Deputy FM tells Google: Recognition of Palestinian state undermines peace talks
In letter to Google CEO Larry Page, Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin urges company to rescind decision to refer to Palestinian territories as ‘Palestine,’ arguing that such measures encourage Palestinians to take one-sided actions.
Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin wrote to Google CEO Larry Page on Sunday urging the company to rescind its decision to refer to the Palestinian territories as “Palestine” on all its products. Elkin claimed this decision was liable to have a negative impact on efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
“By so doing,” Elkin wrote, “Google is in essence recognizing the existence of a Palestinian state. Such a decision, is in my opinion, not only mistaken but could also negatively impinge on the efforts of my government to bring about direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“ … I would be grateful were you to reconsider this decision since it entrenches the Palestinians in their view that they can further their political aims through one-side actions rather than through negotiating and mutual agreement.”
Elkin concluded by proposing that Israeli representatives meet with representatives of Google to discuss the issue.
On Friday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor also slammed the decision, saying that Google isn’t a diplomatic entity with the authority to grant recognition to other states, “which begs the question why are they getting involved in international politics and on the controversial side.”
Google said over the weekend that its move was a response to the United Nations General Assembly’s vote last November to recognize Palestine as a nonmember observer state and to similar moves by other international agencies.
“We’re changing the name ‘Palestinian territories’ to ‘Palestine’ across our products,” Google spokesman Nathan Tyler said on Friday. He explained that Google consults with various sources and authorities when naming countries, and in this case, it is following the lead of several international organizations, including the UN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the International Organization for Standardization.
Until about four or five years ago, Google had virtually ignored the Palestinian Authority’s existence. Only in 2009, for instance, did it decide to create a homepage for the Palestinian territories – google.ps. That same year, it removed all the territories Israel captured in 1967 from its maps of Israel.
Internet behemoth Google changed the tagline on its Palestinian edition from “Palestinian territories” to “Palestine” on Thursday, in a controversial move that lends online credence to local aspirations of statehood.
Israeli officials indicated their displeasure with the move. Last November, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to upgrade the status of its Palestinian mission to that of non-member observer state. The move was met with strong Israeli and US criticism.
The term “Palestine” is contentious largely because the final status of the Palestinian territories and their borders has yet to be settled through negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Talks between the parties have been largely at a standstill for over four years, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s government demanding several preconditions ahead of their resumption.
“Google is not a political or diplomatic entity, so they can call anything by any name, it has no diplomatic or political significance,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told The Times of Israel on Friday. “That said, of course, there can be many questions raised by this change, regarding Google’s policy and the meaning of all that. Precisely because Google is not the UN or any international diplomatic institution, this begs the question of whether there is room for any political stance on controversial issues on behalf of what is basically a private Internet company.”
Google has not yet commented on the change, which appears on both the Arabic and English versions of the local homepage.
Palestinian student groups at Hebrew University have added their voices to growing calls on actor Morgan Freeman and renowned Canadian broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi to pull out of a 6 May Toronto award ceremony and fundraiser hosted by Canadian Friends of Hebrew University.
Palestinian students at Hebrew University call on Morgan Freeman, Jian Ghomeshi to skip Canada fundraiser
Israeli forces arrest protesters during a solidarity demonstration with Gaza, 20 November 2012.
Palestinian student groups at Hebrew University have added their voices to growing calls on actor Morgan Freeman and renowned Canadian broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi to pull out of a 6 May Toronto award ceremony and fundraiser hosted by Canadian Friends of Hebrew University.
In a 1 May open letter, published on the website of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation [PDF], several groups representing Palestinian students wrote to Freeman that, “While The Hebrew University grants you the award for ‘combating racism and promoting knowledge and education worldwide,’ it shows no signs of combating racism and discrimination within its walls; racism which is flagrantly practiced on daily basis against Arab students.”
Palestinian citizens of Israel who want to pursue higher education in their own country must attend Israeli Jewish institutions where the main language of instruction is Hebrew and where they face numerous forms of discrimination.
Israel has to this day never permitted the establishment of an Arabic-language university even though Arabic is ostensibly an official language, part of a policy reminiscent of the historic cultural repression of indigenous people in the United States, Canada and other settler-colonial states.
Discrimination, repression at Hebrew University
The five groups signing the letter are the Hebrew University branches of IQRAA – Students Association; NDSA – National Democratic Students Assembly; The Students’ Democratic Front for Peace and Equality and; THURI – A Palestinian Students’ Feminist Group.
Their letter details some of the systemic discrimination in which Hebrew University is involved:
Mr. Freeman, only very few among our generation have been qualified to attend universities due to state’s discriminatory policies against Palestinians in Israel. Our schools mostly lack the basic facilities needed for education, and the curriculum is structured to serve the State’s goal in socializing the pupils for self-estrangement. It contains very little, if any at all, on our history and culture. Furthermore it aims to erase our historical memory and promote the official policy line of divide and rule. This discrimination continues in the Universities in thegranting of scholarships among other things.
Yet, the restrictions imposed on our freedom of expression are more stifling. Last year, The Hebrew University banned several activities of Palestinian students within the campus; for example it prohibited the organization of the fifth Palestinian Cultural Festival. Moreover, during the current academic year, six Palestinian students were arrested following peaceful demonstrations which were held at the campus’ entrance, in support of the Palestinian prisoners’ open hunger strikes and against the war on Gaza. The university never intervened or contacted the students although they were brutally attacked by the police. These students did not commit any offense as they were released shortly after their arrests and no charges were pressed against them.
The letter reminds Freeman that “the Hebrew University is built on Palestinian confiscated lands and that it is a militarized institution” that participates in programs to train elite soldiers in Israel’s army of occupation.
Palestinian students refuse to be used to whitewash Israeli discrimination
Yara Sa’di wrote about the police crackdown on Palestinian students at Hebrew Universityfor The Electronic Intifada in March. In November she wrote that “Israel’s repression of Palestinian students reached new level during Gaza attack,” including at Hebrew University.
Sa’di told The Electronic Intifada that the open letter to Freeman is a rejoinder to the university’s efforts to use “its Arab students as a proof to its ‘pluralistic’ nature” and that the letter is “a challenge to the regular strategy of Israel and its institutions to use the Palestinian citizens of Israel as evidence for its decency.”
The Hebrew University students’ letter also comes as the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has escalated its effort to convince Freeman and Ghomeshi to change their minds. More than 7,500 people sent messages to Freeman, according to the Campaign and dozens more have posted notes on Ghomeshi’s official Facebook fan page urging him to reconsider.
BDS South Africa, a Palestine solidarity organization, also wrote an open letter to Freeman urging him “to refuse the pro-Israeli effort to normalise its racist regime through association with your good name.”
The Israeli group Boycott from Within has also urged Freeman to abandon the Hebrew University fundraiser.
It remains to be seen whether Freeman and Ghomeshi will hear these voices and take a stand that requires them to go beyond empty platitudes about “peace” that leave the appalling status quo untouched.
Also see THIS post
Supreme Court hears proposal for ‘green’ fence along Green Line
Israel’s nature authority says a chain-link fence with security systems would balance environmental and security concerns in a West Bank area that could soon be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but environmentalists and Palestinians disagree.
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority on Wednesday proposed to the High Court of Justice that the Defense Ministry erect a simple chain-link fence backed by security systems instead of the concrete wall the ministry wants to build near the West Bank village of Batir, south of Jerusalem.
The ministry is planning the 500-meter segment of the separation barrier to protect the train line to Jerusalem, which passes close to a school and several houses in the village.
At issue is a petition that was filed against the wall by residents of Batir and Friends of the Earth Middle East, a regional environmental organization. They are arguing that a barrier would irreparably damage the agricultural terraces in the region, which may be declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization when that body meets next month.
At a hearing in February, the Defense Ministry proposed to the court that it erect a heavy chain-link fence instead of the wall. The Nature and Parks Authority, which joined the petition, presented the court with an alternative of its own – to build a relatively simple chain-link fence that would be reinforced with high-tech security warning systems on one side and hedges of sabra cactus plants on the other. The proposal also rejects the paving of a patrol road along the fence.
This, the authority said, would minimize damage to an area whose agricultural terraces served farmers for thousands of years and continue to be cultivated to this day.
At Wednesday’s hearing, the attorney for the petitioners rejected both proposals. Batir residents submitted their alternative, which is to move the fence westward onto Israeli territory. Friends of the Earth, meanwhile, argued that there is no way to build any kind of barrier in the area without destroying the unique structure of the terraces.
At UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee meeting next month, the terraces at Batir will come up for recognition as a World Heritage Site. The terraces are watered by an ancient system of springs, pools and wells. In addition to destroying the watering system, residents say, the part of the barrier in the Refaim streambed next to the Green Line, or pre-1967 border, could separate the villagers from 740 acres of their land.
As Jews we say “Birthright” trips must end
Israel claims all Jews have a “birthright” to the country, while Palestinian refugees are barred from return.
(Ashraf Amra / APA images)
As the summer months approach, thousands of young Jews from more than 60 countries prepare to participate in the Taglit-Birthright program. Since 1999, Birthright has brought 340,000 young Jews to Israel on free ten-day trips. In the midst of the fervor to sign up for this bi-annual program, we have launched the website Renounce Birthright (renouncebirthright.org) with the aim of providing a space for potential participants to engage with critiques of Birthright and of Zionism.
We are non-Israeli Jews who oppose the program because it promotes and supports Israel’s ongoing colonialism and apartheid policies, and marginalizes Jewish experiences in the diaspora. We are calling for the end of the Birthright program, and encourage individuals to boycott the trips.
Birthright was created in response to concerns over increasing rates of intermarriage, the perceived “crisis of continuity” and the weakening of Jewish communal ties. Over the course of the last decade, the program has worked to create and maintain commitment to Zionism and Israel on the part of non-Israeli Jews.
Birthright’s mission, according to the organization, is to “diminish the growing division between Israel and Jewish communities around the world; strengthen the sense of solidarity among world Jewry; and strengthen participants’ personal Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish people.”
The idea of strengthening “solidarity among world Jewry,” “personal Jewish identity,” and Israel’s “connection to the Jewish people” through trips to Israel is based on a conflation ofJudaism with Zionism. Judaism is a religion. Political Zionism is a movement based on the belief that Jews have a right to settle in modern-day Israel, to the exclusion of the indigenous Palestinians.
The term “Birthright” itself is telling. Like its American counterpart, the ideology of manifest destiny, it operates under the premise that all Jewish people have an exclusive “right” to Palestinian land. In both the American and Israeli contexts, the only way to secure that “right” is through violence, land theft and displacement.
Settler-colonialism must be opposed, no matter where it takes place. For non-Israeli Jews living in other settler-colonial countries, we must also be accountable to other processes of de-colonization. No group of people have the right to live anywhere that mandates the explicit exclusion of anyone else.
The establishment of the Israeli state, and the alleged Jewish “birthright,” involved the violent displacement of several hundred thousand indigenous Palestinians, and the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages. A Palestinian refugee population of nearly 7 million people is to this day excluded from returning to their lands by Israeli state discrimination.
In contemporary Israel — where approximately one-fifth of the population is Palestinian — the rights of citizenship (ezrahut) and nationality (le’um) are intentionally distinct. Palestinians born within the 1949 armistice line are considered citizens (and not nationals). Meanwhile a Jew born and raised in New York has a “birthright” to the Israeli state in Palestine, is considered a national, and can almost immediately become a citizen upon emigrating.
Maintaining a myth
Birthright in particular — as a part of the Zionist project — relies on the belief that non-Israeli Jews are national-citizens-in-waiting, a reality from which Palestinian refugees are forever excluded.
We would have no “Birthright” without Israeli occupation and apartheid — it is how Zionism sustains the myth of “a land without a people, for a people without a land.”
Birthright has spent more than $600 million since its inception in 1999. The organization has three major sources of funding: the Israeli government (which committed another $100 million to Birthright in 2011), wealthy donors such as Charles Bronfman, and Jewish federations across North America (“The romance of Birthright Israel,” The Nation, 15 June 2011).
In a 2012 speech delivered to Birthright participants, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “So when you go out and people tell you things about Israel, tell them about what you saw. Make sure when you go back home, tell them about the real Israel” (“PM Netanyahu’s speech at Taglit-Birthright Israel mega-event”).
Convincing non-Israeli Jews to defend Netanyahu’s “real Israel” is an integral part of Birthright, and helps explain the government’s investment in the program.
The program’s largest financial supporter, billionaire Sheldon Adelson — who has provided $140 million to the program — was described in The New York Times last year as having “disgust for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” (“What Sheldon Adelson wants,” 23 June 2012).
Beyond individual donors, non-Israeli Jewish community organizations and institutions — such as the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Agency for Israel — support Birthright economically and politically.
In the name of diasporic Jewish communities, these organizations invest millions of dollars into the promotion of Birthright’s political Zionism, rather than in local projects.
Despite all this, Birthright claims to be apolitical. In 2006, Birthright Director of Marketing Gidi Mark said: “I don’t think it’s political for Jews to support Israel” (“Come, see Palestine!” Salon.com, 5 June 2006).
However, the establishment and maintenance of an exclusively Jewish Israel — through forcible displacement, land theft, occupation, segregation, institutionalized racism and systemic discrimination — is political at its core, and is both supported and reinforced by the Birthright program.
For instance, during the trip, approximately 10,000 Birthright participants visit the Ahavacosmetics factory each year; Ahava is located in the illegally-occupied West Banksettlement of Mitzpe Shalem. Ahava directly profits from the exploitation of Palestinian Dead Sea resources.
Moreover, disturbing accounts of explicit racism have arisen in recent years; former participants often recount how the language used by Birthright personnel demonizes Palestinians. One past attendee said her Birthright tour guide told her group that “Arabs have wanted to kill Jews forever, that they are ‘like mosquitoes’ we must swat away” (“So you’re thinking of Birthright,” Mondoweiss, 20 December 2012).
