IN PHOTOS ~~ PALESTINIAN LIVES MATTER

New Yorkers took to the streets yesterday in front of the Israeli Consulate to demand Freedom for Bilal Kayed and all other (7,000) Palestinians held in illegal administrative  detention.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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WOMEN’S BOAT TO GAZA IS NOW A REALITY

The Women’s Boat to Gaza will carry prominent women, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire, award-winning U.S. playwright Naomi Wallace, New Zealand parliamentarian Marama Davidson and Norwegian author and former sports star Gerd von der Lippe. The vessel will visit ports in the Western Mediterranean before reaching the shores of Gaza around October 1.
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Women’s Boat Is Afloat!

The dream of sending a women’s boat to break the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza has moved one step closer to reality–but it’s a big step. The Women’s Boat to Gaza, a project of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, has acquired its first boat. The Amal-Hope is scheduled to set sail with 15 women, from Barcelona, Spain, on Sept. 14.

In Barcelona, members of the Palestinian solidarity community will send off the Amal-Hope on its journey around the Mediterranean before heading for Gaza.

In 1998, Barcelona was ‘twinned’ with Gaza, with the goal of fostering international support. In 2005, a park called the Barcelona Peace Park was inaugurated in Gaza. The park was destroyed by the Israeli military in the 2009 Israeli attack on Gaza. The park was rebuilt in 2010. As her name suggests, Amal-Hope will send a message of hope–and an international demand that the Peace Park and the whole of Gaza must never be bombed again.

Schedule of Events in Barcelona:

Monday 12 September – Music and festival at the port
Tuesday 13 September – Non-violent resistance workshops, local speakers and tour of the boat
Wednesday 14 September – Local ceremony and departure

The Women’s Boat to Gaza will carry prominent women, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire, award-winning U.S. playwright Naomi Wallace, New Zealand parliamentarian Marama Davidson and Norwegian author and former sports star Gerd von der Lippe. The vessel will visit ports in the Western Mediterranean before reaching the shores of Gaza around October 1.

The Women’s Boat to Gaza is a Freedom Flotilla Coalition initiative. By launching a women’s flotilla, women from all over the world aim to highlight the undeniable contributions and indomitable spirit of Palestinian women who have been central within the Palestinian struggle in Gaza, the West Bank, inside the Green Line and in the diaspora.

Gaza has been under Israeli blockade for the past decade, during which Israel has also launched countless attacks against the besieged population, turning their life into a nightmare and a continuous struggle. Through Freedom Flotillas and other maritime missions, we have brought international attention to their suffering and their resistance.
The Women’s Boat to Gaza seeks not only to challenge the Israeli blockade, but to also show solidarity and bring a message of hope to the Palestinian people. With the support of women, men, non-governmental organizations, civil society groups and women’s collectives and events around the world, we will make this happen.

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition is composed of civil society organizations and initiatives from many countries. We have been challenging the illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade of Gaza for years and are committed to continue the struggle until the blockade is unconditionally lifted and the Palestinian people everywhere regain their full rights.
Wear our t-shirt, logo on front,
Women’s Boat to Gaza 

in all our coalition languages on back.
Men’s and women’s styles and sizes, available now, $25 plus $5 postage. Contact Kit Kittredge, marnykit@gmail.com to order.
Ask about discounts for bulk orders to sell at fundraising events.
Our U.S. national goal is $30,000.  Please help by holding a fundraiser in your community.  We can send fliers and a powerpoint presentation on Women’s Boat to Gaza for the program.
We ask for your continued support and donations to the Women’s Boat to Gaza.

IN PHOTOS ~~ POLITICS OF INCARCERATION

Standing room only at the meeting. The attendees heard a letter written by Mumia Abu-Jamal, written in his prison cell. (See end of post for text of letter)

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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IN PHOTOS ~~ ALL LIVES MATTER // NATO KILLS ALL!

TIMES SQUARE ANTI-NATO DEMO

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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In Athens ….

