Jeff Halper is an American-born anthropologist, author, lecturer, and political activist, living in Israel since 1973. He is a frequent speaker about Israeli politics, focusing mainly on non-violent strategies to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Halper co-founded Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) to challenge and resist the Israeli policy of demolishing Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territories and to organize Israelis, Palestinians and international volunteers to jointly rebuild demolished Palestinian homes as political acts of resistance.
Visit ICAHD for more information about the work they are doing.
Concerns about restricting free speech may have shut down current anti-BDS legislation, but important not to lose sight of BDS goals: the human rights of the Palestinian people.
By Nadia Elia | Mondoweiss | Jan 14, 2019
We must now use the national platform we have, as the Senate debates anti-BDS legislation, to make the case that solidarity with Palestine, and heeding the call for a global campaign to boycott, divest from, and impose sanctions on Israel, are the moral thing to do, regardless of whether they are a form of free speech or not.
When a delegation of pro-justice activists and community leaders met with Washington state governor Jay Inslee in 2017, to urge him not to endorse the “Governors United against BDS” letter (which, sadly, he signed onto, like every single US state governor, as well as the mayor of Washington, DC), he spoke of it as a foreign policy matter. I strategically “corrected” him, pointing out that the right to boycott was not a foreign policy issue, but one of American free speech. As a member of Washington Freedom to Boycott (which we have since renamed Washington Advocates for Palestinian Rights), I helped circulate the following call to action to thousands, asking them to tell Inslee that “whatever your views on Israel, Palestine, or the BDS movement, anti-BDS legislation is anti-freedom of speech…”
Many unanswered questions about the withdrawal of human rights award to Angela Davis.
By Alex Bollinger | LGBTQ Nation | Jan 8, 2019
Local activist Sophie Ellman-Golan said that it’s unlikely that Jewish people in Alabama forced the decision to rescind . . .
A civil rights institute is rescinding an award it was going to give to Angela Davis, possibly because of her criticisms of human rights violations in Israel.
In September, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) announced that it would give its Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award to Davis at its gala this February. That award is its highest honor and it would have been the center of the yearly event.
Davis seemed like a logical choice for the award. Not only is she one of the most prominent human rights activists in the United States — advocating for decades for the rights of Black people, workers, women, LGBTQ people, Muslims, and immigrants — and she was a member of the Black Panther party, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and the Communist Party, but she’s also originally from Birmingham, Alabama.
US officials move to recognize Israel’s annexation of territory ignores international law.
By Maureen Clare Murphy | The Electronic Intifada | Jan 8, 2019
Israel’s occupation has forced native Syrians onto just 5 percent of the land they once owned and ruined virtually all native industries except for some basic agriculture.
As the Senate considers a bipartisan defense of the Israeli government from boycotts, senior Republicans are urging the Trump administration to recognize Israel’s claims of sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.
As recognized by international law, the Golan Heights is Syrian territory captured by Israel in 1967 along with the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, from which Israel eventually withdrew.
After Israel claimed to annex the Golan Heights in 1981, the UN Security Council declared the move “null and void and without international legal effect.”
Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Tom Cotton of Arkansas issued a joint statement on Sunday referring to what Israel says are recently destroyed Hizballah tunnels along the Israel-Lebanon border, as well as Iranian forces in Syria.
“To support Israel’s right to self-defense, Washington should take the long overdue step of affirming Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” the senators state.
The two senators had introduced a resolution to Congress last year making the same demand while emphasizing the purported threat to Israel’s security posed by Iran.
Having recently returned from the battlefield, the writer penned a bitter denunciation of Moshe Dayan’s settlement policies: “The shorter the occupation, the better for us.”
By Mitch Ginsberg | The Times of Israel | Dec 31, 2018
I don’t know how Moshe Dayan’s voice did not tremble while employing that phrase — [‘lebensraum,’ used by the Nazis to justify their expansionist policies] — with all the harrowing memories it raises. ‘Living space’ means one thing: disenfranchising the foreigner, the inferior ‘savage’ and making place for the superior and the civilized — the powerful. — Amos Oz, Aug 22, 1967
The shelf life of a newspaper article is often brief. But when Amos Oz, who died Friday at age 79 and was laid to rest Monday at the cemetery in his one-time home in Kibbutz Hulda, sat down in August 1967 to write an essay, he produced, just two months after the close of the Six Day War, a lasting document, a piece of writing that has endured as well as many of his works of fiction.
One can agree or disagree with his position on territorial expansion, while still marveling at the timing and the manner in which he marshaled his arguments.
The piece was published on August 22, 1967, in Davar — “the newspaper of the workers of the Land of Israel.” The font was tiny, resembling, in shape and size, a cramped rabbinic commentary. Found on a stained reel of microfilm in the National Library . . . the article is entitled “The Defense Minister / and Lebensraum” (merhav mihya in Hebrew; living space in English).
In the midst of a partial government shutdown, Democratic and Republican senators have decided that their first order of business should be a bill that would weaken Americans’ First Amendment protections.
By Ray Grim and Glenn Greenwald | The Intercept | [Jan 5, 2019
[The First Amendment protects the right to express] dissatisfaction with the injustice and violence, as experienced both by Palestinian and Israeli citizens. — Judge Daniel D. Crabtree, US District Court of Kansas
When each new Congress is gaveled into session, the chambers attach symbolic importance to the first piece of legislation to be considered. For that reason, it bears the lofty designation of HR.1 in the House and S.1 in the Senate.