Zionism is a political project, and Birthright is perhaps the most tangible manifestation of that political project outside Israel. As such, we must recognize our engagements with Birthright as a question of politics, and not just “a free vacation.”
In reinforcing the belief that what it means to be Jewish is to be Zionist (particularly for non-Israeli Jewish youth), Birthright perpetuates a single narrative about what it means to be Jewish outside of Israel, and who can be a Jew.
Jewish people speak and have spoken an array of languages, live and have lived across the world, and possess different histories that extend beyond the narrow confines of political Zionism and the nation-state of Israel.
It is contemporary political Zionism that has “othered” Mizrahi/Arab-Jews, as New York University professor Ella Shohat explains, by urging Arab Jews “to see their only real identity as Jewish,” such that their “Arabness, the product of millennial cohabitation, is merely a diasporic stain to be ‘cleansed’ through assimilation” (“The invention of the Mizhahim,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Volume 29, No. 1, Autumn 1999).
Further, Israel’s policy towards Ethiopian Jews in recent years demonstrates how the limits of Jewishness are often defined through Zionism. There is a clear tension between Birthright’s claim to promote diasporic life, and the fact that it the program is so deeply rooted in Zionism, an ideology that homogenizes the experiences and identities of Jews.
Our alleged Birthright can only exist through the suppression and erasure of many Jewish identities, histories and experiences.
Liberation in Palestine is a question of land, colonialism and apartheid — not religion. The work of Jewish and Israeli organizations and collectives such as Zochrot, Boycott from Within, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, and Israeli Queers Against Apartheid attests to this fact.
As scholar Judith Butler has explained: “there have always been Jewish traditions that oppose state violence, that affirm multi-cultural co-habitation, and defend principles of equality, and this vital ethical tradition is forgotten or sidelined when any of us accept Israel as the basis of Jewish identification or values” (“Judith Butler responds to attack,” Mondoweiss, 27 August 2012).
No right to apartheid
We have founded Renounce Birthright because Birthright demands our complicity in two intersecting (but distinct) forms of violence: first, the occupation of Palestine and the Israeli government’s brutal regime of apartheid and second, the erasure and suppression of diverse Jewish experiences and communities across the world.
In organizing for Palestinian liberation, we are deeply committed to the belief that Jewish experiences and narratives — particularly North American Jewish experiences, including our own — should not be centered.
As Mezna Qato and Kareem Rabie explained in their recent article for Jacobin magazine: “the left often neglects these anti-colonial principles and seeks out Jewish voices to validate Palestinian claims. In turn, it privileges Jewish discourse, anxieties, and histories in ways that marginalize Palestinians in their own struggle” (“Against the Law,” Spring 2013).
We recognize that our struggles are greatly distinct yet related, and are engaged in this project first and foremost from a position of solidarity.
We call on non-Israeli Jews across the diaspora to join us in renouncing Birthright— and our privileged legal relationship to the Israeli state — because we have no right to apartheid and colonialism.
Aviva Stahl grew up in New Jersey and now lives in London; she is the US researcher for CagePrisoners and a collective member of Bent Bars. She can be followed on Twitter@stahlidarity.
Sarah Woolf is an editorial intern at The Nation magazine. Hailing from Montréal, she currently lives in New York City.
Sam Elliott Bick is from Montreal, Québec. He is a member of the Tadamon! collective, and organizes at the Immigrant Workers Center. He can be followed on Twitter@sam_Bick.
It isn’t every day or night that a tax-exempt non-profit American charity rakes in $27 million in the space of a few hours. When it happens in New York at such a well known landmark as the Waldorf-Astoria, arguably the city’s most famous hotel, it should be news, right?
Wrong, apparently, since not a single TV station nor any New York newspaper, all of which are known for their attention to events in the city’s Jewish community as well as their devotion to Israel, saw fit to cover the annual dinner of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) this past March 12 which raised that enormous sum.
Nor, it turns out, did they cover last year’s FIDF fundraiser at the Waldorf which took in almost as much, $26 million, nor the one in 2011, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the organization that featured the presence of six former Israel Defense Forces Chiefs of Staff and collected $23 million.
More than five weeks after latest dinner, the only paper trails that can be found to the event were in the Jerusalem Post, Ha’aretz (a week later), the New York Jewish Week, and the Forward, the city’s national Jewish weekly which is known for printing articles that the mainstream press and other Jewish publications find too hot to handle. The Jewish Week’s reporter, Tim Boxer, in fact, did not mention the amount raised at the black tie, $1000 a plate affair, until the very last paragraph of the story.
“The dinner raised $27 million for FIDF which, since 1981, has been supporting educational and recreational facilities for soldiers and their families,” wrote Boxer. “Among the heavy hitters was Marc Belzberg who announced, ‘I am donating one million dollars and my first-born son to the IDF in August’.”
The FIDF is an organization that most Americans, including Jews not affiliated with the Jewish establishment, have probably never heard of and that is obviously the intent of those who run what has, in the last few years, become one of the brightest star in the pro-Israel fundraising firmament with a $60 million annual budget, all of which, it cannot be overemphasized, is tax-exempt.
“[E]stablished … by Holocaust survivors to provide for the well-being of Israeli soldiers,” according to its website, and headquartered in New York City, the FIDF is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation that operates 16 regional offices in the United States and Panama. Its mission, in brief, is visible at the top of its website: “Their job is to look after Israel. Ours is to look after them.”
True to that motto, the money this “charity” raises benefits exclusively the soldiers of a foreign country that has not fought a war longer than 33 days in 40 years and whose primary duties have been to protect Israel’s illegal settlements, demolish Palestinian homes, make the lives of ordinary Palestinians miserable, and suppress Palestinian resistance to its ongoing ethnic cleansing by whatever means necessary.
The FIDF has a different take: “The Israeli government is responsible for training IDF soldiers and providing them with the necessary tools for their service. FIDF is committed to providing these soldiers with love, support, and care in an effort to ease the burden they carry.” FIDF also brings Israeli soldiers to the states to visit synagogues and lecture at schools and universities. “These events,” according to its website, “offer a great opportunity to meet IDF soldiers and hear the stories of these brave young men and women.”
In 2011, the last year reported, it raised just over $62 million and had $80 million in assets at the end of the year, $546,000 of which goes in salary to its national director, Retired Israeli General Jerry Gershon, plus an additional $10 thousand a month for his New York apartment, according to the Forward.
Given that every year, irrespective of the ups and downs of the US economy, Washington awards Israel’s military establishment with more than $3.5 billion (when it’s all added up) of the taxpayers money, the FIDF’s desire to keep its fundraising activities under wraps and invisible to the larger American public is readily understandable. That they are able to do so with apparent impunity is but further evidence, if such is needed, of the degree to which supporters of Israel dominate our national media.
Considering that an estimated 870,000 US veterans are suffering the after effects, physically and mentally, of multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan and comprise a significant segment of the nation’s homeless, the very existence of the FIDF and the nature of its primary concern—the welfare of Israeli soldiers—might be viewed as an insult not only to US servicemen and women, but to ordinary Americans who are forced to confront the increasing costs of medicines and medical care, higher gas and food prices, and underfunded schools, not to mention the more than 300,000 who lose their jobs and forced to file for unemployment benefits every week for the past several decades.
There are some other things about New York’s FIDF dinners that are unusual. With the exception of Monica Crowley, the right-wing Fox News commentator who is routinely brought in to preside over the post-dinner programs, it is largely an inside job. Unlike at other pro-Israel events, there was an absence at the dinner, at least in the reports in the Israeli and Jewish press, of key New York Jewish political figures known for their loyalty to Israel, such as Sen. Charles Schumer and Representatives Elliot Engel, Gary Ackerman, and Nita Lowy, as well as Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
There was one prominent attendee, however, whose substantial donations to the FIDF should raise some eyebrows were it not apparently at the service of Israel. His name is Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, another tax-exempt non-profit that raises money for Israel from American evangelicals while paying him a handsome $491,000 for his services.
The rabbi apparently has collected quite a bit from the evangelicals—the friendship often being a one way street–so when he attends an FIDF dinner he is in a generous mood. On March 12th Eckstein’s $5 million dollar pledge topped all the others as did his $8.5 million commitment at the 2011 FIDF dinner and his $9.25 million bequest in 2012.
Those kind of numbers would certainly draw the public’s critical attention, particularly when all of this money that is headed towards Israel is tax-exempt and more than that, thanks to IRS rules enacted in 2008, once it leaves America’s shores it’s not traceable.
Even though the rule was changed, essentially favoring pro-Israel non-profits, five years ago, it went unnoticed by the media until theForward’s Josh Nathan-Kazis reported on it in the paper’s April 12th edition:
“Want to know how an American charity is spending your donated dollars overseas?,” he wrote.
“That’s the effect of an Internal Revenue Service rule change that is making it increasingly difficult for donors and watchdogs to track American not-for-profit dollars after they leave the United States.
“Former IRS officials,” he noted, “have criticized the little-noticed 2008 change, which lifted the requirement that charities in the United States report to the IRS and the public the identities of overseas charities to which they have sent money.
“Charities still have to tell the IRS and the public the names and amounts they donate to other American charities. When American charities send money out of the country, however, they need to say only the region of the world where they sent it and the amount they gave.”
Nathan-Kazis cites, as an example, the One Israel Fund, which in 2003 reported sending tens of thousands of dollars to settlements in the West Bank, and now needs only to note that it sent grants to the “Middle East” for “Security,” among other purposes, as it did in its 2010 disclosure.
The One Israel Fund makes it quite clear on its site where its money is going:
“One Israel Fund is dedicated to supporting the welfare and safety of the men, women and children of Judea and Samaria as well as rebuilding the lives of the Jewish people impacted by the Gaza evacuation. These 300,000+ people are the vanguard of Israel’s security and sovereignty as a Jewish State.”
In other words, One Israel Fund has no qualms about openly raising funds for projects that are in direct conflict with long standing US policy and yet the government not only has not penalized it but made it easier to cover its trail. In 2010, on the last available 990, One Israel Fund reported that it had sent $2, 340,000 to meet its goals, a $600,000 increase from the previous year. It is not hard to speculate that its donations have grown considerably since then.
In its 990 form for 2011, Rabbi Eckstein’s International Fellowship of Christians and Jews made no mention of his donations to the Friends of Israel Defense Forces nor did he so in its annual report which was filled with pictures of children, women and the aged in Israel which the Fellowship claims to support out of the slightly more than $100 million it raises annually.
The largest Jewish organization to take advantage of the IRS’s tax-exempt status is the United Israel Appeal, founded in 1953, which is the funding arm of the Jewish Federations of North America. It funnels its donations through the Jewish Agency of Israel, a quasi-governmental organization that predates the founding of the state and was in charge of Jewish settlement in Palestine.
In 1963 it was revealed in US Senate hearings that between 1955 and 1962, the Jewish Agency had recycled over $5 million ($40 million in today’s dollars) donated by American Jews to Israel back to the American Zionist Council, (AIPAC, before its name change) to pay for pro-Israel lobbying and propaganda in the US. This led to an unsuccessful attempt by the President Kennedy’s Justice Dept. to force the AZC to register as a foreign agent, an effort that would evaporate following his assassination. Private efforts to follow-up on Kennedy’s efforts have been blocked by subsequent administrations.
According to Guide Star, a website that monitors non-profits, the United Israel Appeal took in just under $197 million in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, the last year it reported its financials. Curiously, according to Guide Star, the United Israel Appeal at this point in time “is not required to file an annual return with the IRS” and no audited financial statements are available.
What a difference 57 years makes. In 1956, when Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion was reluctant to obey President Eisenhower’s order to withdraw Israeli troops from the Sinai which they occupied after joining Britain and France in an attack on Egypt, in the “Suez War,” Ike threatened to end the United Israel Appeal’s tax exemption status and that brought Ben-Gurion to heel.
One can imagine what Eisenhower would think today of an organization of Americans established to help Israeli soldiers, not American troops, and receiving an exemption from paying US taxes at the same time.
The New York and East Coast media have not been alone in protecting the FIDF from possible public wrath. In Beverly Hills, the local chapter has raised sums that while not approaching the amounts raised by its New York counterparts, has not done badly. Its fundraising events, as well, have also been blacked out by the mainstream media, despite the presence of such well known Hollywood stars as Barbra Streisand and Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander, an ardent supporter of Israel who acts as master of cermonies.
Last December 17th, at the Century-Plaza Hotel in Beverly Hills, its annual dinner pulled in a record $14 million in pledges which some viewed as the Jewish establishment’s defiant response to entertainer Stevie Wonder who had agreed to be the night’s headliner, but pulled out as a result of a petition by from pro-Palestinian activists and a personal plea by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters.
There should have been two stories there for the LA media. First, that Stevie Wonder had withdrawn from the event, bowing to public pressure and second, that the FIDF dinner, hosted as it is every year by Israeli-American communications billionaire, Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl, had raised a record sum for the local chapter. It was not to be. Only the local Jewish Journal reported on the event and Wonder’s cancellation.
Back in New York, in what was headlined, “A LETTER FROM THE WALDORF-ASTORIA the Forward’s Josh Nathan-Kazis poked fun at the heavy handed security at March’s FIDF dinner.
“For defenders of Israel, danger is everywhere, — even in New York City, even on Park Avenue,” he wrote, “even once they’ve passed a metal detector on the second story of the Waldorf Astoria hotel.
“Such was the conceit of the organizers of the Friends of the IDF gala, who posted two additional layers of security between the cocktail room and the ballroom at their March 12 event.”
Nathan-Kazis noted that guests had been warned not to take photos and that MC Monica Crowley had told them, “Do not even think about uploading anything, anywhere, at any time,” as a live satellite feed from what was said to be a secure Israeli intelligence facility in Jerusalem appeared on screens throughout the ballroom on which “a bald, bespectacled soldier described how his unit eavesdrops on Palestinian phone calls, though this practice was hardly a state secret.”
