent convention.

LIZEVETA9/TWITTER
Presbyterian Protest: Demonstrators calling for action against Israel confront Rabbi Rick Jacobs at the Presbyterian Church’s recent convention

Read the report HERE

BAD NEWS FIRST ~~ THEN GOOD NEWS ABOUT PALESTINE

Presbyterians

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Presbyterian divest

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

In the past 10 days, Israeli occupation soldiers murdered 7 Palestinians (including a 13 year old child), injured dozens, kidnapped nearly 400, demolished many houses, destroyed contents and broken doors on hundreds of homes invaded in the middle of the night, blocked travel to hundreds of thousands, and continues to imprison thousands many on hunger strike for being held without charge for months. One of the people they kidnapped is also Samer Aleisawi who is famous for having the longest hunger strike in history as a political prisoner. He was released only after human rights activists and human rights organizations exerted significant pressure on Israel He was now kidnapped using the excuse of three missing colonial settlers (which maybe a false flag operation to detract from the suffering of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners). In those 10 days, Apartheid Israel received nearly 100 million dollars from US taxpayers unaware of what their congress is doing with their money. And to add insult to injury the colonial apartheid state was given a vice president position in a UN agency that is supposed to fight colonialism. To say all of this is Orwellian would be the understatement of the year.

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In those ten days other US supported regimes cracked down. Egyptian kangaroo courts passed death sentences and long prison terms on hundreds of their political opponents (including even journalists just doing their job). US supported “Saudi” regime puppets executed hundreds in Iraq.

But there are signs of resistance every where. Israeli parliament member Haneen Zoabi (a decent Palestinian leader in 1948 occupied areas) was brave to say the truth others did not dare say: resistance to occupation is legitimate, collaboration with occupiers against native people is treacherous. Demonstrations were held in Ramallah against the Palestinian authority (even throwing stones at a PA police station). This after  the PA police blocked several demonstrations some of them by family members of the Palestinian youth imprisoned by Israel.  There was resistance to the invading Israeli army in dozens of villages. Al-Aqsa martyrs brigade issues a statement from Balata refugee camp finally openly accusing Mahmoud Abbas of treason. But Abbas sent his wife to an Israeli hospital to give the Israelis a good media opportunities to vilify the Palestinians and beautify the occupiers.  But the most significant news of all: The Presbyterian church general assembly voted to divest from three American companies that aid the Israeli occupation: Motorola, Hewlett Packard, and Caterpillar. I wrote on my facebook page after the vote:

“Despite all the Zionist racist tactics that tried to intimidate, pressure, bully and trick commissioners, there was still enough of them principled enough to stand that and vote for what is right. Thank you to the Presbyterian church.. Presbyterians light the way for the rest of humanity.. kudos to all including our activists at Al-Rowwad who sent the message on the wall, the thousands of peace activists who wrote and acted and spoke out. Special mention to Jewish Voice for Peace. You all rock. We love you from Bethlehem”

Now our job is to resist to end this charade. We ,must approach other churches and we must engage in massive rebellion against the repression. Freedom is not freely given and it takes effort. Time to act is now.

Note: thousands of activists worked very hard

Message from Jewish Voice for Peace

Presbyterian Church Israel/Palestine mission network

Presbyterian Church resolution as passed

The number of registered Palestinian refugees 5.4 million (plus many unregistered) 
It is time to imagine a future without the “Palestinian authority”

GOLIATH UNLEASHED IN BROOKLYN

SONY DSC

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Max Blumenthal spoke in Brooklyn last Thursday, at the Friends Meeting House. Photos below by Bud Korotzer.

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Click on link below to see the photos

Photos from Max Blumenthal in Brooklyn – May 8, 2014.

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