Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Free (Speech) Palestine: Writers Talk about BDS and Beyond

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

BDS National Committee

Friday, July 21, 2017

Call Senators to drop their sponsorship of (S720)


Sen. Charles Ellis Schumer
District: New York US Senate
Phone:(202) 224-6542

Sen. Kirsten Elizabeth Rutnik Gillibrand
District: New York US Senate
Phone:(202) 224-4451

UPDATE: Sen. Gillibrand has dropped her support of this bill. You can call to congratulate her.

These calls take about two minutes each. Maybe read below to get yourself ready to defend the First Amendment, and then dial them up.

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As a supporter of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, I strongly urge you to remove your sponsorship of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.720) because the bill is an unconstitutional infringement on free speech and a blatant attempt to legitimize illegal Israeli settlements constructed in Occupied Territory in violation of international law. 

The bill seeks to amend the Export Administration Act of 1979 to impose criminal penalties and fines on corporations that boycott business dealings with illegal Israeli settlements or divest assets from corporations profiting from illegal Israeli settlements. The bill also seeks to amend the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945 to deny loans to corporations that similarly boycott or divest from business dealings with illegal Israeli settlements.

The Supreme Court has held that political boycotts, like boycotts for Palestinian rights, are unquestionably protected under the First Amendment. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, by seeking to penalize corporations which exercise that right, is an unconstitutional infringement on freedom of speech.

As the ACLU has stated, "the bill would punish businesses and individuals based solely on their point of view. Such a penalty is in direct violation of the First Amendment.” For additional reasons why the ACLU is opposed to this bill, please see: [ https://www.aclu.org/letter/aclu-letter-senate-opposing-israel-anti-boycott-act ]

Since 1967, stated bipartisan US policy has opposed the creation and expansion of Israeli settlements in Occupied Territory on the basis that these settlements constitute violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The intent and effect of this bill is to encourage business dealings with corporations based in illegal Israeli settlements and to penalize corporations which refuse to do so, thereby legitimizing and entrenching those settlements in opposition to official US policy.

For these reasons, I urge you to remove your sponsorship of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. I look forward to your response. 

(From US Campaign for Palestinian Rights)


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Many of the books are by Israeli historians and scholars