The FIDF had flown a number of Israel soldiers to New York for the event and, as Nathan-Kazis tells it,
“In the ballroom, Crowley, in her role as MC, talked with a young drone operator identified as Major Yair, who stood in a spotlight on an upper balcony. ‘Flying these kind of remote vehicles sounds really fun,’ Crowley told Major Yair, referring to the rocket-equipped unmanned warplanes.
“’Yeah, it is,’” Yair affirmed.
“Yair grew up in a town near Israel’s southern border. His own home was hit with a rocket launched from Gaza while he was away serving in the IDF, he told the rapt audience. Yair spoke about how he identifies targets while piloting his drone, showing side-by-side infrared images of a man in a stretcher and a man preparing to launch a rocket. The blobs in the middle of the images looked similar, but Yair showed how he could carefully distinguish between them.
“’If someone dropped a rocket on my family I wouldn’t spend so much time deciding which one was which,’” Crowley said. The crowd applauded.”
While in Canada …..
Internal documents show Canadian tax agency protected Jewish National Fund from scrutinyYves Engler*
In 2010 the Canada Revenue Agency was asked whether it would “investigate or revoke” the Jewish National Fund’s charitable status, internal documents seen by The Electronic Intifada show. But this request seems to have been ignored in deference to a “charity” that has long participated in the erasure of Palestinians’ presence from their historic homeland.
Through an access to information request, Montreal-based activist Ron Saba received dozens of Canada Revenue Agency documents concerning the Jewish National Fund (JNF) of Canada in March (documents may be viewed at the end of this article).
In probably the most explosive revelation, the Canada Revenue Agency was questioned if it would revoke the charitable status of the JNF: “If a registered charity undertakes illegal activities abroad, what action will the CRA take? Will the CRA investigate or revoke the registered status of the Jewish National Fund?”
While the document does not make clear who authored it, context suggests it came from Canada’s Auditor General.
Released by the Canada Revenue Agency after Saba’s freedom of information request, the document takes the form of questions and answers based on Chapter 7 of the 2010 Fall Report of the Auditor General of Canada. The JNF is the only specific charity to be challenged in the 30 questions, most of which address issues of performance and targets.
The CRA did not return emails or phone messages from Saba seeking to clarify whether the Office of the Attorney General authored the document.
JNF violates Canadian law
Shutting out Palestinian citizens of Israel, JNF lands can only be leased by Jews. A 1998 United Nations Human Rights Council report finds that the JNF systematically discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up about 20 percent of the country’s population. According to the UN report, JNF lands are “chartered to benefit Jews exclusively,” which has led to an “institutionalized form of discrimination” (UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, “Consideration of Report Submitted by States Parties Under Articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant,” 14 December 1998, E/C.12/1/Add.27).
In 2005, Israel’s high court came to similar conclusions. It found that the JNF, which owns 13 percent of the country’s land and has significant influence over most of the rest, systematically excluded Palestinian citizens of Israel from leasing its property (“A racist Jewish state,” Haaretz, 20 July 2007).
There is a strong case to be made that the Jewish National Fund’s bylaws and operations violate Canadian policy and law. Discrimination in the provision of housing is illegal under the Canadian Human Rights Act. And a September 2003 Canada Revenue Agency public policy statement titled “Registering Charities that Promote Racial Equality” makes clear that racial equality is a stated aim of Canadian charitable policy.
Registered charities that operate abroad are supposed to adhere to domestic policy or else lose their ability to provide donors with tax subsidies. “An organization is not charitable at law if its activities are contrary to Canadian public policy,” explains the Canada Revenue Agency.
But the CRA and politicians in Ottawa have shown little interest in applying the rules in the Jewish National Fund’s case. They seem to have ignored the call to investigate whether the JNF’s practices contravene Canadian law. In particular, the CRA has not properly addressed the question of whether the JNF is a racist organization.
The internal documents suggest the CRA has spent hundreds of hours devising strategies to respond to complaints about the JNF and covering up what Ron Saba has dubbed “the Racist JNF Tax Fraud.”
Protecting the JNF
This public relations strategy is spelled out explicitly in a document of “Media Lines” on the JNF prepared for use by the Canada Revenue Agency’s media handlers — another of the documents released to Ron Saba.
It notes that Saba has been “questioning the legitimacy of the charitable status of the JNF” through a “wide distribution list, including members of Parliament, senators, Canadian and international media and human rights and social justice groups.” The document also expresses concerns that while “the JNF has not generated any mainstream media coverage” so far, “because of Mr. Saba’s wide distribution list, the potential for media interest remains.”
The document then specifies some general lines about information access requests and charities, along with several specific lines on the JNF. The latter do not address the reality of the JNF’s racist policies that exclude non-Jews. Instead they claim that the “Federal Court of Appeal has ruled, in the  case of Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel v Canada, that there is no clear public policy prohibiting charitable activities in the Occupied Territories” — avoiding the point.
In what seems to be part of this effort to protect the JNF from scrutiny, Foreign Affairs spokesperson Caitlin Workman emailed Canada Revenue Agency media spokespersons in 2011, suggesting they “monitor” an Independent Jewish Voices sponsored talk in Ottawa.
Under the headline “Event you may want to monitor,” Workman sent a 13 May 2011 communication stating “author of the Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy, Yves Engler, will give a talk on Canada and the Jewish National Fund.”
The tax agency’s protection should not be surprising. Conservative officials have strongly backed the JNF — even though the internal documents show that since 2007, six different Conservative ministers have received documentation detailing the racist nature of JNF policies (at least two of the ministers circulated the information).
Challenges and successes
Over the past nine months, immigration minister Jason Kenney and foreign minister John Baird have spoken at Jewish National Fund galas, while environment minister Peter Kent toured southern Israel with officials from the organization in December. At the end of the year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is set to be honored at the JNF Negev Dinner in Toronto, which will be the first time a sitting Canadian prime minister has spoken to a JNF gala in the organization’s 100-year history.
Hopefully, Harper will be greeted by protesters. While getting the prime minister to speak is obviously a boon for the JNF, it also provides a unique opportunity to draw attention to an institution that most people are unfamiliar with.
It’s time to turn Independent Jewish Voices’ nascent campaign to revoke the JNF’s charitable status into a major element of pro-Palestinian activism in Canada. Groups elsewhere have had successes on this front recently.
In 2011, Stop the JNF in England sucessfully pushed Prime Minister David Cameron to withdraw his patron status from the JNF. Additionally, 68 members of parliament have endorsed a call to revoke the organization’s charitable status because “the JNF’s constitution is explicitly discriminatory by stating that land and property will never be rented, leased or sold to non-Jews.”
In Scotland, the Green Party and Friends of the Earth have endorsed the Stop the JNF campaign and the Green Party of England and Wales have also called for JNF to lose its charitable status. In 2011, legendary US folksinger Pete Seeger distanced himself from a previous event with the JNF, and a board member of the US organization quit in protest over the JNF’s role in the eviction of a Palestinian family from East Jerusalem. And at the start of this year, Stop The JNF prompted the new owners of a major South African toy retailer, Reggies, to sever ties with the organization.
While the political climate is more difficult in Canada, there’s no reason that a major campaign can’t bring successes. If made aware, most Canadians would be uncomfortable with the idea that public money is supporting an openly racist institution. They would also be appalled by the JNF Canada’s direct (and documented) role in displacing Palestinianssince the late 1920s.
While it’s hard to imagine the Canada Revenue Agency (under Stephen Harper) revoking the Jewish National Fund’s charitable status — at least without a lengthy and expensive legal battle — the campaign can play an important educational role. The organization is at the heart of Israeli apartheid and drawing attention to this institution is a way to discuss the racism intrinsic to Zionism.
New US-Israel arms deal a threat to peace
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem (photo: Reuters)
A new major US arms deal with Israel is intended to further enhance the Hebrew state’s ability to strike Iran, even without direct American operational involvement. The multi-billion dollar package include anti-radiation missiles designed to take out enemy air defences, new sophisticated radar for fighter jets, KC135 aerial refuelling tankers and Osprey V-22 tilt-rotor transport aircraft.
The deal, however, will not include laser-guided bunker-buster bombs, according to The New York Times.
The deal was announced this week during the visit of US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Israel. Hagel reassured Israeli officials of America’s traditional commitment to Israel’s security and to maintaining its qualitative military edge over all its neighbours.
The KC135 tankers are reportedly capable of being used in long-range operations by Israel against Iran. The sale of the V-22’s would also mark the first time the aircraft have been released to any country outside the United States. The deal will be implemented in several months.
Seeking to appease his Israeli hosts, Hagel said maintaining Israeli military superiority was a top priority for the Obama administration. “President Obama has made not only maintaining but improving Israel’s military qualitative edge a top priority,” he said.
Hagel reiterated earlier statements concerning Iran, saying that all options for dealing with that country were on the table. The American official also said his country would continue to help Israel develop the Iron Dome anti-missile defence system.
According to intelligence reports published by the Israeli media, the Iron Dome performed “much worse than expected” during last year’s brief war between Hamas and Israel. Israeli officials claimed then that the costly defence system scored an 80 per cent success rate, a claim strongly contested by the Hebrew media.
It is widely believed the continued funding by the US of further research pertaining to the anti-missile system vindicates reports about its dismal performance.
The additional military aggrandisement is expected to further enforce the arguments of those in Israel who advocate striking Iran’s nuclear facilities unilaterally, ie without cooperation and coordination with the US.
Following talks with Hagel, Israel’s War Minister Moshe Yaalon, was quoted as saying: “One way or another, Iran’s nuclear programme will be stopped.”
Yaalon is no stranger to war given his role in murdering and maiming thousands of Palestinian civilians when he was chief of staff of the Israeli army in the mid-1950s.
Hagel’s visit to Israel is the first leg of a tour that will also take him to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Both Saudi Arabia and the Emirates will also sign arms deal with Washington. Washington has always sought to promote Arab-Iranian contradictions at the expense of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
According to informed Israeli sources, the weapons these two countries will purchase from Washington will be of an inferior quality in comparison to those sold to Israel. Moreover, Washington will see to it that both countries will not try to transfer these weapons to a third country, especially one hostile to Israel.
FULL-FLEDGED ALLIANCE AGAINST IRAN: It is uncertain if the highlighted American-Israeli alliance against Iran will be brought to fruition by carrying out an Israeli or joint-Israeli-American strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
Some commentators in Israel contend that US reluctance to supply the Hebrew state with more strategic weapons, such the bunker-buster bombs, may indicate that the US is trying to pacify Israel, and to convince Tel Aviv to give diplomatic efforts a chance to succeed.
However, one of the main goals — if not the main goal — of the current Israeli government is “to neutralise the Iranian danger”.
Israel, which possesses a large arsenal of nuclear weapons, along with their delivery systems, doesn’t face a real existential threat from Iran. This means that the hyperbolic and often phobic language used by Israeli officials and leaders to highlight the “Iranian danger” is intended largely to maintain the Israeli state’s military supremacy and hegemony in the region.
Moreover, it is widely believed that if Iran were to be allowed to possess nuclear weapons, this would trigger a nuclear arms race involving countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. One Saudi official was quoted as saying in a press interview several months ago that “if Iran got the bomb, we would get it a few weeks afterwards.”
Thus, if this nightmarish scenario found its way to reality, Israel would then face not one Iran but many, as the possession of a nuclear deterrence by Arab countries would change the rules of the game of politics in the region to Israel’s disadvantage.
Earlier this month, the former head of Israeli Military Intelligence, Amos Yadlin, said that while an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would only delay Iran’s nuclear capability, “this delay could be important because we may have a regime change”.
Yadlin added: “Israel has defined what the trigger is, what the red line is. Iran is already there.”
Nonetheless, most observers and experts doubt whether regime change in Iran would lead to a degradation let alone disappearance of the country’s nuclear programme. Other pundits argue that Iran’s nuclear programme has already reached the point of no return.
A final point: It is very likely that the new arms deal will further embolden Israel with regards to the Palestinian issue.
Last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be dead within two years if action were not taken now.
“I believe the window of the two-state solution is shutting,” Kerry told the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. “I think we have some period of time, a year, a year-and-a-half. Or two years, or it is over.”
Past experience has proven that the aggrandisement of Israeli military might at the expense of Arab and Muslim countries in the region makes Israel more intransigent, and much less prone to make peace.
Israel airport security demands access to tourists’ private email accounts
Several U.S. tourists report being asked by airport security personnel for access to their personal email accounts; Israel’s Shin Bet security service says it acted within the law.
Israel’s Shin Bet security service has been demanding access to personal email accounts of visiting tourists with Arab names, according to the testimony of three U.S. citizens who were interrogated at Ben Gurion Airport and subsequently refused entry into Israel in May.
Najwa Doughman, a 25-year-old architect from New York, landed in Israel on May 26. Doughman, who had already visited Israel three times in the past, planned to tour the country for ten days with a friend, Sasha Al-Sarabi, 24, who was visiting Israel for the first time. Both women were born to Palestinian families who were expelled from Haifa and Akko in 1948.
Around 5 P.M., approximately an hour after landing, Doughman’s interrogation began. She was questioned by a female security guard who did not divulge her name or position. Another female questioner was also present.
The first part of the interrogation began with questions like: “Do you feel more Arab or more American?” (to which the interrogator supplied her own answer: “Surely you must feel a little more Arab.”), “Will you go to Al-Aqsa?” and “Why are you coming now for the third time? You can go to Venezuela, to Mexico, to Canada. It is much closer to New York, and much less expensive!”
When Doughman responded by asking “Don’t you have other tourists who come here more than once?” her interrogator responded, “I’m asking the questions here.”
Then, according to Doughman, her interrogator said, “Okay, we are going to do something very interesting now!” As Doughman describes it, the harsh stare on the security woman’s face gave way to a slight smirk. She typed www.gmail.com on her computer, turned the keyboard toward Doughman and demanded that she log in to her personal email account.
Doughman said she that, while she was taken aback, it did not occur to her to refuse, despite the fact that this was clearly not a reasonable request.
