SPORTS CAN BE MORE THAN JUST GAMES

For as long as there has been organized, professional sports in this country, the business has intertwined itself with the military. The drive for war was baked into the cake from the beginning.

Two fingers victory peace sign body language at sport stadium

Can Sports Be a Site of War Resistance?

Athletes have used their platforms to amplify messages against police brutality and other forms of oppression—can they do the same for war?

For as long as there has been organized, professional sports in this country, the business has intertwined itself with the military. The drive for war was baked into the cake from the beginning.

The first time a baseball team visited the White House was in 1866, at the invite of our first impeached president, Andrew Johnson, as a way to call for national unity in the aftermath of the Civil War. The reason the baseball Hall of Fame is in Cooperstown, New York, is because a fictitious origin story said the creator of baseball was a general named Abner Doubleday who organized the game in bucolic Cooperstown. This was a lie created by Albert Spalding, as in Spalding sporting goods, someone who said at the beginning of Major League Baseball’s founding, “Baseball, I repeat, is war! And the playing of the game is a battle in which every contestant is a commanding general, who having gained an advantage, must hold it by every resource of his mind and muscle.”

It’s no coincidence that he said this at the end of the 19th century, when the United States was beginning to flex its imperial ambitions. President Teddy Roosevelt, along with the father of football Walter Camp, openly used football as a method of preparing young men for battle before World War I. And sports have continued to be used to marshal support for war ever since.

Today, from the constant military recruitment ads during games to the NFL’s formal partnership with the Pentagon, that relationship continues. As Trump dives headlong into an imperial conflict of choice against Iran, we can expect an uncritical response from the sports establishment on the basis of “supporting the troops.” Yet there is a counter-tradition in sports: a tradition of resistance to imperial conquest that sides with those crushed under its weight. It’s not nearly as deep as traditions against racism or sexism in sports, for example, but it is still there and it needs to be remembered.

I could write about athletes like Dave Megyessy, who spoke out against the war in Vietnam, but the period I want to recall is the time between 2003 and 2007, when George W. Bush started his disastrous war on Iraq. It is largely forgotten now, but there was a vast and dynamic movement in the streets aimed at stopping the war. It involved activists, veterans, family members of those fighting, student organizations, Arab and Muslim groups and many, many more. This mass expression in the streets found expression in the world of sports. Steve Nash, Etan Thomas, Josh Howard, Adam Morrison, Carlos Delgado, Martina Navratilova, Scott Fujita, Adonal Foyle, and even Ultimate Fighting Champion Jeff Monson all raised their voice against war.

A mass movement in the streets—which we aren’t close to having at this point—is a prerequisite to seeing athletes use their platform. But already there are rumbles, thanks to the easy access of social media. Colin Kaepernick, still waiting for someone in the NFL to have the courage to sign him, let loose on Twitter, writing, “There is nothing new about American terrorist attacks against Black and Brown people for the expansion of American imperialism. America has always sanctioned and besieged Black and Brown bodies both at home and abroad. America militarism is the weapon wielded by American imperialism, to enforce its policing and plundering of the non white world.” He also put out this quote from longtime civil rights fighter Angela Davis—retweeting Ameer Loggins @Leftsentthis—“As a Black woman, my politics and political affiliation are bound up with and flow from participation in my people’s struggle for liberation, and with the fight of oppressed people all over the world against American imperialism.”

In addition, Los Angeles Charger Justin Jackson has put out a long series of tweets against war, writing, among many other sentiments, that “we can drone strike a foreign leader from the sky with a death robot all the way in Iraq but we can’t get clean water pipes under Flint.” He also cited the costs of war and wrote, “Yet somehow cable news has the gall to ask Bernie how we’ll pay for free college and a less expensive healthcare system. Oh and by the way, war is a racket. But you already knew this.”

There are other stray tweets out there of athletes raising issues about this mad rush to war. These words are hopefully just a beginning. The hope is not only that they will inspire other athletes to use their voices, but that they will also help propel a movement against this administration’s imperial ambitions and the bipartisan thirst for forever wars.

AS THE OCCUPATION GROWS …… SO DO THE PROTESTS

Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli forces over plans for a new Israeli settlement in the West Bank city of Hebron.

FASCISM 101 (ISRAELI STYLE)

“This is what fascism looks like.”

‘What Fascism Looks Like’: Israeli High Court Upholds Expulsion of Human Rights Watch Director Omar Shakir Over Alleged BDS Support

“The perpetuation of the occupation continues to mean the silencing of criticism.”

The Israeli Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the deportation and permanent expulsion of Omar Shakir, the Human Rights Watch representative in Israel and Palestine, over Shakir’s alleged support of the Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions movement, a move that drew criticism from peace advocates and progressives around the world.

“This is what fascism looks like,” tweeted Palestinian rights advocate Diana Buttu.

The court gave Shakir 20 days to leave the country.

As Common Dreams reported, Interior Minister Arye Dery decided in April to expel Shakir, a U.S. citizen, from Israel over Shakir’s alleged support of the BDS movement.

The high court on Tuesday ruled that decision was legal due to a controversial 2017 Israeli law banning proponents of the boycott movement from entering or remaining in Israel. Dery said the ruling affirms his position that “anyone who works against the state should know that we will not allow him to live or work here.”

Shakir’s attorney Michael Sfard told Haaretz that the ruling made clear Israel is joining what he described as other repressive regimes in barring those who would expose misbehavior from their countries.

“Today, the State of Israel joined the list of countries like Syria, Iran, and North Korea, which have expelled Human Rights Watch representatives in an attempt to silence criticism of human rights violations taking place within their borders,” said Sfard.

But, according to The New York Times, Human Rights Watch believes Shakir was expelled for his work against Israeli settlements in the West Bank rather than any advocacy in favor of BDS:

Human Rights Watch says neither it nor Shakir has called for an outright boycott of Israel and says that Shakir, who is a U.S. citizen, is being targeted for the rights group’s opposition to Israel’s West Bank Jewish settlements and its calls for companies to stop working with the settlements.

Critics of the move sounded off on social media.

“The perpetuation of the occupation continues to mean the silencing of criticism,” liberal U.S. Israeli advocacy group J-Street said on Twitter. “Democracies should not expel human rights organizers.”

Amnesty International

@amnesty

Today’s decision from Israel’s Supreme Court to uphold the deportation of @hrw director @OmarSShakir is a cowardly move that confirms Israel’s oppressive intent on silencing independent human rights organizations at any cost. http://amn.st/60191z6bb 

Israeli Supreme Court Decision to deport HRW Director

The decision to uphold Omar Shakir’s deportation order is a crushing blow for freedom of expression

amnesty.org

In a statement, Amnesty International deputy Middle East and North Africa director Saleh Higazi said the decision made it “explicitly clear that those who dare to speak out about human rights violations by the Israeli authorities will be treated as enemies of the state.”

“Human rights defenders play an essential role in exposing the government’s wrongdoing and fostering public debate,” said Higazi. “Today’s decision is a cowardly move that confirms Israel’s oppressive intent on silencing independent human rights organizations at any cost.”

“The world must not stay silent in the face of this travesty of justice,” Higazi added. “The international community, including Israel’s allies such as the U.S.A., have a responsibility to press Israel to reverse this reprehensible decision and make clear to them that this kind of blatant repression is completely unacceptable and will have consequences.”

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem’s executive director Hagai El-Ad said that while the expulsion was personally shocking, the decision by the high court was in line with Israeli efforts to restrict dissent over the occupation.

“From a personal perspective, it’s shocking and unsettling, to see Omar ordered to leave within 20 days,” said El-Ad. “But from a professional/legal perspective, there’s nothing in the ruling which isn’t in line with earlier rulings by Israel’s HCJ. The only novelty is the application of current Israeli legal dogma in order to deport Omar.”

