ISRAEL’S NEW PUPPET GOVERNMENT

Several dozen pro-Palestinian demonstrators clashed with those supporting Israel at the front gates of a baseball stadium in West Sacramento, CA on Sunday where a celebration of 67 years of the Israeli state was being held. 

Chanting “Israel has nothing to celebrate until Israel’s government stops violating human rights and international law,” the demonstrators featured a near life size puppet-sign of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Netanyahu puppet in West Sacramento's pro-Palestinian protest. (Photo: Rocco Valachi)

The Netanyahu puppet in West Sacramento’s pro-Palestinian protest. (Photo: Rocco Valachi)

 

Pro-Palestinian protest features Netanyahu puppet

California demonstrators square off against group celebrating 67 years of Israel’s existence; protest partly fueled by new Netanyahu government.

Several dozen pro-Palestinian demonstrators clashed with those supporting Israel at the front gates of a baseball stadium in West Sacramento, CA on Sunday where a celebration of 67 years of the Israeli state was being held.

Chanting “Israel has nothing to celebrate until Israel’s government stops violating human rights and international law,” the demonstrators featured a near life size puppet-sign of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The photo of the prime minister had a caption under it stating: “Bibi sees the light. Let refugees return home,” in effect, said demonstrators, “calling for an end to Israel’s apartheid, ethnic cleansing and human rights violations against the Palestinian.”

One protester from the pro-Palestinian demonstration told a member of the opposing celebration of Israel that, “You are Hitler,” as a small group of local authorities stood between the two.

“As a Jewish American, I feel it is critical to speak out about Israel’s abuses,” explained Pete Horn, one of those demonstrating Sunday, adding: “I don’t see how anyone of conscience can celebrate when Israel has just installed an incredibly racist government including a deputy defense minister in charge of West Bank Civil Administration who says that Palestinians are subhuman. And this man nominally controls much of the day-to-day life of Palestinians under occupation.”

Pro-Palestinian protesters outside West Sacramento's Raley Field. (Photo: Rocco Valachi)

Pro-Palestinian protesters outside West Sacramento’s Raley Field. (Photo: Rocco Valachi)

Activists said they were calling attention to Israel’s aggressive and violent campaign against Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza and those who are citizens of Israel. The protester’s accusations included kidnapping and torturing children, demolishing Bedouin homes, the jailing of non-violent activists, and war crimes.

“This event, created by the Israel-lobby affiliate, the Jewish Federation, falsely conflates Israel with Judaism and Jewish values, which is further falsely used to claim that criticism of Israel is anti-Jewish,” noted activist Paul Leunberger. “U.S. tax dollars fund Israel’s well-documented atrocious abuses and we have every right to criticize, challenge and work to try to stop what Israel is doing to the indigenous Palestinian people.”

 

Source

‘FREEDOM FLOTILLA III’ HEADS TO GAZA TOMORROW

The first ship taking part in Freedom Flotilla III on Monday set sail from Gothenburg, Sweden, for a voyage of nearly 5,000 nautical miles to the blockaded Gaza Strip.

(MaanImages)

(MaanImages)

‘Freedom Flotilla III’ sets sail for Gaza

The first ship taking part in Freedom Flotilla III on Monday set sail from Gothenburg, Sweden, for a voyage of nearly 5,000 nautical miles to the blockaded Gaza Strip, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition said.

The trawler Marianne was jointly acquired by “Ship to Gaza Sweden” and “Ship to Gaza Norway” and will be joined by other ships en route.

Together, the ships will form the third flotilla to head to Gaza with the aim of “a peaceful, nonviolent action to break the illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip,” the FFC said.

Gaza has been under a crippling Israeli-administered military blockade since 2007.

The first three ports the Marianne will call into are Helsingborg, Malm and Copenhagen, with subsequent ports to be announced later.

The trawler is carrying a limited cargo of solar cell panels and medical equipment for the war-devastated Gaza Strip, the FFC said.It will carry a crew of five people as well as “up to eight delegates as passengers in each section of the route,” the FFC said, with these delegates to be announced along the way.

A range of public figures are expected to participate in the flotilla, including former Tunisian President and human rights activist Muncef al-Marzouki.

The flotilla is the third of its kind since 2010, when the first Freedom Flotilla was brutally attacked by Israel naval forces, who killed nine activists on board the ships.

The incident, which took place in international waters, sparked international outcry.

A second flotilla planned for 2011 was unable to reach Gaza after Greek authorities prevented the ships from leaving Athens.

Conditions in the Gaza Strip have deteriorated sharply following last summer’s 50-day Israeli assault, which left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead and around 100,000 internally displaced.

A statement released by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in March said: “In Gaza, the effects of the occupation, blockade and recurring military campaigns have devastated not only Palestine refugee homes, lives and income, but also hope for a secure and dignified future.”

Another UNRWA report said: “Gaza and its people are becoming more isolated; families fear and worry that in addition to the devastated economy and the stalled political environment, the future of their children is also under siege.”

Source

Needless to say, the zionists are preparing their ‘welcome’  … (Click on link)

Flotilla ahoy! A refresher on the background to another anti-Israel publicity stunt

IN PHOTOS ~~ 10 YEARS OF BDS ~~ A JOINT CELEBRATION

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer Commentary by Chippy Dee

On the evening of May 6th in NYC at Alwan for the Arts the space was filled to capacity with people gathered to hear Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the BDS campaign against Israel, and Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, discuss the BDS campaign as it reaches its’ 10th anniversary.  The meeting was organized by Haymarket Books.

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Barghouti began by explaining the philosophy behind boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).  It is about building awareness of the ethicality of resistance.  How does an oppressed people resist oppression without unduly harming the oppressor.  Both communities have to be humanized and the trap of collective responsibility is to be avoided.  An Us vs. Them mindset is not productive – Israelis should be encouraged to join the movement.

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The minds of Palestinians have to be decolonized.  Realizing there would be enormous resistance Zionists knew very early on that they would have to colonize the minds of Palestinians, building an iron wall there by removing all hope.  If hope is taken away the Palestinians would be defeated.  This was recognized as early as 1923 when the Zionist Vladimir Jabotinski wrote his political allies about destroying the will of the Palestinian people, “A living people make such enormous concessions…only when there is no hope left.  Only when not a single breach is visible in the iron wall, only then do extreme groups… lose their sway….”

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Last, people have to be mobilized for goal oriented action, one with a considerable chance of success.

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Only 38% of the Palestinian people live on the West Bank and in Gaza.  12% are Israeli citizens and 50% are in the diaspora.  It is not enough to say end the occupation.  Israel has divided the Palestinians, leaving them scattered all over the world.  The 3 goals of BDS: end the occupation, full and equal rights for the Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the right of return will reunite the people of Palestine.  Our goal is freedom, justice and equality.  We must have consistent pressure to achieve these goals.  That means resisting/opposing the regime that stands against this.