According to a piece Doughman wrote several days later on the blog Mondoweiss, the security woman read through every email with certain key words (including “Palestine,” “Israel,” “West Bank” and “International Solidarity Movement”), reading some lines out loud as well as some chats between her and her friend regarding their upcoming trip. Then she recorded a number of her contacts’ names, emails and telephone numbers.
After some five hours of questioning, Doughman and her friend were forced to wait another three hours, after which they were told that they would be refused entry into Israel. Accompanied by a heavy cadre of security people, they were led to another part of Ben Gurion Airport, where they were photographed and their bags were searched meticulously down to the smallest objects.
Their computers and iPads were passed, twice, through an explosives-detection machine. Then they were given body searches behind a curtain.
When a metal detector beeped while being passed over a button on Doughman’s jeans, she was asked to take her pants off. She broke down in tears and refused, to which the security team responded by threatening to remove her pants by force. Instead, she was given a pair of shorts from her own suitcase and told to put them on instead of her jeans.
The two spent the night in a detention facility at Ben Gurion Airport and were flown out via France, some 14 hours after landing in Israel.
On May 21, another U.S. citizen, Sandra Tamari, a 42-year-old Quaker from St. Louis, was also asked to give airport security people access to her email before being denied entry into Israel. Her interrogation lasted eight hours. When she refused to open her email account, she was told that she was probably hiding something.
Tamari, also of Palestinian descent, has been active in campaigns for a boycott and sanctions against Israel. Her description of events was also published on Mondoweiss.
A third American citizen, who preferred that her name not be published, was also refused entry in May after refusing to allow airport security personnel to access her personal email account. She was also told that she must have something to hide.
A similar case was reported in October of 2011.
Ronit Eckstein, a spokesperson for the Israel Airports Authority, told Haaretz that the Interior Ministry is responsible for the entry of tourists to Israel, and that the security officials who interrogated the women were not employed by the Airports Authority or by Ben Gurion Airport.
The Interior Ministry said in response that the security checks are the responsibility of the Shin Bet security service.
The Shin Bet confirmed that Doughman and Tamari had been questioned by Shin Bet agents after landing in Israel, adding that the actions taken by the agents during questioning were within the organization’s authority according to Israeli law.
Israel’s Response …
Israel Rebuffs Criticism Over E-Mail Checks at Airport
Civil RIghts Groups Blast ‘Drastic Invasion of Privacy’
Israel’s top legal adviser on Wednesday rebuffed criticism of authorities for asking travellers entering the Jewish state to show border officers their emails, saying the checks affecting only certain foreign nationals were lawful.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein’s written legal opinion was given in response to a query by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) which first questioned the practice last year.
On Wednesday the group called the checks a “drastic invasion of privacy … not befitting a democracy”.
Israel’s security agencies have been keen to stop pro-Palestinian activists they suspect may be planning anti-Israel activities in the occupied West Bank or inside the Jewish state.
Weinstein said officers of the internal undercover security service, the Shin Bet, needed “to establish or dispel suspicion against prospective foreign nationals wishing to enter Israel who show initial suspicious signs”.
He said officers were not allowed to access email accounts without the consent of the owner and added that travellers could refuse to cooperate. This did not necessarily mean they would automatically be barred entry.
“The traveller is not asked to reveal passwords … but opens the account on their own. The traveller has a full right to refuse the search and will not be forced to comply, although this will be taken into account when the authorities decide whether to allow the person to enter Israel,” he said.
Marc Grey, an ACRI attorney, said the issue was not so much the matter of revealing the email account’s password but the actual perusal of the private content in the mailbox.
“Passwords are not the issue, email accounts are about as private as it gets,” Grey told Reuters.
He said he did not know how many travellers to Israel had been asked to open their email accounts.
Lila Margalit, another ACRI attorney, said travellers were not on an equal footing when they faced questioning.
“A tourist … to Israel (who is) interrogated at the airport by Shin Bet agents and told to grant access to their email account, is in no position to give free and informed consent. Such ‘consent’, given under threat of deportation, cannot serve as a basis for such a drastic invasion of privacy,” she wrote in an email distributed on Wednesday.
“Allowing security agents to take such invasive measures at their own discretion and on the basis of such flimsy ‘consent’ is not befitting of a democracy.”
Must-see photos: Activists remix “Visit Israel” ads on Irish bus shelters
Activists in the Irish city of Cork have added their own touches to ads that appeared on bus shelters in their city that call on people to “Visit Israel.” The ads now say “Boycott Israel” among other biting and funny messages.
These photos were posted on the Facebook page of the Cork Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
The original ads were placed by a group called Irish4Israel that campaigns against Palestinian rights and the boycott, divestment and solidarity (BDS) movement.
Irish4Israel appears only to have a Twitter account and a Facebook page but neither of them readily identifies the individuals or organizations responsible for the shadowy group. However, an online message signed by one Michelle Cohen claimed responsibility and fund-raised for the Irish4Israel bus shelter ads. And, according to J.Weekly, “Irish4Israel was founded in 2010 by Barry Williams, a non-Jewish student at University College Cork.”
Israel’s image has taken a battering in Ireland, not only because of its mistreatment of Palestinians, but also due to various social media blunders by Israel’s embassy in Dublin.
The embassy proposed a campaign to portray Palestine solidarity activists as sexual deviants and Mossad agents and last Christmas caused offense in the predominantly Catholic country by issuing a bigoted “greeting” that suggested Palestinians would have “lynched” Jesus and Mary.
The alteration of the bus ads by the unidentified activists in Ireland is reminiscent of similar responses to Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian ad campaigns on public transport in the San Francisco Bay Area in the United States.
Diaspora Jews must speak out against the Israeli Law of Return
You are born in a country, say the United States. As such, you become a citizen of that country. You are issued a passport from your country of citizenship which allows you to travel to other countries, as a tourist, a foreigner. Of course, you can apply for residency or citizenship in a foreign country based on their immigration laws and, if accepted, you can be issued a second citizenship. Immigration laws are complicated, non-uniform, and, for democratic countries, go out of their way to be non-discriminatory, that is, unless you are Jewish.
If you are Jewish, a very discriminatory law in a foreign country applies to you, without taking your consent and without any formal ties between you and that country. It matters not that you are a citizen of America, Argentina, or Australia; as long as you are Jewish, you have a foreign country that claims to speak for you from the moment of your birth. You could be a sixth generation Alaskan Jew or a tenth generation Brooklyn Jew; it matters not. You, and your entire family for as far back as you can track could know no other place than your hometown in America, and you would still be “represented” by a foreign country, one whose language you don’t even speak. That foreign country is Israel.
Law in the service of discrimination
It goes without saying that for Palestinians, upon whose ruins Israel was established, this Orwellian-perfected, Israeli immigration law, called the Law of Return, is a disgrace and a stain on the quilt of humanity. After all, the Israeli Law of Return only applies to Jews. Those Palestinians who became refugees because of Israel’s creation, or those Palestinians who happened to be abroad when Israel militarily occupied their homes, like my father, or even for the Palestinians living as “residents” in the West Bank and Gaza Strip today, are totally excluded from this right to return home and gain automatic citizenship. Ironically, the word “return” directly applies to Palestinians given they were born here, lived here, tilled the land here, and were the subjects that Israel attempted to ethnically cleanse in order to build a new state—one which gives Jews exclusivity on both sides of the 1949 Armistice Line, referred to as the “Green Line.”
For the most part, world Jewry is silent about this reality of having an Israeli citizenship held in perpetuity for Jews only that awaits them their entire life. All they need to do to claim it is to visit Israel and request it. Partly because of this warped state of affairs, every Jew in the world is coaxed into thinking that they need to bear-hug Israel, regardless of whether Israel is engaged in war crimes or blatant racism.
Amira Hass, the Israeli-Jewish journalist who has been covering this conflict for decades while living amongst Palestinians under occupation, frequently gives public talks. When her audience is Jewish, she religiously starts by stating: “Any Jew in any part of the world is entitled to rights in Eretz-Yisrael/Palestine [from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River] that are being denied, in whole or in part, to every Palestinian.”
Then, Amira goes on to give some concrete examples: only Jews have the right to visit the country (something not self-evident for most Palestinians who were born outside the country, or were born there but live in the Diaspora), only Jews have the right to reside and work anywhere in the country, only Jews have the right for immediate naturalization, only Jews have the right to reside or buy property in Jerusalem (Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza are deprived of this right), the list could go on.
The Palestinian-Israeli “conflict,” as it is so frequently referred to, has many aspects. To understand this seemingly intractable conflict, one cannot detach themselves from a historical understanding of the Middle East, in general, and of the tragedy that befell the Jews (and all of mankind) in Europe ever since WWI. However, no tragedy, no matter how severe, should be used as a pretext to discriminate—not against Muslims and Christians of the land, and not against Jews who are also inherently linked to the same land. Likewise, no democracy, in today’s world, should have the “right” to speak for persons who are not its citizens, live thousands of miles away, and have not given their direct consent to be spoken for or “represented.”
President Obama weighs in
“Put yourself in their [Palestinian] shoes.” This is what President Barack Obama told a group of Israeli students gathered in a conference hall in Jerusalem during his recent visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank. In an Israeli context, this is a bold statement, one they are not used to hearing. The president made several bold statements in that speech, making repeated reference to the need for Palestinians to be free from Israeli military occupation. The students applauded, several times, to these politically loaded overtures from the president.
The right-wing Israeli leadership led by Benjamin Netanyahu, who was not invited to the Jerusalem event, was surely fuming at how President Obama spoke directly to the Israeli public and evoked applause on issues related to the unjust Israeli suppression of Palestinian rights. Encouraging those applauses may have sounded nice to the untrained ear, but one fact remains clear: similar applause would be hard to come by from Jewish communities as represented by leading organizations such as AIPAC and the ADL.
If President Obama was sincere about wanting to see the conflict from a Palestinian perspective, then, instead of praising Israel for being a successful country of immigrants, he would have used his charm and oratory skills to portray to the Israeli public how wrong it is for a Jew born anywhere in the world to have more rights in Palestine/Israel than the Palestinians themselves.
The reality that the state of Israel lacks defined borders, which happens to be one of the key requirements for statehood as defined by international law, clearly articulates the preferential treatment that Israel has been provided by the international community ever since its establishment. When such preferential attitudes become embedded in a nation’s DNA, exclusivity is bound to reign supreme in every sphere of the state. Like in apartheid South Africa, such exclusivity is a recipe that jeopardizes any nation-state project, including Israel’s. Jewish communities around the globe can stop the damage Israel is self-inflicting upon itself.
However, if Diaspora Jews can accept having an Israeli citizenship being held ‘forever’ for them while Palestinians are denied not only citizenship, but basic human rights, then they too are directly partaking in the continued apartheid against Palestinians.
To support the Jews for Palestinian Right of Return statement below, please:
**Sign as an individual or organization at: http://bit.ly/JewsForRoR
**Join, invite friends to, and repost the Facebook event page at: https://www.facebook.com/events/123495234483983/
**Repost widely on websites and blogs
Praise for JFPROR
Ali Abunimah (Electronic Intifada): “Beautiful!”
Mezna Qato (US Palestinian Community Network): “Absolutely beautiful.”
Dr. Ghada Karmi, M.D.: “An excellent statement which gets at the heart of the Palestinian cause. All people of conscience must sign it.”
Fatin Jarara (Al Awda-NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition): “Thank you, JFPROR, for your support of the right of return for Palestinian refugees to all of Historic Palestine and for the call for a single democratic state, a point that must never be compromised by Palestinians, first and foremost, or their allies.”
Max Blumenthal: ”I was proud to join so many outstanding people in signing.”
Stuart Bramhall (Daily Censored): “Profoundly moving.”
Kevin Ovenden (Palestine solidarity activist, London): “Well done – forwards to peace and justice, without which there can be no peace.”
Jews For Palestinian Right of Return
January 1, 2013
“For Palestinians, the right to return home and the right to live in dignity and equality in their own land are not any less important than the right to live free of military occupation.”
–Prof. Saree Makdisi
For more than a century, Zionists have sought to construct a “Jewish state” through forced removal of the indigenous Palestinian people.
In 1948, this state was established through the Nakba (Catastrophe): erasure and occupation of more than 500 Palestinian towns and villages, dispossession of over 750,000 Palestinians, and a terror campaign of which the massacre at Deir Yassin is but the most infamous example.
Since 1967, Israel has also occupied and colonized the remainder of historic Palestine. Today, this relentless ethnic cleansing continues — armed and financed by the U.S. and its allies — on both sides of the 1948 “Green Line.”
As a cumulative result, seventy percent of Palestinians are in exile, the world’s largest refugee population.
Nowhere is this clearer than in Gaza, where Israel inflicts particularly brutal collective punishment on 1.7 million people — most of them refugees — for defiantly resisting expulsion from their homes throughout historic Palestine.
“Pick a point, any point, along [Gaza's] 25-mile coastline,” writes Gaza City resident Lara Aburamadan, “and you’re seven or so miles — never more — from the other side. The other side is where my grandparents were born, in a village that has since become someone else’s country, off limits to me. You call it Israel. I call it the place where the bombs come from.”
To hide these crimes and shield itself from their consequences, the Zionist regime officially denies the Nakba, the ethical equivalent of Holocaust denial. It has even authorized legislation to penalize those who memorialize the Nakba — a step toward criminalizing its observance altogether.
As it is for all colonized peoples, liberation means reversing dispossession. “The Palestinian cause,” writes Dr. Haidar Eid in Gaza, “is the right of return for all refugees and nothing less.”
Return — one of the key demands of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign — is affirmed in U.N. resolution 194, but derives from the principle of universal human rights and, as such, cannot be renounced or abandoned by any body or representative; it inalienably attaches to Palestinians, both individually and collectively.
Despite this, even some who criticize Israel’s 1967 occupation claim that Palestinian return is “unrealistic.”