“Israel, by definition, isn’t a democracy,” El-Ad continued, adding that he hoped the decision would make that clearer to the international community.

“Either way,” said El-Ad, “the fight continues.”

THE ISRAELI NON GOVERNMENT’S FIRST MOVE

Israel’s Minister of the Interior says he is taking action to force Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, out of the country.

Israel prepares to deport BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti

Israel’s Minister of the Interior says he is taking action to force Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, out of the country.

I intend to act quickly to deprive Omar Barghouti of residency status in Israel… This is a man who does everything to harm the country and therefore must not enjoy the right to be a resident of Israel.

Aryeh Deri said he had directed the Population and Immigration Authority to prepare a legal opinion aimed at Barghouti’s deportation.

The announcement comes after Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber notified Deri’s office that it had the authority to revoke Barghouti’s residency. The legal basis: a 2018 amendment to the residency law, listing “breach of trust” as a crime which may justify stripping a residency status. Barghouti married a Palestinian citizen of Israel, and lives under the residency status in the city of Acre.

Imagine it – the state “trusts” you to not take it to task for its violations, it “trusts” you to not complain and to accept these violations, and if you protest, even in a non-violent and civil manner, you have breached that “trust”.

Barghouti has long been a target for fascistic suggestions. In a 2016 anti-BDS conference sponsored by the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot, then Minister of Transportation and Intelligence Israel Katz suggested “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leadership. “Targeted elimination” is a well-known Israeli term for assassination. He merely added the “civil” to make it sound more “civil”. Barghouti was singled out by name, and the anti-BDS Czar Gilad Erdan said that BDS activists will “pay a price”. “We will soon be hearing more of our friend Barghouti”, Erdan hinted insidiously.

Soon after that, the local Ministry of the Interior office notified Barghouti that his travel document (which he has to renew every two years) would not be renewed. It was then temporarily renewed following legal pressure. Barghouti told Glenn Greenwald at the time:

So we are really unnerved, I am personally quite unnerved by those threats. We take them very seriously, especially in this context. We live in a country where racism and racial incitement against indigenous Palestinians has grown tremendously into the Israeli mainstream. It has really become mainstream today to be very openly racist against Palestinians. Many settlers and hard-right-wing Israelis are taking matters into their own hands – completely supported by the state – and attacking Palestinians. So in that context I am unnerved, but I’m certainly undeterred. I shall continue my non-violent struggle for Palestinian rights under international law and nothing they can do will stop me.

Barghouti was indeed “targeted”, but so far only by the “civil” means of preventing his travels by bureaucratic means. Lately that has included US and UK initiatives, with nebulous holdups and refusals which the governments didn’t seek to defend.

In the US case last April, Barghouti was stopped at the Israeli Ben Gurion airport and denied travel to the US, despite having a valid visa. James Zogby of the Arab American Institute, which had been coordinating the trip, commented:

Omar Barghouti is a leading Palestinian voice on human rights. Omar’s denial of entry into the US is the latest example of the Trump administration’s disregard for those rights.

In the UK case from last month, Barghouti was meant to speak at a fringe event of the Labour conference, organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). He ended up speaking on skype, due to an “unexplained, abnormal delay” in the issuing of his visa. PSC said in a statement:

The unprecedented delay in processing Barghouti’s travel visa application by the British government is part and parcel of the growing efforts by Israel and its allies to suppress Palestinian voices and the movements for Palestinian rights,

The recent move to revoke Barghouti’s residency seems to result from a right-wing incitement campaign by the group Betzalmo (a pun on the human rights monitoring group B’tselem). They wrote to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit and to Deri just over a week ago, urging them to expel Barghouti. In their letter they noted the US’s denial of entry, and asked why the Israeli government has not acted to strip Barghouti of his residency rights. They elaborated that Barghouti harms the state, breaches allegiance and is a security threat:

A recent law authorizes the Interior Minister, with the approval of the attorney-general, to revoke residency for anyone who harms state security or violates allegiance to the state, or endangers public peace… Undoubtedly Barghouti’s leadership of the boycott movement against all citizens of the State of Israel severely harms the State of Israel and is a blatant breach of allegiance, as well as a threat to Israel’s security and defense by pushing for an arms embargo against Israel.

So: The green light from the Attorney-General’s office, a further green light from Deri’s office, and the machine seems set to deport the “traitor”.

For Israel, Barghouti proves that you can’t trust Palestinians to shut up, and that they need to learn it the hard way. But every step that Israel takes in its repressive attempt to silence dissent, becomes another reason to boycott it. Indeed, as Erdan promised, we’ve heard a lot from, and about, Omar Barghouti. And we’re bound to hear much more about him, and BDS.

THE ‘DREAM’ HAS TURNED INTO A NIGHTMARE

Fifty six years ago, on a day as hot as possible, Washington DC witnessed a demonstration which became known simply as ‘The March’. After months of organising the day finally came, August 28th, 1963. The day Martin Luther King shook the world with his speech ‘I Have A Dream’. The day we all shared that dream with him, millions of us, Black, White, Hispanic, Jew, Muslim, Christian…. EVERYONE was represented. EVERYONE was full of hope.

The end of the speech are the words that are best remembered….
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

BUT those hands are still not joined and we are far from being free. King spoke of peace, we have witnessed war after war, he spoke of Civil Rights, we have seen them disappearing one by one. No, we are not singing today, but we ARE still hoping for that ‘change’….. the time is long overdo. The ‘Dream’ has turned into a nightmare, but we cling to that hope.

JEWS AGAINST ICE PROTEST IN NEW YORK

At least 40 protesters who took part in a “Jews Against ICE” protest at an Amazon Books store along 34th Street in Manhattan were arrested by police on Sunday, August 11, coinciding with the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’Av.

Scores Arrested During ‘Jews Against ICE’ Protest at Manhattan Amazon Store

At least 40 protesters who took part in a “Jews Against ICE” protest at an Amazon Books store along 34th Street in Manhattan were arrested by police on Sunday, August 11, coinciding with the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’Av.

This footage, livestreamed for the Jews for Racial and Economic Justice organization by author and activist Abby Stein, shows the scene at the store where more than 1,000 demonstrators spoke out against detention centers in the United States, made speeches, sang songs and held banners with slogans including “Never again means never again,” drawing a comparison between the events of the Holocaust and the current immigration situation in the US.

New York Police Department officers can be seen escorting arrested protesters into an MTA bus, which was reportedly commandeered due to the large number of arrestees.

The protest in New York coincided with a number of similar demonstrations across the country on Sunday, but Amazon’s brick-and-mortar Midtown store was chosen as a protest site due to the technology company allegedly hosting database software enabling ICE to document and detain immigrants, according to reports from PIX11 and Haaretz.

 

Source

WHEN THE DEAD ARE NOT GONE

 Mississippi started burning 55 years ago this week and unfortunately the flames are still sky high

Missing persons poster created by the FBI in 1964, shows the photographs of Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner.

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A memorial to victims Andrew Goodman, James Earl Chaney, and Michael H. Schwerner at Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Mississippi.

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55 Years later, the three martyrs are still remembered and loved.

Here are some songs written to celebrate their lives and honor their deaths, as well as one Yiddish song, “Donna Donna,” written a quarter-century earlier but profoundly appropriate, I think, to the day. The performers are Tom Paxton; Simon & Garfunkel; Harry Belafonte (singing a Pete Seeger-Frances Taylor song); Joan Baez; Richard and Mimi Farina (she was Joan Baez’s sister); Nechama Hendel; and wrapping it up, one of my favorite Phil Ochs songs, “Here’s to the State of Mississippi.” All the songs were written by the performers except where noted. (Originally appeared AT)

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Tom Paxton: “Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney.”

