Reflections on Palestine Day by a former Israeli Refusenik

Demonstration of israeli refusniks in front Dan Haluz the head of IDF. “refuse to be war criminal”, July 2006. (credit: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)
What brought an Israeli Jew to that point of refusal?

By Charles Lenchner | CounterPunch |  Dec 2, 2021

Imagine looking at the moon, without realizing you only ever see half of it. Then one day you learn, it rotates in such a way as to keep the dark side hidden from human eyes, for eternity. Such was the logic of Israeli education, at least for Jews. Suddenly I got to see the other side.

About 34 years ago I willingly walked into the processing center for draftees in Israel. This was after an intense 18-month period of organizing, wherein I helped create a group of Israeli Jews willing to publicly commit to refusing to support the Occupation.

As it happened, I was the first one to be called up from those that signed our official letter. It had 16 names. This was before the first Intifada, a time when Israelis thought the Occupation was cost free and would last forever.

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Ben, Jerry and Hochul’s boycott hypocrisy

Ben & Jerry’s (credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images)
The differing interpretations of boycott legitimacy.

By Katherine Franke | New York Daily News|  Nov 28, 2021

Yet in the same week that the Biden administration signaled that it was inclined to boycott China over its human rights violations, the governor of New York announced that she plans for state government to divest from the company that owns Ben & Jerry’s over the ice cream manufacturer’s decision to restrict sales in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Last week, Republican members of Congress issued adamant calls on the U.S. government to boycott the Winter Olympics in Beijing to protest the Chinese government’s abuses of the human rights of Uyghurs and the crackdown on protesters and journalists in Hong Kong. The Biden administration has signaled an inclination to do so. Meanwhile, the Women’s Tennis Association threatened to pull all of its tournaments in China after the disappearance of Peng Shuai, a top female tennis player was who has claimed to have been sexually assaulted by a Chinese government official.

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Webinar: Palestine-Israel – where to look for hope?

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May 15th 2021, around 150,000 people attend the March for Palestine protest; they converged at the Israeli Embassy but were blocked and eventually met with resistance by the met Police. (credit:  Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash)
Please join in a discussion with Peter Beinart, Editor-at-large of Jewish Currents; Diana Buttu, Palestinian lawyer, analyst and former legal advisor to the PLO negotiation team; and Daniel Levy, President of the U.S./Middle East Project. The session will be moderated by Rebecca Abou-Chedid, USMEP non-resident Fellow.  Following short interventions by the panelists, there will be a discussion and Q&A.
Date: Thursday,  December 2, 2021
Time: 12:00pm EST / 9:00am PST
Location: On-line zoom webinar
Information: Event information here →
Tickets: Free, but must register
Event Details

The three-week long May crisis in Palestine-Israel was in part a repetition of well-rehearsed scenes of devastation, but it also witnessed something unusual – a broad Palestinian mobilization transcending a Palestinian landscape normally characterized by fragmentation and atomization, alongside a shift in the public discourse and debate, most notably in the US.

As familiar patterns of behavior reassert themselves, and with business-as-usual approaches coming from the new governments in Israel, the US, and the Muqata bubble (or worse in the case of Israel applying a ‘terror designation’ to six leading Palestinian NGOs), we pose the question: where should one look for hopeful signs of change and fluidity, for a path to get beyond permanent impasse, occupation and inequality?

More information here →

Pushing for #UNInvestigateApartheid – The best solidarity action with Palestinian People on November 29th

International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian People (Banner (Landscape))-min

Monday November 29, 2021 marks the 43rd UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The best way to show real solidarity with Palestinians is to push for #UNinvestigateApartheid.

By Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) | BDS | Nov 26, 2021

Apartheid is… the severe deprivation of the oppressed group of fundamental human rights and freedoms, calculated to prevent its development.

Apartheid is a crime against humanity. States and international organizations, foremost the United Nations, have a legal obligation to give no recognition or assistance to an apartheid regime, and to act to bring it to an end. Individuals responsible for the crime are to face prosecution and punishment by domestic courts or the International Criminal Court.

Under international law, apartheid consists of inhuman acts committed by an institutionalized regime of racial domination and systematic oppression for the purpose of maintaining that regime. For decades, Israel has practiced apartheid against the Palestinian people.

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‘We violated people’s privacy for a living’: How Israel’s cyber army went corporate

Israeli soldiers of the operational unit 8200 training in the field, Sep 11, 2012. (credit: Moshe Shai / Flash90)
The blurred line between the military and private sector in Israel has allowed dangerous cyber weapons like NSO’s spyware to flourish worldwide.

By Sophia Goodfriend | +972 Magazine | Nov 23, 2021

…these are not simply private companies conducting business abroad: they are deeply connected to the Israeli military establishment, and their products are central to Israel’s own surveillance arsenal.

At a security conference and exposition called “iHLS Innotech” held in Tel Aviv last week, five Israeli cyber experts spoke at a roundtable titled “Ethics of the Sale of Cyber and Intelligence Tools at the Offensive Realm.” The panelists, all men hailing from lengthy careers in the military and private sector, joked that the conversation would be so difficult that it warranted a bottle of scotch whiskey at 10:45 a.m.

As the scotch made a number of rounds on the stage, some of the panelists spoke about promoting stricter initiatives to regulate the sale of cyber weapons and technologies, such as barring veterans of army intelligence units who have used these technologies from working for offensive cyberespionage firms. But the consensus among the panelists was that companies would most likely continue selling their services with the blessing of Israeli export law.

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Israel backs off housing project at Jerusalem’s Atarot airport site amid US pressure

The abandoned Atarot Airport, north of Jerusalem, on November 25, 2021. (credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)
Officials notify White House they won’t move forward with plan to build 9,000 units on abandoned plot at northern tip of the capital, across the pre-1967 Green Line.