However, solidarity means unconditional support for the just aims of those resisting oppression. As Palestinian journalist-activist Maath Musleh explains: “If you think that [return] is not possible, then you are really not in solidarity with the Palestinian cause.”
Some also object that refugees’ return would mean an end to the “Jewish state.” But supporters of social justice must ask themselves how they can defend a state whose very existence depends on structural denial of Palestinian rights.
Recently, more than a hundred leading Palestinian activists reaffirmed their opposition “to all forms of racism and bigotry, including, but not limited to, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Zionism, and other forms of bigotry directed at anyone, and in particular people of color and indigenous peoples everywhere.”
Such racism and bigotry is reflected precisely in Zionism’s attempt to erase the Palestinian people, a century long campaign that dishonors the memory of Jewish suffering and resistance in Europe.
The moral response is clear: “There is one geopolitical entity in historic Palestine,” writes Palestinian journalist Ali Abunimah. “Israel must not be allowed to continue to entrench its apartheid, racist and colonial rule throughout that land.”
As Jews of conscience, we call on all supporters of social justice to stand up for Palestinian Right of Return and a democratic state throughout historic Palestine — “From the River to the Sea” — with equal rights for all.
The full measure of justice, upon which the hopes of all humanity depends, requires no less.
(Except where marked as organizational endorsements,* affiliations below are listed for identification only.)
Max Ajl, Writer and activist; Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine
Gabriel Ash, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network Switzerland
Max Blumenthal, Journalist and author
Prof. Haim Bresheeth, Filmmaker, photographer and film studies scholar
Lenni Brenner, Author and antiwar activist
Mike Cushman, Convenor, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (UK)
Sonia Fayman, French Jewish Union for Peace; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network France
Sherna Berger Gluck, Founding member, U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel; Israel Divestment Campaign
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Coordinator, Fellowship of Reconciliation Peacewalks, Mural Arts in Palestine and Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence
Hector Grad, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network Spain
Abraham Greenhouse, Blogger, Electronic Intifada
Tony Greenstein, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (UK)
Jeff Halper, Director, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
Stanley Heller, Host of “The Struggle” TV News
Tikva Honig-Parnass, Former member of the Zionist armed forces (1948); author of False Prophets of Peace: Liberal Zionism and the Struggle for Palestine
Adam Horowitz, Co-Editor, Mondoweiss.net
Selma James, Global Women’s Strike; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network UK
David Klein, Organizing Committee, U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Dennis Kortheuer, Organizing Committee, U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel; Israel Divestment Campaign; Dump Veolia LA
David Letwin, Activist and writer; Gaza Freedom March
Michael Letwin, Co-Founder, Labor for Palestine; Organizing Committee, U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel; Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
Antony Loewenstein, Australian journalist and author
Barbara Lubin, Executive Director, Middle East Children’s Alliance
Mike Marqusee, Author of If I Am Not for Myself: Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew
Hajo Meyer, Auschwitz survivor; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Linda Milazzo, Participatory journalist and educator
Prof. IlanPappé, Israeli historian and socialist activist
MikoPeled, Author of The General’s Son
Karen Pomer, Granddaughter of Henri B. van Leeuwen, Dutch anti-Zionist leader and Bergen-Belsen survivor
Diana Ralph, Assistant Coordinator, Independent Jewish Voices-Canada
Dorothy Reik, Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains
Prof. Dr. Fanny-Michaela Reisin, President, International League for Human Rights (German Section FIDH); Founding member, Jewish Voice for a Just Peace – EJJP Germany
Rachel Roberts, Civil rights attorney and writer
Ilana Rossoff, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Carol K. Smith, Activist and civil rights attorney
Lia Tarachansky, Director, Seven Deadly Myths
Hadas Thier, Contributing author of The Struggle for Palestine; Israeli-born daughter and granddaughter of Nazi Holocaust survivors
Dr. Abraham Weizfeld, Jewish People’s Liberation Organization (Montréal)
Sherry Wolf, Author and public speaker; International Socialist Organization; Adalah-NY
Marcy Winograd, Former Congressional peace candidate; public school teacher
Dr. Roger van Zwanenberg, Non-Executive Director, Pluto Books Ltd.
Dr. Liz Aaronsohn, New Britain, CT
Stephen Aberle, Independent Jewish Voices; Vancouver, BC
Deborah Agre, Middle East Children’s Alliance; Berkeley, CA
Seymour Alexander, Jews for Justice for Palestinians; Slough, UK
*American Jews For A Just Peace (ajjp.org)
Steve Amsel, Jerusalem
Jeremy Appel, Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) York; Toronto, ON
Ruth Bader, German-Jewish/Australian daughter of Holocaust survivors
Adam Balsam, Independent Jewish Voices Canada
Miri Barak, Israel
Elifelet Sara Der Barambdiker, Jerusalem
Moran Barir, Human rights activist; Jerusalem
Ronnie Barkan, Boycott from Within; Tel-Aviv
Nora Barrows-Friedman, Journalist
Dalit Baum, Israeli feminist teacher and activist
Medea Benjamin, Codirector, Codepink
Ray Bergmann, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Craig Berman, Kampala, Uganda
Mark Berman, Playwright
Rima Berns-McGown, Writer and Adjunct Faculty, University of Toronto at Mississauga
Frances Bernstein, Leeds, UK
Professor Naomi Binder Wall, Toronto, ON
Councillor Jonathan Bloch, London, UK
Elizabeth Block, Independent Jewish Voices; Toronto, ON
Audrey Bomse, National Lawyers Guild, Free Gaza
Lawrence Boxall, Independent Jewish Voices; Vancouver, BC
Professor Dennis Brasky, Rutgers University
Monique Buckner, BDS South Africa; Cassington, Oxfordshire, UK
Estee Chandler, Founding Member, Jewish Voice for Peace, L.A. Chapter
Linda Clair, Manchester Palestine Solidarity Campaign, UK
Jonathan Cohen, College Park
Robert A. H. Cohen, Kendal, Cumbria, UK
Richard Colbath-Hess, Jewish Voices for Peace; Cambridge, MA
David Comedi, Tucumán, Argentina
Prof. Stuart Cryer, Gatineau, QC
Prof. Roger Dittmann, Scientists Without Borders; CSU Fullerton
Gordon Doctorow, Toronto, ON
Amy Druker, Toronto, ON
Sarah Ducker, Leeds, UK
Mark Elf, Jews sans frontiers
Arlene Eisen, San Francisco, CA
Marc Etlin, NYC
Prof. Sam Farber, NYC
PnIna Feiler, Yad Hanna, Israel
Marian Feinberg, Environmental and social justice activist; Bronx, NY
Harry Feldman, Blogger
Keith Fine, Birmingham, AL
Deborah Fink, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods; UK
Julius Fisher, Vancouver, BC
Alexei Folger, Jewish Voice for Peace; Bay Area
Maxine Fookson, Jewish Voice for Peace; Portland, OR
Racheli Gai, Tucson Women in Black; Jewish Voice for Peace
Prof. Roni Gechtman, PhD, Mount Saint Vincent University; Halifax, NS
Nicole Gevirtz, Voorhees, NJ
Amit Gilutz, Ithaca, NY
Dr. Terri Ginsberg, film scholar; Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism; NYC
Christoph Glanz, Oldenburg, Germany
Neta Golan, ISM, Palestinian Territories
Nathan Goldbaum, International Socialist Organization; Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators, Chicago Teachers Union
Sharon Goldberg, Surrey, BC
Michael Golden, Ashland, OR
Steve Goldfield, PhD, Former chair, Palestine Solidarity Committee; former editor, Palestine Focus; Oakland, CA
Jean R. Goldman, Women in Black; Miami Beach
Rachel Goldstein, Lakewood, CO
Sue Goldstein, Women in Solidarity with Palestine; Toronto, ON
Arifa Goodman, San Cristobal, NM
Kathryn Goodman, Paekakariki, Kapiti Coast, Wellington, NZ
Marty Goodman, Former Executive Board member, Transport Workers Union Local 100, NYC
Allen Greenberg, NYC
Terry Greenberg, Vancouver, BC
Shaina Greiff, Researcher/writer; London, UK
Heidi Grunebaum, Cape Town
Cathy Gulkin, Independent Jewish Voices; Queers Against Israeli Apartheid; Toronto, ON
Georges Gumpel, Union Juive Française pour la Paix
Freda Guttman, Tadamon!; Montreal
Boris Hammerschlag, Internationalist Socialist League, grandson of holocaust survivors and victims (Dachau); Israel/Occupied Palestine
Shaul Hanuka, Mitzpe Ramon
Benjamin Hecht, Germany
Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, Author and journalist; Germany
Elliot Helman, Jewish Voices for Peace; San Francisco, CA
Annette Herskovits, Holocaust survivor, writer, and activist; Berkeley, CA
Louis Hirsch, Chicago, IL
Rebecca Hom, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network-U.S.
Bec Hynek, Socialist Alternative; Sydney, NSW
Naomi Isaacs, Munich, Bavaria
*Jews Opposing Zionism, Not In Our Name – NION (Canada)
Riva Joffe, Jews Against Zionism; London, UK
Bette Jones, Jews for Justice for Palestinians; Network of Oxford Women (NOW) for Justice & Peace; UK
Ramsey Judah, Activist and immigration rights attorney; Los Angeles, CA
Elena Judensnaider, São Paulo, SP, Brazil
Alex Kane, Assistant Editor, Mondoweiss.net; World Editor, AlterNet
Dan Kaplan, Executive Secretary, AFT Local 1493, San Mateo, CA Community College Federation of Teachers
Jenny Kastner, Cambridge, MA
Louis Katz, Longmeadow, MA
Martha H. Katz, Youngstown, OH
Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta, Author, Refusing to be Enemies: Palestinian and Israeli Nonviolent Resistance to the Israeli Occupation; Independent Jewish Voices–Canada; Burnaby, BC
Asaf Kedar, Zochrot
Alice Diane Kisch, Jewish Voice for Peace; Emeryville, CA
Elena Klaver, Niwot, CO
Janet Klecker, Sonoma Valley Peace & Justice
Mark Klein, Toronto, ON
Dr. Irena Klepfisz
Jacob Klippenstein, Chicago, IL
Harris Kornstein, Graduate student, UC Santa Cruz
Bud Korotzer, Brooklyn, NY
Francine Korotzer, Brooklyn, NY
Yael Korin, Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid; Southern California
Al Kovnat, Vietnam Vets Against the War; OSS; Veterans for Peace; Bensalem, PA
Prof. Emeritus Steve Kowit, American poet, Southwestern College
*L.A. Jews for Peace
Rosa Kurshan-Emmer, public school teacher; Oakland, CA
Micha Kurz, Grassroots Jerusalem; Al-Quds
Sylvia Laale, Ottawa, ON
Stephen Landau, Translator and publisher; White Plains, NY
David Landy, Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Lenny Lapon, Springfield, MA
Valerie Lasciak, WILPF Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; Santa Cruz, CA
Lillian Laskin, L.A. Jews for Peace
Prof. Barbara Laslett, Seattle, WA
Albert Meyer, Gainesville, FL
Alan Myerson, Culver City, CA
Chuck Scurich, Oakland, CA
Melanie Lazarow, University of Melbourne, Australia
Rachel Lederman, Attorney; San Francisco, CA
Howard Lenow, Union Attorney, Founder, American Jews For A Just Peace;
Aaron Lerner, Senior, University of Washington-Seattle
Leah Levane, Jews for Justice for Palestinians; London, UK
Michael Levin, Musician; Chicago, IL
Rebekah Levin, Steering Committee, Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine; Oak Park, IL
Daniel Levyne, Union juive française pour la paix, France
Brenda Lewis, Child of Holocaust survivor; Guelph, ON
Mark Lickerman, Chicago, IL
Molly Lidz, Labor organizer; Philadelphia, PA
Daniella Liebling, Brooklyn, NY
Prof. Emerita Abby Lippman, McGill University, Montreal
Dave Lippman, NYC
Michael Locker, NYC
Stephanie Locker, NYC
Jennifer Loewenstein, Faculty & Programming Assistant, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Prof. Alex Lubin, American University of Beirut
David Makofsky, Research anthropologist; Oakland, CA/Beijing, PRC
Helga Mankovitz, Independent Jewish Voices; Kingston, ON
Eli Marcus, Occupied Palestine
Richard Marcuse, Independent Jewish Voices; West Vancouver, BC
Katrina Mayer, Jewish socialist & anti-Zionist; Leeds, UK
Hilda Meers, Scottish Jews For a Just Peace
Helaine Meisler, Jews Say No!, Middle East Crisis Response
Peter Melvyn, Critical Jewish Voice; Vienna
Abraham Melzer, Publisher and Journalist; Neu Isenburg, Germany
Waldo Mermelstein, Sao Paulo, Brasil
Karen Meshkov, Philadelphia, PA
Gail Miller, Passenger, U.S. Boat to Gaza-The Audacity of Hope; NY
Prof. David Moshman, Lincoln, NB