Mass demonstration against NATO in Athens Saturday

Mass demonstration against NATO in Athens Saturday

 

In Warsaw

UNAC leader, Phil Wilayto speaks at anti-NATO Summit in Warsaw  Saturday

UNAC leader, Phil Wilayto speaks at anti-NATO Summit in Warsaw Saturday

IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORKERS CONTINUE TO PROTEST THE NEW ROUND OF POLICE BRUTALITY

For the second day in a row thousands of New Yorkers gathered in Union Square to protest the new round of police brutality ….

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Below is a list of events taking place in New York City over the next few days.

Black Lives Occupy Time Square
Organizer: Tahirah Sharif
When: Sunday 7/10, 11 a.m – 4 p.m.
Where: Times Square
Demonstration to show solidarity in the wake of the tragedies that occured this week. Stand with the families of the brothers #altonsterlingand #philandocastile! Please wear all black, you are welcomed to bring signs, this is a demonstration (not a protest) to show what it looks like when we come together as a unit and take over! It is tourist season let’s give them something to remember NY by!!!! We will not be chanting, we will be standing on the steps in the middle of time square fists raised high!!!!

Justice for Sandra Bland and All Black Women Killed by Police
Organizer: Peoples Power Assemblies
When: Wednesday, 7/13, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Where: Church avenue train station B/Q trains
Please join us in honoring the life of Sandra Bland and letting the community know we are still in the streets, fighting for Sandra Bland and other Black women who were killed by police or who died in police custody.

Back To The Streets For EricGarner #2YearsLater
Organizer: Justice for Eric Garner the fight still continues
When: Sunday 7/15, 5 p.m.
Where: Staten Island Ferry, 1 Bay St., Staten Island
On July 17 2016 We will gather on the Staten island side of the Staten Island Ferry to take it back to the streets for Eric Garner and demand justice.

IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORKERS UNITE AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY

Over a thousand New Yorkers gathered in Union Square yesterday to protest the new round of police brutality.

Image by Carlos Latuff

 

UNITE AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY! #PhilandoCastile

UNITE AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY! #PhilandoCastile

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORKERS MOURN FOR ORLANDO

Many thousands of New Yorkers stood together to mourn the victims of the Orlando massacre last night ….

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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And the ‘backlash’ begins …

It is an agonizing list of predominantly young and Latino people who could not have imagined their lives would be cut short in such a horrifying manner as they went out for a night of enjoyment.

But even before all the victims are known, the US and Israeli far right are moving to exploit Mateen’s crime to further a narrative that indicts Muslims collectively and fuels hatred and confrontation.

This is despite the reality that factors other than religious motivation likely played a major part in Mateen’s horrific act.

One group with ties to Israel’s intelligence services is even trying to implicate Palestinians.

New Yorkers show their solidarity with victims of the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, by placing flowers outside The Stonewall Inn, which is considered an epicenter of the US LGBTQ rights movement, in New York’s Greenwich Village neighborhood on 12 June. (Albin Lohr-Jones /SIPA)

New Yorkers show their solidarity with victims of the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, by placing flowers outside The Stonewall Inn, which is considered an epicenter of the US LGBTQ rights movement, in New York’s Greenwich Village neighborhood on 12 June. (Albin Lohr-Jones /SIPA)

Full report HERE

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Another report HERE

Netanyahu’s paper uses Orlando massacre to demonize Israel’s Arab citizens

Sometimes all it takes is a single visual to drive home the point. For Israel’s most read newspaper, visuals have become a way to race-bait and incite against Muslims, specifically against Israel’s Arab population.

A photo comparison of Omar Mateen, who murdered 50 people in an Orlando gay club, and Neshat Melhem, a Palestinian citizen of Israel who shot three Israelis to death earlier this year in ‘Israel Hayom.’ The paper called the two ‘chillingly similar.’ (photo: Israel Hayom)

A photo comparison of Omar Mateen, who murdered 50 people in an Orlando gay club, and Neshat Melhem, a Palestinian citizen of Israel who shot three Israelis to death earlier this year in ‘Israel Hayom.’ The paper called the two ‘chillingly similar.’ (photo: Israel Hayom)

IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORKERS SAY NO TO CUOMO

Scores of New Yorkers demonstrated for Justice in America and Palestine yesterday

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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STANDING WITH ISRAEL IS STANDING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY

We regret that Governor Cuomo is among those standing on the wrong side of history, and we express our appreciation to the growing number of courageous policymakers and citizens who stand with the Palestinian people today.

