Thursday, December 12, 2019

Bard College SJP interview


Activist Radio (5 - 6 pm) has the following guest on this Thursday:

GUESTS: Two students from Bard College talk about their participation in a Students for Justice in Palestine rally and how the college as well as some outside hate organizations are trying to undermine their freedom of speech on Palestinian rights.

The interview can be heard live on 91.3 FM, or streamed from https://classwars.org. It will also be posted on the ClassWars website for the next ten weeks. Simply click on the date to hear it.

Thanks,

Fred
Activist Radio

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

GUEST: Dr. Nancy Murray

Activist Radio (5 - 6 pm) has the following guest on this Thursday:

GUEST: Dr. Nancy Murray, former director of education at the ACLU of Massachusetts, author of the book "Palestinians: Life Under Occupation," and co-founder of the Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine, talks about her over 20 trips to the West Bank and Gaza, and her evolving sense of what justice for Palestinians means.
https://www.waterjusticeinpalestine.org

The interview can be heard live on 91.3 FM, or streamed from https://classwars.org. It will also be posted on the ClassWars website for the next ten weeks. Simply click on the date to hear it.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Why We Protested at Vassar

Here’s Why We Protested Hen Mazzig At Vassar
Ezra Mead November 19, 2019 Hen Mazzig

This is one of a number of responses to what happened at Vassar when an Israeli speaker, Hen Mazzig, was protested last week.

On Thursday November 14, at 5 p.m., around 25 members of Vassar’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter along with other students gathered on the third floor of Rockefeller Hall to voice our opposition to a talk by Hen Mazzig titled “The Indigenous Jews of the Middle East: Forgotten Refugees.”

The stories of Mizrahi Jews and their struggle both outside and within Israel deserve attention. But those of us who demonstrated believed this talk would be little more than pro-Israel propaganda, given Mazzig’s record.

Mazzig served for five years as a commander in the Israel Defense Forces. While Mazzig served as a “humanitarian officer,” the military he served has killed thousands of Palestinians in the last few decades alone. Given what we gleaned from Mazzig’s previous talks, we felt certain he would ignore the IDF’s practice of torturing, imprisoning, harassing, demolishing the homes of, cutting resources off from, and murdering the Palestinian people, as well as multiple UN condemnations of the IDF’s human rights violations. Instead, Mazzig paints the Israeli military as a progressive gay haven with his coming out story.
This tactic folds into a larger strategy used on the pro-Israel right that’s been coined “Pinkwashing” — the tactic of diverting attention away from the occupation of Palestinian land, the dispossession of Palestinian rights and property and the miserable conditions of life in Gaza under blockade, by focusing on Israel as LGBTQ-friendly; Israel has made a concerted effort to brand itself as “an international gay vacation destination.” Meanwhile, Palestinian queer liberation organizations like Aswat, Al Qaws and Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions have spoken out against Pinkwashing; as the director of Al Qaws put it, “When you go through a checkpoint, it does not matter what the sexuality of the soldier is.”

It’s not just his gay identity that Mazzig uses. He likes to champion “intersectionality” and his Mizrahi identity, but he has a penchant for attacking intersectional leaders. He has attacked Linda Sarsour and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, as well as other supporters of BDS, specifically targeting SJPs across the country with insults and false information.

For these reasons, we felt it was appropriate to voice our dissent from those who chose to invite Mazzig. This is how we did so:
We remained in the hallway for the duration of our demonstration, holding signs which included phrases like, “Stop Pinkwashing,” “Resistance is Not Terrorism,” “Free Palestine,” “Don’t Normalize Zionism” and “Palestinians are Indigenous.” We played music by Palestinian artists, passed out flyers explaining our position, and spoke with attendees.

Only a handful of students attended the event, outnumbered greatly by administrators, professors, and staff. At around 5:40 pm, we began chanting outside the doors of the talk. We yelled, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” “How do you spell justice? BDS!,” “From Kashmir to Palestine, occupation is a crime,” “Stop the killing, stop the hate, Israel is an apartheid state,” and “When I say free, you say Palestine! Free - Palestine!”
The chants lasted for about seven minutes before we all left the building and the talk went on.