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Harry Belafonte: “Those Three Are on My Mind.” (Written by Pete Seeger and Frances Taylor. Hear Pete singing it here.)

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Simon and Garfunkel: “He Was My Brother” (for Andrew Goodman, their friend and classmate at Queens College).

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Richard and Mimi Farina: “Michael, Andrew and James.”

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Nechama Hendel: “Donna Donna” (the Yiddish original, by Aaron Zeitlin and Sholom Secunda). (For Joan Baez’s famous performance of the English version [“…Calves are easily bound and slaughtered, never knowing the reason why, but whoever treasures freedom like the swallow has learned to fly”] click here.)

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Phil Ochs: “Here’s to the State of Mississippi.”

PALESTINE’S ANSWER TO EUROVISION

For the past year, there have been grisly scenes on the Gaza-Israel border where Israel has violently put down the Great March of Return. Palestinian artists called on Eurovision song contestants to boycott the international event that Tel Aviv is hosting this week.

Image by Pedripol
The other side of Eurovision

‘Music of dead, bombed-out buildings must be heard’ — Gaza artists hold anti-Eurovision concert in building destroyed by Israeli attack

At the front gate of the residential Al-Qamar building, which was flattened by an Israeli air strike a week ago, a Palestinian band arrives with their instruments. They sweep away small stones and building remnants as they prepare to start their concert. The concert in Gaza is being held at the same time as a similar concert was starting just 70 kilometers away in Tel Aviv’s Charles Clore park to kick off the week-long Eurovision song contest.

Holding a guitar, Mohammed Ukasheh, 28, launches into “Gaza Message” with his both of his drummers. The song calls for the Eurovision contest to be boycotted.

The band start singing lyrics of the Lebanese iconic singer Wadih al-Safi, under the destroyed building’s crumbling roof.

Oh, immigrants return… Homeland is precious
Listen to the voice of Palestine… The voice of blame is loudly

I will write your name my country
Above the sun, that does not sets
Nor my sons neither my wealth
Above your love, there is no love

May god brings back our happiness and laughter
And our home filled in smile and happiness

The seven-story building in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood in the Gaza City was leveled by six Israeli missiles, when an anonymous Israeli officer gave all tenants in the building five minutes to evacuate. The building had been home to more than 40 residents and commercial tenants including a beauty salon, mini market and tire store.

For the past year, there have been grisly scenes on the Gaza-Israel border where Israel has violently put down the Great March of Return. Palestinian artists called on Eurovision song contestants to boycott the international event that Tel Aviv is hosting this week.

The Gaza Strip-based Palestinian Artists Association said on a brief statement that Israel is using the event to “perpetuate oppression, promote injustice or whitewash a brutal apartheid regime”.

The artists cited the killing of more than 60 Palestinian demonstrators at Gaza-Israeli fence on May 14 last year, just two days after Israel won the 2018 edition of Eurovision.

“How can an international event be hosted on the ruins of the Palestinian village Sheikh Munis?,” Kamel Musallam, coordinator of the concert, asked. “Our message to Europe and the US is, both are participating in Gaza bloodshed by taking part in Eurovision,” he added.

Sabreen Juma’a al-Najjar, mother of slain paramedic Razan Al-Najjar, whose killing in June prompted international outrage, was among the dozen of attendees at the Al-Qamar building.

“Israel seeks to whitewashes its lethal acts against the Palestinians by hosting such a musical event, but having a look at one single destroyed building will erase all of Israel’s reputation for democracy and morality,” Juma’a al-Najjar told Mondoweiss. “Why won’t pop superstar Madonna hold her concert at this building, or at the place where Razan was killed near the fence?” she asked.

Madonna is scheduled to perform two songs in Tel Aviv to kick Eurovision off despite calls for her to boycott the show.

“Why doesn’t Eurovision arrange an event to let the music of dead, bombed-out buildings, and for the voices of mothers of the slain to be heard?” Juma’a al-Najjar added.

Haaretz has reported that the Israeli military has deployed “extensive” Iron Dome aerial defense batteries and ordered its forces stationed by Gaza to act with greater “restraint” during the Eurovision competition, which will last until Saturday, May 18.

This follows last week’s Israeli attack on Gaza, where 25 Palestinians were killed in the attacks and 800 homes were destroyed. Four Israeli were killed by retaliatory strikes.

Tuesday is also the first anniversary of the United States Embassy’s move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and the bloody mass protest along the Gaza fence, when scores of Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire.

Wednesday is Nakba Day, when Palestinians commemorate the flight and expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees during the hostilities surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948.

Jamal abu Arar, 61, was unsure that the local concert could “deliver the message.” Abu Arar said that “music is divided into two; romance for the rich and the killer, while the sounds of artillery and explosions are only for the poor and the victims.”

Photos at SOURCE

PHOTOS OF NEW YORKERS STANDING FOR ASSANGE

Support for Julian Assange is growing throughout the world.

Photos sent by Fatima


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Democracy Now adds the following …..

And Carlos Latuff joins in …

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A VIDEO MESSAGE TO THE CHILDREN OF GAZA

This is a recorded message of the international Academy Award Winner Shaun Tan in support of Gaza Children Cinema.

Over the next year, this movie and video message package will be shown to over 100 groups of children throughout Gaza. Gaza has always been a challenging environment for children, and especially so over the past two weeks, as the city has been under a sustained and brutal onslaught from across the border. In a city with around one million children, where there are no cinemas, little infrastructure, inconsistent water and power, and a military embargo limiting food, medicines and other essentials, not to mention constant military threat, a simple event like watching a movie, can be a vitally therapeutic and impactful event.

 

You can donate to the Gaza Children’s Cinema via THIS LINK

BELLA CIAO DEAR BUD KOROTZER

DesertPeace is in mourning today for the passing of my dear cousin, comrade and friend, Bud Korotzer.

Bud was, for years, an Associate of DesertPeace as well as our roaming photographer in the New York area. He participated and covered almost every demonstration there. Together with his wife Chippy (Francine), readers of this Blog were privy, first hand, to the ongoing struggles facing America today. Palestinian rights was foremost on their agenda.

Some of you might recognise this beautiful man if you are also involved in the struggle … here is a photo of him taken at a demonstration:

Bud leaves behind his loving wife Francine, a son, Ethan, a daughter, Danielle and four loving grandchildren. May they all be comforted in their grief knowing that Bud will always be remembered and loved.

Bud’s funeral will held on   

Monday, April 8, 10:30 AM 

 Greenwich Village Funeral Home

199 Bleecker Street( between 6th Avenue and McDougal Street)

          Closest train:  #1 to Houston. Walk northeast to Bleecker.

Bella Ciao dear comrade

JEWISH GROUPS MUST LEAD THE FIGHT AGAINST ISLAMOPHOBIA

We are in a moment in which our actions deserve real scrutiny and a commitment to change. Support for Islamophobia—in any form—kills.

Jewish Communities Must Root Out Islamophobia

MANY JEWISH GROUPS in the US have reached out to Muslim groups after last week’s massacre of Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand. Jewish communities have been showing support and solidarity in a number of meaningful ways, including participating in interfaith services and rallies, offering to stand outside mosques when needed, and raising funds for the families of those who were murdered. But as Jews, we need to dig deeper into what our institutions are doing to foment Islamophobia and anti-Muslim racism.

The hateful anti-Muslim rhetoric all around us can’t be separated from acts of physical violence. White nationalist rhetoric and actions have been encouraged and facilitated by the Trump Administration; the recent, relentless assault on Rep. Ilhan Omar has been riddled with Islamophobia and anti-Black racism. This Islamophobia long predates the current administration and has been encouraged and condoned well beyond the right. A recent article for ThinkProgress by Dr. Maha Hilal captures the hypocrisy of those in power: “While leaders across the globe might react negatively to the white nationalist language [the New Zealand killer] used, it’s hard to believe rhetoric that mourns the loss of Muslim lives after more than 17 years of the war on terror and the violence against Muslims in the form of detention, surveillance, torture, and murder.”

