AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: IN DEFENSE OF BDS

Amnesty International is urging the Israeli government to end its threats and attacks against Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders, including leaders of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

A European coalition is campaigning to protect the right to speak out in support of Palestinian rights. (Ryan Rodrick Beiler) / ActiveStills

A European coalition is campaigning to protect the right to speak out in support of Palestinian rights. (Ryan Rodrick Beiler) / ActiveStills

Amnesty condemns Israel’s threats against BDS activists

Amnesty International is urging the Israeli government to end its threats and attacks against Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders, including leaders of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

Meanwhile, European civil society groups are launching a new campaign to defend freedom of speech from efforts to curtail it by Israel and European leaders allied with it.

“An escalation of acts of intimidation by the government and attacks and threats by settlers and other non-state actors have created an increasingly dangerous environment” for human rights defenders in Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, Amnesty said on Tuesday.

The group expressed particular concern for the “safety and liberty of Palestinian human rights defender Omar Barghouti, and other boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists, following calls alluding to threats, including of physical harm and deprivation of basic rights, made by Israeli ministers.”

The threats were made at the “Stop the Boycott” conference held in Jerusalem on 28 March and attended by Israeli leaders as well as by EU and US diplomats.

“An especially alarming statement came from Israeli Minister of Transport, Intelligence and Atomic Energy Yisrael Katz who called on Israel to engage in ‘targeted civil eliminations’ of BDS leaders with the help of Israeli intelligence,” Amnesty stated.

It noted that the term Katz employed “alludes to ‘targeted assassinations’ which is used to describe Israel’s policy of targeting members of Palestinian armed groups.”

Amnesty also condemned statements by Israel’s public security minister Gilad Erdan that activists including Barghouti should “pay the price” for their work, although Erdan denied he was calling for physical harm.

Similarly, interior minister Aryeh Deri threatened to revoke Barghouti’s residency permit.

“Slightly safer”

Amnesty described these statements as the most serious examples of “threats and intimidation” to date, and called on Israeli ministers to uphold human rights and avoid “inflammatory public remarks” against Barghouti and other human rights defenders.

Israel should also “withdraw [the] threat to arbitrarily restrict his freedom of movement and cancel his permanent residency in Israel,” Amnesty added.

Barghouti has welcomed Amnesty’s public intervention.

“I already feel slightly safer, having received this clear position by Amnesty International,” Barghouti told The Electronic Intifada.

“It not only criticizes the Israeli government’s intimidation and violent threats against me and my BDS colleagues, it defends our right to engage in the nonviolent BDS movement to defend the rights of the Palestinian people under international law,” Barghouti added.

Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement, also renewed his call for Israel to be isolated.

“The UN and all states must strongly reject Israel’s well-oiled attempts to delegitimize the BDS movement and support our right to BDS,” he said. “The most effective way for them to hold Israel’s regime of oppression accountable for its grave crimes against the Palestinian people is through imposing sweeping sanctions on it similar to those adopted against apartheid South Africa.”

In contrast to Amnesty’s stance, Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen, the top EU envoy in Tel Aviv who participated in the Stop the Boycott conference, has refused to condemn the Israeli threats.

Legislating silence

Amnesty noted that the threats against BDS activists come in the context of a broad assault on Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders by government and non-state actors aimed at suppressing freedom of expression and assembly.

Incidents mentioned by Amnesty include the death threats against Imad Abu Shamsiyeh, the Palestinian whofilmed the point-blank execution of a Hebron youth by an Israeli soldier on 24 March; the series of death threatsagainst the staff of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq; the arrests of Hebron anti-settlement activistsIssa Amro and Farid al-Atrash; the imprisonment of Palestinian parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar and “vicious” invective and threats directed at Breaking the Silence, an Israeli group that collects and publishes anonymized confessions of abuses by Israeli soldiers.

Amnesty also pointed out that in recent years, “the Israeli authorities have passed a number of laws that restrict the space for opposition to Israeli government policies and actions.”

Currently making their way through parliament are additional laws “that appear to be aimed at curtailing freedom of expression and freedom of association,” Amnesty stated.

These include the so-called transparency bill, a measure seen as an attack on groups critical of Israel’s human rights record.

Another is the “Loyalty in Culture” bill which would give the government the power to retroactively withdraw funding from cultural activities that “contravene the principles of the state.”

The right to BDS

This week a coalition of European civil society groups launched a new campaign to support freedom of speech and political action for Palestinian rights.

The European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP) is calling on human rights organizations, civil liberties groups, social movements, trade unions and political parties to sign a petition to the European Union “opposing government-led attacks on free speech and civil liberties that are being implemented in order to undermine civil society’s human rights initiatives in support of the Palestinian people’s struggle for freedom, justice and equality.”

“As Israel is increasingly unable to defend its regime of apartheid and settler colonialism over the Palestinian people and its regular massacres of Palestinians in Gaza, it is seeking supportive governments in Europe and the US to undermine free speech as a way of shielding it from criticism and measures aimed at holding it to account for its gross violations of international law,” ECCP states, citing recent repressive acts by authorities in the UKand France, as well as the threats by Israeli ministers.

“Regardless of their position on BDS, human rights organizations and citizens of the world who care about civil rights and human rights have to take a clear stand to defend the right to advocate for BDS as a matter of conscience and free speech and a nonviolent means of civil society to advocate the fundamental rights of the Palestinians,” ECCP adds.

#IsraelToday ~~ THE NEXT GENERATION — THE MIGHT OF THE RIGHT

A new poll has found that youth in Israel are increasingly right-wing in their political opinions, and are overwhelmingly Zionist and loyal to their country.

 Right climbs to 70+ seats in new Knesset

Right climbs to 70+ seats in new Knesset

Poll: 59% of Israeli youth are right-wing

Survey finds 82% of high-schoolers say there’s no chance of a deal with Palestinians, half oppose having Arab MKs.

A new poll has found that youth in Israel are increasingly right-wing in their political opinions, and are overwhelmingly Zionist and loyal to their country.

The survey, conducted by the New Wave Research institute for Israel Hayom and published in part on Wednesday, asked 11th and 12th graders to define their political position.

A full 59% defined themselves as right-wing, while another 23% said they were centrist, and only 13% identified as leftist. Another 5% said they have no position.

A whopping 82% said there is no chance of reaching a deal of some sort with the Palestinian Arabs, indicating their disillusionment with the peace process that has regularly led to waves of Arab terrorism.

When asked if Arab citizens of Israel need representation in the Knesset, 48% said they do not, while 52% said they do.

In a question relating to the recent case of a soldier who shot a wounded Arab terrorist, the students were asked if they thought a soldier should be put on trial for shooting a neutralized terrorist.

A resounding 60% said such a soldier should not be tried, while 30% supported the trial and 10% said they did not know.