Although we do not believe that Zionism should have a platform, especially not one funded by our student government, we did not prevent anyone from attending the talk or stop Mazzig from speaking.

But despite our concerted to effort to allow him to speak, Mazzig proceeded to smear us on social media. After the talk, Mazzig tweeted that one of these chants, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” had been “used by Hamas when they call for the genocide of all Jews.” He said we chanted for his death.

This absurd and intentionally incendiary claim was based on the myth that “From the river to the sea” was originated by Hamas. This is untrue, and was a clear attempt to discredit critics of Israel as “Hamas terrorists.”

The phrase is a popular slogan among a wide range of Palestinian resistance and nationalist groups. And for us, freedom for Palestine certainly does not translate to the genocide or dispossession of all Jews. It is a demand for total decolonization, for a recognition of the right of return, and for the dismantling of an unequal regime.

The conflation by Mazzig and others of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism is itself an anti-Semitic tactic, as it falsely represents the Jewish community and tells them what they ought to believe. This misrepresentation erases the brave work of many Jewish people who actively speak out against Israeli apartheid, including many members of SJP at Vassar.

False accusations of anti-Semitism directed at activists acting in solidarity with Palestinians distract from real instances of anti-Semitism. When people like Mazzig hurl these accusations, they are doing so in order to escape legitimate criticism and to divert attention away from the injustices carried out by the Israeli government.

We do not hold Jewish liberation and Palestinian liberation as antithetical to one another but see the struggles as intertwined. We believe it is both possible and necessary to stand against anti-Semitism and to stand with the BDS movement and the Palestinian fight for freedom.

But our college sided with this smear against us. In the early hours of Friday, November 15, Vassar College President Elizabeth Bradley released a statement indirectly addressed our protest. “A group of students disrupted the speaker by chanting outside the lecture hall for some time,” she wrote in a statement. “People who were in the lecture expressed that the chanting was intimidating and hard to listen to. The words have been associated by some people with anti-Semitism.”

While we understand that some who attended the event felt that the protest was, as Bradley put it, “intimidating and hard to listen to,” we are steadfast in our belief that this discomfort was necessary and does not compare to the actual situation in Palestine, where 70,000 Palestinians must cross Israeli Military Checkpoints on their commute to work every day, and over 50 Israeli laws discriminate between Jewish and non-Jewish citizens of Israel.

In the few days since our student government approved funding for Mazzig’s talk, Israeli forces have killed 34 Palestinians and wounded hundreds of others. Fighting against Israel should only intimidate those who have a stake in devaluing Palestinian lives, and like those who fought against apartheid in South Africa, we see ourselves on the right side of history.

There is no “sense of belonging” on a campus that brings a speaker who promotes racist ideology and has a history of attacking students in SJP chapters. There is no “flourishing of opposing ideas” when the Israeli government is cutting off two million Gaza residents from access to clean water. There is no room for “diverse viewpoints” around the shooting and bombing of unarmed Palestinians. There is no “free exchange of ideas” to be had about the forced dispossession and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.


Ezra Mead is a junior at Vassar. He is submitting this oped on behalf of the members of Students for Justice in Palestine at Vassar.

Friday, November 15, 2019

The reign of terror we fund

The reign of terror, which we help fund, goes on. In the last two days of airstrikes over the open-air prison that is Gaza, where two million beleaguered people, almost half of them children, are packed and trapped, Israel has killed at least 34 Palestinians and injured more than 111. Many of the victims were children. The dead included eight members of the Sawarkah family - three adults, five kids - killed around midnight as they slept in their house.  The only survivor of the slaughter of the Sawarkahs was a month-old girl named Marah; her mother, father, aunt and siblings were all buried in the rubble. A relative, Taleb Mesmeh, said that when people heard the explosions, "We never expected (they'd target) a civilian home that looked like any normal house.” The retrieved bodies "were torn into pieces, and there was blood everywhere," he said. “This is Israel targeting children inside their homes.” Then he began picking some children's school uniforms from the rubble. "This is Mo’ath's school uniform," he wailed. "She was still in first grade. What did she do to be killed?”

https://www.commondreams.org/further/2019/11/14/israel-killing-children-asleep-their-homes-humans-not-numbers-again

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Boycott Israeli surveillance company