Anti-Muslim racism is pervasive. It is state-sanctioned and structural. It is deadly. It is on our streets, in our media, and in the encounters Muslims have at work, in schools, and in day-to-day life. So what can we do as Jews? We need to challenge our Jewish communities that are enabling—and sometimes fomenting—Islamophobia.

We know that Jewish organizations are funding some of the most virulent Islamophobic groups in the country. For example, progressive Jewish groups including Jews Against Anti-Muslim Racism (JAAMR), Jews SAY NO!, and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) recently released a report detailing how the Jewish Communal Fund (JCF) in New York is supporting some of the worst purveyors of anti-Muslim hate. These purveyors include, among others, the David Horowitz Freedom Center, whose namesake is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “the godfather of the anti-Muslim movement,” and the American Freedom Defense Initiative, whose public face is Pamela Geller, infamous for placing vitriolic anti-Muslim ads in public buses and subways. All of these JCF-funded groups are leaders in, or significant contributors to, what the Center for American Progress calls “the Islamophobia network in America.” The JCF has responded to the report and call to stop funding anti-Muslim hate with dead silence.

Chicago’s Jewish United Fund (JUF) has been doing much the same. JUF funneledhundreds of thousands of dollars to anti-Muslim hate groups between 2011 and 2014 through its donor-advised funds. JUF also accepted $5.1 million in 2013 from the Donors Capital Fund, a major contributor to the Islamophobia network. After sustained pressure and private meetings with Jewish activists and community leaders, JUF leadership said they would “discourage” its funds from selecting known hate groups for donations, yet their response makes clear they are continuing to shirk responsibility for how their funds are used.

And then there’s the Anti-Defamation League, which bills itself as committed to combating all forms of hate. While the ADL has certainly done some work to challenge Islamophobia, it has done a great deal of harm in promoting it. The organization has engaged in illegal spying, beginning in the 1950s, on Arab-Americans and progressive groups, which is perhaps why it never spoke up in all the years when the NYPD engaged in discriminatory surveillance of Muslim communities. Far from denouncing this blatant attack on the civil rights of Muslim citizens, the ADL gave an award to the commanding officer of the NYPD Intelligence Division that had been implementing the surveillance program. The ADL has a long history of labeling Muslim community groups as “terrorist sympathizers,” doing whatever it can to delegitimize them, and The ADL Foundation has also given grants to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, founded by Steve Emerson, known as a “leading light of the Islamophobia network.”

Jewish organizations have participated in furthering Islamophobia as part and parcel of their uncritical support for Israel. The anti-Muslim “clash of civilizations” concept—that “Western civilization” is locked in a never-ending battle with Islam as a result of fundamental cultural differences, rather than material factors such as the legacy of neocolonialism and imperialism—serves as a framework for US and Israeli government policies. Other hasbara (propaganda) campaigns disparage Muslims and Islam to justify Israeli policies that dehumanize Palestinians.

Many Jewish organizations have also supported the US “war on terror,” which, since 9/11, has targeted and demonized Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities across the globe. This domestic and global “war on terror” is considered integral to cementing the US-Israel “special relationship” and ensuring US support for Israeli policies.

Jewish communities have serious work ahead of us. We can and must demand that our institutions stop funding Islamophobia. We can and must demand that our institutions oppose US policies that harm Muslim communities in the US and globally. We can and must take seriously Dr. Hilal’s words that “the global war on terror has become a blueprint for violence against Muslims.” We can and must demand that our communities oppose not only Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian violence, but also the policies that are so intertwined with them.

We are in a moment in which our actions deserve real scrutiny and a commitment to change. Support for Islamophobia—in any form—kills.

GOTTA LOVE IT WHEN ZION LOSES OUT BIG

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute has now gone full circle: It announced that it has voted to give its human rights award to Angela Davis after all!

Image by Carlos Latuff

Birmingham civil rights institute votes to give award to Angela Davis after all

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The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute has now gone full circle: It announced that it has voted to give its human rights award to Angela Davis after all!

The Institute originally decided to give the scholar and activist the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award last December. Then on January 4, reportedly under pressure from Jewish groups because of Davis’s support for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) targeting Israel, the Institute voted to rescind the award and cancel the gala at which she was to be honored. It had no idea what was coming. The institute suffered a nationwide onslaught of criticism for its cowardice, as well as outrage from the Birmingham city council and school board and mayor. Three board members of the BCRI resigned, and the institute apologized for “missteps” on January 14. Meanwhile, plans were announced for Davis to receive an honor from her native city on the same day as the canceled BCRI gala.

Well, today the last shoe dropped. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute announced that it voted — evidently a week or ten days ago– to “reaffirm Dr. Davis as the recipient” of the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award.

“Dr. Davis was immediately thereafter personally invited to reaccept the award.”

There is no word right now as to Angela Davis’s plans.

More from that statement:

Immediately after that public apology [of January 14], in keeping with its commitment to learning from its mistakes and in order to stay true to the BCRI’s founding mission, the Board voted to reaffirm Dr. Davis as the recipient…. The BCRI respects her privacy and timing in whatever her response may ultimately be.

At the BCRI’s founding, the basic purposes of the Institute were to “focus on what happened in the past, to portray it realistically and interestingly, and to understand it in relationship to the present and future development of human relations in Birmingham, the United States, and perhaps the world.”

“Dr. Angela Davis, a daughter of Birmingham, is highly regarded throughout the world as a human rights activist,” said BCRI President and CEO Andrea L. Taylor. “In fact, the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study acquired her personal archives in 2018, recognizing her significance in the movement for human rights, her involvement in raising issues of feminism, as well as her leadership in the campaign against mass incarceration. Her credentials in championing human rights are noteworthy,” she said.

Reverend Thomas L. Wilder, interim BCRI Board Chair, said “at the end of the day, we stand for open and honest dialogue on issues. It is only through our ability to talk openly and honestly with one another that we can achieve true understanding and appreciation for one another’s perspectives…

“We ask everyone to partner with us to rebuild trust in the Institute and its important work,” Wilder said.

In an official “chronology” of the decision, the BCRI never mentions Jewish groups or Angela Davis’s stance on Palestine. Just this on the runup to the Jan. 4 vote to withdraw the award:

[B]oard members reported on discussions they had with various members of the community that expressed opposition towards giving Dr. Davis the award due to her lack of vocal opposition to violence.

Though reporting has been clear on that causality. EI:

Roy S. Johnson, a columnist for several Alabama newspapers, revealed Monday that those demanding the cancellation were “primarily – though not exclusively – from the city’s Jewish leadership, according to a source familiar with a decision that transpired quickly, and stunningly, in a span of just a few days.”

Last month, Southern Jewish Life, a communal publication serving southern states, ran an article criticizing the BCRI for honoring Davis, claiming that she is “an outspoken voice in the boycott-Israel movement, and advocates extensively on college campuses for the isolation of the Jewish state, saying Israel engages in ethnic cleansing and is connected to police violence against African Americans in the United States.”

Roy Johnson later wrote:

It [BCRI] caved to voices clearly uncomfortable with aspects of Davis’ widely known revolutionary past, which includes membership in the Black Panther and Communist parties and, most recently, support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) against Israel.

SOURCE

BLOCKING APARTHEID

While the Israeli lane allows settlers quick and easy access to the center of Jerusalem, the Palestinian lane is designed to separate Palestinians off through an underpass, diverging to different areas of the West Bank.