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Israel is feeling very threatened because the economic and cultural boycott is growing and Jewish support for BDS is also growing.  People are coming to realize that either they support a colonial venture or they don’t.  The “Brand Israel” campaign has failed.  Now the Israeli fight-back is based on propaganda and ‘lawfare’, legal challenges to BDS.  They seem not to know how to deal with this non-violent principled resistance which is demanding basic rights for the Palestinian people under international law.

Vilkomerson said that JVP fully endorses all elements of the Palestinian call for BDS and believes that it provides the best tactics to bring justice to Palestine.  JVP also wants to bring pressure on the US government not to be complicit in this struggle. There have been many victories here in this country – 60 members of congress did not go to hear Netanyahu’s speech.  JVP stands with the divestment of the Presbyterian church and with SodaStream closing their West Bank factory.  JVP also supports the many Students for Justice in Palestine chapters that have been fighting for divestment, often winning, on their campuses.

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But the closer we come to winning this fight, the stronger the push-back will be.  Big money is going into this fight against the BDS campaign from the Jewish community, including on campuses.  There are constant accusations of anti-Semitism which, unfortunately, dilutes real anti-Semitism.

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Blacks, Latinos, and young people are most likely to support Palestine and over the past year there has been an enormous growth of solidarity between the Palestinian struggle and the fight against the oppression of Black people in this country.  JVP fully supports, with feet in the streets, the Black Lives Matter fight.  JVP is an anti-racist organization that sees the Palestinian and the Black struggle as the same fight for justice and will be there in solidarity because it is a joint struggle.  BDS is a tool of anti-racist ideology.

JVP is now 3 times the size it was before the Israeli attack on Gaza last summer.  They now have 200,000 on line supporters because people are coming to recognize that the Palestinian struggle is the world’s great moral issue of our time.

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I remember when people used the phrase ‘PEPs’, Progressive Except Palestine, to describe those who were generally progressive on most issues but would not or could not support Palestinians.  It is becoming increasingly clear to me that there is no such thing.  If you don’t understand and support the Palestinian struggle for human rights you  cannot call yourself progressive.

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IF YOU ARE COMING TO PALESTINE ~~ KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!

On Sunday April 19, we arrived at 2:30 AM at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. At the customs desk we stated the purpose of our visit ; but when the officer heard the word « Ramallah » we were sent straight to a small room where other people were waiting for us. We were immediately asked to write our telephone numbers and e-mail addresses.

Bastien Anthoine and Philomène Constant

Bastien Anthoine and Philomène Constant

Night of horror at Ben Gurion airport for two French music students

Philomene Constant and Bastien Anthoine *

We are two students, both studying musicology at the Université Paris 8 and in the CRR 93 at Aubervilliers and the CRD at Gennevilliers [translator’s note : all located in the suburbs north of Paris]. After taking our baccalauréat exams at the end of high school, we left in September 2013 to spend a year living in Palestine. We gave and attended music classes (violin and flute) at the Edward Said National Conservatory in Ramallah and helped to create a music school in Jericho. This year we had decided to go back during our recent Easter break to see our friends again and to return to the places where we had spent time the previous year.

On Sunday April 19, we arrived at 2:30 AM at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. At the customs desk we stated the purpose of our visit ; but when the officer heard the word « Ramallah » we were sent straight to a small room where other people were waiting for us. We were immediately asked to write our telephone numbers and e-mail addresses.

After an hour’s wait, a security officer came to pick up Philomène, telling her to take her luggage. In this first interrogation, the security officer asked her the reason for her visit, whether or not she had previously been to Israel, and why. After a few minutes, he began to get angry and called her a « liar » because it seemed to him impossible that a 20-year old would come to Palestine for a year for the sole purpose of playing and studying music. He asked her whether or not she had a Palestinian cell phone. She said no because she was afraid of placing her contacts in a bad position. The man stood up and pounded the desk with his fists, saying « You’re a liar, I don’t believe you ! » He then brought Philomène back to the waiting room and asked Bastien to follow him. The same script ; he warned him that his friend is a liar and that he had better not tell any lies. Bastien told him the truth but the officer didn’t believe him, and a dialogue of the deaf ensued. Then he ordered him to bring our Palestinian SIM cards and our camera. Having made Bastien translate all the messages on the cell phone and watch him look at our Paris photos to be sure we weren’t activists, he told him to return to the waiting room.

Two hours later, and after having seen many people leave with a visa, the same officer called to Philomène to follow him. He asked the same questions but this time, he says he is convinced that she has taken part in demonstrations. She insists she hasn’t. He continued until she broke down and started crying. Then it was Bastien’s turn, he was also accused of taking part in demonstrations, and advised to stop lying. He went to his Facebook account and asked whether or not he know a « Marie Ballanger. » Bastien said no, then the officer got angry and said that she was one of his Facebook friends and that she had been refused entry last December Bastien understood then that he had meant « Bérengère, » a friend who had indeed been refused entry recently. At that point he said that he did know her and was immediately insulted because he hadn’t reacted right away. He was then sent back into the waiting room.

By then it was 8 AM, there are only five of us in the small room. We are trembling, we want to throw up, we can’t eat the dry sandwich Israeli security had brought us. Next to us a Russian woman passed out ; a security officer stuffed a suitcase under her feet and waited for her to come to, alone; 15 minutes later, a man came to take care of her. We also saw someone from Chad who, after having handed over all the money he was carrying, was handcuffed and sent away somewhere. A fifty-year-old man, exhausted, was crying in a corner. The wait was growing unbearable, inhuman, we need to walk to feel better. Outside the room we see young people of our age who are also dealing with security, laughing, calling out, using the phone, talking about shopping… completely oblivious.

The officer finally came back to talk to Bastien. He refuses to believe him when he denies having taken part in demonstrations; he asks why he is so nervous, why he is trembling; doesn’t that prove he’s lying? He pretends not to understand that we have already spent 5 1/2 hours there after a day-long plane trip, and at a certain point a normal person can’t take any more. The officer insists that Bastien, being pro-Palestinian, can’t have spent a year in Palestine without having gone to Bil’in, a village known for its resistance. Having never demonstrated, Bastien continued to insist that he hadn’t been there. When Philomène’s turn came, he asked her exactly the same questions. She gave the same answers.

We returned to the waiting room, not knowing what to think; would we get a visa after all ? Would we be denied entry? We fought off sleep and numbness. At 9 AM an Israeli immigration officer came to look for us. He explained that we are too dangerous for their « democracy » and that, although we are students and musicians, they don’t believe us and they are going to bring us to a detention center while we waited for the return flight at 4 PM. From that moment on we are treated like terrorists. We even need to be accompanied to the bathroom. They bring us to the immigration office to take our fingerprints and a photo in order to « telephone our relatives, » according to them. Philomène offers to play the violin because they don’t believe us. The officer answers coldly that he doesn’t like music.

Next they bring us to the search room, where for the space of an hour we are treated as objects. All our bags are opened, all our clothing and other items are checked, then we are strip searched in a dressing room. Total humiliation. They disassemble Bastien’s suitcase and keep it and put all his things in a box. We now have fluorescent stickers on all our bags.