My friend Bob has produced this list of commendable books for those interested in Israel - Palestine. Many of the books are by Israeli historians and scholars. 
Feel free to forward to your friends. 
Eldad  
    ISRAEL AND PALESTINE:  SOME RECOMMENDABLE READINGS
Ali Abunimah.  The Battle for Justice in Palestine.  Haymarket Books: Chicago, 2014.  (Palestinian journalist, director of the Electronic Intifada, and proponent of a  “single state” solution.)
Max Blumenthal.  Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel.  Nation Books: New     York, 2013 (A powerful journalist’s overwhelming first-person account of life  in Israel under right-wing domination.)
Max Blumenthal. The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza. Nation Books: New York, 2015.  (Why did Israel pummel civilian Gaza for six weeks in 2014   when it needed only six days to occupy all of Palestine and the Sinai in 1967?  Blumenthal reveals all.)
Ron David.  Arabs and Israel for Beginners. ForBeginners Books: Danbury, 2001. (Irreverent text and graphics well received by major scholars.  A Jewish investigator gets beyond Israel’s whitewash of history.)
Ben Ehrenreich. The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine.  Penguin: New York, 2016.  (An incisive novelist and journalist conveys the lives of ordinary  Palestinians and their “stubborn refusal of injustice”.)
Marc H. Ellis.  Judaism Does Not Equal Israel.  The New Press: New York, 2009.  (A powerful testament by a leading Jewish theologian.) 
Marc H. Ellis.  Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation. 3rd edition.  Baylor Univ.  Press:  Waco, TX, 2004.  (A prophetic call for Jews to move beyond politics based on a sense of vulnerability and to take up the liberation theology embedded in Exodus)
 Simha Flapan.  The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities.  Pantheon Books: New York, 1987.  (A “radical revision of the mythology” by a political activist who saw it first-hand.)
 Jewish Voice for Peace. On Antisemitism:  Solidarity and the Struggle for Justice.        Haymarket: Chicago, 2017 (Statements and essays by 22 writers.)
Rashid Khalidi.  The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood. Beacon: Boston, 2007.  (“A patient and eloquent work” covering the history from World War I to the death of Yasser Arafat.)
Smadar Lavie.  Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizrahi Single Mothers and      Bureaucratic Torture.  Berghahn Books: New York, 2014.  (Anthropologist   and, herself, a Mizrahi single mom, Lavie explores the class and gender lines  between Israel’s European and Eastern Jews in this first-person account.)
John Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt.  The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. Farrar, Straus, Gogiroux: New York, 2007   (Top rated political scientists   were condemned as anti-Semitic for writing this important book.)
Ilan Pappe.  A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples.  Cambridge  Univ. Press: Cambridge, 2006, 2nd ed.  (Incisive social history since the  mid19th century.)
 Ilan Pappe.  The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.  OneWorld Publications:  London,      2006.  (Israeli historian, using government documents, exposes the real  history of the 1947-48 takeover of Palestine.)
Ilan Pappe.  The Idea of Israel:  A History of Power and Knowledge.  Verso: London,  2014.    (A cultural history of the promise and failure of Israel’s “post Zionist moment in the early 1990s.)
Alice Rothchild.  Broken Promises, Broken Dreams:  Stories of Jewish and  Palestinian Trauma and Resilience.  Pluto Press: New York, 2007, 2nd ed.   (On-scene reports of film-maker and ob-gyn from Harvard Med. and JVP  Boston)
Edward Said.  From Oslo to Iraq and the Road Map: Essay:s. Vintage: New York,  2004 (Incisive assessments of events as they unfolded, by a leading  Palestinian thinker, published after his death.
Shlomo Sand.  The Invention of the Jewish People. Verso: New York, 2009.  (An  Israeli historian’s brilliant polemic against the claim that “the Jewish people”   have a historical “right” to a nation state in Palestine.)
Ben White. Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide.  Pluto Press: London, 2009.  (A  brief book hailed as “an essential guide” to “both the history and the day-to- day reality”.)

Friday, May 12, 2017

DHFC returns to Vassar to intimidate students, activists


http://miscellanynews.org/2017/05/03/opinions/dhfc-returns-to-vassar-to-intimidate-students-activists/

DHFC returns to Vassar to intimidate students, activists
By Ally Fernandez and Sarah Cohn

Courtesy of Ally Fernandez and Sarah Cohn
On Friday, April 28, around 3 p.m., two people with briefcases were spotted outside of Ferry House putting up hateful, Islamophobic and racist posters on dorm buildings, benches and trash cans. It was on behalf of the same group, the David Horowitz Freedom Center (DHFC), that targeted students and faculty by name last semester and took a strong interest in Vassar campus life during last year’s Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Members of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) were immediately alerted to the postings and made efforts to remove them, contacting administrators and security.

We, as members of JVP and believers in equity and justice, refuse to be bullied. Instead, we will use instances like this to speak out and reaffirm our commitment to global human rights. We have seen these outsiders come to our campus in order to intimidate and harass students before. The people behind these posters intend to make us feel unsafe and incite a fear that would pit students on campus against each other. On the one hand, they are trying to isolate and target students involved with JVP and SJP. On the other, they are trying to convince uninvolved students that they are in danger from their activist peers. And perhaps most importantly, this poster implicates Muslim and Arab students, regardless of political affiliation, suggesting that their presence at Vassar is neither welcome nor valued. We refuse to give into fear; these posters are loathsome.
The posters use puppet imagery to imply that Hamas has controlling power over student groups like SJP. It plays off the popular alt-right conspiracy theory, exemplified in a previous Miscellany News article, that radical students are being misled and inspired by an outside force. It should certainly raise some flags to see a common anti-Semitic trope (where Jews are the controlling monetary force behind all leftist movements) mobilized by an organization that claims to stand up for Jews. And by raise some flags, we mean make perfect sense considering the anti-Semitic yet pro-Israel far right at the highest rungs of our government empowering organizations like the DHFC.