Zionism appears to be strong according to the poll, which found that 89% said they see their future in Israel, and 85% said they love the state.

Of the high-schoolers 88% said they are preparing to enlist in the IDF, with over half saying there is no more ethical army in the world, and 65% believe in the sentence “it is good to die for our country,” which is a quote from Joseph Trumpeldor.

Another finding was that 75% of the students appreciate or greatly appreciate their teachers.

FROM

REMEMBERING THE TERROR THAT LED TO JEWISH STATEHOOD

#DeirYassinMassacre let us remember the innocent lives lost to terror

#DeirYassinMassacre let us remember the innocent lives lost to terror

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Palestinians mark 68th anniversary of Deir Yassin massacre

Palestinians on Saturday marked the 68th anniversary of the massacre of more than 100 Palestinians civilians carried out by Zionist paramilitary groups in the village of Deir Yassin in 1948 prior to the establishment of Israel.

Deir Yassin has long been a symbol of Israeli violence for Palestinians because of the particularly gruesome nature of the slaughter, which targeted men, women, children, and the elderly in the small village west of Jerusalem.

The number of victims is generally believed to be around 107, though figures given at the time reached up to 254, out of a village that numbered around 600 at the time.

The Deir Yassin massacre was led by the Irgun group, whose head was future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, with support from other paramilitary groups Haganah and Lehi whose primary aim was to push Palestinians out through force.
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Records of the massacre describe Palestinian homes blown up with residents inside, and families shot down as they attempted to flee.
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The massacre came in spite of Deir Yassin resident’s efforts to maintain positive relations with new Jewish neighbors, including the signing of pact that was approved by Haganah, a main Zionist paramilitary organization during the British Mandate of Palestine.
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An Israeli psychiatric hospital now lies on the ruins of Deir Yassin, the remainder of which was reportedly bulldozed in the 1980s to make way for Jewish housing and incorporated as a neighborhood of Jerusalem. Streets of the neighborhood hold names of Irgun militiamen who carried out the massacre.
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The massacre was one of the first in what would become a long line of attacks on countless Palestinian villages, part of a broader strategy called Plan Dalet by Zionist groups to strike fear into local Palestinians in hopes that the ensuing terror would lead to an Arab exodus, to ensure only Jews were left in the “Jewish state.”
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Thus the attack on Deir Yassin took place a month before the UN Partition Plan was expected to be carried out, and was part of reasons later given by neighboring Arab states for their intervention in Palestine.
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The combination of forced expulsion and flight that the massacres — what would later become known among Palestinians as the Nakba, or catastrophe — precipitated left around 750,000 Palestinians as refugees abroad. Today their descendants number more than five million, and their right to return to Palestine is a central political demand.
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The anniversary of the deadly razing of the village comes as modern day Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank continue to fight for their livelihood in the face of illegal Israeli settlement expansion, widespread detention campaigns, extrajudicial executions by Israeli forces, and a surge in housing demolitions — most recently leaving 124 Palestinians homeless in a single day.
The 97 known victims of the Deir Yassin Massacre committed by Zionist Terrorist  in Palestine

The 97 known victims of the Deir Yassin Massacre committed by Zionist Terror in Palestine

FROM

TOOSDAY’S TOONS ~~ THE MERCHANT OF CAIRO

Images by Carlos Latuff

Cartoon of the Day: al-Sisi, Merchant of Cairo

Cartoon of the Day: al-Sisi, Merchant of Cairo

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Cartoon of the Day: Saudi King Salman visit to Egypt See THIS

Cartoon of the Day: Saudi King Salman visit to Egypt
See THIS

SAVE OUR CHILDREN BY SUPPORTING BDS

Don’t buy Israeli products.

Don’t allow Israeli firms to operate in your respective country.

Don’t invest in Israel. 

This is the very least you could do to save the Palestinian people from the clutches of diabolical Zionism.

save_palestine_by_syahrulrizalnf-d5xt4mg

To the Peoples of the world: Please don’t kill our children 

By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Palestine

In the past few months, especially since the beginning of the current wave of Palestinian resistance against Israel’s enduring brutal military occupation, about six months ago, the Israeli army and other security forces adopted a decidedly murderous policy against Palestinians, especially children. 

A shoot-to-kill policy was adopted by the Israeli political and military leadership, apparently for the purpose of terrorizing and “deterring” the Palestinian populace.   Consequently, dozens of young Palestinians were needlessly murdered on the streets of the West Bank on the pretext that some of the victims may have put the life of Israeli soldiers at risk. 

In some incidents, soldiers fired additional bullets at the heads of the already completely “neutralized” Victims. 

In the Israeli army lexicon, this is done for the purpose of verifying their death. 

The gruesome killings leave no doubt as to the nefarious behavior of the murderous soldiers. 

Israel has no credible justice system when it comes to dealing with the Palestinians. 

Jewish religious laws don’t ascribe real humanity to non-Jews in general. This disgusting mindset is applied to the fullest when dealing with the Palestinians. 

Occasionally, Israel does some PR work to mitigate anger wit regard to a specific crime that had its way to the world media, especial the social media. 

Israeli Hasbara would cite alleged extenuating circumstances such as claiming the murdering soldiers were under mental pressure, thought they were about to get killed or didn’t really intend to murder the Palestinian victim!! 

However, when protests get quieter and the specific crime fades away from memory, the specific murderer is shamelessly exonerated of any wrong-doing, celebrated as a hero, and given citations for valor. 

This shows that that Israel effectively encourages its soldiers to murder innocent Palestinians on the spot if there is the slightest suspicion that they might be planning to hurl a stone toward the soldiers or stab them with a small and virtually innocuous kitchen knife. 

In many verified instances, the murderous soldiers hastened to place a knife they carry with them, near the already murdered Palestinian lying on the ground. 

The purpose of this criminal behavior is to give the impression that the victim had sought to stab and kill Israelis. 

More to the point, Soldiers patrolling the streets of the West Bank receive hair-raising instructions, illustrating the evilness and brutal ugliness of the Israeli mentality. 

They are commanded to shoot first and ask questions later. . Of course we can all imagine how a young soldier would behave vis-à-vis the Palestinians, having been indoctrinated in school and synagogue that the life of a non-Jew in general and a Palestinian in particular has no sanctity because, according to the Talmud, he is not a bona fide human being.” 

Such soldiers are raised to be “Born to kill murderers.” That is why they murder children and innocent civilians without the slightest compunctions. They even would celebrate the murder with their comrades and superiors! 

As to the victim, he or she is treated as another number rather than a human being. 

Not only that, his home is often demolished in the quiet hours before dawn, relatives arrested and harassed. Israel has even threatened to deport families of Palestinians involved in the current mini-intifada to the Gaza Strip or elsewhere. The timeless principle of “innocent until proven guilty” has no existence in Israel, especially as far as Palestinians are concerned. 