WhatsApp sues Israeli firm, accusing it of hacking activists' phones

NSO Group’s spyware allegedly used in cyber-attacks on lawyers and journalists
WhatsApp said it believes the technology sold by NSO was used to target the mobile phones of more than 1,400 of its users.
 WhatsApp said it believes the technology sold by NSO was used to target the mobile phones of more than 1,400 of its users. Photograph: Hayoung Jeon/EPA

WhatsApp has launched an unprecedented lawsuit against a cyber weapons firm which it has accused of being behind secret attacks on more than 100 human rights activists, lawyers, journalists, and academics in just two weeks earlier this year.
The social media firm is suing NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance company, saying it is responsible for a series of highly sophisticated cyber-attacks which it claims violated American law in an “unmistakeable pattern of abuse”.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/oct/29/whatsapp-sues-israeli-firm-accusing-it-of-hacking-activists-phones#img-1

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Executive Council of the Episcopal Church

Mondoweiss:
"This week, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church adopted a human rights investment screen related to Israel and Palestine and will sell its holdings in Motorola Solutions, Caterpillar, Inc., and the Israel Discount Bank.

This is the latest step in response to a July 2018 General Convention Resolution (B016) which committed the Episcopal Church to a similar process taken by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America two years earlier. The action also follows steps previously taken by the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ.

The human rights screen would bar Episcopal Church investments in 'any corporation that supports or benefits from denial of human rights in or through the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Gaza Strip.' ”


-->Israel's favorite propaganda publication, the NYT, didn't cover this story. BDS is slowly taking hold, despite the mainstream media's attempts to overlook the movement.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Oppose laws that would stifle our right to boycott

We made significant headway in the last year with supporters like you and growing programs and communications teams. During a right to boycott for justice campaign last month, we brought mainstream, progressive players into the fold like Credo and Greenpeace that had never spoken publicly on Palestine before.

Just yesterday, new poll numbers proved it’s not just Greenpeace: 77% of Democrats who are aware of BDS see it as a legitimate tactic and 72% of people in the U.S.—across party lines—oppose laws that would stifle our right to boycott.

The next step is to ensure the commitment to the right to boycott eventually translates into a commitment to the overall struggle for freedom, justice, and equality for the Palestinian people. We need your support to help us hold the ground we’ve gained.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Microsoft, don't enable the occupation

Microsoft has made a lot of noise recently about how they're the one tech giant taking ethical concerns about facial recognition & other surveillance technology seriously. They widely publicized a set of six "moral standards" they’d apply to funding and developing any such tech.
Their multi-million dollar investment in AnyVision was made on the condition that AnyVision agree to those six principles. A month later, it came out that the Israeli army is using AnyVision's facial recognition tech throughout the West Bank.2

Friday, September 27, 2019

Netflix and Israel

Netflix and Israel: A special relationship
picture-137-1396956079.jpg
24 September 2019 12:22 UTC 

As with various entertainment platforms, Netflix has been willingly subsumed into the Israeli hasbara industry

https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/netflix-and-israel-special-relationship

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Dystopian system to watch over an imprisoned people

All across the West Bank there is a network of secret cameras hooked up to cutting-edge facial recognition software. It tracks every Palestinian face it can find, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Israeli Defense Forces’ surprise partner in this Orwellian surveillance system? Microsoft.

This June, Microsoft made a massive multi-million dollar investment in AnyVision, an Israeli facial recognition company led by former Mossad and Israeli defense staff – even though Microsoft had just committed to follow six ethical “principles to guide Microsoft’s facial recognition work.”

A description of one of these principles:

“We will not deploy our facial recognition technology in those surveillance scenarios where we believe there are inadequate safeguards to protect democratic freedoms and human rights.”

Under Israel’s apartheid system, there can never be adequate “safeguards” to protect the freedoms and human rights of Palestinians.

And there is NOTHING ETHICAL about creating a dystopian system to watch over an imprisoned people.