Another wait. We ask when we can use the telephone, we are told « in a few minutes, » which is what we have been hearing all night. Finally at 10:30 AM, we leave the terminal in an armored car that drives us, with the Russian woman, to the detention center.

At the center, our jailers put our things in a room and tell us to take our money and our cigarettes if we want to smoke. Our cell phones are forbidden, but we can finally contact our relatives, eight hours after our arrival. We go out to breathe some fresh air, always accompanied, in a closed courtyard. Then they bring us to a cell, in which we will stay until our flight. Here we are locked up, with no notion of time in a dirty place, covered with fleas and less afraid than feeling a sense of absurdity that makes us laugh slightly. Three and a half hours later we leave.

At 3 PM we finally leave the prison and return to the armored car that drives us directly to the runway where our plane is waiting for us. Another inconvenience : we learn that our flight is to Brussels; if we want to go to Paris, we have to wait another eight hours at the airport. We board the plane; our jailers give our passports to the flight attendants who help us in, looking sorry.

Five hours later (and 17 hours after our landing) our passports are returned to us when we arrive in Brussels, where the Belgian border police is waiting for us. They bring us to an office to check whether we are dangerous for their country. We are not. We decide not to fly back to Paris; we prefer to return to France on our own the following day.

Every year, at Ben Gurion airport, numerous visitors from a variety of origins are treated similarly. Their most elementary human rights are flouted: violation of intimacy, psychological torture, dehumanization, racism, theft, trauma. Few of them present a real danger to Israel. In this way, Israel interferes with the smooth development of a great number of humanitarian, cultural, and other projects. At present, nothing is done about this. What happens at that border is unknown to all. Our states have the power to stop these abuses. We have the obligation to inform as many people as possible so that one day, human rights will be respected at that border. We hope that this testimony can serve to help change this unfortunate reality.

Philomène Constant et Bastien Anthoine, Angers, France, le 22 avril 2015

This account appeared today on the site of AURDIP, Association des Universitaires pour Respect du Droit International en Palestine. It was translated from the French by Michael Harris.

*About Philomène Constant and Bastien Anthoine

The authors study musicology at the Université Paris 8. They spent a year in Palestine helping to create a music school in Jericho

Taken FROM

IN PHOTOS ~~ BRINGING THE OCCUPATION TO NEW YORK

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer Commentary by Chippy Dee

Last Friday evening, April 24th, Haneen Zoabi, Palestinian citizen of Israel and member of the Knesset, spoke to a packed crowd of about 300+ in an auditorium at New York University in NYC.  The room was filled beyond capacity with people standing on the sides and sitting on the ground in the aisles.  She was invited there by the NYU chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.  Before she arrived an unsigned leaflet was circulated accusing her of being a friend of Hamas and a supporter of terror.  A very small group of Israel’s supporters stood in the rear of the auditorium waving 2 Israeli flags.

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MK Zoabi entered from the rear, walking briskly, surrounded by 3 bodyguards.  The crowd stood up applauding enthusiastically for many minutes.  She appeared moved and a little surprised by the welcome saying that she does not receive such a greeting very often.  The bodyguards, ever vigilant, remained close to her. 

She then addressed the leaflet attacking her that had been handed out – she was holding a copy in her hand.  She said she was elected  to the Knesset in 2009, the 1st woman to win election as part of an Arab party.  Since then there have been repeated attempts to silence her.  She stated that Israel claims to be the only democracy in the Middle East but compared to what, Arab dictatorships?  There is certainly no comparison to the U.S. and other western democracies – it is very different in Israel.  The democracy in Israel is only for the Jews.  She added that she stands against all injustice, not only the injustices against Palestinians.  She is a feminist, standing for full equality between men and women and will never agree to give others advantages over Palestinians in our homeland.

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She is fighting against racist Zionism, not against Jews.  85% of the Palestinians have been expelled during the ongoing Nakba and have been made refugees.  574 cities, towns, and villages have been destroyed.  The names of everything has been changed robbing Palestinians of geographic familiarity and now Palestinians are being driven out of the Negev. She then looked to the back of the room where Israeli flags were still being waved and asked, “What are  you so proud of?” 

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Zoabi said that Israel is threatened by a real democracy because there is a conflict between being a Jewish state and a democracy.  Palestinians are the indigenous people of their land and, as here in the U.S., indigenous people have to demand their rights in a democracy.  Usually when immigrants arrive in a new land they have to fight for their rights but in Israel it is the other way around.  Israel is demanding that she be loyal to the group that is oppressing her.  There is a tyranny of the majority there.  Over 50 laws discriminate against Palestinian citizens within Israel.  Family unification is not allowed, Palestinians cannot bring a spouse into the country.  The income of Jews is 3 times higher than that of Palestinians who are marginalized and not allowed to develop an economy.  An oppressive legal system is directed against Palestinians.

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Then Zoabi noted that she had been talking mostly about Israel and not Palestine.  What do Palestinians want?  “WE DON’T WANT TO THROW ANYONE INTO THE SEA.”  We want to live in full equality with the right of return in 1 state or 2 and we want the occupation ended now.  There was no talk about the occupation in the past 3 Israeli elections.  Israelis believe nothing is wrong while 50 rabbis recently published a demand that housing should not be rented to Palestinians, 33% of Israeli Jews agreed to imprison Palestinians in concentration camps if a war broke out, and 53% say that Palestinians  should not be represented equally with Jews when budgets are created even though they pay taxes.  She believes that Palestinians should go to the international court, demand that Oslo be reconsidered, and reject negotiations that have proved pointless.  Her conclusion was that, most of all, Palestinians must challenge Israeli racism and be very clear about respecting the rights of Israeli Jews.

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Then there was a Q & A period where the audience was able to respectfully ask questions about subjects she did not address in her speech.  One of the more interesting questions was, to paraphrase, Do you support BDS even if it means that Palestinians are hurt by it?  Her response was an unequivocal, YES, even if it hurts us.

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When she finished her presentation she received another standing ovation.  People rushed forward to talk to her, pose for photos with her, and shake her hand.  When she moved to leave a group of about 30 young men who had come to hear her joined her bodyguards to see that she exited safely.  And she left through the front door.

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WHY ALL THE FUSS ABOUT BDS?

Boycotts are certainly not a new tool used to fight injustices or to show solidarity with a given Movement ….

My son was almost ten years old when he tasted his first grape …. here’s why;

We supported the strikers of Southern California, led by Cesar Chavez, when the grape workers called for a boycott …

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In September 1965, a collaboration of Filipino and Latino farm workers against the deleterious policies of Californian grape growers initiated one of the organization’s largest boycotts. Protest support reached unprecedented heights as laborers received aid across the country. Commercial establishments, including the Trans-World Airlines, withheld the sale of “California’s poison grapes,” raising worldwide attention to the urgency of farm labor rights. (FROM)

We boycotted grapes and other products imported from Chile during the years of the fascist coup in that country, a coup established and protected by the US Government.