Today, Israel is having a free season on helpless and unprotected Palestinians. Israel is ganging up on the Palestinians in what seems to be slow-motion annihilation. 

I am not saying that Israel is carrying a holocaust similar to the German holocaust 70 years ago. 

But even the German holocaust lasted for 3 years whereas the Palestinian plight has been going on for nearly 70 years. 

By the end of the Second World War, the West rose up to help the Jews by establishing a state for them at the expense of the native Palestinians. 

However, the international community is effectively abandoning the Palestinian people, granting evil Zionism a carte blanch to further torment the Palestinians and uproot them from their own ancestral homeland. 

This is why the peoples of the world must intensify their boycott and sanctions against the apartheid entity. 

So, we say to the peoples of the world, in all solemnity and seriousness: 

Don’t buy Israeli products.

Don’t allow Israeli firms to operate in your respective country.

Don’t invest in Israel. 

This is the very least you could do to save the Palestinian people from the clutches of diabolical Zionism. 

We are not making this outcry because we are anti-Jewish, God forbid. 

We are making these modest demands because buying Israeli products and doing business with Israel enable the apartheid entity to have more bullets to kill our children. 

Please, don’t kill our children.

YES VIRGINIA, THERE IS RACISM IN ISRAEL

Some 49 percent of Israeli Jews told Israel’s Channel 2 that they would not live in the same building as Arab families, compared to 42 percent who said they would be willing. Nine percent said they were not sure.

report-card

49% of Israelis Wouldn’t Live in Apartment Building With Arabs 

While most Israelis oppose separation of Jews and Arabs in hospitals, nearly half of Israeli Jews would not live in the same apartment building as an Arab family, a survey found.

Some 49 percent of Israeli Jews told Israel’s Channel 2 that they would not live in the same building as Arab families, compared to 42 percent who said they would be willing. Nine percent said they were not sure.

The survey broadcast on Saturday comes after Jewish Home lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich said last week that Arab and Jewish mothers in Israel’s maternity wards should be placed in separate rooms. His statement followed an Israel Radio report that some Israeli hospitals acquiesce to requests to separate Arab and Jewish patients.

Eighty-two percent of Jewish-Israeli respondents said they would let an Arab doctor treat them, while 13 percent said they would not.

Some 34 percent of Jewish respondents said they supported segregation between Jewish and Arab women in hospital maternity wards, and 61 percent said they should not be separated.

The survey was conducted on April 7 among 505 Hebrew-speaking respondents.

From the archives ….. my own personal experience …

REMAX AND RACISM (IT’S NOT ONLY THE RABBIS)

I live near the university in Jerusalem in a fairly mixed and tolerant neighborhood. Most of the residents here own there own apartment, but there is a sprinkling of renters as well. Many of the renters are students who pile themselves into the flats opting out of taking up residence in the university dorms.
 
Having a spare room, I always rented it out to students. That’s how the following saga began about fifteen years ago….. I ‘dared’ to rent out a room to an Arab law student. I am not what you could call your ‘normal’ landlord, you live in my home, you become part of my family. A simple fact of my way of life. This case was no different, in fact let me give a little background info as to how this came about…
 
Fifteen years ago a neighbour came rushing down to my apartment to inform me that my solar boiler on the roof was leaking. I ran up to check it out and sure enough, she was right. I went out to the front of the building to see if water was running down the side. In front of my window two young men were sitting on the grass reading the newspaper. I greeted them and we started talking, one lived in the building next door, the other in the university dorms. I invited them in for coffee and when they told me their names I realised that they were both Palestinians, one was Hassan, the other was Azmi.
 
Azmi turned out to be a most interesting young man and a friendship was sparked, one that has lasted through two intifadas and much turmoil in the country we live in. About a month after we met I found a note on my door when I returned home from work … it simply said, ‘please call me’, which I did. Azmi wanted to know if he could come over to discuss something. He arrived and was silent…. I told him I thought he wanted to discuss something. He replied that he did, but it was a stupid idea that wouldn’t work. I insisted that he let me be the judge of that, so he proceeded…. he said that the school term was over and he had to move out of the dorms. Although he knew me for such a short period he had the idea that we might be able to live together in the same apartment…. but ended the thought with “but I know that would be impossible…. you are a Jew, I am a Muslim, these things just don’t happen”. I looked at him with a look that said “that’s ridiculous”! I told him that the only problem of him moving in with me was that I would not be his landlord, he would become a son to me. He had no problem with that and before the sun set that day he was all moved in.
 
This is not to say that others didn’t have problems…. not all of my neighbours were that keen on having an Arab living in such proximity to them. The first indication of this was a visit from an upstairs tenant. She heard Arabic spoken in the hallway and wanted to know if I knew anything about it… I told her the Arabic was a language commonly spoken by Palestinians so it was probably people visiting someone in the building …. even more likely, visitors to someone that lives in my apartment. The neighbour was speechless, which was welcome considering the alternative.
 
Then the fun started…. the very basis for this post….
Azmi became a lawyer after graduation and set up a private practice in East Jerusalem. Lawyers get mail…. lots of mail, so his name was added to my mailbox. About a year later there was a knock at my door, it was a sales agent from Remax, a real estate company. She had a ‘problem’ and proceeded to tell me about it. There was an apartment for sale in my building and she was handling it, but because there was an Arab name on my mailbox, three prospective buyers refused to even enter the building to see the apartment. She requested that I do something about it, which I promised I would…. the very next day five other Palestinian families living in my building put their names on their mailboxes. Problem solved!
 
The nerve of that woman….. an employee of an American firm that franchises their operation in Israel attempting to get me to play racist …. no way no how! This was not the first incident of Remax’s role in the ethnic cleansing of Israel, another example can be seen in THIS link from an earlier post. My way of life is uncompromisable despite efforts by outfits such as Remax.
 
That wasn’t the end of my involvement with Remax … five years ago Azmi wanted to rent an apartment of his own for his growing family, a wife and three children. There was one for rent right above my apartment, an ideal situation for all of us. The rental was being handled by Remax. The manager of the local branch was not keen on getting the reputation of being the sole real estate company in the area that rents to Arabs. The only way they would agree to rent the premises to Azmi was if I agreed to have the lease put in my name, which we did. I guess we could have taken the firm to court and made a case out of that, but we wanted to remain in the same building as a family and so we did not make an issue of this.
 
I was reminded of all of the above because after 15 years, I had to have my solar boiler replaced today. This, just days after the latest tirade of rabbinical racism.  Nothing and no one can change my lifestyle and principles. Racism is as alien to me as those that spout it out. If no one listens, they are defeated …. AND THAT THEY WILL BE!
 
The rabbis threatened that “Anyone who sells (property to a non-Jew) must be cut off!!” , Remax endorsed that position years ago. As far as I am concerned, both are cut off from my way of life!
Hopefully others will follow our example, a road that can and will lead to a permanent peace in this Godforsaken land they call the ‘Holy Land’.
 