Add your name

Monday, August 12, 2019

Green candidate supports BDS

Hawkins Supports BDS Movement Against Israel, Calls for New Relationship

Aug 06, 2019 09:37 pm
Hawkins Supports BDS Movement Against Israel, Calls for New Relationship
On Tuesday, July 3, the US House of Representatives voted by an overwhelming 398 to 17 margin to pass a resolution condemning the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights.
I have been a long-time supporter of BDS. In 2014, I wrote that I support the efforts to Boycott, Divest, and Sanction against Israel in response to its attack on Gaza.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Legal Win for Campus Palestine Activists

https://mondoweiss.net/2019/08/palestine-activists-happened/


Michael Arria on August 7, 2019

In 2016, Fordham University tried to block a Palestinian advocacy group from being formed. After a two year legal battle, students at the school have won a landmark victory which legal advocates are calling “the first major legal victory for free speech for advocates of Palestine on college campuses,” and a Students for Justice in Palestine club can now be established on their campus.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Not Backing Down: Israel, Free Speech & the Battle for Palestinian Rights

We’re thrilled to let you know that “Not Backing Down: Israel, Free Speech & the Battle for Palestinian Rights,” the electrifying event that faced fierce right-wing resistance and made international headlines, is now streaming online!

The event, which focused on the increasingly vitriolic backlash against pro-Palestinian voices, was held at the UMass-Amherst Fine Arts Center on May 4 in front of a capacity crowd of 1,600 people despite an aggressive political and legal effort by right-wing groups to brand it as anti-Semitic and shut it down.

We've launched a new website at NotBackingDownUmass.org featuring the full program, event highlights, and media coverage of the intense blowback the panel generated.


Sut Jhally | Executive Director, Media Education Foundation

Friday, June 21, 2019

BDS will end Israeli apartheid

To the Editor:

Israel is a rogue nation which repeatedly violates international law,  UN resolutions, and the human rights of Palestinians and Bedouins.   This outlaw and criminal  behavior  would not be possible without the  support of the United States and our taxpayer dollars ( $3.8 billion per year).  Since 1967 Israel has demolished 55,000 Palestinian homes - in 1948 Israel demolished 60,000 homes and terrorized  850,000 Palestinians into abandoning their land and homes.  Since 1967 the Israeli army (IDF) has militarily occupied  Gaza and the West Bank, and imposed a brutal blockade on Gaza,  intentionally causing shortages of food, water, electricity, and medical supplies.  This  year peaceful, non-violent  border protests by desperate Palestinians  were met with Israeli army sniper fire that killed over 200 Palestinians  including journalists,  medics, and  disabled demonstrators  in wheelchairs - IDF snipers  severely wounded  more than 20,000 protesters! 

With the relentless, violent and illegal theft of occupied Palestinian lands, homes, and farms  to build apartheid, Jewish only settlements  there are now over 500,000 Jewish settlers occupying over 200 settlements, outposts, and neighborhoods.   Israel has been condemned widely by the international community for it’s brutal ethnic cleansing and creation of an apartheid state where only Jews have full citizenship and rights.  

The non-violent BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions)  movement is attempting to pressure Israel to end it’s military occupation, secure equal rights for all (Jews and Arabs), and to allow Palestinians to return to their  stolen lands.  A boycott ended South African apartheid - hopefully, BDS will end Israeli apartheid. 


Eli Kassirer

New Paltz, NY

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Support for UMass Amherst’s Chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine

Please fill out this form with your name and/or organization and title to support UMass' Chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).


Greetings,

We, UMass Amherst Students for Justice in Palestine, are urgently contacting you for support, because of the extreme backlash both in number and nature regarding the upcoming panel event on May 4 titled, “Not Backing Down: Israel, Free Speech, and the Battle for Palestinian Rights.” This past week, 80 nationwide organizations wrote to UMass Chancellor Subbaswamy ordering the university to rescind all support and sponsorship of the event.. They stated that this event violates the university’s academic mission and will encourage violence on campus. 

This is a clear silencing tactic to end a necessary discussion about Palestinian rights and critiques of the Israeli government. The selective outrage is clear when there is no response like this to any other political events UMass holds on campus. UMass and its academic departments regularly sponsor speakers on all sides of the political spectrum, showing that the only “personal political agendas” these 80 organizations take umbrage with are those who are standing up in the face of censorship on the topic of Palestine. This letter describes the event as a “political rally” that will incite violence even though it has been explicitly promoted as a panel discussion on censorship. The reaction to this event is exactly why this event is happening. Anti-Palestinian rhetoric has controlled the conversation for far too long and censorship received by individuals such as the panelists solidifies the need for this event on a diverse campus. Anti-Zionism is not the same as anti-semitism.