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We boycotted all fruit imported from Israel because of the occupation, also supported by the US Government.

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And, last but not least, we boycotted all goods imported from the apartheid regime in South Africa.

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In most of the above, our International efforts helped Justice finally prevail. All except the boycott of Israeli goods. But finally this Movement is taking on great proportions. So great are they that the greatest supporter of Human Rights violations in Israel and Palestine, again the US Government, is doing everything in its power to crush BDS.

As much as they would like to, the US cannot stop the clocks of progress. BDS WILL WIN and the occupation will end! Nothing and no one can stop that!!

But why all the fuss about this particular boycott?

Israel, as well, has new legislation in an attempt to stop the growth of the Movement.

They as well cannot stop the clocks of progress.

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And in Israel itself …

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IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORK SOLIDARITY WITH YARMOUK REFUGEE CAMP

March from Bryant Park to United Nations Headquarters

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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See THIS recent post  (Click on link)

WORLD TURNS A BLIND EYE TO ISIS’ MASSACRE OF PALESTINIANS

IN PHOTOS ~~ PALESTINE IS A ‘SELL OUT’ IN BROOKLYN

We are happy to report that yesterday was a very positive day in front of the Park Slope Food Coop, as we spent a second day offering members a taste of Palestinian olive oil and za’atar on both matzoh and pita bread. By the end of the day the Coop sold out of the Palestinian olive oil and more will have to be ordered. We will continue to put Palestinian olive oil on the table and invite people to join us in an appreciation of Palestine and it’s right to liberation.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary From We Will Not Be Silent

In the days leading up to Passover, Park Slope Food Coop members  gather outside the coop to offer free samples of the Palestinian olive oil sold inside, on matzoh and pita bread. We have handed out
Four Questions” to add to the traditional Seder questions, and encouraged shoppers to liberate the Passover story of liberation and talk about the Occupation. 

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    Click here to view more photos from this action. 

Click on link below to see our Holiday Post

DON’T PASSOVER PALESTINE THIS HOLIDAY

IN PHOTOS ~~ 5K GAZA RUN

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On Saturday morning, March 28th, the sky over Prospect Park in Brooklyn was leaden, the temperature was more appropriate to January than March, and it seemed to get worse as the hours passed.  However, that did not stop a spirited group of about 600 participants which included every race, ethnicity, and age from gathering to run, or walk, a 5K loop in the park. The event was organized by UNRWA USA in order to raise money to provide mental health services for the traumatized children of Gaza.  Buoyed only by the comradery and love for the children of Gaza, the runners took off at about 9:30 AM with the swifter among them crossing the finish line fairly shortly thereafter.  The walkers returned much later. 

The original goal was for the Brooklyn runners to raise about $50,000 but the amount collected far exceeded that.  $103,000 was raised and money is still coming in showing great support for this cause.  Races like this one have been organized by UNRWA USA in cities throughout the country.  

There was much elation among the participants because the event was so successful and because everyone felt good about being able to do something to help.  But at the same time it is very disturbing to recognize that with all the wealth in the world a UN agency has to create the equivalent of a school ‘bake sale’ to raise money to attempt to heal some of the scars that Israel inflicted on the children of Gaza last summer, destroying their bodies and their homes and murdering their families.  Also, nothing is getting better.  According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in 2014 more civilians were murdered on the West Bank and in Gaza then at any time since 1967. 

So, while the UNRWA  USA events are very important and should continue because they raise money and help galvanize the many people in the Palestine justice community we all have to do more.  For now, Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) remains our most potent tool.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary by Chippy Dee

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Some of the 'older' folks called this event the 5K 'Schlep'

Some of the ‘older’ folks called this event the 5K ‘Shlep’ :)

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THE JEWISH VOICE FOR PEACE IS BEING HEARD LOUD AND CLEAR

Group Now Has More Facebook Followers Than AIPAC and J Street

JVP’s full embrace of BDS includes endorsing a right of return for Arabs and for descendants of Arabs who fled or who were expelled by Israel’s army in the 1948 war that established the state. That population, most of whom remain stateless refugees, now numbers more than 5.2 million. Israel and its supporters, including even dovish Zionist parties such as Meretz, argue that full implementation of the United Nations resolution calling for their return would render Jews a minority in their own state. It would mean, they say, the end of Zionism.

COURTESY OF REBECCA VILKOMERSON

COURTESY OF REBECCA VILKOMERSON

Embracing Israel Boycott, Jewish Voice For Peace Insists on Its Jewish Identity

By Evan Serpick

At the opening plenary of Jewish Voice for Peace’s recent national conference, Rabbi Alissa Wise, JVP’s co-director of organizing, asked the crowd of some 600 how many were attending their first such gathering; about three-quarters of the room shot up their hands.

For the group whose advocacy of boycotting, sanctioning and divesting from Israel makes it a pariah in most of the rest of the Jewish community, these have been boom times. And for many of its members, the reason appears to be a continuing desire to assert their opposition to Israel’s fundamental policies in a Jewish context rather than abandon their Jewish identity altogether.

One of those raising his hand was Noah Knowlton-Latkin of California’s Claremont Colleges. Like many of those in attendance, Knowlton-Latkin, a sophomore, was involved earlier in Students for Justice in Palestine, a campus group devoted to organizing students to oppose Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and siege of Gaza. The group also pushes college administrations to cut their economic and academic ties to Israel.

But last summer, Knowlton-Latkin reached out to JVP to express his concerns in a Jewish context. “It was great to find out that this existed,” said Knowlton-Latkin, who came to the conference with two other Jewish Claremont students, both members of SJP.

JVP’s recent conference, which took place in Baltimore from March 13 to 15, was notable for several new developments. Two weeks earlier, after a lengthy process that included study committees and membership surveys, JVP’s board of directors voted to fully support the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel, or BDS, as it is popularly known. JVP’s call for a full economic boycott of Israel comes after years of supporting a more limited boycott of only companies that operated in the occupied territories.

JVP’s full embrace of BDS includes endorsing a right of return for Arabs and for descendants of Arabs who fled or who were expelled by Israel’s army in the 1948 war that established the state. That population, most of whom remain stateless refugees, now numbers more than 5.2 million. Israel and its supporters, including even dovish Zionist parties such as Meretz, argue that full implementation of the United Nations resolution calling for their return would render Jews a minority in their own state. It would mean, they say, the end of Zionism.

But JVP’s president, Rebecca Vilkomerson, told the Forward: “For there to be a sustainable and just peace, that is one of the issues that we have to grapple with. We believe that there can be a homeland for Jewish people that is not based on the systematic denial of rights of Palestinians.”

JVP does not offer details on how that could be if such a return indeed took place.