Posters like this, along with organizations such as Canary Mission, are exemplary of a long history of external pro-Israel groups using their influence to menace Vassar students, specifically Muslim and Arab students, students of color and all those who vocally criticize Israel. Their various tactics, such as doxxing, put vulnerable students at risk for harassment, both online and in real life. Some are not able to get jobs post-graduation, are shunned from religious communities, or are closed off from necessary resources.

These posters follow a very emotional argument that hits right at two powerful right-wing discourses. One, that violence against the state is unacceptable (i.e. terrorism), while violence from the state towards its citizens and other peoples is unquestioned, even encouraged. The other discourse creates a looming foreign enemy out of Palestinians and their supporters, who seek to destroy national identity and health. In this case, critiques of the State of Israel are transformed into threats against individual Israelis and American Jews. There is a reason pro-Israel groups rely on emotional and personal talking points (i.e. linking critiques of Israel as a state to personal attacks) instead of nuanced, political arguments—when you look at the actual power differential between Israel and Palestine and learn the history of the conflict, the argument falls apart. To suggest that pro-Palestine activists want to “wipe Israel off the map” as the posters do invokes territorial response wherein no conversation about Palestinians’ lives under occupation can be tolerated.

SJP and JVP have never endorsed Hamas, nor are we receiving money from them or any other outside source (if you want to look at our budgets from the VSA, they’re online). We don’t advocate terrorism, but we do want to reconsider which groups and people are framed as terrorists. Why are Palestinians terrorists, while American white supremacists deserve free speech? Instead, we believe that white supremacist violence and American imperial violence (which is directly tied to the actions of its allies such as Israel across the globe) are the most institutionalized and unquestioned forms of terrorism in the modern era.

To take this propaganda as fact is to silence thoughtful critiques of the state of Israel. Calling us and our fellow students “campus terrorists” makes people afraid. It personalizes the argument and discourages people to seek out further information on the conflict. Any information on the conflict from a pro-Palestine source is coded as violent and “pro-terrorist.” And when we say silence, we really mean silence. Narratives of lived Palestinian experiences are rarely circulated or centered. People don’t hear those narratives, and even when they are highlighted, there is immediate and overwhelming backlash. Free speech has been a hotly debated topic on this campus, but it’s incredibly important to contextualize what kind of consequences come to which people for speaking their opinions.
We are not talking about Ann Coulter getting booed at Berkeley. We are talking about people’s livelihoods and safety on campus being threatened when they dare to speak to their own experiences and challenge existing power structures. Conversations about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict on college campuses across the country are incredibly one-sided due to an unequal distribution of resources in the United States given to pro-Israel institutions and groups.

And speaking as two Jewish women, we know that it doesn’t only hurt the cause of the Palestinians, but unwavering loyalty to Israel hurts Jewish communities as well.

For instance, one of the most important Jewish institutions on college campuses, Hillel International, has been instrumental in curbing any dialogue within Jewish communities that is critical of Israel due to their exclusionary “Standards of Partnership.” As an example, the Ohio State Hillel recently removed its group for LGBTQ+ Jews, B’nai Keshet, for partnering with JVP for an event supporting refugees, denying them funding and Jewish communal resources. This was after the Hillel received a $73,000 grant from “Mosaic United,” a group founded by Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who seeks to create an Israel-centric, and homophobic, anti-interfaith Jewish diaspora community. Money talks.
So even while pro-Israel groups claim to be protecting Jews on college campuses, they use their resources and their fear tactics to divide students and make us feel unsafe and unwelcome. Again, it’s not a matter of who is “allowed” to speak their views, or an abstract political concept like free speech; it’s about differences in power, resources, influence and consequences for marginalized students. It isn’t even about who is “right” in the dialogue, it is about which side has the largest ability to inflict harm.