Protesters blockade the entrance to the ‘Apartheid Road’ in the West Bank on January 23, 2019 (Photo: PSCC, Facebook)

‘No to Apartheid’: Palestinian activists blockade entrance to Israel’s new ‘Apartheid Road’

Yumna Patel 

Over a dozen Palestinian activists, along with Israeli and international supporters, blockaded the entrance to Israel’s new ‘Apartheid Road’ in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem on Wednesday morning.

The group of activists closed the gates to the newly opened road and formed a human chain, raising banners in Arabic, English, and Hebrew saying “No to Apartheid” and “No to Annexation.”

Israeli forces arrived to the scene, which is located adjacent to an Israeli military base, shortly after the activists closed the road and attempted to forcibly remove them.

Two protesters were arrested and at least four others were injured. One of the detained protesters was identified as Ibrahim Musalem, from the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Palestinian activist Munther Amira, who participated in the protest, said “any shame the [Israeli] Occupation may have had of its apartheid policies is now completely gone with this road. We must not and will not allow for their plan of ethnic cleansing in the outskirts of Jerusalem.”

Israeli authorities opened the ‘Apartheid Road’ or ‘Eastern Ring Road’ earlier this monthto widespread Palestinian and international criticisms.

The four-lane highway features two separate road divided by a concrete wall – one for Israeli settlers and the other for Palestinians.

While the Israeli lane allows settlers quick and easy access to the center of Jerusalem, the Palestinian lane is designed to separate Palestinians off through an underpass, diverging to different areas of the West Bank.

In a statement regarding the protest, the Palestinian Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC) criticized Israel’s plans to expand the road to the south, saying it would “further entrench the two separate and unequal systems of transportation in the West Bank.”

The road is a key infrastructural part of implementing Israel’s ‘Greater Jerusalem’ or ‘E1’ plan, which seeks the de facto annexation of the three settlement blocs adjacent to Jerusalem city – Gush Etzion to the South, Ma’ale Adumim/E-1 to the east and Givat Ze’ev to the north.

If implemented, the southern West Bank would be completely cut off from the north, making a future contiguous Palestinian state nearly impossible.

More photos at SOURCE 

BLACKS ARE THE NEW TARGET OF THE ZIOLOBBY

Davis is the latest prominent Black intellectual and outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights to be targeted by the Israel lobby.

Angela Davis (Columbia GSAPP)

Angela Davis is latest Black target of Israel lobby

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute has canceled its annual gala at which iconic Black scholar and activist Angela Davis was to receive a prestigious human rights award.

Randall Woodfin, the mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, expressed his “dismay” at the decision, which he said came “after protests from our local Jewish community and some of its allies.”

“The reactive decision of the BCRI did not create an opportunity for necessary consensus dialogue,” Woodfin added.

Davis is the latest prominent Black intellectual and outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights to be targeted by the Israel lobby.

Roy S. Johnson, a columnist for several Alabama newspapers, revealed Monday that those demanding the cancellation were “primarily – though not exclusively – from the city’s Jewish leadership, according to a source familiar with a decision that transpired quickly, and stunningly, in a span of just a few days.”

Last month, Southern Jewish Life, a communal publication serving southern states, ran an article criticizing the BCRI for honoring Davis, claiming that she is “an outspoken voice in the boycott-Israel movement, and advocates extensively on college campuses for the isolation of the Jewish state, saying Israel engages in ethnic cleansing and is connected to police violence against African Americans in the United States.”

While there is vocal and growing opposition to Israel’s policies among American Jews at large, the leaders of established Jewish communal groups, including the Birmingham Jewish Federation, tend to be strongly pro-Israel.

The Birmingham Jewish Federation was reportedly among the groups that pressured BCRI.

Others who pressured BCRI to ditch Davis reportedly included General Charles Krulak, a retired Marine commander and former president of Birmingham-Southern College.

Support for Palestinians

Angela Davis, a Birmingham native, has long been an outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights and an advocate of the BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – movement to hold Israel accountable for its violations and crimes against Palestinians.

Davis has also stood up for Rasmea Odeh, the Palestinian activist and torture survivor deported from the US in 2017 following a conviction for immigration fraud.

Adam Milstein, a major financier of anti-Palestinian groups, took note of the BCRI’s decision on Twitter:

Adam Milstein

@AdamMilstein

The Birmingham (AL) Civil Rights Institute canceled its Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award for after protests from local community and concerned Americans. concluded she unfortunately does not meet all of the award’s criteria https://www.cbs42.com/news/local/bcri-no-longer-honoring-angela-davis/1689376820 

Milstein was named in a censored Al Jazeera documentary about the Israel lobby leaked by The Electronic Intifada in November, as a founder and financier of the anti-Palestinian smear website Canary Mission.

That same film, The Lobby–USA, also identified how Israel and its agents are targeting and attempting to co-opt Black leaders and activists in order to disrupt growing Black identification and solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.

Affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute was founded in 1992 to commemorate the city’s role in the struggle against institutionalized American racism.

In a statement Saturday, BCRI noted that in September its board “selected Angela Davis to receive the prestigious Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award at its annual gala in February 2019.”

“In late December, supporters and other concerned individuals and organizations, both inside and outside of our local community, began to make requests that we reconsider our decision,” BCRI added, without naming or further characterizing the groups or their objections.

“Upon closer examination of Ms. Davis’ statements and public record, we concluded that she unfortunately does not meet all of the criteria on which the award is based,” BCRI stated.

“Therefore, on 4 January, BCRI’s Board voted to rescind its invitation to Ms. Davis to honor her with the Shuttlesworth Award.”

Targeting Black voices

Davis is the second high-profile Black intellectual to be targeted by pro-Israel lobby pressure in recent weeks.

In November, Marc Lamont Hill was dismissed from his role as a CNN political commentator following an Israel lobby campaign of lies and smears misrepresenting a speech he made at the United Nations in support of Palestinian rights and BDS.

Temple University also faced pressure from the Zionist Organization of America to dismiss Hill as a professor – a step it has not taken amid warnings that this would violate Hill’s First Amendment rights.

Hill called BCRI’s decision to withdraw its award from Davis “shameful.”

Hill is one of many people expressing consternation at BCRI’s decision to disinvite Davis who is widely recognized as a groundbreaking Black radical theorist, prison abolitionist and anti-racism activist who throughout her life has faced institutional pressure and persecution for her stances.

Alabama columnist Roy S. Johnson also condemned the decision as an insult to the memory of Fred Shuttlesworth, the preacher and leader in the struggle against segregation for whom the BCRI award is named.

Shuttlesworth, Johnson wrote, “would not have bowed to anyone trying to dissuade him from honoring someone who fought the same fight – even if they fought with a different fervor, even if they were decidedly more revolutionary.”

But by disinviting Davis, Johnson added, “one of our most venerable cultural institutions, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, did just that – it crumbled.”

Alabama columnist Roy S. Johnson also condemned the decision as an insult to the memory of Fred Shuttlesworth, the preacher and leader in the struggle against segregation for whom the BCRI award is named.

Shuttlesworth, Johnson wrote, “would not have bowed to anyone trying to dissuade him from honoring someone who fought the same fight – even if they fought with a different fervor, even if they were decidedly more revolutionary.”

But by disinviting Davis, Johnson added, “one of our most venerable cultural institutions, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, did just that – it crumbled.”