Most striking at this conference was the way Israel’s hard-right turns, and particularly last year’s war in Gaza, have fueled JVP’s growth among a cohort of mostly young people who find the response of other Jewish groups, including the dovish group J Street, simply inadequate. JVP’s leaders anticipate that this trend will only quicken following the recent election victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They point to his election eve disavowal of a two-state solution and his election day warning about Arabs voting, plus the prospect that he will soon lead an even more right-wing government.

There are now 65 JVP chapters, up from 40 a year ago. Vilkomerson says JVP now has 9,000 dues-paying members, compared with 600 when the Forward last profiled the group in 2011. In the tax year that ended in June 2013, JVP had $1.1 million in donations. Vilkomerson said she expects this year’s total to top $2 million, almost all of it from individuals. The group has more than 204,000 Facebook followers, more than twice as many as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and about eight times as many as J Street.

For all their alienation from the mainstream community, JVP members seem to share an urgent need to voice their angst in a Jewish context, and to project it outward to the world, also citing their status as Jews. Critics condemn this as mere exploitation of their Jewishness in order to gain a hearing the group would otherwise be denied.

But many JVP members do come from backgrounds of serious Jewish engagement. The conference itself opened on a Friday night, with the group celebrating Kabbalat Shabbat, and included a memorial service for those killed in the war in Gaza, during which members chanted the Mourner’s Kaddish and the prayer for the dead, El Maleh Rachamim. JVP says the group offers the members a place to be their “whole selves.”

“21yrs in many jewish spaces & I’ve never felt so at home,” one participant, Talia Bauer, wrote on the group’s Facebook page after the conference.

Another participant wrote, “For three days, I was immersed in a Jewish community unlike I have ever been a part of, one rooted in justice that welcomed all of me.” She wrote anonymously, she said, to avoid her family learning of her involvement with JVP.

In Vilkomerson’s view, “the mainstream Jewish community should be thanking us. We are bringing many people back into a Jewish community. There’s so much angst in the Jewish community about the loss of community, and losing the young people, and what is going to happen, and the apathy. Nobody here is apathetic; nobody here is unconnected. To the contrary.”

Some in the mainstream grant them this point. “Any sort of Jewish engagement by young people is a positive thing,” said Steven M. Cohen, a professor at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion who studies the American Jewish community. He said that JVP, along with anti-democratic far-right groups and “any group that represents lots of Jews,” should be invited to be members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and similar mainstream organizations. “JVP doesn’t show concern for the security of the State of Israel and doesn’t care if there is a Jewish State of Israel or not,” he added. Nevertheless, he said, “We should not exclude JVP from conversations — we should engage them.”

That view is unthinkable to many Jewish community standard-bearers.

“The positions and actions taken by Jewish Voice for Peace are anathema to mainstream Jewish organizations,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, in a statement to the Forward. “The group’s activities, which include partnerships with anti-Israel organizations that deny Israel’s fundamental right to exist, put them at the farthest fringe of the Jewish community and would certainly preclude their participation among mainstream organizations.”

JVP, he said, “uses its Jewish identity to provide the anti-Israel movement with a veneer of legitimacy and to shield the movement’s most demagogic supporters from allegations of anti-Semitism.”

For many, the decision to join JVP was a painful, personal one, reflecting a lost faith in the State of Israel. Rabbi Brant Rosen, a co-chair of JVP’s rabbinical council, who served as a congregational rabbi in suburban Chicago for 17 years, joined in 2009, after Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, its military campaign into Gaza, with numerous reports — contested by Israel — of high civilian deaths rates.

Michael Davis, a congregational cantor in the Reform movement and a member of JVP’s rabbinical council, grew up Orthodox in Israel. He said that his own worldview changed after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin at a fateful Tel Aviv peace rally in November 1995. “That was the end of the dream for me,” he told the Forward.

For Vilkomerson, it was the second intifada, starting in 2000. “There are these moments of cracking open, where people sort of make the leap,” she said.

Rosen added, “Historically, that’s how JVP has grown, unfortunately, tragically.”

Speaking after the Israeli election, Vilkomerson says she now expects another wave of people to come into the JVP fold. “Given that the American Jewish community is generally interested in peace and democratic values, we expect a lot of self-reflection about how to support a true peace in the days to come,” she said.

IN PHOTOS ~~ JEWS IN SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINIAN RIGHT OF RETURN

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

THE POSTERS

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VIEW OF THE AUDIENCE

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IN PHOTOS ~~ ISRAELI ARMY IS NOT OUR FRIEND

'Rabbi' Shmuley Boteach also made an appearance, later tweeting a photo of himself smiling in front of ‘Boycott Israeli Apartheid’ signs.

‘Rabbi’ Shmuley Boteach also made an appearance, later tweeting a photo of himself smiling in front of ‘Boycott Israeli Apartheid’ signs.

From Twitter ~~ The smiling idiot

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New Yorkers Turn out in the Rain to Protest Fundraiser for the Israeli Army

Sixty New Yorkers weathered Tuesday evening’s downpour to protest the gala fundraiser organized and hosted by US nonprofit Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) at the Waldorf Astoria. Demonstrators demanded that FIDF be stripped of its current tax-exempt status, which allows it to raise funds used to subsidize the Israeli military at the American taxpayers’ expense. Last year, the FIDF’s tax-exempt fundraising was subsidized by taxpayers to the tune of at least $20 million. Signs and pamphlets at the demonstration reminded attendees and passersby that these tax-exempt millions are not supporting a humanitarian cause, but a military force with a known record of egregious human rights abuses.

Attendees in formal wear and evening gowns appeared disturbed by the chants, signs, and marching protesters, sometimes responding with taunts and curses.  As they marched, protesters read out loud the names and ages of Palestinians killed in Israel’s brutal military assault on Gaza this summer. One dinner attendee responded to the reading of the name of a Palestinian casualty with, “Thank God he’s dead!”

 Rabbi Shmuley Boteach also made an appearance, later tweeting a photo of himself smiling in front of ‘Boycott Israeli Apartheid’ signs. Boteach, who often has vitriolic commentary for anyone criticizing Israel’s human rights record, has recently come under fire for an ad in the New York Times where he accused United States National Security Adviser Susan Rice of turning a blind eye to genocide.

Riham Barghouti of Adalah-NY thanked demonstrators at the end for braving the rain to show that organizations like the Friends of the IDF “are not welcome in New York.”

The FIDF relieves the Israeli military of infrastructure, family support, and morale building expenses by raising funds that provide for soldiers’ medical care, financially support soldiers, and cover infrastructure costs such as housing for soldiers, training facilities, and recreational facilities. During  Israel’s most recent large-scale assault on Gaza during the summer of 2014, dubbed Operation Protective Edge by the Israeli army, Israel’s military managed to drop an atomic bomb’s equivalent in explosives on Gaza, killing 2,257 people and injuring thousands more. The operation also led to the destruction of countless homes, schools, mosques, and United Nations shelters. TheGolani and Givati Brigades, for which FIDF regularly raises funds and which stand to benefit from the FIDF gala, were both involved in the 2014 assault. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others have said the Israeli military committed war crimes in Gaza. FIDF’s direct support of those brigades exemplifies the organization’s complicity in the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people.