MONDAY’S TOON ~~ ANTI SEMITISM MY EYE!

Image by Carlos Latuff

An exclusive Latuff cartoon on Israel lobby outrage over Sanders’ comments on Israel’s 2014 massacre of Gaza civilians.

 Israel lobbyists distract from Gaza atrocities by accusing Bernie of anti-Semitism

Israel lobbyists distract from Gaza atrocities by accusing Bernie of anti-Semitism

Sanders Gets it Mostly Right on Gaza, but Cheerleaders for Israeli Brutality Attack Him Anyway

In an interview with the New York Daily News, a tabloid owned by ultra-Zionist multi-billionaire Mort Zuckerman, Sen. Bernie Sanders held forth on Israel’s 2014 assault on the Gaza Strip. “My understanding is that a whole lot of apartment houses were leveled. Hospitals, I think, were bombed. So yeah, I do believe and I don’t think I’m alone in believing that Israel’s force was more indiscriminate than it should have been,” Sanders declared. He then overstated the civilian casualty toll, asserting that “over 10,000 people” were killed by Israel.

Sanders’ comments infuriated the pro-Israel lobby, provoking former Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren to accuse him of a “blood libel,” referring to the false rumors of Jews kidnapping and cooking gentile babies  spread to justify pogroms and anti-Semitic repression. The Anti-Defamation League joined the festival of outrage, demanding Sanders apologize for his comments. When Sanders visited his childhood home in Brooklyn, he was met with protests by right-wing allies of the Israeli settler movement including New York State Assemblymember Dov Hikind, an unrepentant former member of the violent extremist Jewish Defense League.

While Israel lobbyists like Oren were determined to extract a display of contrition from the Democratic presidential challenger, it’s hard to imagine they would want to acknowledge the real toll of Israel’s 51-day-long assault, from the 551 children killed to the Associated Press’s finding that Israel killed 844 Palestinian civiliansin airstrikes on their homes to the fact that a whopping 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed by Israeli violence.

Indeed, Sanders’ comments about the leveling of apartment houses and bombing of hospitals were absolutely accurate. When Israel shelled a UN-run shelter for displaced civilians in Gaza on August 2, 2014, US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki declared, “The United States is appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling outside an UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency] school in Rafah sheltering some 3,000 displaced persons, in which at least 10 more Palestinian civilians were tragically killed.”

The pro-Israel lobby played a critical role in the blood-drenched assault on Gaza in 2014, ensuring full-throated political support from American lawmakers and military backing from the Obama administration. Its accusations of blood libel represent the height of moral hypocrisy. Israeli propagandists like Oren — who was an active, uniformed participant in Israel’s 2008-09 invasion of Gaza — point an accusing finger at Sanders with one hand, and pull the trigger on a besieged, occupied population with the other.

START THE WEEK WITH A NEW TOON ~~ THE ISLAMOPHOBIC COURTROOM

Image by Carlos Latuff

Toon of the Day: Double Standards in the Application of the Law

Toon of the Day: Double Standards in the Application of the Law

POTUS HOPEFUL STEALS, CHANGES AND TWEETS ONE OF OUR TOONS

The Original …

Image by Carlos Latuff

Original toon I made for Middle East Eye A candidate should know about copyright laws

Original toon I made for Middle East Eye.  A candidate should know about copyright laws

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The Trump Revision

Donald Trump on Friday retweeted a photoshopped political cartoon that was originally produced for Middle East Eye.

The aspiring Republican presidential candidate shared an image showing him wagging a finger towards Syrians fleeing war, telling them that they cannot enter the United States and stating: “Saudi Arabia has plenty of room for you.”

Trump’s tweet has since been re-shared nearly 4,000 times.

See the Twitter Page HERE

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Aside from the copyright issue, what’s more disgusting is changing the meaning of a toon about the Syrian refugee crisis for an anti-immigrant agenda

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Hillary wouldn’t dare do the same ….

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#PanamaPapers ~~ SNOWDEN CALLS ON CAMERON TO RESIGN

Image by Carlos Latuff

#PanamaPapers ~~ TOON OF THE DAY — AIRING THE LAUNDRY

Image by Carlos Latuff

CfYIZdHW8AE3bC7

 

#IsraeliApartheid ~~ FROM CRADLE TO GRAVE

“It’s natural that my wife wouldn’t want to lie next to someone whose baby son might want to murder my son.”

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GLEN_ApartheidIsrael

Far-Right Israeli Lawmaker Openly Backs Maternity Ward Apartheid

A far-right Israeli politician has been admonished by his party and roundly condemned by commentators after suggesting Jewish and Arab women should be separated in maternity wards in apartheid-style segregation.

Betzalel Smotrich, a 36-year-old member of parliament from the Jewish Home party, which is part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, is an ultra-nationalist settler who is frequently outspoken on issues of religion and the Palestinians.

However, his comments on Monday went further than in the past, putting him at the fringe of the fringe and drawing censure from a wide spectrum of commentators as well as the head of his own party. He also received messages of support.

“My wife really isn’t a racist, but after giving birth she wants to rest and doesn’t want those mass parties that are the norm among the families of Arab women after birth,” Smotrich said on Twitter, joining a debate about hospital practices.

“It’s natural that my wife wouldn’t want to lie next to someone whose baby son might want to murder my son,” he added.

Israel is in the midst of a fevered discussion over religion and identity that ultimately boils down to whether it can remain Jewish and democratic in the long-run.

At the same time, the failure of decades of effort to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord and a months-long campaign of violence targeting Jews has provoked anger and frustration on both sides, with more incendiary, racist language.

A survey by the Pew Research Center last month underlined the growing divisions, both among Jews and between Jews and Israel’s 20 percent Arab population. Nearly half of the Israeli Jews surveyed said they were in favor of expelling Arabs from Israel.

Smotrich has in the past referred to the need to separate from the Palestinians, a view shared by those in the ultra-nationalist-religious camp represented by Jewish Home.

But the party leader, Naftali Bennett, said Smotrich had gone too far, overstepping the boundaries in a country that sees itself as pluralistic and democratic, even if Jews and Arabs live very separate lives and Arabs complain of discrimination.

“The national camp is not hatred of Arabs,” Bennett said at a party conference, going on to quote from the Talmud, rabbinical writings that interpret the bible, about how all human beings – Jews and Arabs – are created equal.

“Everyone has a unique soul, a family, a desire to live in dignity,” he said. “We are opposed to divisive discourse among the people and hatred of the other.”

“BLATANT RACISM”

While Bennett’s words were largely emollient, perhaps in an effort to hold together his party, which has eight members in the Knesset but with different ideological streams, commentators of the left and the right were far less restrained.