June 5, 2016-New York City --.Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signs a first-in-the-nation Executive Order directing the divestment of public funds supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel during a breakfast meeting at the Harvard Club. Afterwards, Governor Cuomo marched in the Salute to Israel Parade. (Photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

June 5, 2016-New York City –.Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signs a first-in-the-nation Executive Order directing the divestment of public funds supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel during a breakfast meeting at the Harvard Club. Afterwards, Governor Cuomo marched in the Salute to Israel Parade. (Photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

BDS movement: ‘Governor Cuomo is among those standing on the wrong side of history’

Palestinian BDS National Committee VIA

This week, as Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, enter their 50th year living under Israel’s regime of military occupation and settlements, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has chosen to issue an anti-democratic executive order creating a blacklist of companies and organizations that abide by BDS campaigns for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality. The order is a prelude to McCarthyism 2.0, where loyalty to Israel’s far-right apartheid government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, trumps respect for human rights, free speech, and common decency.

Launched in 2005 by the absolute majority in Palestinian civil society — including labor unions, students groups, and women’s grassroots movements — the inclusive, nonviolent, global BDS movement seeks to hold Israel’s regime of military occupation, colonization and apartheid accountable to international law, as was done to the apartheid regime in South Africa. The overarching goal of the movement is contributing to the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people by asking institutions and individuals to cut their complicity in maintaining Israel’s regime of oppression, which has only grown worse over time. 

As the New York Civil Liberties Union has said, attempts to create blacklists to financially penalize groups, businesses, and others that engage in politically motivated speech and association “reach far beyond what is constitutionally permissible.” The U.S. Supreme Court has “clearly established that First Amendment protections apply to politically-motivated economic boycotts aimed at influencing public policy and advancing social change.”

The governments of SwedenNetherlands and Ireland have upheld the right to campaign for Palestinian rights under international law through BDS tactics against Israel, and so have Amnesty InternationalHuman Rights Watch and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

Having failed to stop the growth in grassroots support for BDS as an effective strategy to realize Palestinian rights, Israel has adopted since 2014 a new top-down strategy that employs legal warfare, espionage and intensified propaganda to block citizens and civil society groups from exercising their right to boycott. 

Israel is seeking support from governments in Europe and North America to shield its regime of oppression from accountability and sanctions similar to those applied against apartheid South Africa.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee, the largest coalition in Palestinian society that is leading the global BDS movement, will continue working with our partners around the world, who recognize that individuals must step in where governments have failed us. We are determined to continue our contribution to our people’s struggle for our UN-stipulated human rights.

We regret that Governor Cuomo is among those standing on the wrong side of history, and we express our appreciation to the growing number of courageous policymakers and citizens who stand with the Palestinian people today.

Here’s YOUR chance to STAND WITH HUMANITY today

(Click on link)

SAY NO TO CUOMO! ~~ KEEP McCARTHY OUT OF NEW YORK!!

Image by Carlos Latuff

Image by Carlos Latuff

BDS ~~ ‘THE WINNING FAILURE’

The winning 'failure'

The winning ‘failure’

The Israeli government has claimed that the BDS Movement has had no effect on their economy ….. See THIS post from HaAretz …..

If that is the case, why are they and their supporters doing everything in their power to discredit and destroy the Movement? The latest attack coming from Governor Cuomo of New York State ….

Cuomo’s fierce advocacy for Israel is unsurprising. He has an eye on the White House and, as a well known Democrat with a host of conservative views, a fierce anti-BDS position works well to get the support of establishment Democrats who fear the leftward shift in the party marked by Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. Indeed Israel was Cuomo’s first choice of foreign destination as governor, signaling that the interests of Israel were deeply tied his state.

Be sure to sign the Petition at the end of this post

Why Andrew Cuomo Is Worst Possible Face of the Anti-BDS Movement
 By Ari Paul

Pro-Israel activists who are battling the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) against the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territory emphasize the freedom and democracy of Israeli society and juxtapose it to the intolerance of the BDS movement. With his new anti-BDS bill, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made it that much harder for activists to take the moral high ground.