Organized by Adalah-NY and endorsed by a dozen NYC human rights groups, the action took place during Israeli Apartheid Week, an annual, international series of events designed to build awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies against Palestinians and to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Other New York events include panels, speakers, cultural performances, discussions, and film screenings hosted by organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace and the Students for Justice in Palestine chapters at city universities.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary From Adalha NY

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More photos HERE

IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORKERS MARCH FOR PEACE WITH IRAN

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On March 3rd, the day of Netanyahu’s anti-Iran speech to the U.S. Congress, a group of activists gathered at Times Sq. to protest his war oriented speech. They stood in the Square with black and white signs which have become the icon of New York City protestors, and proclaimed loudly “No war on Iran: negotiate”.  From Times Sq. they  marched through Manhattan streets, through Grand Central Station, to the Israeli Consulate chanting  for a diplomatic solution.

When the marchers arrived at the Consulate the police tried to persuade them to demonstrate across the street.

The marchers refused to cross and proclaimed their legal- constitutional right to demonstrate peacefully at the Consulate. Meanwhile, across the street, another group, “Israelis  for a Sustainable Peace”, was also protesting Netanyahu’s polices.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary by Chippy Dee

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The other Demo

ISRAELIS FOR A SUSTAINABLE PEACE

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IN PHOTOS ~~ NETANYAHU’S WELCOME IN NEW YORK (NOT)

The Emporer's Nuke Clothes Image by Katie Miranda

The Emperor’s Nuke Clothes
Image by Katie Miranda

In a blinding snow fall, March 1st, scores of people gathered to protest the forthcoming speech on March 3rd of Benjamin Netanyahu to the U.S. Congress.

Speakers protested the occupation and settlement of Palestinian land and  the murderous deaths of thousands of Palestinians at the bloodied hands of the Zionists with the aid of American tax dollars. They noted the unity of the Congressnal extreme right  and  the Zionist policy of  pushing the U.S. into war with Iran. The speakers said that Netanyahu does not speak for all American Jews as he pretends.  The message to Netanyahu was ‘GET OUT OF THIS COUNTRY’

The snow might have been blinding but it did not stop us from seeing the truth!

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary by Chippy Dee

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BANKSY IN GAZA GOING VIRAL ON THE NET

The video below has had nearly a million views since it was posted last night ….

Banksy goes to Gaza

News travels fast. Yesterday, Banksy published video and photos from a recent trip to Gaza on their Instagram account and set the internet ablaze. The New York Times published a statement from the artist: “I don’t want to take sides. But when you see entire suburban neighborhoods reduced to rubble with no hope of a future — what you’re really looking at is a vast outdoor recruitment center for terrorists. And we should probably address this for all our sakes.”

Image: Banksy

Image: Banksy

And look, a Banksy promotional travel video-documentary “Make this the year YOU discover a new destination” where he rappels threw the tunnel and burst out on the other side — in Gaza –“Well away from the tourist track”:

We love Banksy — who doesn’t?

Banksy writes, “A local man came up and said ‘Please – what does this mean?’ I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website – but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens”:

Banksy in Gaza

Banksy in Gaza

Banksy also explains, “Gaza is often described as ‘the world’s largest open air prison’ because no-one is allowed to enter or leave. But that seems a bit unfair to prisons – they don’t have their electricity and drinking water cut off randomly almost every day.”:

Banksy in Gaza

Banksy in Gaza

 

BANKSY ‘SNEAKS’ INTO GAZA TO MAKE A VIDEO

The anonymous but eminent British street artist known as Banksy has again taken aim at Israeli policies regarding the Palestinians, sneaking into the Gaza Strip and filming the devastation there in the wake of last summer’s IDF Operation Protective Edge, which ended six months ago.

 

Full report HERE

IN PHOTOS ~~ GRANNY PEACE BRIGADE Vs NYC COUNCIL

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On Abraham Lincoln’s birthday-2/12/15, a cold snow shower day,  the NYC Grannies Peace Brigade demonstrated in front of NYC Hall protesting 15 members of the City Council, going to Israel in February, on an all -expenses paid junket sponsored by Zionist groups. Banners were displayed and leaflets distributed  to passerby’s explaining the protest.

Photos and commentary © by Bud Korotzer

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#NoToVisitingApartheid ~~ IN PHOTOS

 

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A coalition of more than 40 New York City community groups held a press conference outside City Hall on Monday calling for the City Council to cancel a planned delegation to Israel. A diverse group of speakers addressed the city’s progressive politicians, asking how they could reconcile their opposition to racism and state violence at home with support for Israel’s policies against the Palestinians.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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And the Report FROM

Coalition of more than 40 NYC community groups calls on City Council to cancel delegation to Israel

Eamon Murphy

A coalition of more than 40 New York City community groups held a press conference outside City Hall on Monday calling for the City Council to cancel a planned delegation to Israel. A diverse group of speakers addressed the city’s progressive politicians, asking how they could reconcile their opposition to racism and state violence at home with support for Israel’s policies against the Palestinians.

Around 50 people gathered in the near-freezing rain for the event, which was introduced by Brandon Davis of Jewish Voice for Peace. Davis denounced the “flagrant disregard for justice” displayed by the delegation, “in our streets” as well as in Palestine. A recurring theme of the remarks that followed was the link between the current movement to end racist policing in U.S. cities and the struggle against Israel’s apartheid in Palestine. Connections were mentioned between the New York Police Department and the Israeli security establishment, including the opening of an NYPD branch in the Sharon District police headquarters at Kfar Saba.

Organizations that have joined the campaign include the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, the Direct Action Front for Palestine, and Jews Against Islamophobia. The Council’s nine-day trip, scheduled to begin on February 15, is sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of New York.

City Council members participating in the delegation to Israel are Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Mark Treyger, Brad Lander, Antonio Reynoso, David Greenfield, Rafael Espinal, Darlene Mealy, Mark Levine, Helen Rosenthal, Corey Johnson, Ritchie Torres, Andrew Cohen, Donovan Richards, Eric Ulrich, and James Van Bramer. The trip would be Mark-Viverito’s second such junket, the speaker having made a JCRC-funded visit to Israel in 2012. “New York City and Israel share many cultural, business, and educational ties and this trip with members of the Council will help strengthen them,” Mark-Viverito told The New York Daily News. “We’re looking forward to a productive and informative trip.”

Fatin Jarara of Al-Awda New York, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, speaks at the rally. (Photo: Eamon Murphy)

Speakers at the press conference wondered how informative such a visit could really be. Would the Council tour the West Bank separation barrier, asked criminal defense attorney Bina Ahmad, or Gaza’s ruined homes and schools? How could those who have taken a stance against domestic discrimination, she demanded to know, go on to contribute to normalizing systematic racism against an entire people — “gross hypocrisy,” in her words. Ahmad, who works with the Legal Aid Society in Staten Island and represented police chokehold victim Eric Garner, analogized Israel’s occupation of Palestine to the NYPD’s presence in communities of color.