Susannah Nachenberg, Oakland, CA
Dorothy Naor, Herzliah, Israel
Ofer Neiman, Jerusalem, Israel
Sheryl Nestel, Independent Jewish Voices Canada; Toronto, ON
Prof. Hilton Obenzinger, Palo Alto, CA
Orna Neumann, London, UK
Marlene Newesri, NYC
Hiam Tabbarah Odds, Spain
Paula Orloff, Nevada City, CA
Norah Orlow, Jerusalem
Akiva Orr (1931-2013), Matzpen
Dr. Susan Pashkoff, London, UK
Ibrahim Paul, Sweden
Sharon Pavlovich, Teacher, NYC
Yael Petretti, Southampton, MA
Karen Platt, Jewish Voice for Peace; Albany, CA
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Postdoctoral Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Peter Purich, Ottawa, ON
Prof. Peter Rachleff, Macalester College; Saint Paul, MN
Dr. Marco Ramazzotti Stockel, Ebrei Contro l’Occupazione; Roma
Roland Rance, Jews Against Zionism; London, UK
Zohar Chamberlain Regev, Dúrcal; Granada, Spain
Fanny-Michaela Reisin, Jewish Voice for a Just Peace-EJJP Germany
Renen, Boycott From Within; Tel Aviv
Ernest Rodker, Jews for Justice for Palestinians; UK
Barbara Rosenbaum, Co-editor, Patterns of Prejudice; London, UK
Ernesto Rosenberg, Gynecologist; Neuquén, Argentina
Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead, Chair, British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP)
Emma Rosenthal, Director, Cafe Intifada; Los Angeles, CA
Yehoshua Rosin, Gush-Shalom; Rehovot, Israel
Martha Roth, Independent Jewish Voices; Vancouver, BC
Peter Roth, Stockholm, Sweden
Reuben Roth, Laurentian University, Oshawa, ON
Gerald Rozner, Monroe, MI
Prof. Cheyl A. Rubenberg, Boca Raton, FL
Rachel Rubin, Chicago, IL
Sandra Ruch, Toronto, ON
Michael Sackin, Leicester, UK
Leslie Safran, London, UK
Margot Salom, Just Peace for Palestine; Brisbane, Australia
Marlena Santoyo, Jewish Quaker, Germantown Friends Meeting, Philadelphia, PA
Prof. Christiane Schomblond (Ret.), University of Brussels
Ralph Schoenman, Author: Hidden History of Zionism; Vallejo, CA
Abraham Schultz, Mexico City
Chuck Scurich, Oakland, CA
Susan Schwartz, Thousand Oaks, CA
Sylvia Schwarz, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network; Saint Paul, MN
Yossi Schwartz, Internationalist Socialist League; Haifa
Amanda Sebestyen, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network UK, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, Independent Jewish Voices
Carole Seligman, Co-editor, Socialist Viewpoint; San Francisco, CA
Noa Shaindlinger, PhD candidate, Department of Near and Eastern Civilizations, University of Toronto
Stephen Shenfield, Researcher and translator; Providence, RI
Ur Shlonsky, Geneva, Switzerland
Sid Shniad, National Steering Committee, Independent Jewish Voices; Vancouver, BC
Mya Shone, Author, The Hidden History of Zionism
Benjamin Silverman, Student and writer; New Jersey
Inbal Sinai, Tel-Aviv, Israel/Occupied Palestine
John Sigler, Jewish Friends of Palestine, Colorado Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Judy Slosser, Los Angeles, CA
Erica Smith, New Rochelle, NY
Kobi Snitz, Tel Aviv
Abba A. Solomon, Author of The Speech, and Its Context
Peter Sporn, Arab Jewish Partnership for Peace and Justice in the Middle East; Oak Park, IL
Lyn Stein, San Francisco, CA
Marsha Steinberg, BDS LA for Justice in Palestine
Alan Stolzer, NYC
Bilha Suendermann Golan, Human rights activist; Beit She’arim, Israel
Cy Swartz, Grandparents for Peace in the Middle East; Philadelphia, PA
Lois Swartz, Grandparents for Peace in the Middle East; Philadelphia, PA
Len Szajko, Israel
Marta Szedlak, Australia
Joshua Tartakovsky, Jerusalem
Prof. Barry Trachtenberg, Historian; Albany, NY
Matthew Taylor, Founding member, Young Jewish and Proud group within Jewish Voice for Peace; Berkeley, CA
Steve Terry, Criminal defense attorney; Brooklyn, NY
Sara Traub, Toronto, ON
Michael Treiger, Palestine
Lily van den Bergh, Documentary filmmaker & organizer; Women in Black; NL
Dominique Ventre, French Jewish Union for Peace; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network France
Richard Wagman, Honorary Chairman, French Jewish Peace Union (UJFP), Paris
Donna Wallach, Founder, Justice for Palestinians
Judith Weisman, Independent Jewish Voices; Not in Our Name (NION); Toronto, ON
Jeff Warner, La Habra Heights, CA
Suzanne Weiss, Not In Our Name (NION); Toronto, ON
Barry Weisleder, Federal Secretary, Socialist Action/Ligue pour l’Actionsocialiste; Toronto, ON
Adrienne Weller, Freedom Socialist Party; Seattle, WA
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Founder member, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods; UK
Bekah Wolf, Co-Founder, Palestine Solidarity Project
Tamar Yaron, Founder & moderator: Encounter-EMEM for International Israel-Palestine peace activities; Kibbutz Hazorea, Israel
Myk Zeitlin, London, UK
Helen Holt Zuckerman, Philadelphia, PA
Larry Zweig, Solidarität International e.V.; Fürth, Germany
*Al Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
Avigail Abarbanel, Psychotherapist, activist and writer; Inverness, UK
Medhat Abbas, Bioinformatician, Director, Egyptiske KulturSenter I Norge
Lamia Abbas, Atlanta
Ramy Abdeljabbar, Paterson, NJ
Milagros Ahmad, Clermont
Jane Alexander, Oxford, UK
Faisal Algahtani, Saudi Arabia
Elaine Algrain, Luxembourg
Tony Ali, Vancouver, BC
Jackie Alsaid, Academic lawyer in international law; Fareham, UK
Don Anderson, Vietnam Veteran; Lebanon, OR
Muhammad Haris Ansari, Medical student; Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
Marshall Ansell, Sweden
Larry C. Anthony, Richardson
Enzo Apicella, FCSD/Cartoonist; London, UK
Rita Appleby, Grays, Essex, UK
B. Ross Ashley, Steering Committee, NDP Socialist Caucus; Toronto, ON
Captain Wajkih Asi, Los Angeles, CA
Muna Assaf, Ramallah, Palestine
Rev. Rene August, Cape Town, South Africa
Prof. Silvio Augusto de Carvalho, Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Ahmed Azeddine, Retired didactic engineering specialist, Teknologist Institut, Frederiksberg, Denmark
Belal Bahader, Writer/activist, Seton Hall University; South Orange, NJ
William Bailey, Kaneohe HI
Maggie Bagon, Florence, OR
Samar Barakat, London, UK
Benjamin Baker, Doctoral candidate, University of Pennsylvania
Prof. Mona Baker, Translation Studies, University of Manchester, UK
Julien Ball, International Socialist Organization; San Francisco, CA
John Banks, Care Africa; Las Vegas, NV
Pier Luigi Barberini, Civitella San Paolo, Italy
Brenda Barnard, Brighton, UK
Julia Barnett, Toronto, ON
Faye Bartlett, United Methodist; Bellingham, WA
Bonita Behun, Sebastopol, CA
Nancy J. Bell, US Student Ambassador for Peace to Israel (1978); Rossville, GA
Linda Benedikt, Writer; München, Deutschland
Ray Bergmann, Just Peace for Palestine; Brisbane, QLD
S. Bergsma, Zwinderen, NL
Ada Bilu, Jerusalem
Nils Bjørkelo, Fredrikstad, Norge
Paul Bouwmeester, Elgin, IL
Anne Bowers, Women in Black; NYC
Sallye Steiner Bowyer
Soraya Boyd, Facilitate Global; London, UK
Eamon Bradley, Derry, Ireland
David Bragin, USA
Jed Brandt, Occupied Media; Brooklyn, NY
Nadine Brennan, Santa Cruz, CA
Tibby Brooks, NYC
Jean Brown, Oakland, CA
Pauline Brown, Oakland, CA
Regina Brown, MD, Anochi; San Francisco, CA
Tom Brown, Oakland, CA
Rick Burgess, Bangor & Ynys Mon Peace and Justice Group, Anglesey, Wales
Dr. Clint Le Bruyns, Director & Senior Lecturer of Theology & Development Programme, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Francisco Caballos, Sefarad Al Andalus, Rojo, Seville, Spain
Edith Cacciatore, Novato, CA
Maria Cal, Vigo, España
Paola Canarutto, Italy
Jen Carlo, Staten Island, NY
Smadar Carmon, Human rights activist; Toronto, ON
Daniel Carnie, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)-UCLA
Vittorio Caroselli, Blogger; Palermo, Italy
Eva Carter, Pittsburgh, PA
Eric Carwardine, Thornlie, Western Australia
Teresa Castillo, Madera, CA
Carolyn Cicciu, Palestine Education Network (NH) and New Englanders for Justice in Palestine; Goffstown, NH
Ben Collins, International HIV Partnerships; London, UK
Margot Connolly, Charleville, Co. Cork, Ireland
Ismael Cordeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sue Cosgrave, Cork, Ireland
Aquila Coulibaly, Occupy The Hood; Philadelphia, PA
Armand Crispin, Staten Island, NY
Prof. Susan Curtiss, PhD, UCLA
Ian Cuthbertson, UK
Michelle Dalnoky, RN; Florida
Jamal Daoud, Viva Palestina Australia; Sydney, NSW
Susan Daum, MD, NYC
Walter Daum, League for the Revolutionary Party; NYC
Howard Davidson, Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid; Toronto, ON
Rebeca Dawson, MD; Houston, TX
Jean Day, Seattle, WA
Langlois Dominique, Hainaut, Belgium
Elsie Dean, Burnaby, BC
Pucci Dellanno, Public speaker, music manager; Porterville, CA
Alexander R. DeSantiago, Stockton, CA
Dr. Sheila Delany, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC
Stany Dembour, Belgium
David DePoe, Teacher, Rank and File Education Workers of Toronto, Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly
Merav Devere, Brighton, UK
Gustav Draijer, Amsterdam, NL
Francine Dumas, Gatineau, Quebec
Shane Duran, Brisbane, QLD
Juan De Santiago, San Jose, CA
Mannie De Saxe, Lesbian & Gay Solidarity; Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
David Ehrens, Dartmouth, MA
Prof. Nada Elia, Antioch University, Seattle WA
Hilde Kristin Ellingsund, Norway
James A. Everett, President, Ark of the Covenant Foundation
Shaban Mahamoud El-Hellou, Gaza, Palestine
Liz Elkind, Scotland
Philip Englehard, Macclesfield, UK
Sydda Essop, Cape Town
Unni Evang, Norway
David Evans, Rochester, NY
Prof. Faramarz Farbod, Moravian College, Nazareth, PA
Kathy Felgran, Watertown, MA
Daniel Fernandes, Curitiba, PR, Brazil
Prof. Gary Fields, University of California, San Diego
Michael J. Fitzgerald, Klamath Falls, OR
Steven Flowers, Chicago Cuba Coalition
Richard Forer, Author, Breakthrough: Transforming Fear into Compassion–A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict; Trenton, NJ
Heather Formaini, Italy
Sadie Fourie, Pretoria, South Africa
Prof. Cynthia Franklin, Univ. of Hawaii
Carl Freeman, France
Joseph Freeman, Toronto, ON
Craig Fulton, UK
Patricia Furlough, Conway SC
Maria Galan, Spain
Alisa Gayle-Deutsch, Toronto, ON
Daniel Geery, Salt Lake City, UT
Gumpel Georges, Union Juive Française pour la Paix, France
Ihsan Ghadieh, Michigan
Kamran Ghasri, CA Green Party Israel Divestment Campaign
Bilal Billy Gibbons, London, UK
W. Gifford, Leesburg
Christoph Glanz, Oldenburg, Germany
Veronica Golos, Poet, Taos, NM
Alicia Fdez Gómez, Asturias
Neil Gordon, Author; Paris
Alice Graner, Minneapolis, MN
Shaina Greiff, Researcher and writer; London, UK
Elsa Guerra, San Francisco, CA
Leticia Guerra, San Antonio, TX
Marilyn Hacker, Poet, translator and editor; Paris
Ismail Hammad, Fairfield, CA
Khaled Hamam, Qatra, Palestine
Cliff G. Hanley
Marcus Christain Hansen, Alstead, NH
Jane Harries, UK
Leora Harris, Brooklyn, NY
Wendy Hartley, Palestine-Israel Working Group of Nevada County, CA
Kamal Hassan, Grants Pass, OR
Abe Hayeem, Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, UK
Dietrich Heißenbüttel, Esslingen, Germany
Detlef Heier, Watamu, Coast, Kenya
Amy Helfant, Activist and worker
Philippe de Henau, ingénieur civil member of ABP, INTAL; Belgium
Elise Hendrick, Cincinnati, OH
George Henry, Bellevue
Shir Hever, Goettingen, Germany
Pat Hewett, Friends of Sabeel; USA
Guy St. Hialie, Canada
Martin Hijmans, Journalist & blogger, Amsterdam, NL
Sally Hinshaw, Columbus, OH
Reverend Andy Hird, Santa Fe, NM
Guus Hoelen, Leusden, NL
David Howard, Ojai, CA
Michael V. Hugo, Youth and Young Adult Minister; Clinical Social Worker; Mundelein, IL
Thami Hukwe, Socialist Party of Azania
Tony Iltis, Green Left Weekly, Melbourne, Australia
John A. Imani, Los Angeles, CA
Jane Jackman, Researcher, UK
Mohammed Jaradat, Torrance, CA
Jake Javanshir, Toronto, ON
Patrick Jay, Occupy Colorado Springs
Lee Jenkins, Deputy General Counsel, Howard University; Sterling, VA
Michael Jerome, NYC
Roland James Jesperson, Attorney, Taylor, ND
Nicholas Jewitt, Bangor, Wales, UK
Linea Johansen, Social-and healthcare helper; Denmark
Susan Kadray, London, ON
Ghada Karmi, UK Research Fellow, University of Exeter
Asaf Kedar, Zochrot
Warren Keller, Clearwater, FL
Kieran Kelly, Aotearoa
June Forsyth Kenagy, Albany, NY
Stephen Kerpen, Portland, OR
Dr. Israr Khan, UK
Migna Khan, Advocates for Peace and Social Justice; West New York, NJ
Dr. Nasir Khan, Historian and peace activist; Oslo, Norway
Samira Khoury, Lebanon
Mark Kilian, Internationale Socialisten NL, Alkmaar, Nederland
John King, NYC
Orang Kiyani, London, UK
Kim Klausner, San Francisco, CA
Susie Kneedler, USA
Margaret Knight, Santa Cruz, CA
Terri Knoll, Tampa, FL
Kostas Kounenidakis, Athens, Greece
Larry Kronen, Albuquerque, NM
Elfriede Krutsch, Berlin, Germany