Anti-Jewishness takes on many forms. As two anti-Zionist Jews, we are familiar with the dual identity that consists of rejection from both the Christian hegemonic world and from a mainstream Jewish community that discourages open dialogue on Israel. Our lack of loyalty is seen as a lack of Jewishness. Therefore, we are not even given the dignity to claim an identity that we are proud of, even when it places us on the margins. And of course, this exclusion is compounded when it comes to Jews of color, non-Ashkenazim and LGBTQ+ Jews who are excluded by the idealization of a certain type of Jew espoused by the Israeli government. We see echoes of this exclusion and harm in these posters. As Jewish students are scared into falling in line, Muslim and Arab students are demonized as terrorists. We refuse to allow this harassment to continue in the name of our so-called “safety” as Jews.

In conclusion, we stand behind our comrades in JVP and SJP. We remain committed to supporting self-determination for Palestinians. These posters and the David Horowitz Freedom Center represent a cowardly group of people who fear growing, self-directed student power. We stand behind all those targeted by the victims of this violence. We will continue to define our own community and values, and we will not let powerful outside voices do that for us.

We as a campus, no matter where we stand, must have our own conversations amongst each other, no matter how hard. We must be able to honestly hear each other without the influence of hateful organizations with a specific agenda, without the consequences for some students being so much greater than for others. These groups resort to scare tactics like this because our movement has found success, and we will continue down this path until we have freedom and equity for all Palestinians, all Jews and all oppressed people.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

There is no partial commitment to justice

Dear World,

I was scheduled to make a visit to Israel with fellow NFL players. I was excited to see this remarkable and historic part of the world with my own eyes. I was not aware, until reading this article about the trip in the Times of Israel, that my itinerary was being constructed by the Israeli government for the purposes of making me, in the words of a government official, an "influencer and opinion-former" who would then be "an ambassador of good will." I will not be used in such a manner. When I do go to Israel -- and I do plan to go -- it will be to see not only Israel but also the West Bank and Gaza so I can see how the Palestinians, who have called this land home for thousands of years, live their lives.

One of my heroes has always been Muhammad Ali. I know that Ali always stood strongly with the Palestinian people, visiting refugee camps, going to rallies, and always willing to be a "voice for the voiceless." I want to be a "voice for the voiceless," and I cannot do that by going on this kind of trip to Israel.

I know that this will anger some people and inspire others. But please know that I did this not for you, but to be in accord with my own values and my own conscience. Like 1968 Olympian John Carlos always says, "There is no partial commitment to justice. You are either in or you're out." Well, I'm in.

Sincerely,

Michael Bennett
Bennett and Zirin appeared together at a Seattle town hall meeting discussing the intersection of sports and politics last month.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Twitter Storm Today

Twitter Storm Today: Tell HP and JerusaLens: Occupation isn’t Pretty!

When: Today Thursday March 16 all day on social media

Hewlett-Packard (HP), the company that makes Israel’s apartheid ID cards is sponsoring the “JerusaLens Jerusalem Photo Challenge,” a contest that is part and parcel of the “Brand Israel” campaign to whitewash 50 years of military occupation and ongoing violation of Palestinian human rights in Jerusalem. While the photo contest seeks to show “Jerusalem's awe-inspiring beauty” and “mix of cultures and religions,” the truth is that there is nothing beautiful about Israeli apartheid and occupation.

Please join us to send a message to HP and #JerusaLens contest participants that occupation isn’t pretty and HP must end  its complicity with Israeli crimes violate Palestinian human rights and international law.

Use the hashtags #JerusaLens and #BoycottHP, and HP’s Twitter handle @HP
Sample Tweets

March 26-28 we will be in protesting the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual convention in Washington D.C. AIPAC lobbies shamelessly for unquestioned US financial and diplomatic support for Israel's brutal occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and crippling siege on Gaza. AIPAC supports Israel’s settlement enterprise and want to increase US sanctions against Iran. Join us in D.C. for protests, teach-in’s, and to lobby for Israel to drop the charges against internationally recognized Palestinian human rights defender Issa Amro.


With your help we can achieve freedom and justice for Palestine!
In peace,
Ann, Ariel, Jodie, Medea, Nancy, Paki, and the entire CODEPINK team

 

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