Donna Nevel of Jews Against Islamophobia criticized Council members for publicly opposing anti-Muslim discrimination and then visiting Israel under the auspices of the JCRC, which fervently backed Police Comissioner Ray Kelly after the revelation of NYPD spying on Muslim communities. “It is clear that the JCRC has helped undermine the basic civil rights and liberties of our city’s Muslim residents,” according to a letter from the anti-Islamophobia coalition to the Council, “and we hope that you agree with us that it is a most inappropriate organization to lead such a trip.”

Other speakers emphasized the unprogressive nature of a trip that would entail crossing an international picket line. CUNY activist Conor Tomás Reed mentioned labor groups around the world that have heeded Palestinian civil society’s call for a boycott. An official visit to Israel, with its segregated workforce and wage discrimination along ethnoreligious lines, amounts to an anti-labor stand, he suggested.

Last to speak was David Galarza, a Puerto Rican activist who helped create the solidarity group Boricuas for Palestine during last summer’s assault on Gaza. Galarza warmed up the freezing crowd with a chant “to get the blood flowing” — Puerto Rico, Palestine, / occupation is a crime — before delivering a forceful challenge to Mark-Viverito, who before her speakership was a committed activist against the U.S. Navy’s bombing of Vieques: “What has changed?” Galarza likened the four boys killed on the beach in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge to the four girls who died in the bombing of a black church in Birmingham, Alabama; where, he wondered, was Charlie Hebdo-style solidarity in the case of the murdered Baker children? Photographs of the two bombings were held up as Galarza declared his identification with the eight victims, alternating Palestinian and African-American names.

The event concluded with Brandon Davis reading a statement from New York-based participants on a solidarity delegation in Palestine, organized by the national anti-racist organization Dream Defenders (full text at the end of this article). During the q-and-a, a man who identified himself as a freelance photojournalist asked Davis about Hamas’s killing of innocent Israelis, and Mahmoud Abbas’s declaration that no Jews will live in a future Palestinian state (not Abbas’s actual position). “Which is the real apartheid state?” the man demanded. After the event was over, he approached Galarza and declared that, as an experienced and well-sourced reporter who has worked in the Middle East, he knew the deaths of four boys on the beach in Gaza were staged.

The press conference began around noon and lasted until 12:30. As I left City Hall at 12:45, two dozen people were still standing and talking in the cold and the rain.

Statement from New York-based members of the Dream Defenders delegation:

For the last 10 days over a dozen artists, activists, educators, and organizers have been traveling across Palestine witnessing power, heartbreak, apartheid, occupation, state violence and grief. It is a binding grief, due to parallel experiences with state violence, that brought us to Palestine. It is also this binding grief that makes the New Yorkers on this historical delegation concerned about the nature, scope, and intent of some New York City Council member’s planned trip to Israel.

We stand in support of Palestine, in support of the international BDS movement, and against Zionist beliefs. We believe this City Council trip would be a dangerous symbolic gesture of normalizing Israeli’s apartheid state. We were able to witness this first hand at the check points in Ramallah, and in the settlements surrounding Bethlehem. It is not completely unfamiliar to us to live in a country where you can be profiled and denied humanity. We know Israeli training forces have a long mentoring relationship with NYPD, and if you stand with oppressed people and against police brutality here at home, you must stand with oppressed people and against state violence abroad.

Cherrell Brown
Carmen Perez
Aja Monet
Marc Lamont Hill

– See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/01/coalition-community-delegation#sthash.Rb7Anslv.dpuf

USA/PALESTINE ~~ STUDENT SOLIDARITY ON BOTH SIDES OF THE POND

If you're a victim of oppression, then you are Palestinian as well. 'Copyleft' by Carlos Latuff

If you’re a victim of oppression, then you are Palestinian as well.
‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

In America …. read THIS fantastic book review

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And in Palestine …

Birzeit students hold solidarity event with Black struggle in US

By Alex Shams

Nearly 100 students at Birzeit University in the central West Bank on Wednesday took part in a solidarity event with the African-American community in the United States in the wake of spiraling rates of deadly police violence there.

Entitled, “Similar Struggles: Racism in Palestine and Abroad,” the event was organized by the Right to Education Campaign at the university and featured lectures from professors as well as a number of students who recently returned from a tour of the United States where they visited Ferguson, Missouri — the site of months of protest against police violence — and met with community organizers across the nation.

Organizers said the activity was one of the “most successful” events organized by the campaign, highlighting how the topic spoke directly to the experiences of Palestinian students.

“Following the uprisings of Black communities across the US, a lot of us here in Palestine began to see the similarities between these communities’ oppression by the militarized state and our own oppression as Palestinians under Israeli colonialism,” organizer Deema al-Saafin told Ma’an in an emailed statement.

She said that the event was part of an effort to “create and sustain solidarity with other struggles,” adding: “We aimed to emphasize that change begins with liberating the mind first, and to build solidarity we need to actively resist derogatory terminology and stereotypes between each other and the way we address other people of color.”

She said the event featured three professors, Ahmad Abu Awad, Rana Barakat, and Hanada Kharama, who addressed racism as an ideology, the institutionalization of racism, and how racism becomes embedded in linguistics, respectively.

In addition, students who took part in the recent Right to Education tour shared their experiences meeting with activists from communities of color in the United States and “how deeply connected our struggles are against the same systems of oppression,” al-Saafin said.

Another organizer, Reema Asia, stressed that the event was important for educating students about struggles faced by their peers abroad: “Through the discussion that took place, the students at the university will have a better understanding of the situation of Black communities not just in America, but around the world. You simply cannot be an ally to a people without having an idea of what it is they are fighting against.”

Al-Saafin told Ma’an that the event was part of the larger effort of building solidarity through knowledge, and that the Right to Education campaign hoped it would help bolster their work to create linkages between the struggles faced by Palestinians and other marginalized communities around the world.

“We hope that this event and those in the future will emphasize the fact that as Palestinians and as students, we have to actively fight injustice everywhere … Our liberation is simply incomplete without the liberation of all oppressed peoples,” she said.

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It’s all ONE STRUGGLE!

Also by Latuff

Also by Latuff

RABBINICAL TAUNTING OF THE SEASON

Photo © by Bud Korotzer

Photo © by Bud Korotzer

The annual demonstration in front of Leviev’s Jewelry store quickly turned into a celebration when it was learned that the shop had locked it’s doors and emptied its showcases …. but this didn’t stop ‘Rabbi’ Shmuley Boteach from taunting the would be demonstrators … caught on video

Adalah NY issued the following statement about the video …

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach taunted a crowd of human rights protesters in front of the seemingly closed and emptied flagship Leviev diamond store on Madison Avenue. Leviev’s companies have built thousands of Israeli settlement homes and have been accused of abusing and torturing Angolan diamond miners.