Jurgen P. Kuhl, Burnaby, BC
*Labor for Palestine
Scott Lafferty, Brighton, UK
Mika Laiho, Ex-peacekeeper, UNIFIL, UNPROFOR, IFOR; Pori, Finland
David Landy, Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign; Dublin
David K. Langstaff, Bay Area, CA
Marian Larsen, Odense, Denmark
Pam Laurance, London, UK
Larry Lawson, Tignish, PEI, Canada
Arthur Leahy, Ireland
Lucien Legrand, Président, Comité pour unePaixJuste au Proche-Orient (CPJPO)–Luxembourg
Margaret Leicester, Albuquerque, NM
Paola Leonardini, Livorno, Italy
Kathy Lessuck, Providence, RI
Benji de Levie, NL Palestina Komitee, Rotterdam
Jeremy Levinger, University of Wisconsin-Madison; St. Paul, MN
Carol Frances Likins, ICUJP (Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace); Los Angeles, CA
Scott Linder, Fremont, CA
Brittney Little, Students for Liberty; Toms River, NJ
Brooke Lober, PhD Student, Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Arizona, Tucson
Tristan Lohendrin, Amsterdam, NL
Ben Lorber, Journalist and activist; Chicago, IL
Leila J. Louis
Rhonda Lumley, Pensacola, FL
Prof. Andrew Lyons, PhD; Toronto, ON
Prof. Emerita Harriet Lyons, University of Waterloo, Toronto, ON
Michael McAllister, Founder of Ché scholarship Bethlehem University; Belfast, Ireland
Ellen McGovern, Buderim, QLD
Dr. William F. McIver II, PhD; Eugene, OR
Savdah Manjra, Toronto, ON
David Marchesi, Bournemouth, Dorset, UK
Eugene Marner, Franklin, NY
Robby Martin, Dublin
Marijke Merel, Utrecht, NL
Katherine M. Metres, Writer entrepreneur; Silver Spring, MD
Cecily Michaels, Blaxland, NSW
Salem Mikdadi, China
Julia Miranda, Montreal, QC
Mirna Miranda, U.S. Campaign to End Israeli Occupation; LaPorte, CO
Sean Mohsin, Chicago, IL
Jeffrey Monheit, Fresh Meadows, NY
Liron Mor, Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine
Margrit Moser, Berne, Switzerland
Marie Mouradi, East Greenwich, RI
Neil Mulholland, Ireland
Mariyam Mulla, London, UK
Sean Mulligan, Alpharetta, GA
Haroon Munir, Watford, UK
A. Munshi, Toronto, ON
Maarten Muskens, PK NL; Germany
Prof. Rima Najjar, Al Quds University, Occupied Palestinian Territory; Bloomington, IN
Taghreed Najjar, Amman, Jordan
Yahya Nana, Lenasia, South Africa
Jeff Neff, Los Angeles, CA
Mical Nelken, London, UK
Diana Neslen, Ilford, UK
Si Neumann, Artist, Cairo
Cindy Newman, Los Angeles, CA
*New York City Labor Against the War
Tony Nicholas, Sydney, NSW
Rael Nidess, MD; Marshall, TX
Kathy Nitsan, Berkeley, CA
Dagmar Noble, Weston-super-Mare, Avon, UK
Devon Nola, Political and social justice activist
Judith Norman, San Antonio, TX
Henry Norr, Berkeley, CA
*North Pyget Sound Israel-Palestine Mission Network, Everett, WA
Adam Nuchtern, Houston, TX
Cornelius O’Brien, London, UK
Dr. John O’Brien, Sydney, NSW
Margaret O’Bryan, Australia
Gerry Ohannessian, London, UK
Annika Ohlson, Teacher; Bjärred, Sweden
KajOhrnberg, Historian; Helsinki, Finland
Vaneide Olmo, São Paulo, Brazil
Cristina López Ortiz, Barcelona, Spain
Sot Otter, Scotland
Kevin Ovenden, Palestine solidarity activist and Respect Party; London, UK
*Palestine Poster Archives
Pauline Pan, Toronto Students for Justice in Palestine
Dr. Kathy Panama, London, UK
Meredith Pass, Louisville, KY
Judith Pecho, RN; Educator; Corrales
Grahame Perkins, Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Deutschland
Ursula Peters, Germany
Mr. Blair M. Phillips, St. Catharines, ON
P.G. Phippen, New London, NH
Caroline Picker, Phoenix, AZ
Daniel Pines, Rochester, NY
Sophia Ponders, Interfaith worker; Los Angeles, CA
Sylvia Posadas, Blogger, Kadaitcha; Noosa, QLD
Jenean Qaddura, SMU; Dallas, TX
*Queensland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Australia
Ezyño Ezygual Quemasda, Madrid, Spain
Steve Quester, Teacher; Brooklyn, NY
Attia Rajab, Palestine Solidarity Committee; Stuttgart, Germany
Najah Rammouni, Dearborn Heights, MI
Boris Ran, Dallas, TX
Sterling Rand, Eugene OR
Naomi Rankin, Edmonton, AB
Ismaeel Abdur-Rasheed, Vietnam-era veteran; NYC
Dan Read, Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK
Peter Reid, Abbotsford, BC
Dick Reilly, Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism
Michael Richter, München, Deutschland
David Rider, Washington
Rosalie Riegle, Neighbors For Peace; Evanston, IL
Bill Risebero, Palestine Solidarity Committee; Friend of Alrowwad; London, UK
William Roberts, Redwood City, CA
Liz Roberts, War Resisters League; Brooklyn, NY
Stewart Robinson, Cleveland Hts., OH
Joan F. Rodriguez, San Mateo, CA
Linda Rogers, Bangor and Ynys Mon Peace and Justice Group; Llangoed, Ynys Mon, Wales
Rudy Ruddell, Castro Valley, CA
Michael Ryan, Lacoste, France
Sara Saba, Esq., Attorney and human rights activist; Princeton, NJ
Katherine Salahi, Oxford, UK
Joe Salameh, Brentwood, CA
Julieta Salgado, Organizer, New York Students Rising; Brooklyn, NY
Herbert Salit, Los Angeles, CA
Yasmina Samahy, Houston, TX
Dr. Ian Saville, Lecturer, Middlesex University, London, UK
Michael Schembri, Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine; Allawah, NSW
Gabriel M. Schivone, Ad Hoc Steering Committee, National Students for Justice in Palestine; Tucson, AZ
Fred Schloessinger, Nanaimo, BC
Margot Schlösser, Malmedy, France
Angelika Schneider, German Branch Fellowship of Reconciliation; Lilienthal
Björn Schneider, Frankfurt, Germany
Prof. Christiane Schomblond (Ret.), Brussels, Belgium
*Scientists Without Borders
Neil Scott, Auckland, NZ
Chuck Scurich, Oakland, CA
Prof. Sako Sefiani, Glendale, CA
Mehrdad Shahabi, Tehran, Iran
Mehraz Shahabi, Bristol, UK
Jennifer Selwyn, PhD
Mona Seredin, Delray Beach, FL
Ellen Shatter, Providence, RI
Glenn Shelton, Southeast Michigan Jobs with Justice; Detroit, MI
Anouche Sherman, London, UK
Amanda Joy Sidell, Chicago, IL
Damon Simonetti, ACLU, F&AM; Greenfield, MA
Sam Simpson, Cork, Ireland
Inbal Sinai, Tel-Aviv, Israel/Occupied Palestine
Diego Siragusa, Author of “Il terrorismoimpunito”; Biella, IT
Melinda Smith, International peace education consultant; Albuquerque, NM
*Socialist Party of Azania
Rebecca Anshell Song, Redmond, WA
Dan Sockrider, Indianapolis, IN
Prof. Carol Strauss Sotiropoulos, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI
John Spritzler, Editor, www.NewDemocracyWorld.org
Aviva Stahl, US researcher, CagePrisoners; London, UK
Rick Staggenborg, MD, Board President, Take Back America for the People; Coos Bay, OR
Burton Steck, Chicago, IL
Ron Strand, Vancouver, BC
Mary-Alice Strom, USA
Deena Stryker, Philadelphia, PA
Beverly Stuart, Seattle, WA
Dr. Dwyer Sullivvan, Organization Director, Camp Micah: Leadership for Peace and Justice; Kitchener, ON
Liz Taha, London, UK
Mohamed Taha, London, UK
John Taulbee, Fort Wayne, IN
H. Kelly Taylor, University City, MO
Barbara Thiessen, Kansas City
Laura Tillem, Wichita, KS
Maxime Touzel, Sept-Iles, QC
Roger Tucker, Publisher, One Democratic State; Eronga, Michoacan, Mexico
Beth Tupper, Allston
Rogers Turrentine, WGAwest; Encinitas, CA
Samir Twair, Journalist; Los Angeles, CA
Willi Uebelherr, Halle/Westfalen, Germany
Katie Unger, NYC
*US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI)
Lily van den Bergh, Documentary filmmaker & organizer; Women in Black; Amsterdam, NL
Rev. Johan A. van der Merwe, Dutch Reformed Church; George, West Cape, South Africa
Dottie Villesvik, North Pyget Sound Israel-Palestine Mission Network; Everett, WA
Johan Viljoen, South Africa
Maria Vittoria, Italy
Viva Palestina Australia
Fay Waddington, Founding member, Queensland Palestine Solidarity Campaign; Brisbane, Australia
Bonnie Walker, Portland, OR
Dan Walsh, Palestine Poster Project Archives
Sharron Ward, London, UK
Stuart Ward, Chairperson, Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) Thailand;
Nadia Warrayat, Washington, DC
Kathy Wazana, Director, They Were Promised the Sea; Toronto, ON
Terry Weber, NYC
Alison Weir, Executive Director, If Americans Knew, USA
Pim Wiersinga, Rotterdam, NL
Barbara B. Wilhelm, Brookline, MA
Samantha Wischnia, NYU Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP
Vincent Calvetti-Wolf, TESC Divest!; Oakland, CA
Naomi Woodspring, Palestine Solidarity Committee; UK
Elizabeth Woolever, Lay Delegate, United Methodist Upper NY Conference; Rochester
Efa Wulle, Wales
Rhona Wyer, Bangor & Abglesey Peace & Justice Group; Upper Bangor, Wales
Rev. Darrell Yeaney, Santa Cruz, CA
Sue Yeaney, Santa Cruz, CA
Samar Yunis, Florida
Ben Young, London, UK
Errol Young, Toronto, ON
Frances Yule, Mt. Barker, Western Australia
Giuseppe Zambon, Grankfurt am Main, Deutschland
Elizabeth Zoob, CSW; Boston
Former Pink Floyd frontman clarifies he was misinterpreted in Huffington Post Live interview when he said he was ‘reconsidering letter to fellow musicians about a cultural boycott of Israel’
Former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters says he was misinterpreted last week in a Huffington Post Live interview when he said he was “reconsidering the publishing of a letter to my fellow musicians about a cultural boycott of Israel.” Now he wishes to “clear the somewhat muddied waters.”
Many websites around the world, including Ynet, reported that Waters was rethinking his call for a boycott after he told Huffington Post, “I am considering my position. The letter asking my fellow musicians to boycott Israel has never appeared. I am thinking all of this through extremely carefully because I care more about the outcome, because I care about the people involved, than I do about the moment.”
In a note published on his Facebook pageon Friday, Waters clarified: “This was misinterpreted by some as meaning I was reconsidering my position on the Israel/Palestine issue, and more alarmingly that I had made an about face on this issue; not so. My position remains the same.”
He went on to apologize for the misrepresentations causing “some distress, particularly to my many friends.
“I am still considering the full text of a letter to my fellow musicians,” he said. “But for those of you who haven’t the patience to wait for me to consider the text, feeling somewhat caught between the rock of concern for my friends and the hard place of misrepresentation, here are the bare bones of any final version:
“To my fellow musicians: Please join me in a cultural boycott of Israel until such time as the Israeli government ceases its illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and reverses its Illegal program of settlement building, both of which, it is widely agreed, constitute insurmountable impediments to any peaceful solution for either the Palestinian or the Israeli people.
“Peace for them both is our goal. Not to talk is not an option,” he concluded.
Lessons from the civil rights movement on an important anniversary
By Alice Rothchild
As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the protests against Southern segregation in Birmingham and celebrate today’s anniversary of Martin Luther King’s penning of his fiery “Letter from Birmingham jail,” we are challenged by King’s deeds and voice.
King wrote: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” He talked about the importance of grappling with the underlying causes of popular resistance; the powerful role of nonviolent direct action “to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.”
King was not only deeply committed to nonviolence, to fighting “the triple evils” of racism, materialism and militarism, but toward the end of his life, he also turned his passion to opposing the Vietnam war, thus entering the international realm and the struggle for human rights for all oppressed peoples.
Now, 44 years after his assassination and decades of unity between African-American and Jewish communities fighting racism and anti-Semitism, a new challenge is arising. African-Americans are feeling growing pressure to stand with their Jewish brothers and sisters, despite mounting distress over the policies of the Israeli government towards Palestinians. At the same time, the U.S. Jewish community is increasingly agonized and fractured over criticism of Israeli policies and the growing Jewish voice, from activist organizations to campuses, for an end to the occupation and for boycott, divestment, and sanctions towards Israel until there is a just resolution to the conflict.
What can we learn from King’s legacy about this contentious issue?
In October 2012, under the leadership of the Dorothy Cotton Institute, a delegation of African-American civil rights leaders, theologians, scholars and activists, (many of whom are Jewish), traveled to Israel and the West Bank to see for themselves. Informed by our experiences and knowledge of the segregated South, sit-ins, bus boycotts and nonviolent marches, many were unprepared for the striking parallels we faced.