 

More Tweets at SOURCE

 

Here is Ms, Davis’ response to the decision

Statement on the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
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On Saturday January 5, I was stunned to learn that the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Board of Directors had reversed their previous decision to award me the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award. Although the BCRI refused my requests to reveal the substantive reasons for this action, I later learned that my long-term support of justice for Palestine was at issue. This seemed particularly unfortunate, given that my own freedom was secured – and indeed my life was saved – by a vast international movement. And I have devoted much of my own activism to international solidarity and, specifically, to linking struggles in other parts of the world to U.S. grassroots campaigns against police violence, the prison industrial complex, and racism more broadly. The rescinding of this invitation and the cancellation of the event where I was scheduled to speak was thus not primarily an attack against me but rather against the very spirit of the indivisibility of justice.
*
I support Palestinian political prisoners just as I support current political prisoners in the Basque Country, in Catalunya, in India, and in other parts of the world. I have indeed expressed opposition to policies and practices of the state of Israel, as I express similar opposition to U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to other discriminatory U.S. policies. Through my experiences at Elizabeth Irwin High School in New York City and at Brandeis University in the late fifties and early sixties, and my subsequent time in graduate school in Frankfurt, Germany, I learned to be as passionate about opposition to antisemitism as to racism. It was during this period that I was also introduced to the Palestinian cause. I am proud to have worked closely with Jewish organizations and individuals on issues of concern to all of our communities throughout my life. In many ways, this work has been integral to my growing consciousness regarding the importance of protesting the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
*
The trip to Birmingham, where I was born and raised, to receive the Fred Shuttlesworth Award, was certain to be the highlight of my year—especially since I knew Rev. Shuttlesworth personally and attended school with his daughter, Patricia, and because my mother, Sallye B. Davis, worked tirelessly for the BCRI during its early years. Moreover, my most inspirational Sunday School teacher Odessa Woolfolk was the driving force for the institute’s creation. Despite the BCRI’s regrettable decision, I look forward to being in Birmingham in February for an alternative event organized by those who believe that the movement for civil rights in this moment must include a robust discussion of all of the injustices that surround us.
*
Angela Y. Davis, January 7, 2019

IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORKERS MOURN THE PITTSBURGH MARTYRS

May their memory be a blessing for all of us

Hebrew Memorial Prayer

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Union Sq. NYC 10/27. Hundreds of people participated in a  memorial vigil for those murdered in the Pittsburgh synagogue- Tree Of Life.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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FROM JAIL CELL TO VIP SUITE

Ahed Tamimi is out of prison and on tour in Europe and the Middle East speaking out against Israeli occupation and Israeli officials are unhappy about it.

[Ahed] highlights to the world both how unjust the occupation is and how absurd their legal system is,” said Diana Buttu, a former legal adviser to the Palestinian Authority. “Israel instead wants subservient Palestinians who simply stay quiet in the face of the denial of freedom. Ahed shows that won’t happen — including not with this generation.”

Tamimi gained international attention last year when she confronted an Israeli soldier in front of her home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. She kicked and slapped him, and then took a swing at a second soldier in a videotaped incident that spread quickly on social media.

On Wall Street … Photo: Bud Korotzer/Desertpeace

Palestinian protest icon goes from jail cell to VIP suite

When Israel locked up Ahed Tamimi for slapping a soldier last year, it hoped to finally silence the teenage Palestinian activist. Instead, it created an international celebrity.

Less than three months after walking out of prison, Tamimi is on a victory tour, crisscrossing Europe and the Middle East as a superstar of the campaign against Israeli occupation. She has spoken to throngs of adoring fans, met world leaders and was even welcomed by the Real Madrid soccer club.

The VIP reception has dismayed Israeli officials and is prompting some to ask if Israel mishandled the case.

“We could have been smarter,” said Yoaz Hendel, a media commentator and former spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Tamimi gained international attention last year when she confronted an Israeli soldier in front of her home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. She kicked and slapped him, and then took a swing at a second soldier in a videotaped incident that spread quickly on social media.

Tamimi’s extended family has long been on Israel’s radar screen. Nabi Saleh is home to some 600 people, most of them members of the clan. For years, they have held weekly protests against the expansion of a nearby Israeli settlement, gatherings that sometimes turn to stone-throwing, prompting Israeli troops to respond with tear gas, rubber bullets or live fire.

For Israelis, the Tamimis are a group of provocateurs intent on manipulating the media to hurt the country’s image. One cousin, Ahlam Tamimi, was an accomplice to a suicide bombing. Among Palestinians, they are seen as brave heroes standing up to Israel.

But neither side anticipated the fallout from last December’s standoff, which occurred during one of the weekly protests.

The military said it moved in after villagers began throwing stones at troops. In the video, Tamimi and her cousin, Nour, walk toward the two soldiers. Tamimi tells the soldiers to leave, pushes and kicks them and slaps one of them.

As the cousin films the scene on her mobile phone, Tamimi’s mother, Nariman, arrives. At one point, she steps between Ahed and the soldiers, but then also tries to push back the soldiers, who do not respond. Ahed Tamimi later said that she was upset because a cousin had been shot in the face by a rubber bullet fired by Israeli troops.

As the video spread, Palestinians celebrated Ahed as a hero. Cartoons, posters and murals portrayed her as a Joan of Arc-like character, confronting the Israeli military with her mane of long, dirty-blond curls flowing in the breeze.

In Israel, the incident set off its own uproar. While the army praised the soldiers for showing restraint, politicians felt the army had been humiliated and called for tough action against the young firebrand. Days later, in an overnight raid, troops entered Tamimi’s house and took her and her mother away. Both were given eight-month prison sentences.

Israel has traditionally been obsessive about defending its image — making the term “hasbara,” which roughly translates as public relations, part of its national lexicon. But as the country has moved toward the right under the decade-long rule of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, charm has been replaced increasingly with confrontation.

Netanyahu, an admirer of President Donald Trump, rarely speaks to the media anymore and often lashes out at reporters for what he believes is unfair coverage. Under his watch, Israel has tried to weaken liberal advocacy groups critical of his policies, detained Jewish American critics at the airport for questioning and banned people who boycott the Jewish state from entering. It attempted to expel an American woman who will be studying at an Israeli university, accusing her of being a boycott activist. She was held in detention for two weeks until Israel’s Supreme Court overturned the expulsion order.

While widely supported at home, these policies risk backfiring on the international stage.

Weeks after her release from prison, Tamimi began a tour that has taken her to France, Spain, Greece, Tunisia and Jordan. At nearly every stop, she has been welcomed by cheering crowds.

“I don’t like living as a celebrity. It’s not an easy life to live. I’m exhausted,” she said in a telephone interview from the Jordanian capital, Amman. “But what I like more is delivering the message of my people. That makes me feel proud.”

She kicked off her tour on Sept. 14 in Paris, where she participated in the Communist Party’s “Humanity” rally. The popular weekend festival attracts rockers, rappers and other entertainers and celebrities. On the festival’s last day, she spoke to thousands of cheering supporters. She traveled to other cities around France at the invitation of the France Palestine Solidarity Association.

In Greece, she was a headliner for the 100th-anniversary celebration of the country’s Communist party, KKE. Addressing a crowd of thousands, she was interrupted by several long ovations and chants of “Freedom for Palestine.”

“Your support means a lot to me. It gives me a big push to return to my homeland and continue my struggle vigorously against the occupation,” she told the crowd. “Free people unite to face capitalism, imperialism and colonization … We are not victims. We are freedom fighters.”

Her family was invited as official guests of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi to mark the 33rd anniversary of the Israeli bombing of what was then the Palestine Liberation Organization’s headquarters. At the ceremony, Essebsi gave her a statue of a silver dove with an olive branch.

Meetings with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are in the works, said her father, Bassem Tamimi, who has been accompanying her.

“On the Champs-Elysees in Paris, we were surrounded by hundreds of people who wanted to talk to Ahed and take pictures with her,” her father said. “The same thing happened in every other city we visited.”

In a sign of her mainstream appeal, Tamimi recently wrote a first-person account of her time in prison for Vogue Arabia, a Middle Eastern edition of the popular fashion magazine.