On the evening of April 23rd, tickets for the event online were reserved in bulk in an attempt to protest the event and ensure others genuinely interested in the panelists’ messages are unable to attend. We have also received information about individuals preparing to disrupt the event, although we hope this is not true.

Once again, we urge those in support of this event and free speech to share this message widely. Hundreds of tickets will be available at the door at 6:15 pm on evening of the event and unclaimed tickets on the day of the event will be available to students as well. We suggest you come even earlier if you are able. In the face of this intimidation, we hope you come out in support early and wait for your tickets at the door.

Our panelists, Linda Sarsour, Roger Waters, David Zirin and Marc Lamont Hill and moderator, Vijay Prashad are steadfast in their beliefs and refuse to be intimidated and silenced. We stand with them. We urge you to show your support as our University faces severe pressure against this event.










Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Join the New Paltz Socialists

Since Israel's foundation, the basic rights and freedoms of Palestinians have been under assault. Continued land grabs, the denial of clean water and equal education funding to Palestinians, and the continued bulldozing of Palestinian homes make it clear that Israel is a modern-day apartheid state. The Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement attempts to use one of the same strategies (an international boycott and divestment campaign) used to end apartheid in South Africa to end apartheid in Israel and occupied Palestinian territories. Join the New Paltz Socialists for a discussion on what BDS is, and how we can fight for it here in the Hudson Valley.

https://www.facebook.com/events/2247776385541258/

Monday, April 1, 2019

Airbnb coverage in the news

In November, Airbnb released a statement announcing a new policy that would remove listings by Israeli settlers in “disputed regions” of the West Bank, excluding Jerusalem. The decision was immediately challenged by dual Israeli-U.S. citizens who are settlers and whose listings are to be removed. These individuals sued Airbnb in a court in Delaware, alleging discrimination under the Fair Housing Act.

On March 18, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a motion to intervene that case on behalf of two Palestinian individuals, a village, and a municipality. They seek to bring counterclaims against the settlers for war crimes, crimes against humanity, trespass, unjust enrichment, and under the Fair Housing Act for the settlers’ own discriminatory postings. Palestinians from the West Bank are barred from accessing their land, while the settlers are profiting off of it.

Upon filing, CCR released four one-minute videos of our clients, explaining in their own words why they intervened and the lived experience of Palestinians affected by Israel’s illegal occupation and settlement enterprise.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Megadonors favor Israel

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/28/magazine/battle-over-bds-israel-palestinians-antisemitism.html

"Despite pointed critiques of American support for Israel by representatives like Betty McCollum of Minnesota, Tlaib and Omar, there is little willingness among Democrats to argue publicly for substantially changing longstanding policy toward Israel. In part, some Hill staff members and former White House officials say, this is because of the influence of megadonors: Of the dozens of personal checks greater than $500,000 made out to the largest PAC for Democrats in 2018, the Senate Majority PAC, around three-fourths were written by Jewish donors."

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Fordham Students for Justice in Palestine

A year later, still no ruling in Fordham Students for Justice in Palestine case 

Frontlines of Justice readers may remember a case we filed almost two years ago on behalf of students at Fordham University after Fordham overruled the student government's approval of a Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) club. More than a year ago, the court heard oral arguments over Fordham's attempt to dismiss the case, as well as on an injunction the students requested to order Fordham to allow them to organize the SJP—or they would have graduated by the time the case concluded. Now, that very situation is coming to pass. More than a year after oral argument, we are still awaiting a ruling. Three of the students in the case have graduated, and another will graduate this spring. On Friday, along with our partners at Palestine Legal, we filed a motion to add a sophomore student, Veer Shetty, to the case, lest Fordham be able to continue to violate students' right to organize simply by running out the clock. The fact is, Fordham could do the right thing at any time. It needs no court ruling in order to stop violating students' rights and allow them to form an SJP club at Fordham. Until then, we will continue to litigate the issue.

 

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