Ben Caspit, writing in the popular Ma’ariv paper, said Smotrich and his supporters were akin to “Judeo-Nazis.”

“No, Smotrich is not a Nazi, but he is a Jew who has come as close as possible to this questionable title,” he wrote.

“A hair’s breadth away. He does not demand to set up concentration camps and to build gas chambers, but he does have a racist ideology.”

Politicians from the right, the center-right and the left offered similar condemnations, although Netanyahu stayed silent. Ahmed Tibi, an Arab member of the Israeli parliament and a gynecologist, expressed his outrage.

“It is a blatant racist comment… and many Israelis are angry at Smotrich for holding the mirror of racism in front of them,” he told the Israeli news site Ynet.

“As a doctor, if Smotrich or his wife needed medical help from me, I would give it without hesitation. I have treated many racists in the past.”

On social media, Smotrich received support from those in the ultra-nationalist-religious camp who share his views. But his wife, Revital, gave him the clearest backing.

“It isn’t pleasant for me to lie next to Arab women,” she told Israel’s Channel 10 television, referring to her experiences giving birth in hospital. Asked if she would have a problem if an Arab doctor delivered her baby, she replied: “The moment of birth is a sacred moment, a pure moment. It’s a moment that is very Jewish. I’d be very pleased if Jewish hands were to touch my baby the moment it enters the world.”

#BDS ~~ WHY THE CULTURAL BOYCOTT IS GROWING

Israeli government is no “Champion” of freedom of expression

Over 100 Writers, Including Pulitzer Winners Junot Díaz, Richard Ford, and Alice Walker, and Award-Winning Author Louise Erdrich, Call on PEN American Center to Reject Israeli Government Sponsorship

PEN Refusing to Drop Sponsorship, According to a
Letter to its Members

New York, NY, April 5, 2016 – In a letter made public today over 100 writers, including Pulitzer Prize winners Junot Díaz, Richard Ford, and Alice Walker, and award-winning author Louise Erdrich, have called on the PEN American Center “to reject support from the Embassy of Israel” for PEN’s annual World Voices Festival. The seven-day Festival takes place from April 25 to May 1 in New York City. In promotional materials, PEN lists the Israeli Embassy as among the “Champions” of the Festival, and as a sponsor of one of the Festival’s panels.

The letter asserts, “It is deeply regrettable that the Festival has chosen to accept sponsorship from the Israeli government, even as it intensifies its decades-long denial of basic rights to the Palestinian people, including the frequent targeting of Palestinian writers and journalists.” The letter was sent to PEN privately on March 29 by Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, with 62 individual and 11 organizational signatories. The list of signers has since grown to more than 100 individuals.

In addition to Díaz, Erdrich, Ford and Walker, other prominent writers who have signed the letter include Palestinian writer Dr. Ahmad Qatamesh, whose imprisonment without charge by the Israeli government was criticized by PEN International; writer and activistAngela Davis; American writers Russell Banks, Deborah Eisenberg and poet Eileen Myles; Palestinian-American novelists Susan Abulhawa and Randa Jarrar; former President and Vice President of English PEN Gillian Slovo and Kamila Shamsie; Egyptian British author Ahdaf Soueif; and South African writers Dr. Don Materra,Ronnie Kasrils and Breyten Breytenbach. Thirteen participants at the World Voices Festival have signed the letter, including Laura Flanders, Saleem Haddad, Laila Lalami, Solmaz Sharif, Yuri Herrera, Jordan Camp, Christina Heatherton, Arun Kundnani, Maaza Mengiste, Burhan Sönmez, Francisco Goldman, Jennif(f)er Tamayo, andLinh Dinh. Two other participants signed the letter and withdrew from the Festival.

Author Alice Walker commented, ”I signed the letter because, as a PEN member, I want this organization that is supposed to be a champion of writers’ rights to stand up for Palestinian writers, academics, and students who are suffering under a repressive Israeli regime that denies their right to freedom of expression. The last thing PEN should be doing is partnering with and promoting a government that denies Palestinians basic human rights.”

The letter is the latest effort to expose Brand Israel, a government public relations initiative launched in 2005 that uses cultural productions to distract from Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian rights. Following a major Israeli attack on Gaza in 2009, the deputy director general for cultural affairs at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairsexplained to The New York Times, “We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theater companies, exhibits… This way you show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.”

A few hours after the letter was sent to PEN American Center, the organization emailedsome of its members, justifying its decision to maintain Israeli government funding by citing a policy against subscribing “to cultural boycotts of any kind” and the need to “promote dialogue.”

“Even if PEN opposes all forms of boycotts, PEN should have policies and ethical standards in place forbidding partnerships with significant human rights abusers,” saidMarilyn Hacker, Recipient of PEN Voelcker Award for Poetry and PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. “On that basis alone, PEN should rule out a partnership with the Israeli government.”

Omar Barghouti, a founder of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality, added, “We are disappointed and concerned that PEN is choosing to stand with Israel’s repressive government rather than with a civil society initiative for freedom and human rights. PEN’s response avoided the issues we raised. We focused on PEN’s partnership with the Israeli government and explicitly said we are not calling to boycott or deny the freedom of expression of individual Israeli writers. For years, Palestinians have been told to engage in ‘dialogue,’ but the stronger party, Israel, has used ‘dialogue’ as a smoke screen behind which it ramps up repression and denies Palestinians’ their fundamental rights.”

Novelist Ru Freeman, editor of an anthology on Palestine, Extraordinary Rendition: (American) Writers on Palestine, commented, “PEN American Center’s leadership has repeatedly tarnished the World Voices Festival by accepting the sponsorship of an occupying force that oppresses our Palestinian peers, and refused to speak out against that oppression. The board of PEN should recognize that this violates the foundational principles of the organization. PEN has the resources to fund the participation of Israeli writers—which we support—without compromising its principles by associating with an apartheid government.”

PEN American Center, the Festival organizer, is a US branch of the writers’ freedom of expression organization PEN International. In 2015, over 200 writers wrote to PEN American Center criticizing the organization’s decision to give a freedom of expression award to the magazine Charlie Hebdodue to its racist content. Controversy has also arisen in past years over Israeli government sponsorship of PEN’s World Voices Festival.

TOON OF THE DAY ~~ #PanamaPapers

Image by Carlos Latuff

And of course, Israel is involved ….

Israel Vows Probe of Companies Named in #PanamaPapers Expose

Israel’s Tax Authority will investigate Israeli companies and individuals whose are identified as having offshore accounts in a dump of leaked documents known as the Panama Papers.

The tax authority said it will investigate whether the ownership of the companies and the assets held abroad were reported to the authority and if the appropriate taxes were paid.

Israel Tax Authority Director General Moshe Asher told the daily newspaper Israel Hayom that some of the names on the accounts have not reported overseas assets. He said that all the information in the newly leaked documents would be crosschecked.