The measure couldn’t find its way through the state legislature, so Cuomo took to Twitter and announced that he would issue an executive order banning the state from doing business with groups that boycott Israel.

Cuomo’s fierce advocacy for Israel is unsurprising. He has an eye on the White House and, as a well known Democrat with a host of conservative views, a fierce anti-BDS position works well to get the support of establishment Democrats who fear the leftward shift in the party marked by Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. Indeed Israel was Cuomo’s first choice of foreign destination as governor, signaling that the interests of Israel were deeply tied his state.

But if Cuomo’s maverick stance on BDS has any effect, it would be to move the anti-BDS movement into illiberal territory. This is not new territory for Cuomo, whose tenure has included advocacy for fracking (although he did finally give in due to environmentalist pressure), privatizing public education, demanding punishing monetary concessions from state worker unions, using New York City’s public university funding as a political football against New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and fighting New York City’s universal pre-K program.

Perhaps worse for the pro-Israel activists than having their bill imposed on a state legislature that didn’t want it, is being associated with Cuomo himself. In a scandal-plagued state, his team is the focus of a federal investigation, which may not put him behind bars but could leave his legacy and ambitions in tatters. His abrupt shuttering of the anti-corruption task force he had set up whipped up such discontent from liberals that it forced a strong primary challenge from law professor Zephyr Teachout and helped the candidacy of Green Party candidate and left-wing Teamster member Howie Hawkins.

Throw into the mix his oft-displayed contempt for de Blasio and the cost of this anti-BDS bill gets ever higher. Regardless of one’s feelings about the Big Apple mayor, Cuomo’s behavior is testament to a personal immaturity that would rather short change nine million of his own citizens in one of the world’s most important cities than let go of a petty feud.

Whether StandWithUs or ZOA like it or not, this petty tyranny has become the political face of anti-BDS. It seems that this how far this movement has to go, how defensive it has to get to oppose people who are so angry at Israel’s right-wing militarism that they’d take their frustration out by forgoing a Sodastream. And that’s particularly sad, because even as a non-Zionist, I’m open to hearing criticisms of BDS as a tactic. Pro-Palestine academic Norman Finkelstein has caused a stir being critical of the movement, and Noam Chomsky has come out against cultural boycotts.

We should definitely be having debates about the substance of a desired outcome for the territories and the strategies to best arrive at them. But if one’s course of action is to get an unlikable political hack to bypass the legislature to outlaw a thought crime, it makes the anti-BDS movement seem desperate and contradicts its claims to be a defender of democracy and openness.

In a way, this will still be a win for the pro-Israel side, since, at least in New York, it is so political risky to advocate for Palestinian rights that finding a way to undo this order seems futile. But it is in its own way a defeat. It’s a sighing resignation that rather than confront the issues within Israel that have human rights activists concerned, anti-BDS allies threw all aspects of liberal democracy to the wind to just silence their voices. It may work. It may silence those voices, and may allow the Israeli right to keep its hold not just on official power but over what can and can’t be said about the country. But even in New York State it’s another hole in the already leaky vessel of liberal democracy being steered by moderate Zionists and defenders of Israel.

Sign the Petition HERE

GOVERNOR CUOMO: REPEAL YOUR UNCONSTITUTIONAL EXECUTIVE ORDER!

IN PHOTOS ~~ NAKBA DAY IN NEW YORK

On Israel’s Independence Day, New Yorkers remember who lost theirs

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Still to come ….

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NAKBA DAY MARCH FOR RESISTANCE AND RETURN
Sunday, May 15
1:30 pm
Rally at City Hall Park in Manhattan followed by March on Brooklyn Bridge to Cadman Plaza Park
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1720235081568888/

On the 68th anniversary of the occupation of Palestine, and as the Palestinian people enter the 68th year of dispossession and exile, we call on all Palestinians, friends of Palestine and supporters of justice and liberation to come together to march and rally, commemorate the Nakba, stand against the continuing Nakba, and call for the right of return for Palestinian refugees and freedom for Palestine.