By Jacob Magid | The Times of Israel | Nov 25, 2021

Opponents of the project argue that it would hamper dwindling efforts to advance a two-state solution, by bisecting a large part of East Jerusalem, which Palestinians view as the capital of their future state.

Israel informed Biden administration officials on Thursday that it has shelved a controversial plan to advance a massive housing project in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Atarot following pushback from Washington, a senior Israeli official confirmed to The Times of Israel.

The project, which received preliminary approval from Jerusalem’s local municipal planning committee earlier this week, would see 9,000 housing units for ultra-Orthodox Jews built on the abandoned site of the former Atarot Airport. The area was annexed by Israel as part of the post-1967 expanded Jerusalem, but lies beyond the Green Line.

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We’re a small Arkansas newspaper. Why is the state making us sign a pledge about Israel?

Alan Leveritt, publisher of the Arkansas Times. (credit: Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times)
A new documentary film “Boycott” follows three plaintiffs challenging their states’ anti-boycott laws.

By Alan Leveritt | The New York Times | Nov 22, 2021

Let’s be clear, states are trading their citizens’ First Amendment rights for what looks like unconditional support for a foreign government.

At The Arkansas Times, a publication I founded 47 years ago, our pages focus on small-scale local issues, like protecting Medicaid expansion from the predations of our state legislature and other elements of Arkansas politics, history and culture. So I was surprised when in 2018 I received an ultimatum from the University of Arkansas’s Pulaski Technical College, a longtime advertiser: To continue receiving its ad dollars, we would have to certify in writing that our company was not engaged in a boycott of Israel. It was puzzling. Our paper focuses on the virtues of Sims Bar-B-Que down on Broadway — why would we be required to sign a pledge regarding a country in the Middle East?

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It is impossible to “Shrink the Conflict”

Palestinian laborers built new houses in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Bruchin near the Palestinian town of Nablus, Oct. 25th, 2021. (credit: Ariel Schalit / AP Photo)
The Israeli government cannot significantly improve Palestinian lives without granting them basic rights.

By Peter Beinart | Jewish Currents | Nov 11, 2021

Again and again over the past five decades, Israeli leaders have promised an enlightened, hands-off occupation that fosters prosperity among the Palestinians under their control. And, again and again, Palestinians have experienced despotism, land theft, and violence.

ON OCTOBER 22ND, Israel’s defense ministry outlawed six prominent Palestinian human rights groups. Two days later, Israel’s housing and construction ministry announced plans to build more than 1,300 new homes for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. The day after that, Israeli troops reportedly stood by as settlers attacked a member of Rabbis for Human Rights who was helping Palestinians gather olives—one of more than 58 attacks on Palestinians and their supporters during the October olive harvest. On October 26th, Israel’s public security minister banned a festival in an East Jerusalem church, thus signaling his intention to prohibit “almost all Palestinian cultural events in East Jerusalem,” according to Haaretz. Peace Now reports that since taking office in June, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s “government has actively worked to promote settlements and deepen the Israeli occupation of the [occupied] territories.”

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Biden’s balancing act in the Middle East has a problem: Israel

Palestinian advocates say President Joe Biden is not doing enough to increase the pressure on Israel. (credit: Nic Antaya / Getty Images)
In an interview, Israel’s interior minister dismisses U.S. plans to reopen a consulate in Jerusalem and downplays reports of Israeli settler violence against Palestinians.

By Nahal Toosi  | Politico | Nov 19, 2021

Palestinian advocates say Biden is not doing enough to increase the pressure on Israel, especially if he is serious about seeking a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict — something Trump said he could live without.

Soon after taking office, President Joe Biden and his aides began using a new talking point when discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — part of an effort to rebalance a U.S. policy the previous U.S. administration had skewed heavily to favor Israel.

“Israelis and Palestinians,” the phrase usually goes, “deserve equal measures of freedom, dignity, security, and prosperity.”

In recent weeks, however, a series of Israeli actions against Palestinians have exacerbated tensions with the Biden administration while testing how serious the U.S. president is about respecting the rights of everyone in the conflict.

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Israel’s brazen attack on Al-Haq – Troubled from apartheid charges, armed with terrorism designations and blessed by U.S. silence

Anti-Israel Protest, Washington, DC March 26, 2017.  (credit: Ted Eytan, Wikimedia Commons)
A Palestinian perspective on the discussion and efforts needed to compel Israel to reverse its decision.

By Ahmed Abofoul | Opinio Juris | Nov 15, 2021

…the current reality is that the fate of these organizations and their staff depends profoundly on the international community’s unequivocal condemnations and the concrete actions taken thereafter.

On 19 October 2021, the Israeli Defense Ministry, Benny Gantz, designated six Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations (CSOs) as “terrorist organizations,” under Israel’s domestic Counter-Terrorism Law of 2016. On 7 November 2021, it was reported that the Israeli army had issued a military order extending the application of Gantz’s designation to the occupied West Bank. One of these organizations is Al-Haq, with which the author is proudly associated. Established in 1979, not only was Al-Haq the first Palestinian independent non-governmental human rights organization, but also one of the earliest in the region and the world. Al-Haq has a specific mandate to “protect and promote human rights and the rule of law” in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). To that end, Al-Haq “documents violations of the individual and collective rights of Palestinians in the [oPt], irrespective of the identity of the perpetrator, and seeks to end such breaches by way of advocacy before national and international mechanisms and by holding the violators accountable.”

Continue reading “Israel’s brazen attack on Al-Haq – Troubled from apartheid charges, armed with terrorism designations and blessed by U.S. silence”