Boteach stood in front of the empty Leviev store and began shouting. “Israel,” “Down with Hamas,” “Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East,” “Down with the Palestinians.” He suddenly stopped and complained that he was being videotaped. Police told Boteach to leave as he was drowned out by chants of, “How fancy, how pretty, Leviev out of New York City.” Boteach was accompanied by a young man wearing a scarf for the notoriously racist Beitar Jerusalem football team. Boteach has expressed his support for Hebron’s notoriously violent and racist settlers. 

Neighboring store owners told the protesters that the Leviev store had closed and the space had been sold, but it was impossible to confirm this. Human rights advocates have protested at Leviev’s store since 2007.

And here’s the ziolies he wrote on his Blog

The coming boycott of Jewish businesses

Shmuley Boteach

I saw a nasty thing walking with my children in New York City on the Sabbath. On Madison Ave in the mid-sixties, we saw a group of people, chanting, singing.

Was it Christmas carolers? As we got closer we saw it was a protest. An anti-Israel protest.

But this one was not outside an Israeli Consulate or Embassy. It was outside a commercial, retail store. A diamond store. Owned by Lev Leviev, the Israeli billionaire businessman and philanthropist.

“Glitz and glam. He steals Palestinian land.”

I was appalled. I got closer. The protesters were accusing Leviev, a private Jewish citizens, of stealing Palestinian land, persecuting Palestinians, and supporting an imperial Israel.

I asked the protesters who Leviev was and why they were protesting him. Was he Israel’s Prime Minister or Foreign Minister? At least the Ambassador. How else to explain why they would be protesting outside a business simply owned by a Jew.

They told me he was an Israeli who supported Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians. He was a known, high-profile Jewish businessman. They were there to make sure no one bought his products.

I had had enough. I raised my hands into the air, in the mist of the protest, and said loudly, “Long Live Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. The only country in that dark region that is a bastion of liberty and human rights. A place where Palestinian women need never fear honor killings. A place where Israeli Arabs have more guaranteed rights than any Arab nation. A place where gay Palestinians need not fear being shot in the head on false charges of collaboration. A place where Arabs can protest publicly, just like all of you, and not be shot. Long live righteous and majestic Israel.”

Instantly, all the protestors forgot about Leviev and turned their ire toward me. I was now the devil. They were shouting at me, abusing me. “F—ck off. Go F—ck yourself.”

I got louder.

“How revolting of all of you to protest a business because it’s owned by a Jew.” What is this? Nuremberg 1934? Absolutely reprehensible.

My kids were now engaged in the fight, singing “Am Yisrael Chai. The Jewish people are alive and well.” We were louder than the protestors.

I started saying “Down with Hamas which allows honor killings of innocent Palestinian women. Down with Hamas that slaughters innocent Palestinian gay men. Down with the Palestinian…. ” and I was about to say “… Authority for refusing to go to elections in 10 years and creating a dictatorship, robbing the Palestinian people of their freedom” when I saw that someone was filming me on the Sabbath.

The police came over, trying to quell the confrontation. They have a permit, he said. They have the right to protest.

God bless America. I respect their right for public demonstration. But I also respect my right to write this in a column.

Jews of the world. Wake up. There has never been an assault on us like this in our lifetimes. And we are allowing it. Through our timidity and through closing our eyes and pretending not to see, it’s growing. Our enemies are arraying against us. They have substituted anti-Semitism for Anti-Israelism. But it’s the same sentiment.

Jew-hatred, pure and simple.

This holiday season the world’s anti-Semites are giving thanks for the existence of the State of Israel. If not for Israel they would not have camouflage for their Jew-hatred. Israel has given them cover. It’s not the Jews we hate, but just the Jewish state. It’s not because we have an inherent dislike of Jews. We just hate occupation.

But then they call each other on their IPhones, even though they’re made in China which has been occupying Tibet since 1950.

But only a weak community would give these haters a fig leaf to cover over their clear bigotry, prejudice, and hatred.

My kids were flabbergasted that a private Jewish business could draw major accusations of Palestinian persecution. It suited the protesters well that it was a diamond dealer. Perfect stereotype.

But who would be next? Which Jewish business would they target next?

A few hours later we went to the Chabad public Menorah lighting outside the Plaza hotel on 5th Ave. There was a small protest against Israel there was well. Joining the protest was a 20-something man who told us all that the Jews owned all of 5th Avenue. He pointed across the street at the famous Apple 5th Avenue store. “Apple is owned by Jews.”

I looked at him.

“Um, erg, hmmm. Did you know that Steve Jobs was the son of an Arab-American? So how does that square with the Jews owning Apple?”

“Well the Jews bought it from Jobs with the endless money they have.”

Aha.

I thought to myself, Is there no respite from all this Jew-hatred? Can we not get away from them even at a Menorah lighting?

The other day Harvard University kicked out SodaStream from their cafeteria for the terrible sin of employing hundreds of Palestinians at a plant in Maale Adumim that treats Arabs as the absolute equals of their Israeli counterparts. Without SodaStream these Palestinian families would be destitute. But Palestinian activists at Harvard, animated by hatred of Israel over love for Palestinian lives, demanded a boycott and the caterer capitulated.

And so it goes. Jewish timidity in the United States is allowing more and more of these outrages to take place.

I wonder if we recognize the seriousness of what’s happening or will it engulf us before we take decisive action?

What is needed is an immediate move to organize Jewish students on campus to respond publicly to the anti-Israel onslaught at Universities. We need public demonstrations against Israel-hatred, anti-Semitism, and in favor of freedom and democracy in the Middle East. Jewish students should not just be fighting BDS but should be going on offense to push through resolutions in the City Councils sanctioning Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for not holding elections in a decade and transforming Palestinian society into dictatorships.

Organizations who dare hold ordinary Jews responsible for actions in the Middle East – which would be the equivalent of protesting an Arab-owned department store in Detroit for the butchery of Bashar Assad in Syria – should themselves be targeted for public demonstrations, calling them what they are: anti-Semites.

And let’s honor those brave individuals who have stood up to BDS.

Every June our organization hosts the International Champions of Jewish Values Gala Awards Dinner in New York. Last year the Hollywood celebrity we honored was Sean Penn for his unrivaled bravery in going to Bolivia and rescuing the life of a Jewish businessman who had been wrongly incarcerated.

The year before we honored my dear friend Dr. Mehmet Oz, a Muslim, for his tireless efforts to promote the value of human life by getting us all to live more healthy lives and for his continued friendship with the Jewish people. A few months after the award we hosted Mehmet and his family in Israel.

This year we intend to honor Scarlett Johannson for standing up to the pressure to abandon SodaStream, a company that is a model of Arab-Israeli brotherhood and fraternity.

Scarlett, if you’re out there, please come to New York and accept. The dinner is on 3 June, 2015.

As far as Leviev goes …. DesertPeace adds 

The bastard can run but he can’t hide! Wherever he is doing his dirty business we will find him!!

Photos from the protest © by Bud Korotzer

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