68 years after the Nakba – the war of 1948 in which over 800,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes and land and the state of Israel created on that land – Palestinians continue to struggle for their right to return, for freedom from occupation, for justice, and against the Nakba that continues today.

After a rally at City Hall, we will march over the Brooklyn Bridge for an afternoon of Palestine-focused and family-friendly activities at Cadman Plaza Park.

SILENCING THE LAMBS …. YET AGAIN

 First there was THIS …..
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Famous entertainer and civil rights activist Paul Robeson loses his court appeal to try to force the Department of State to grant him a passport. The continued government persecution of Robeson illustrated several interesting points about Cold War America.
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Robeson was seen as a danger because he often interspersed his performances with comments about race relations in the United States. Before and after his performances, he gave numerous interviews condemning segregation and discrimination in America. For some U.S. policymakers, who viewed America’s poor record of race relations as the nation’s “Achilles’ heel” in terms of the propaganda war with the Soviet Union, having a well known African-American denounce segregation and praise the Russians was unacceptable.
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Full report HERE
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Now THIS …..

Israel has officially refused to renew the travel document of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement co-founder Omar Barghouti in a move that amounts to a travel ban and is an escalation of its attacks on Palestinian human rights defenders who nonviolently advocate for Palestinian rights under international law.

Image by Carlos Latuff

Israel imposes travel ban on BDS co-founder

Israel imposes travel ban on BDS co-founder

 

Israel imposes travel ban on BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti 

Israel has officially refused to renew the travel document of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement co-founder Omar Barghouti in a move that amounts to a travel ban and is an escalation of its attacks on Palestinian human rights defenders who nonviolently advocate for Palestinian rights under international law.

Barghouti, who lives with his family in Acre, has Israeli permanent residency and requires an Israeli travel document to be able to travel in and out of Palestine/Israel. His immediate reaction was: “I am unnerved but certainly undeterred by these threats. Nothing will stop me from struggling for my people’s freedom, justice and peace”.

Israel’s decision not to grant a renewal of the travel document on baseless bureaucratic pretenses is being viewed by human rights experts as the first step towards revoking Barghouti’s permanent residency.

Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri had threatened as much at a recent anti-BDS conference held in Jerusalem when he disclosed that he was “inclined to fulfill” a request he had received from a far-right Israeli member of parliament to revoke Barghouti’s permanent residency.

The travel ban follows thinly-veiled incitement to physical violence against Barghouti and BDS activists by Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz and Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan. Katz called on Israel to engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leaders, while Erdan described BDS activists and leaders as threats and called for them to “pay the price” for their work, following this with a clarification that he does not mean “physical harm”. Defending “campaigns to hold Israel accountable for human rights and other international law violations”, Amnesty International has expressed its concern for “the safety and liberty of Palestinian human rights defender Omar Barghouti” following these threats, “including of physical harm and deprivation of basic rights”.

As a leading volunteer with the BDS movement, Barghouti regularly travels internationally to raise awareness about Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights and to advocate for BDS as an effective strategy to end Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid. Rooted in a long heritage of Palestinian popular resistance, BDS is also inspired by the global boycott movement that helped to end South Africa’s apartheid regime and by the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.

The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council has recently affirmed “the right of all individuals to participate in and advocate for boycott, divestment, and sanction actions”, calling on states and businesses to “uphold their related legal responsibilities”.

Mahmoud Nawajaa, the general coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the broadest coalition in Palestinian civil society that leads the global BDS movement, said:

“Having failed to stop the growth of BDS in the mainstream, Israel is now launching a desperate and dangerous global war of repression on the movement. After losing many battles for the hearts and minds at the grassroots level, Israel and its well-oiled lobby groups are pressuring western states to implement patently anti-democratic measures that threaten civil liberties at large”.

“By banning our colleague Omar Barghouti from travelling and threatening him with physical violence, Israel is showing the lengths it will go to in order to stop the spread of the non-violent BDS movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality”.

The international BDS movement aims to pressure Israel, as South African apartheid was pressured, to comply with international law. It has attracted the support of mainstream unions, churches and political parties across the world and compelled large corporations, including Veolia and Orange, to end their involvement in Israel’s human rights violations.