“I want to be a regular 17-year-old. I like clothes, I like makeup. I get up in the morning, check my Instagram, have breakfast and walk in the hills around the village,” she wrote. “But I am not a normal teenager.”

Israeli officials have remained silent throughout her tour — with one exception. Tamimi’s reception at Real Madrid, where she met the legendary striker Emilio Butragueno and received a team jersey with her name on it, was too much to bear.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon called the team’s embrace of Tamimi “shameful” in a Twitter post. “It would be morally wrong to stay silent while a person inciting to hatred and violence goes on a victory tour as if she is some kind of rock star,” he said.

Israel faces a dilemma — wanting to respond but fearing criticism will attract even more attention.

Michael Oren, Israel’s deputy minister for public diplomacy and a former ambassador to the United States, learned a bitter lesson when he acknowledged earlier this year leading a secret investigation into whether the Tamimis were “real” Palestinians.

He said their light features, Western clothes and long history of run-ins with Israeli forces suggested that they were actually paid provocateurs out to hurt the country’s image. The investigation concluded that the family was indeed real — prompting mockery and racism accusations from the Tamimis.

Tamimi is reflective of changing Palestinian sentiment. Where an older generation of political leaders sought either armed struggle or a two-state solution with Israel, many younger Palestinians have given up on the long-stalled peace process and instead favor a single state in which Jews and Arabs live equally. Israel objects to a binational state, saying it is merely an attempt to destroy the country through a nonviolent disguise.

“Israel is unhappy because she highlights to the world both how unjust the occupation is and how absurd their legal system is,” said Diana Buttu, a former legal adviser to the Palestinian Authority. “Israel instead wants subservient Palestinians who simply stay quiet in the face of the denial of freedom. Ahed shows that won’t happen — including not with this generation.”

Hendel, the former Israeli government spokesman, said he initially supported Israel’s tough response to the slapping incident but now thinks it was an error. He said issuing a fine or punishing her parents for their daughter’s actions might have generated less attention.

He acknowledged there is a broader problem for which Israel does not seem to have a good answer.

“She’s powerful, part of a sophisticated machine that tries to delegitimize Israel by using photos and creating scenarios that portray Israel as Goliath and the other side as David,” he said. “It is much easier to fight terrorism than to fight civilians motivated by terrorist leaders. I think Tamimi in this story is a kind of a front line for a much bigger organization, or even a process.”

Tamimi could continue to frustrate the Israelis for many years to come. She completed her high school studies in prison and now hopes to study international law in Britain. She dreams of one day representing the Palestinians in institutions like the International Criminal Court.

“International law is a strong tool to defend my people,” she said. “We are under occupation and we have to rely on international law to get the world behind us.”

55 YEARS OF DREAMING

WE HAD A BEAUTIFUL DREAM …

… BUT IT TURNED INTO AN UGLY NIGHTMARE

It was 55 years ago today that Martin Luther King delivered his famous ‘I Have A Dream Speech’ at the Great March on Washington for Peace and Freedom. 

I was there along with a quarter of a million fellow Americans. It was the most gratifying day of my life as I was on the organising committee for that March the entire summer. To witness such a success was most rewarding. To hear the words of the great Dr. King, spoken live, were most encouraging. The last paragraph of his speech is the part that has stayed with me every day of my life since then…

“And when this happens, When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

‘DEEP IN MY HEART, I DO BELIEVE, WE SHALL OVERCOME ONE DAY.’

(From Pete Seeger’s 90th Birthday Concert (Clearwater Concert), Madison Square Garden, 5/3/09. Featuring: Pete Seeger, Emmylou Harris, Joan Baez, Toshi Reagon, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, Billy Bragg, Keller Williams, Ani DiFranco, Ruby Dee, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, New York City Labor Choir.)

BELLA CIAO URI AVNERY ~~ A TRUE FRIEND ON BOTH SIDES OF THE WALL

Veteran left-wing journalist, lawmaker and peace activist Uri Avnery died Monday at age 94 in Tel Aviv.

The Gush Shalom founder was one of the first Israelis to actively seek a Palestinian state as a peaceful solution to the conflict: ‘The difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist depends on your perspective’

Uri Avnery, Veteran Peace Activist and Among First Israelis to Meet Arafat, Dies at 94

Ofer Aderet

 

Veteran left-wing journalist, lawmaker and peace activist Uri Avnery died Monday at age 94 in Tel Aviv. A founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement, Avnery was also one of the first Israelis to actively advocate for the establishment of a Palestinian state, more than 70 years ago.

As a youth he fought with the Irgun pre-state underground militia and later in life moved to the left of the political spectrum. He was also editor-in-chief of the iconic liberal weekly, Haolam Hazeh, for 40 years.

The eternal peace activist never shirked controversy and was involved in fateful events in the country’s history, some of which he documented and others he actively took part in shaping. But while Avnery’s supporters saw his ideas as groundbreaking, detractors denounced him as an enemy of the people.

Avnery asked to be cremated, for his archives to be donated to the National Library, and his money toward peace activism. He summarized his life by noting that while his ideals “won a resounding victory” theoretically, in practice they “were defeated politically.”

Avnery was born in Germany in 1923 as Helmut Ostermann. He grew up in Hannover as one of four offspring of a comfortable, bourgeois family. The family immigrated to British Mandatory Palestine in November 1933, a few months after Hitler rose to power. After a few months at Nahalal in the north, the family moved to Tel Aviv, where he lived until his death.

Avnery started his political career on the right side of the political map. He said that as a youth he admired Zeev Jabotinsky and saw himself as a Revisionist. In 1938, when he was 15, he joined the Irgun to fight the British forces “for the right to our own state,” as he put it. “I was convinced that we deserved independence, just like everyone else,” he recalled.

In an interview with Haaretz in April 2014, Avnery said of his activities with the Irgun: “I distributed leaflets [during a period when the Irgun killed many people], and as such I bear responsibility. The Irgun planted bombs in markets in Jaffa and in Haifa, which killed dozens of women and children, and I supported that.”

Vocation in life

In his Hebrew-language memoir “Optimi” (“Optimistic”), Avnery wrote that his service with the Irgun taught him political lessons for later on his career: “We were freedom fighters,” he wrote. “In my eyes, the British authorities were a terrorist organization. Back then, I learned that the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist depends on your perspective.”

Three years later, he dropped out of the underground militia. “The Irgun’s war against the Arabs bothered me a great deal. I was very much opposed to their anti-Arab line,” he said. He later explained he believed that, just as the Jews had the right to a national life, “The Arabs in the country have the same right.”

His older brother, Werner, joined the British army at that time and committed suicide during his service. Afterward, Uri adopted the name “Avnery” as his surname for its resemblance to the name “Werner.”

From a young age, Avnery saw himself as a politician. As someone whose life had changed completely as a result of politics – Hitler’s rise to power in his homeland – he saw it as the most significant vocation in life.

Initially, Avnery favored the idea of a single state, one in which a new people would arise as a union of two peoples – the Arabs and the Hebrews. The idea was espoused by the movement he established in 1946 which was called Bama’avak (“The Struggle,” aka The Young Israel).

He believed at that time that the national Hebrew movement was a natural ally of the Arab nation, and advocated cooperation between both movements under a joint name. “This is an ideal built on a culture partnership of homeland and history,” he said.

Accordingly, Avnery was disappointed on November 29, 1947, when the United Nations ratified the UN Partition Plan. “I couldn’t accept the partition of the country. Tul Karm, Hebron and Nablus were my country,” he said, adding, “The joy over carving up the country into pieces angered me a great deal. I dreamed of a joint national movement based on a common love of the land.”

This ideal didn’t withstand the test of reality. During the War of Independence in 1948-49, he discovered that “the vision of joint life in the country had died.” He later said: “I was a peace activist before the war, but the war was existential – a matter of life and death.”