Some 600 Israeli companies and some 850 Israeli shareholders are listed as having offshore accounts. Among the companies found in the documents are Bank Leumi and Bank Hapoalim.

The 11.5 million documents were published Sunday following a yearlong investigation of their contents led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

It is legal to use offshore accounts.

The leaked data, which go back as far as 1975, came from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which is known for creating shell companies that often conceal the ownership of assets in the accounts.

The documents were reviewed by journalists from 76 countries.

A CONTEST AND A POEM ~~ NAME THE BOAT TO GAZA

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My submission is ~~ THE FLOATILLAMOMS

Name the Women’s Boat(s):
Announcing a Competition

and Running Orders

by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

On International Women’s Day the Women’s Boat to Gaza, a project of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, announced that it will sail in mid-September 2016!

The Women’s Boat to Gaza project is seeking submissions TO NAME THE BOAT OR BOATS! This competition is open to all.  
We are looking for names that reflect our core principles: 
  • A boat with only women crew and delegates
  • Highlighting the role of women in daily life, the struggle, and resistance
  • A nonviolent, direct action that is not affiliated with any government
  • Ultimate goal is to break the illegal blockade of Gaza
  • Solidarity with the women, children, and men of Gaza and Palestine
Closing date for entries is April 25. The winner(s) will be announced May 1.
The name chosen will be painted on the boat and and the person honored on our website.
Please send your submissions with a brief rationale for your suggestion to
Thank you for your support!
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Running Orders
They call us now.
Before they drop the bombs.
The phone rings
and someone who knows my first name
calls and says in perfect Arabic
“This is David”.
And in my stupor of sonic booms and glass shattering symphonies
still smashing around in my head
I think “Do I know any Davids in Gaza?”
They call us now to say
Run.
You have 58 seconds from the end of this message.
Your house is next.
They think of it as some kind of
war time courtesy.
It doesn’t matter that
there is nowhere to run to.
It means nothing that the borders are closed
and your papers are worthless
and mark you only for a life sentence
in this prison by the sea
and the alleyways are narrow
and there are more human lives
packed one against the other
more than any other place on earth
Just run.
We aren’t trying to kill you.
It doesn’t matter that
you can’t call us back to tell us
the people we claim to want aren’t in your house
that there’s no one here
except you and your children
who were cheering for Argentina
sharing the last loaf of bread for this week
counting candles left in case the power goes out.
It doesn’t matter that you have children.
You live in the wrong place
and now is your chance to run
to nowhere.
It doesn’t matter
that 58 seconds isn’t long enough
to find your wedding album
or your son’s favorite blanket
or your daughter’s almost completed college application
or your shoes
or to gather everyone in the house.
It doesn’t matter what you had planned.
It doesn’t matter who you are
Prove you’re human.
Prove you stand on two legs.
Run.
Lena Khalaf Tuffaha
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Please join the campaign. It is 5,900 miles between Washington, DC, and Gaza. Every $5 brings us one mile closer to reaching the families in Gaza. Be a part of the journey. Contribute today!

CRITICISM OF ISRAEL ~~ WHAT’S ALLOWED? — WHAT’S NOT??

When Palestinians fight against occupying troops on their soil, they are denounced — and often killed — as “terrorists.” Meanwhile, nonviolent campaigns to end the occupation through a South Africa-style boycott are demonized as “anti-Semitism” and officially barred — censored — in all sorts of ways, in numerous countries around the world.

SO …

timetable

Fighting Israeli Occupying Forces Is “Terrorism.” Boycotting Is “Anti-Semitism.” What’s Allowed?

By Glenn Greenwald FOR

THAT “TERRORISM” IS a malleable term of propaganda, with no fixed meaning or consistent application, is now quite well-established. Still, its recent application to a spate of violence targeting Israel’s occupying soldiers in the West Bank is so manipulative and extreme that it’s well worth highlighting.

Israel has militarily occupied the West Bank for decades (it’s also still functionally occupying Gaza, as this two-minute video proves). The West Bank “occupation is illegal under international law and the United Nations has repeatedly told the country’s government to vacate Palestinian territory.” Even ardent defenders of Israel admit that “the West Bank is under a legal regime of belligerent occupation” and “Israel’s settlement enterprise is, and has always been, grossly illegal under international law.” Despite this world consensus, Israeli settlements continue to grow rapidly. Israel is not engaged in any meaningful efforts to negotiate an agreement to end the occupation, and leading Israeli ministers now openly oppose such efforts.

In response to this, there has been a series of attacks over the past year by Palestinians on Israeli occupying soldiers in the West Bank. In the Israeli and American press, the Palestinians attacking these occupying soldiers areinvariably calledterrorists” and their attacks are denounced as “terrorism” (“The two soldiers were stabbed while at a guard post at the Har Bracha settlement, located in the northern West Bank. … Troops were searching for the terrorists”).

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For those (such as myself) who have long contended that the term “terrorism” now has little meaning beyond “violence by Muslims against the West and its allies,” and no purpose other than to delegitimize violence by one side while legitimizing the other side’s, can there be any better proof than this?

There have been Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians of course (while far more Palestinian civilians have died at the hands of the Israeli army), but inthese specific cases, these Palestinians are attacking purely military targets, not civilians. Those military targets are soldiers deployed to their soil as part of an illegal occupying army. In what conceivable sense can that be “terrorism”? If fighting an occupying army is now “terrorism” simply because the army belongs to Israel and the attackers are Palestinian, is it not incredibly obvious how this term is exploited?

The U.S. has frequently done the same: invade and occupy countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan and then label anyone who fights their occupying armies as “terrorists,” even putting some in Guantánamo for that. Similarly,attacks against military bases of the U.S., U.K., and other Western countries are routinely labeled “terrorism.

Needless to say, both Americans and Israelis (along with most others in the world) reserve for themselves the absolute right to fight against any foreign army that occupies their land. Indeed, Hollywood, in the 1980s, produced a film called Red Dawn, which imagined an occupation of the U.S. by the Soviet Union and its Nicaraguan and Cuban allies. It told the story of the heroic U.S. citizens, led by high school students, who waged a guerrilla war against the occupying troops, killing dozens upon dozens of them. Imagine the widespread confusion, and outrage, that would have resulted if someone accused the filmmakers of glorifying “terrorism” by demonizing the fictional American resisters as “terrorists”:

The film was updated in 2012 with a sequel depicting “one group of unlikely [American] heroes” who waged guerrilla warfare against North Korean forces who had invaded and occupied the U.S. (the film originally depicted these American heroes attacking and killing an occupying army from China, but, in post-production, the producers changed the identity of the occupiers to North Korean in order to preserve access to Chinese theaters):

When Americans resist military occupation by fighting against occupying troops on their soil, they are noble heroes. But when Palestinians do this, they are “terrorists.” This discourse, by design, equates Palestinians resisting occupation by fighting against an occupying army with al Qaeda and ISIS, and thus posits that any use of force by Palestinians to resist Israeli occupation — even when done on Palestinian soil, aimed exclusively at Israeli military targets there — is illegitimate.