Prominent artists including Ms. Lauryn Hill and Roger Waters have refused to perform in Tel Aviv; several academic associations in the U.S. and thousands of academics in Europe, South Africa, North America and Latin America have endorsed a comprehensive boycott of Israeli universities. The authors of a recent UN report said that a 46% drop in foreign direct investment in Israel in 2014 was partly due to the impact of BDS.

At Israel’s request, governments in the UK, France, Canada and state legislatures in the U.S. are introducing anti-BDS legislation and taking other anti-democratic measures to repress BDS activism. In France, one activist was arrested simply for wearing a BDS t-shirt.

Israel is also using its security services to spy on BDS activists across the world, as repeatedly reported in the Israeli media and by the Associated Press. This espionage is likely to involve monitoring of citizens’ communications in violation of domestic laws.

Journalist and constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald, known for breaking the NSA surveillance story, has described this well-orchestrated series of draconian measures against the BDS movement as the “greatest threat to free speech in the West”.

Mahmoud Nawajaa added:

“The western governments that are repressing BDS activism at home are giving Israel a green light to continue its violations of international law with impunity. We urge governments, parliaments and human rights organisations to follow Amnesty International’s lead and uphold his rights as a human rights defender under threat”.

Find out more about Israel’s attacks on the BDS movement here.

Source Palestinian BDS National Committee  VIA

#Justiceforall ~~ SIGN OF THE TIMES

IN PHOTOS ~~ REMEMBERING THE ‘OTHER’ SIX MILLION

Image by Carlos Latuff

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Umm Akram and Amena are among six million Palestinians not living in Palestine. They are citizens of no country.

VOICES FROM THE NAKBA

Monday, May 2
6:00PM
NYU School of Law

On May 14, 1948, 18-year-old Mariam Fathallah, her family, and the rest of the Palestinian town of Al-Zeeb were forced out of their homes and into Lebanon. By the end of the year, their 4,000 year-old community was leveled and half of all Palestinians in Palestine had been killed or expelled. Palestinians know this event as the Nakba (“the catastrophe”). Mariam, now 86 years old and respectfully known as Umm Akram, has spent the last 68 years in crowded, makeshift refugee camps, where she has raised three generations of children who are waiting to return to their homes in Palestine. She has lived through 5 Israeli invasions of Lebanon and the 1976 Tel Al-Zaatar camp massacre which killed 2,000 refugees.

Amena El-Ashkar, 23, is the granddaughter and great granddaughter of Nakba survivors and has known no home other than a refugee camp.

Umm Akram and Amena are among six million Palestinians not living in Palestine. They are citizens of no country.

Photos © Bud Korotzer

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IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORKERS GO ALL OUT FOR PALESTINE ON MAY DAY

Happy Labour Day to all the Palestinians who are challenging the Israeli occupation for their living.

Happy Labour Day to all the Palestinians who are challenging the Israeli occupation for their living.

Photos © Bud Korotzer

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ADL Vs. JEWS OF CONSCIENCE

Police arrested seventeen activists denouncing the “Jewish establishment’s support of the occupation of Palestine” on April 20 in the lobby of the Anti-Defamation League during one of a series of Passover protests organized by anti-occupation group If Not Now.

Gili Getz

Gili Getz

17 Jewish Activists Protesting Israeli Occupation Arrested at ADL Headquarters

Police arrested seventeen activists denouncing the “Jewish establishment’s support of the occupation of Palestine” on April 20 in the lobby of the Anti-Defamation League during one of a series of Passover protests organized by anti-occupation group If Not Now.

Before they were cuffed and shuffled into New York Police Department vans, the young activists had sat cross-legged on the lobby floor, leading a larger crowd in their version of a Passover Seder.

They banged on the floor, danced in circles and sang familiar Hebrew songs. The Seder’s ten plagues included “subjecting Palestinians to daily humiliation” and “destroying the Palestinian economy.” A hand-drawn cardboard Seder plate rested next to a sculpted tinfoil goblet, reserved for Elijah.

“We act now to build a Jewish community that recognizes that we cannot be free absent the freedom for Palestinians,” the text of one handout read.