Avnery served in the “Samson Foxes” commando unit. He was seriously wounded during the final days of the war, while fighting in the Kiryat Gat region. The worldview he adhered to until his dying day was formed during the period in which he was hospitalized for his wounds. One of those beliefs was the two-state solution.

In his memoir he wrote: “The war totally convinced me there’s a Palestinian people, and that peace must be forged first and foremost with them. To achieve that goal, a Palestinian nation-state had to be established.”

In this sense, Avnery was a groundbreaker. “During that period, there weren’t even 10 people in the world who believed in that,” he declared. “But today, it’s a global consensus. Even Netanyahu – who doesn’t think of realizing it – has been forced to say he supports it,” he wrote, referring to the prime minister’s “two-state speech” at Bar-Ilan University in 2009.

Avnery published his impressions of the war in Haaretz and Haaretz’s evening paper, Yom, Yom, while the fighting raged. At the end of the war, he compiled them in his first book, “In the Fields of the Philistines, 1948,” which became a best seller and briefly made Avnery a national hero.

But he felt the book did not provide a full description of the war, so in 1950 he published a follow-up, “The Other Side of the Coin,” which described the war’s darker side. Its publication stirred outrage and turned Avnery from “a popular man to top of the list of hated people; from a beloved person to someone who smeared Israel’s name,” as he put it.

In 1949, at the young age of 25, Avnery was appointed chief editorial writer at Haaretz. He left soon after, though, citing political differences with the newspaper’s then-editor, Gershom Shoken.

In 1950, Avnery and his friends purchased the Haolam Hazeh weekly news magazine from its founder, Uri Cesari. Avnery became its editor-in-chief for the next 40 years, and under his stewardship Haolam Hazeh became antiestablishment, subversive, sensationalist and a consensus-breaker. It operated under the legendary slogan “Without Fear, Without Prejudice.”

Avnery expressed his worldview in a number of areas: Opposition to worship of the military; religious coercion; the absence of a democratic constitution; discrimination against ethnic groups; and David Ben-Gurion’s anti-Arab policy.

The weekly sought to crusade against establishment corruption. It published a list of hard-hitting investigative pieces and exposed public and political scandals. Then-Shin Bet security service head Isser Harel defined Avnery at the time as “Government Enemy No. 1.” Ben-Gurion dubbed the magazine “that certain weekly.”

Alongside its political and social agenda, Haolam Hazeh also dabbled in tabloid journalism, publishing trashy gossip stories and photographs of naked women. This combination was seen by many as a journalistic revolution, in terms of both writing style and the magazine’s approach. The weekly also proved controversial, with its editorial offices being bombed on several occasions and its archive completely destroyed following an arson attack in 1972.

Avnery received belated recognition for his journalistic endeavors in 2004 when he won the Sokolov lifetime achievement award.

Political movement

In addition to journalism, Avnery increasingly became more political. In 1965, after the Knesset passed a law against defamation – which Avnery saw as specifically targeting his news magazine – he established a radical protest movement called Haolam Hazeh – Koah Hadash (New Force).

The movement’s political platform incorporated the values of liberty, equality and peace. Avnery was elected to the Knesset on this platform in November 1969 and was reelected four years later. His parliamentary activities included tackling religious coercion, promoting civil marriage, denuclearizing the Middle East and gay rights.

In his eyes, his biggest political mistake was voting in favor of the unification of Jerusalem after the Six-Day War in 1967. He subsequently explained his vote as an attempt to prevent the restoration of East Jerusalem to Jordanian rule, based on the hope of realizing a two-state solution and turning a united Jerusalem into the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state.

Avnery later returned to the Knesset in 1979 as a founding member of the Sheli party (aka Left Camp of Israel). In a speech that year in favor of ratifying the peace treaty with Egypt, he said: “They say we will have a small country, but there is no greater mistake than this. Peace doesn’t reduce the size of the country. It enlarges it exponentially. In another year, we’ll get in our cars and drive on the weekends to Cairo and Alexandria. Two days later, we’ll take the train to Damascus and Aleppo, we’ll fly to Algiers and Baghdad, we’ll sail to Casablanca and Sudan. When you wake up in the morning to the sight of the pyramids outside your hotel window, as happened to me, it will be like a dream. Is this a utopia? That word doesn’t frighten us.”

In his valedictory Knesset speech in 1981 (as he relinquished his seat to an Arab lawmaker), Avnery was the first lawmaker to present the Palestinian flag alongside the Israeli one. “Those who couldn’t believe yesterday that Sadat would ever speak here will not be able to believe that someday Yasser Arafat will speak here,” he said.

Avnery was one of the first Israelis to have contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization. He had his first contacts with an Arafat envoy in 1974, which led to his founding the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace in December 1975.

In July 1982, at the height of the first Lebanon war, Avnery met with PLO chief Arafat in Beirut – the first time Israelis had met with the Palestinian leader. Avnery said at that meeting: “The fact that we are sitting here together in the middle of this terrible war is a sign that in the future our two peoples will find a solution to coexist. Palestinians and Israelis. I believe there will be a Palestinian state alongside Israel and both sides will live together in peace in two countries that, little by little, will develop good neighborly relations, and even better.”

Several cabinet members called for Avnery to be put on trial for high treason, but the attorney general decided no crime had been committed.
Avnery and Arafat met a dozen more times in the years that followed.

Human shield 

In 1993, months after then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin expelled hundreds of Islamic activists to Lebanon, Avnery established Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc) – a movement that supported the establishment of a Palestinian state, making Jerusalem the capital of both countries and dismantling the settlements in Palestinian territory.

A year later, when Arafat returned to Gaza, he invited Avnery to his reception and sat alongside him on the podium. In 2003, during the second intifada, Avnery spent time at the presidential compound in Ramallah, operating as a “human shield” for Arafat – for fear Israel might attempt to assassinate him.

Avnery had many critics who opposed his politics and ideology. Extremists labeled him a traitor and slanderer of Israel. While editor of Haolam Hazeh, he was subjected to physical attacks and once had both his arms broken after being ambushed. In 1975, he was seriously wounded after an assailant stabbed him on his own doorstep.

Avnery, and many in his circle, admitted he had some difficulties when it came to people skills. A friend once said: “Avnery is disabled like Trumpeldor was. Trumpeldor lacked an arm; Avnery lacks feeling.” The activist wrote in his memoir: “There’s something wrong with my emotional relations with people. And the worst thing about it is, I don’t really care.”

He said he only ever told his wife, Rachel, he loved her when she was on her deathbed, and that he had never cried – not even during funerals for his comrades in arms. His rivals would delight in highlighting his deficiencies as expressed in his mother’s will. She left him no inheritance “since he didn’t take care of me and instead went to visit that murderer Yasser Arafat.”

Avnery published seven books and a vast number of articles in various publications, including in the pages of Haaretz. “Optimist” was published around the time of his 90th birthday. “I feel like an imposter,” he said at an event marking his birthday. “Someone wrote by mistake that I’m 90 – I feel half that age.”

Avnery ended his life with mixed feelings. On the one hand, he was convinced he had turned his political ideas – first and foremost his support for establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel – into a “global consensus.” On the other, he admitted he had failed to realize these ideas politically. “Life goes on, the struggle continues. Tomorrow is a new day,” he wrote on the last page of his memoir.

His wife, Rachel, a teacher and ideological partner, died in 2011. They were partners for 58 years and chose not to have any children.

RECENTLY DISCOVERED NORMAN ROCKWELL PAINTING

This is a Norman Rockwell painting called Murder in Mississippi. It depicts the final moments in the lives of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, three civil rights workers killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan 53 years ago this summer for registering people to vote. That’s not ancient history. It’s not even history. It’s current events.

Harry Belafonte These Three Are On My Mind

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