So if violent resistance is illegitimate “terrorism,” what about other alternatives for resisting the decades-old, still-expanding illegal Israeli occupation? The nonviolent route embraced by Palestinian activists and their anti-occupation allies around the world is a campaign of boycott, sanctions, and divestment (BDS) aimed at Israel, modeled after the campaign that helped end South Africa’s apartheid regime in the 1980s (a regime that, just by the way, was a close ally of both the U.S. and Israel).

But there is a highly successful campaign by Israel and its U.S. allies not only to decree this nonviolent boycott campaign illegitimate, but literally tooutlaw it. Official bodies are enacting rules to censor and officially suppress it by equating the campaign with “anti-Semitism” even though, as fervent Israel supporter Eric Alterman wrote in the New York Times this week, “it is filled with young Jews.”

The Intercept and other outlets have repeatedly reported on official governmental and university actions to ban BDS activism by equating it with “anti-Semitism.” In California, the regents of the nation’s largest university system just enacted a resolution strongly implying that BDS activism is anti-Semitic and thus in violation of university rules. In New York last week, dozens of state legislators, from both parties, have demanded the de-funding of a pro-Palestinian group at CUNY, a move denounced by the campus free speech group FIRE. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, when running for office, announced that BDS “has no place on Canadian campuses.” In France, people are literally arrested as criminals under “hate speech” laws for wearing T-shirts advocating BDS. Measures in the U.K. have been enacted to legally bar support for such boycott movements. Laws and proposed bills in Israel ban advocacy of the movement and bar supporters from entering Israel.

So look at what has happened here. When Palestinians fight against occupying troops on their soil, they are denounced — and often killed — as “terrorists.” Meanwhile, nonviolent campaigns to end the occupation through a South Africa-style boycott are demonized as “anti-Semitism” and officially barred — censored — in all sorts of ways, in numerous countries around the world.

If fighting Israeli occupying forces is barred as “terrorism,” and nonviolent boycotts against Israel are barred as “anti-Semitism,” then what is considered a legitimate means for Palestinians and their allies to resist and end the decadeslong, illegal Israeli occupation? The answer is: nothing. Palestinians are obliged to submit to Israeli occupation in a way that none of the people demanding that would ever themselves submit to occupation of their land. All forms of resistance to Israeli occupation are deemed illegitimate. That, manifestly, is the whole point of all of this.

REMEMBERING JULIANO MER-KHAMIS ~~ A MURDER MOST FOUL

Juliano Mer-Khamis

Juliano Mer-Khamis

Juliano Mer-Khamis, the 54-year old founder of The Freedom Theater in Jenin, was murdered five years ago today by unknown assailants.

The murder remains unsolved to this day but his memory lives on as does his dream for a Free Palestine.

Presented here is a post I wrote at the time of his assassination …

A PART OF ALL OF US WAS MURDERED IN JENIN

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The mourning period for Juliano Mer-Khamis will end soon, but what he dedicated his life to and symbolised will never end. It matters not to me who actually pulled the trigger on the gun that killed Juliano. In reality, he was killed by the occupation that he so despised. An occupation that is responsible for the creation of monsters on both sides of the wall, monsters so full of hatred and venom that any one of them could be the guilty party. A part of all of us was murdered that afternoon in Jenin by that monster.
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Juliano was the embodiment of the anti occupation. He could not hate Jews because he was one. He could not hate Palestinians because he was one. He was genetically designed to love. But, obviously he was hated by some for being one or the other. It is sad that a man such as this did not live to see his dreams become a reality. Two nations sitting side by each in PEACE. It will happen dear Comrade…. this we promise you.
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Juliano and I shared a special bond, his parents were Communists as were mine, as are my son’s, as were his. This unique background establishes a very special relationship. This is a concept that can only be felt  by those who grew up in similar circumstances. I am not implying that we were a part of an exclusive fraternal order, but am saying that unless one actually wore the proverbial ‘red diaper’, one could not share the sentiments that I am speaking of. His death affected me personally as if a close member of my family died. In the terms I spoke of, in fact, Juliano was my brother.
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Juliano Mer-Khamis was mourned on both sides of the wall, in the two nations that he so proudly belonged to.  If you haven’t watched the following video, you must. You will get a good idea what a special man Juliano was, what a special woman his mother Arna was, and the love that both had for their people. You will see how evil the occupation is and how good those that oppose it are. It’s truly a special video about a special situation.
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Bella Ciao Dear Juliano ….. Shalom Chaver
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Also see THIS post from the archives

ZIONISM IS NOT A LAUGHING MATTER

Definitely not a laughing matter

Definitely not a laughing matter

Yesterday I reposted a piece from Mondoweiss thinking it was real and true …. (Click on link)

NO MORE ‘FREEBIE’ TRIPS TO ISRAEL

Apparently it seems it was meant as an April Fool’s joke. This was the opinion of most of the comments to the post, but I was sure it was the real thing. Turns out I was the fool for believing it.

For this I apologize to my readers … zionism is definitely not a laughing matter and I hope the usually honest site it came from will issue the same apology that I am posting here.

NO MORE ‘FREEBIE’ TRIPS TO ISRAEL

Racism in Israel has been on the rise and Mark said it was hurting the program. “Truth be told, Israelis have always been kind of dicks,” Mark explained. “Birthright participants were so taken with the trip there were able to see past the dickishness. But I guess Israelis have just become even bigger dicks.” 

Birthright ends trips to Israel — ‘American Jews are better off imagining Israel than seeing it’ 

By Adam Horowitz FOR

Left to right, is of Gidi Mark, CEO of Taglit-Birthright Israel; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Netanyahu's wife, Sara Netanyahu; and Ohio State University student Ryan Hunter of Syosset, NY, at a Birthright Israel Mega Event on June 24, 2014, in Caesarea, Israel. (Photo is courtesy of Steinreich Communications).

Left to right, is of Gidi Mark, CEO of Taglit-Birthright Israel; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Netanyahu’s wife, Sara Netanyahu; and Ohio State University student Ryan Hunter of Syosset, NY, at a Birthright Israel Mega Event on June 24, 2014, in Caesarea, Israel. (Photo is courtesy of Steinreich Communications).

In a shocking move, Birthright Israel announced today, April 1, that the well known travel-program-cum-dating-service will no longer be offering trips to Israel for Jewish young people. In an exclusive interview with Mondoweiss Birthright CEO Gidi Mark explained, “Given the rightward, and frankly racist, turn in Israel we could no longer conduct a trip that would present the country in the most flattering light. We determined that in order to build support for Israel, young people are best off leaving it to their imagination.”