Passersby paused, snapping photos on their cameras, to take in the unusual scene — around 100 Jewish activists singing and dancing in the glass-walled lobby of a midtown office. One young woman turned to the assembled crowd as she was led away by police, so that her shirt was in full view. “No liberation with occupation,” it read.

If Not Now, which formed two years ago to protest the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict and Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, staged several other Passover-themed events this week.

Six were arrested in Boston, where they rallied outside the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In Washington D.C., activists gathered outside Hillel.

But the New York protest took on another layer of significance as one prominent New York activist has been at the center of national controversy.

Simone Zimmerman, an If Not Now co-founder, made headlines last week when she was named Jewish outreach coordinator for Bernie Sanders’ campaign. Her peers celebrated. But, just days later, she was suspended from that position after an old Facebook post resurfaced, in which Zimmerman had used profanity and insulted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Abe Foxman, former head of the Anti-Defamation League, denounced Zimmerman and the Zionist Organization of America followed suit.

“She is entitled to say what she wants, but there is something bizarre about making her the liaison for the Jewish community,” Foxman said in a Wednesday interview with the Forward. “Either she wasn’t vetted — or worse, she was.”

Foxman said he took issue with Zimmerman’s criticism of Israel during the 2014 Gaza conflict. Her comments “go to the essence of questioning and challenging Israel’s credibility.”

Foxman declined to comment about the 17 activists’ arrest, deferring to the ADL, which did not respond to requests for comment.

Zimmerman stood in the background at Wednesday’s protest. She declined to speak with the Forward, but her friends rallied around her, posing for photos and intoning her name during the rally.

“Simone speaks for my kind of Judaism,” said Gabrielle Egan, an If Not Now activist from Canada.

If Not Now first took shape online in 2014, as a rallying hash tag on social media during the latest Israel-Gaza conflict. Many participants had been involved in J Street, but had become dissatisfied with that organization’s position on the conflict. Several activists describe their involvement with If Not Now as a sort of Jewish homecoming.

“These are people who grew up in a post-peace process environment,” said Peter Beinart, a mentor to Zimmerman and a leading voice in liberal Zionism. “If you look at If Not Now, there is a deep alienation, a dissatisfaction with the Jewish community’s lack of discussion.”

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.

#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.

IN PHOTOS ~~WOMEN’S BOAT TO SAIL TO GAZA IN SEPTEMBER 2016

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Getting ready for the sendoff in New York …

Photos © Bud Korotzer

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THE GAZA 5K ~~~ STILL TIME TO REGISTER

SIGN UP NOW FOR THE GAZA 5K

Last year we raised about $150,000 in Brooklyn for the Gaza kids.  Hope we can do at least that again.

5k

NYC, DC, are you ready?! The rumors are true, and we’re thrilled to announce that registration for the 2016 Gaza 5K is officially OPEN! 

Sign up now and join us at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, on Saturday, March 26 and Rock Creek Park in Washington DC on Saturday, May 21 for a morning of movement and solidarity.

Why wait when you can start now? This year, we need you to register EARLY! It’s the only way to guarantee a race shirt. Rates will increase by $15 in the weeks leading up to the race, and we guarantee both races will sell out! 

Fundraising is the key to our efforts and impact. So once you’re registered, start your fundraising immediately. We have more than just trophies this year! If you raise $500 or more, you will receive a beautiful classic keffiyeh from the Herbrawi Textile Factory, the last remaining keffiyeh factory in Palestine. Complete with a “made in Palestine” tag, these traditional scarves are the living memory of Palestine. Let that inspire you to push your fundraising to the next level!

Remember the reason why we run. Beyond showing solidarity, proceeds from the Gaza 5K support UNRWA’s Community Mental Health Program and provides critical counseling sessions to help vulnerable refugee children cope with the extreme challenges they face on a daily basis in Gaza. A program that, without your help, may not be possible. 

We hope you’ll come out to show these children how much Americans care! 

In solidarity,

Abby, Laila, Sarah, Nada & Lena

Team UNRWA USA

NYC RACE
MARCH 26
REGISTER NOW
DC RACE
MAY 21
REGISTER NOW
PS—Chicago and San Francisco, we’re coming for you! Stay tuned.

 

Official race hashtag: #Gaza5K (See more videos from last year’s run)

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