“Why didn’t I know?” was a common, disturbing question.
While Israel is usually presented as a vibrant, productive, democratic society, the delegates learned about a reality that is usually hidden from public discourse. We learned that from 1948 to 1966, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship lived under military rule with checkpoints and permits to travel within their own country. There are now more than 35 laws that explicitly privilege Jews over non-Jews. Approximately 93 percent of Israeli land is in actuality for use by Jews only through the work of the Jewish National Fund and various state agencies. There are Jewish towns and Arab towns with major discrepancies in funding, infrastructure and schools, not to mention unrecognized Palestinian villages within Israel that receive no services whatsoever.
Numerous studies document an increasingly frightened, racist society: large numbers of Israeli Jews would not allow an Arab in their home, neighborhood, or children’s school, favor preference for Jews over Arabs in governmental hiring, and both societies live increasingly ghettoized lives.
Our experiences within East Jerusalem and the West Bank were even more troublesome; whether it was the aggressive Judaization of old Arab neighborhoods in the Holy City or the efforts by Israeli authorities to make it increasingly difficult for East Jerusalemites to retain their IDs. We witnessed the extensive systems of bypass roads (intended for Jewish settlers only), separate bus systems, the rapid growth of Jewish settlements, much on private Palestinian land, the crushing checkpoint system for Palestinians and the separation wall snaking through the West Bank.
Jewish settlers in the West Bank live under Israeli civil law, Palestinians under military law. Settlements receive ample water, electricity and infrastructure; Palestinian villages are marked by their scarcity.
In Hebron where militant Jewish settlers, guarded by heavily armed soldiers, have established an enclave in the middle of the Old City, there are streets that are “Arab-rein” (“clean of Arabs”) and a high level of daily harassment by well-armed settlers toward the local Palestinian population.
Given Israel’s reputation as the victim of Palestinian intransigence and terrorism, the other surprise for some members of the DCI delegation was meeting Palestinians deeply committed to nonviolent activism, well-versed in the teachings of King and Gandhi, placing their bodies on the line Friday after Friday in the villages of Bi’ilin, Budrus, Nabi Saleh and others. We learned of years of boycotts and nonviolent marches, campus actions, Freedom Rides and a growing commitment to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Just as King wrote, “Where do we go from here?” today’s African-Americans and American Jews are struggling with the terrible consequences for a society that was once a source of pride and comfort, but is now more publicly reaping the cost of privileging one group of people over another. Discrimination, racism and segregation are the prevailing reality and what leaders from Jimmy Carter to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu have compared to apartheid.
Clearly, powerful forces within our own society, from Christians Zionists to AIPAC to our government-backed global military industrial complex make this all possible. This is further reinforced by a corporate news media frequently parroting the voices of the Israeli government rather than investigating the human rights concerns of Palestinians. But grassroots activists, joining together as part of an international movement, are developing a new discourse which is human rights-based, rather than focused on Jewish victimhood and exceptionalism at the expense of the Palestinian population.
Perhaps this can unite African-Americans steeped in the civil rights struggle and US Jews who feel Judaism has been hijacked by the increasingly isolated and dangerous policies of the Israeli state.
Alice Rothchild is a Boston-based physician, author, and filmmaker who is active in the US Jewish peace movement.
“The thousands of prisoners held by Israel are a persistent cause of resentment for the Palestinian people,” said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. “Israel’s treatment of Palestinian detainees should be consistent with its obligations under international law. Practices such as transferring prisoners out of the occupied territory, extended solitary confinement, torture and ill-treatment, and the use of ‘administrative detention,’ which allows prisoners to be held for extended periods without trial or charge, should end. Release of a significant number of prisoners could contribute to efforts to find peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Thousands of Israelis attend alternative Memorial Day ceremony in Tel Aviv
Peace-oriented group holds its eighth yearly ceremony; out of the thousands in attendance, only 44 were Palestinian.
Thousands of people seeking a Memorial Day alternative to the lyric tenor of the chief military cantor came to the Tel Aviv fairgrounds Sunday night for a Jewish-Palestinian memorial service.
This is the eighth year in which the group Combatants for Peace has staged the ceremony, and attendance has been growing from year to year. An hour before it was due to start, hundreds of people were already waiting in line for a security check before entering the fairgrounds. The line for a cup of coffee took 10 minutes. Pavilion 10’s 1,780 square meters were packed to the gills, and outside, an additional crowd of people huddled around a closed-circuit television that was broadcasting the ceremony. It reminded me of the way Arab and Jewish combatants in Lebanon huddled around the television to watch the World Cup during the 1982 Lebanon War.
But of the thousands of people in attendance, only 44 were Palestinians. The Civil Administration in the West Bank dragged out the process of granting entry permits for weeks, and in the end, under pressure from politicians, rejected most of the 109 applicants, granting permits only to 44 of them.
The ceremony opened with a parade of Palestinians, each telling a bit about themselves and about the difficulty of obtaining an entry permit. Nur al-Shehadeh, from Samu, sent a videotaped speech.
“Today is Memorial Day, the day the Israeli people remembers its victims,” he said. “But there are also Palestinian victims. Enough. We must learn a lesson. I hope that this day will serve as an engine for vigorous action to achieve peace.”
Hiyar, a resident of Nablus, arrived with a friend and an ancient camera. “We came because neither people wants the occupation; both want peace and security,” he said. He was insulted to be asked how he could attend a ceremony marking the day on which Israelis memorialize some of the soldiers who occupied his land. “We need to end the violence, Palestinians and Israelis,” he said. “Soldiers are people, too. How many more wars do you want?”
The Jewish participants, unlike at most left-wing events, included a sizable number of young people who, despite the opposition of their environment, were attracted by the approach of Combatants for Peace, with its emphasis on full Jewish-Arab partnership. One of the speakers, Neta, described her upbringing in a right-wing family from Jerusalem that educated her not to trust Arabs. She told of the personal price she has paid for participating in the ceremony: Her best friend since age 5, whose brother was killed in the army, is no longer speaking to her.
Also present was former Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg. “Memorial Day is the result of wars,” he said. “Wars don’t happen by themselves. Anyone who wants to escape the cycle of war and reach a different place must respect the other side’s victims. The margins have begun moving toward the center. What this means is that Israelis and Palestinians together want to remember their dead and stop the killing. There are thousands more like these throughout the country, if not tens of thousands, who want to look into the heart of things rather than at their demagogic wrapping.”
Over the past few days, an Internet petition was organized asking the Tel Aviv municipality to prevent the ceremony, but the city ignored it. A small demonstration took place outside the pavilion, comprising some 20 youngsters who wrapped themselves in Israeli flags and began chanting “We won’t let you scorn the memory of the fallen,” but soon moved on to yelling “Nazis!” They dispersed peacefully soon afterward.
Amira Hass of Haaretz. The Israeli journalist lives in Ramallah. Photo reprinted from http://israelpalestine.blog.lemonde.fr/
SEE ITALICS FOR UPDATE. In the history of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, stones have played a central role. The stone was the symbol of the first Palestinian intifada (1987-1993), as children as young as eight years old rained their projectiles down on the occupying Israeli army. Soldiers often responded with live ammunition, killing more than 1,000 Palestinians, about 200 of them children. Youths with stones confronting soldiers with Galils and M-16s: suddenly Palestinian children took center stage as David against the Israeli Goliath. The image pricked the conscence of many Israelis, and citizens and governments around the world, and ultimately helped force Israeli leaders, including the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, to the negotiating table. (The Oslo agreement they forged with Palestinian negotiators proved to be disastrous; nevertheless, there was a palpable sense during the first intifada that the stone would lead to Palestinian liberation.)
Today the stone remains a part of Palestinian resistance to Israel’s occupation, which is more entrenched than ever. And while growing numbers of Palestinians advocate nonviolent resistanceas the most promising path to a just peace, others strongly defend the right of Palestinians to throw stones as a legitimate act of political resistance against an illegal 47-year military occupation. One of them is an Israeli journalist. Read more, on Truthdig…
“Throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule,” wrote Amira Hass in an April 3 article in Haaretz. “Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of resistance.”
The article has generated a political firestorm in Israel. Moshe Feiglin, a Knesset member from the Likud Party, said that “Haas’ words are condemnable and are considered an expression of disloyalty to the state.” The loyalty-baiting charges against Hass, daughter of Holocaust survivors, are nothing new, but now she and Haaretz must contend with something more serious: An incitement charge brought by the Council of Settlements in the West Bank. “Hours after it was published,” reported the Times of Israel, “the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel and the Yesha Council — the umbrella organization of West Bank settlements — filed complaints with the police and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, saying the piece incited violence.” The organizations, backed by supporters in the Knesset, want Israel to prosecute Hass. It’s not clear that that would happen. In an email to me, Hass doubted that Israeli state prosecutors would accede to the wishes of the settlers’ council and prosecute her and Haaretz. However, given the increasing power of the settlers’ movement in recent years, and of attempts to re-cast and normalize settlements in the public eye as “neighborhoods,” the mere fact that the organizations have acted against Hass is a clear sign of the sharp rightward movement in Israel.
According to israelnationalnews.com: ”Attorney Hila Cohen, writing on behalf of the Legal Forum, wrote in the letter to Weinstein that Hass’s comments were serious and constitute an incitement to violence and terrorism, while encouraging murderous terrorism.” Knesset member Orit Strock declared that Hass had made a “dangerous incitement toward violent acts against civilians and an encouragement to assault soldiers.”
This characterization is consistent with the Israeli military’s attempts to re-cast the state in the implausible role as victim of Palestinian violence. Israeli Captain Eytan Buchman, in an email to me describing one such clash on March 19, labeled it a “violent riot.” This is a curious description for a clash between well-armed soldiers wearing helmets, face shields and body armor, who use live ammunition against stone-throwers. The action against Hass, then, seems in the same vein: to describe the soldiers, part of one of the world’s most powerful armies, with its tanks, rockets, and helicopter gunships supplied by the top military power on earth, as victims of Palestinians who throw stones.
In subsequent days, furious readers and columnists in Israel also attacked Hass.
A Maariv columnist opined that Hass’s statements represent “the outpouring of a suppurating abscess of self-hatred, couched in hypocritical moral acrobatics. Her eyes are blind to Jewish suffering and are open only to her friends from Hamas, the champions of human rights.”
Adva Bitton, the mother of a three-year-old who remains in intensive care following the stoning of her car in the occupied West Bank, wrote in Ma’ariv: “I agree with you that everyone deserves their freedom. Arab and Jew alike. I agree with you that we all ought to aspire to liberty, but there isn’t a person on earth who will achieve freedom and liberty by means of an instrument of death. There’s no reason on earth that Adele, my three-year-old daughter, should have to lie in the intensive care unit now, connected to tubes and fighting for her life, and there is no reason, Amira, for you to encourage that.”
Protestors then showed up at the Haaretz offices in Tel Aviv, unfurling a banner that read, ”Amira Hass, look what a rock can do. Stop encouraging terrorists!”
In her article, however, Hass was defending the right of Palestinians to resist the military occupation with stones, not to throw them at civilians.
Hass, an Israeli who has lived in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for most of the last two decades, cited her fellow citizens’ “concept of eternal victimhood which allows them to be in a state of denial about how much violence is used on a daily basis against Palestinians,” according to The Guardian. “They don’t like to be told that someone has the right to resist their violence.”
In an interview with The Observer, Hass suggested her article was misunderstood. ”I’m surprised that they don’t read the whole text – and then I’m surprised at myself for being surprised. She pointed out that she had made “a clear distinction between a citizen [as a target] and a soldier or someone who carries arms.” In an email to me, Hass added: ”Whoever reads the article knows it talks against violence.”
In her article Hass underscored the “right” and “duty” of Palestinians to resist the occupation in the face of “shooting, torture, land theft, restrictions on movement, and the unequal distribution of water sources.” The Israeli journalist, who unlike nearly every Western correspondent lives in the occupied West Bank, offered this resistance advice:
“It would make sense for Palestinian schools to introduce basic classes in resistance: … how to behave when army troops enter your homes; comparing different struggles against colonialism in different countries; how to use a video camera to document the violence of the regime’s representatives; methods to exhaust the military system and its representatives; a weekly day of work in the lands beyond the separation barrier; how to remember identifying details of soldiers who flung you handcuffed to the floor of the jeep, in order to submit a complaint; the rights of detainees and how to insist on them in real time; how to overcome fear of interrogators; and mass efforts to realize the right of movement.”
But a lawyer for Samer Issawi, who has intermittently refused food for more than eight months, said his client strongly rejected the Israeli initiative, and an EU spokesman said no “official” proposal had been received.
Issawi, 33, was first arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 26 years for military activities on behalf of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
He was released by Israel under a prisoner swap deal in October 2011, but rearrested last July for violating the terms of the agreement by travelling to the West Bank from east Jerusalem.
The Israeli official said Issawi had gone to the West Bank to establish “terror cells” there.
Israel has ordered that he serve the remainder of his original sentence.
Issawi’s health has deteriorated because of his prolonged fast, and he was being held in an Israeli hospital. The Israeli official said he could “immediately be released to Gaza.”
In addition, “over the last few weeks the prime minister’s office was approached by senior EU and UN representatives, who expressed concern over his humanitarian condition,” the official said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Israel was willing to deport Issawi “to any EU member country, or any UN member country,” said the official, noting that they had yet to receive an answer from either.
An EU spokesman told AFP that “Israel has not formally approached the EU on this subject.”
However, the Israeli official insisted the issue “came up in official communications between officials on both sides.”
Lawyer Jawad Boulos said that while “Israel had tried to make him agree to being deported” to any of a number of countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Finland and Switzerland, Issawi had “strongly refused in principle to be deported to any state.”
Issawi is the last of four Palestinian prisoners who were on extended hunger strikes in Israeli prisons, after two ended their fast in February and a third was exiled from the West Bank last month to the Gaza Strip for 10 years.