Even though trips will not be continuing, Birthright Israel plans to continue going strong. A new New York City-based program will offer participants an immersive exploration of Israeli history, politics and culture through screenings of the films Exodus and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.

Mark said the change was a stroke of genius. “We found that many young Jewish Americans had a better opinion of Israel before coming to the country. Years of exposure to Jewish educational programs led them to believe Israel was one thing, but time and time again we found participants were turned off by actually seeing the country.”

Mark says the idea for the change first came to him while watching the US presidential race. “I just kept thinking to myself as I watched the debates, why can’t we show people the Israel these politicians seem to see?” The Birthright head soon determined that the reason US politicians laud Israel is because they know so little about it. So, rather than giving participants a firsthand experience with Israel itself, he figures it’s more important to give them a firsthand experience with the idea of Israel.

Mark described the ah-ha moment, “We finally figured it out, the best way to build support for Israel is to have as little contact with Israel as possible.”

What went wrong?

Mark described how itineraries had been curtailed in the past several years due to Jewish violence. “First we stopped going to Jerusalem, given the tension and violence of the Jewish community there. Then we stopped going to the Galilee as Jews stepped up attacks there as well. Soon, we were left with about a three block radius in Tel Aviv that was worth seeing. Most participants just stayed in the hotel.”

Racism in Israel has been on the rise and Mark said it was hurting the program. “Truth be told, Israelis have always been kind of dicks,” Mark explained. “Birthright participants were so taken with the trip there were able to see past the dickishness. But I guess Israelis have just become even bigger dicks.”

Birthright, coming to a theater near you?

Mark says the program already has the AMC Empire 25 near Times Square reserved for the next Birthright trip, and he’s clearly excited. “I think we’ll have a great lineup for the new Birthright, Schindler’s List and World War Z are already on the schedule.” And while it won’t be the same as the old trip, Mark hopes some things will stay the same. “Sure, we will no longer have the Bedouin tent, but trust me, there will still be plenty of handjobs in the new Birthright as well.”

LAND DAY ~~ REMEMBERING OUR LAND AND OUR MARTYRS

Palestinians from the Galilee town of Sakhnin commemorating Land Day, March 30, 2013. (Photo by: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Palestinians from the Galilee town of Sakhnin commemorating Land Day, March 30, 2013. (Photo by: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Why Land Day still matters

Today, with no resolution in sight to the historic injustices inflicted upon them, Palestinians in Israel and elsewhere use this day to remember and redouble their efforts for emancipation.

By Sam Bahour and Fida Jiryis

Every year since 1976, on March 30, Palestinians around the world have commemorated Land Day. Though it may sound like an environmental celebration, Land Day marks a bloody day in Israel when security forces gunned down six Palestinians as they protested Israeli expropriation of Arab-owned land in the country’s north to build Jewish-only settlements.

The Land Day victims were not Palestinians from the occupied territory but citizens of the state, a group that now numbers over 1.6 million people, or more than 20.5 percent of the population. They are inferior citizens in a state that defines itself as Jewish and democratic, but in reality is neither.

On that dreadful day 40 years ago, in response to Israel’s announcement of a plan to expropriate thousands of acres of Palestinian land for “security and settlement purposes,” a general strike and marches were organized in Palestinian towns within Israel, from the Galilee to the Negev. The night before, in a last-ditch attempt to block the planned protests, the government imposed a curfew on the Palestinian villages of Sakhnin, Arraba, Deir Hanna, Tur’an, Tamra and Kabul, in the Western Galilee. The curfew failed; citizens took to the streets. Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as those in the refugee communities across the Middle East, joined in solidarity demonstrations.

In the ensuing confrontations with the Israeli army and police, six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed, about 100 wounded and hundreds arrested. The day lives on, fresh in the Palestinian memory, since today, as in 1976, the conflict is not limited to Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip but is ever-present in the country’s treatment of its own Palestinian Arab citizens.

The month following the killings, an internal government paper, written by senior Interior Ministry official Yisrael Koenig, was leaked to the press. The document, which became known as the Koenig Memorandum, offered recommendations intended to “ensure the [country’s] long-term Jewish national interests.” These included, “the possibility of diluting existing Arab population concentrations.”

Israel has been attempting to “dilute” its Palestinian population − both Muslims and Christians − ever since.

Forty years later, the situation is as dire as ever. Racism and discrimination, in their rawest forms, are rampant in Israel, and are often more insidious than physical violence. Legislation aimed at ethnically cleansing Palestinians from Israel is part of public discourse. Israeli ministers do not shy away from promoting “population transfers” of Palestinian citizens − code for forced displacement.

Israel’s adamant demand that the Palestinians recognize it as a “Jewish state” leaves them in a situation of having to inherently negate their own existence and accept the situation of inferiority in their own land. Recent efforts in the Knesset to link loyalty to citizenship threaten to target organizations and individuals who express dissent and even the revocation of citizenship, a practice unheard of in other countries.

Budgets for health and education allocated by the Israeli government to the Arab sector are, per capita, a fraction of those allocated to Jewish locales. Although hundreds of new Jewish towns and settlements have been approved and built since Israel’s creation, the state continues to prevent Arab towns and villages from expanding, suffocating their inhabitants and forcing new generations to leave in search of homes. Palestinians living in Israel are heavily discriminated against in employment and wages.

The message is clear: Israel has failed, abysmally, in realizing its oft-cried role as “the only democracy in the Middle East” with such discriminatory policies and a culture of antagonism and neglect vis-a-vis a fifth of its citizens. The original Land Day marked a pivotal point in terms of how Palestinians in Israel − living victims of Israel’s violent establishment − viewed their relations with the state. Today, with no resolution in sight to the historic injustices inflicted upon them, Palestinians in Israel and elsewhere use this day to remember and redouble their efforts for emancipation.

Memorial commemorating the deaths during the events of 1976. Annual Land Day commemoration in Sakhnin, March 30th, 2007. (Photo by Activestills.org)

Memorial commemorating the deaths during the events of 1976. Annual Land Day commemoration in Sakhnin, March 30th, 2007. (Photo by Activestills.org)

The names of the six victims of Land Day are written on the front of a monument in the cemetery of Sakhnin, accompanied by the words: “They sacrificed themselves for us to live … thus, they are alive − The martyrs of the day of defending the land, 30 March 1976.” On the back of the monument are the names of the two sculptors who created it: one Arab, one Jewish. Maybe it is this joint recognition of the tragedy of Palestinians that is required in Israel to get us beyond the chasm of denial.

For our part, as second-generation Palestinians born and raised outside Palestine who have decided to return to live in this troubled land, we view Land Day as an ongoing wake-up call to Israeli Jews and Jewry worldwide to understand that land, freedom and equality are an inseparable package − the only one that can deliver a lasting peace to all involved.

 

Originally written FOR

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