In the newly controlled Democratic House, HR.1 — meant to signal the new majority’s priorities — is an anti-corruption bill that combines election and campaign finance reform, strengthening of voting rights, and matching public funds for small-dollar candidates. In the 2017 Senate, the GOP-controlled S.1 was a bill, called the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” that, among other provisions, cut various forms of corporate taxes.
But in the 2019 GOP-controlled Senate, the first bill to be considered — S.1 — is not designed to protect American workers, bolster US companies, or address the various debates over border security and immigration. It’s not a bill to open the government. Instead, according to multiple sources involved in the legislative process, S.1 will be a compendium containing a handful of foreign policy-related measures, the main one of which is a provision — with Florida’s GOP Sen. Marco Rubio as a lead sponsor — to defend the Israeli government. The bill is a top legislative priority for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Instead of seeing Israel as a Jewish Disneyland, young American Jews should see it as a country — like their own — that is both precious and in urgent need of moral repair.
By Peter Beinart | Forward | Jan 3, 2019
[Going to Israel] can be life-transforming. It offers young American Jews a glimpse of the beauty and grandeur of Jewish tradition. It helps them appreciate what they have inherited as they begin thinking about what they want to hand down. Ideally, Birthright would thrive. But it can’t thrive if it makes moral blindness the price of Jewish connection.
On New Year’s Day, a young woman rushed the stage at the “MegaEvent” held in Jerusalem for participants in Birthright, the program that takes young American and other Diaspora Jews to Israel on a free ten-day trip.
She unfurled a banner that declared “Birthright Sponsored by Adelson, Trump, Netanyahu” and directed viewers to CostofBirthright.Com, a website sponsored by the anti-occupation Jewish group, If Not Now. Then she was hustled off stage.
It’s the new normal. Since June, 22 Diaspora Jews have either walked off Birthright trips in protest against their tour guide’s refusal to take them to meet Palestinians or been kicked off for raising uncomfortable questions about Israeli policy. And If Not Now activists and members of Na’amod, a similar group in Britain, have distributed anti-occupation literature to people about to embark on Birthright trips at airports.
The administration is looking to create more family detention centers, which can already hold as many as 3,500 people, so that it can detain asylum-seeking families indefinitely.
By Lee Gelernt | The New York Review of Books | Dec 19, 2018
If there are bright spots, one is that the courts have continued to play their historic role of checking the government, sticking up for the powerless and vulnerable. The other is that the American people played an equally vital checking role, making clear during the family separation crisis that there are limits to the cruelty they will allow to be done in their name.
In March 2017, John Kelly, then Secretary of Homeland Security, said in an interview with CNN that the Trump administration was considering a national policy to separate parents from their children to deter immigrants from crossing the border into the United States. The proposal triggered a backlash because it was so unpalatable, and the administration didn’t move forward with it. But six months later, in December 2017, The Washington Post and The New York Times reported that the administration was again considering the idea. At the same time, advocates who provide services to children in government custody told ACLU lawyers they were seeing children much younger than the teenagers they usually saw entering their facilities. As the stories began to multiply, the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project quickly realized that the administration wasn’t considering the separation of children from their parents — it was already doing it.
For at least six months before then Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the zero-tolerance policy of prosecuting every adult who crossed into the United States without permission, which would result in more than 2,000 children being taken from their parents, the Department of Homeland Security had quietly began taking hundreds of children away from their parents to deter would-be asylum seekers from coming to the United States.
Internal memo’s show that even the ADL think anti-BDS laws are bad for the Jewish community.
By Nora Barrows-Friedman | The Electronic Intifada | Dec 31, 2018
Despite Israel’s attacks, smears and threats, boycott activists continued to make enormous gains – much to the dismay of Israeli leaders.
2018 was a year of victories by human rights activists despite heavy pressure, attacks and propaganda efforts by Israel and its lobby groups to whitewash its image.
Starting off the year, it was revealed that US President Donald Trump’s alliance with white supremacist groups and anti-Semitic figures has pushed support for Israel to a low point, especially among young American Jews.
By October, it was confirmed in another survey that support for Israel is coming primarily from Trump’s base, a hotbed of right-wing, white nationalist and Christian Zionist views, while support from other Americans continues to erode.
Netanyahu brokering deal for Honduras to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in effort to boost his upcoming election.
By Adam Taylor | The Washington Post | Jan 2, 2019
If Honduras follows through with the move, it will please both Trump and Netanyahu.
Last week, the Trump administration criticized Honduras as being weak on immigration. President Trump wrote in a tweet that Honduras was “doing nothing” about a new caravan of migrants allegedly forming in the nation and threatened to cut off US aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
This week, officials from the two countries met in Brazil to hash out their differences, moderated by an unlikely figure: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu took part in the Tuesday meeting between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández. All three men were in Brazil for the inauguration of President Jair Bolsonaro, which also took place Tuesday. An Israeli official told the newspaper Haaretz that the meeting was arranged by Netanyahu at the request of Hernández, who sought the Israeli leader’s help in dealing with the United States.
In return, Honduras pledged to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in what could be another boost for Netanyahu ahead of parliamentary elections in April.