FBI opened terrorism investigations into nonviolent Palestinian solidarity group, documents reveal

FBI Investigated Nonviolent Pro-Palestinian Group for Terrorism
Illustration: Leonardo Santamaria for The Intercept
A public records request provides a look into the FBI’s use of intelligence and national security powers to track domestic dissent.

By Chip Gibbons | The Intercept | Apr 5, 2020

‘These cases demonstrate the FBI’s unwillingness to distinguish non-violent civil disobedience protesting government policy from terrorism,’
— Michael German, former FBI agent

In 2006, ST. Louis-based activist and academic Mark Chmiel received a message on his answering machine from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI wanted to talk to Chmiel about trip three years ago that he and other St. Louis activists took with the International Solidarity Movement to the West Bank, in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. When Chmiel’s attorney reached out to the FBI, they did not respond.

Chmiel later wrote that he was motivated to travel to the West Bank by Palestinians’ calls for volunteers, international organizations’ inability to deal with the occupation, and his own country’s complicity in Israel’s actions. The International Solidarity Movement, or ISM, which would be Chmiel’s vehicle, encourages international volunteers to come to the occupied territories and engage in nonviolent direct action against the occupation. During the delegation Chmiel was on, Israel soldiers opened fire on a Palestinian protest and injured one of the St. Louis activists. An aging Holocaust survivor who was also part of the delegation was subjected to a humiliating and invasive search when departing from Israel.

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Gaza garment factory shifts production to masks amid coronavirus

Palestinian workers make protective face masks to be exported and sold in the local market [Mahmud Hams/AFP]
Palestinian workers make protective face masks to be exported and sold in the local market. (photo: Mahmud Hams / AFP)
Some 12 cases have been confirmed in Gaza, as well as hundreds in the occupied West Bank and thousands in Israel.

By Fedaa al-Qedra | Aljazeera | Apr 5, 2020

The factory also has to contend with frequent power outages that are commonplace in Gaza and last for eight hours a day, a result of the blockade and tensions between Hamas and the PA in the occupied West Bank.

Gaza City, Gaza – The Unipal garment factory in the besieged Gaza Strip has not operated at full speed for more than a decade, but on a recent morning hundreds of workers hunched over rows of sewing machines here, making medical masks and surgical gowns.

As the rapid global spread of the coronavirus pandemic triggered a surge in demand for these items last month, the factory located in an industrial zone east of Gaza City changed its business from producing clothing to sought-after medical items.

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Approaching Easter in the midst of a global crisis, there is much to cover

An Easter reflection and resources for churches, organizations and faith-based communities – local, regional, national and global – committed to the justice movement for Israel/Palestine.

By Palestine Portal | April 2020

‘The current worldwide lockdowns – even if vastly different – are a moment for all of us to reflect on our lives and the lives of others.’
— Mariam Barghouti, Palestinian writer

In this issue of Palestine Portal:

  • Reports and reflections from Palestine in lockdown
  • Advocacy by faith leaders in response to the emergency facing Gaza and child prisoners in the West Bank
  • Two powerful Lenten reflections
  • An extraordinary Easter Alert from Kairos Palestine
  • Links for action, including a matching challenge for UNRWA

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Here’s 10 books on Palestine to read while social distancing

Edward Said
Edward Said, author of ‘The Question of Palestine’
Many bookstores are closed, but you may have one of these books on your bookshelf ready to read.

By Michael Arria |Mondoweiss | Apr 3, 2020

If you’re using your social distancing time to catch up on classics you never got around to, this book by the late, great Edward Said is a good place to start. The ‘Question of Palestine’ is nearly 30 years old now, but it’s as relevant as ever before.

Many people throughout the world are presumably catching up on their reading during this time of social distancing and self-isolation. Last week The Guardian reported that online sales at United Kingdom book chain Waterstones have risen by 400% since it closed the doors of its physical stores. Below is a list of books Israel/Palestine that we recommend.

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The staggering cost of Israel to Americans: The facts

The Staggering Cost of Israel to Americans: The Facts
A stack of 3.8 billion dollar bills would reach the International Space Station. The new package to Israel will give Israel ten times that much money.  (photo: If Americans Knew)
An updated report examining the groundbreaking 1998 work by Richard Curtiss, ‘The Cost of Israel to U.S. Taxpayers,’  published in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

By  Pamela Olson and If Americans Knew Analysts | If Americans Knew  | Apr 1, 2020

 The US has, in fact, given more aid to Israel than it has to all the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean combined—which have a total population of over a billion people.
— Richard Curtiss, retired Foreign Service Officer

The U.S. gives Israel over $10 million per day of Americans’ tax money, approximately $7,000 per minute. On average, the US has given Israelis over 7,000 times more than to other people around the world. And on top of this, the US gives Egypt and Jordan large aid packages on behalf of Israel. And there is more…

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In the midst of global pandemic, Israeli occupation thrives

Palestinians inspect three houses demolished by Israeli forces in the village of Rummaneh, in the West Bank city of Jenin, on April 01, 2020. (Photo by Oday Deybes/ WAFA)
Palestinians inspect three houses demolished by Israeli forces in the village of Rummaneh, in the West Bank city of Jenin, on April 01, 2020. (photo by Oday Deybes /  WAFA)
Home demolitions, attacks and harassment by Israeli military continues during the paralyzing healthcare crisis.

By Yumna Patel |Mondoweiss | Apr 1, 2020

 …the ’real weakness’ in the Palestinian’s efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus is the Israeli occupation.
—Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, who has taken the lead role in Palestine’s fight against COVID-19

When the Palestinian Authority (PA) first announced a state of emergency over the coronavirus in early March, an initial panic swept over the occupied territory, as checkpoints and borders with Israel were closed, and entire cities were shut down.

In the early days of the outbreak, which was initially contained to the city of Bethlehem, there was a joke going around between Palestinians that, perhaps, a global pandemic could offer a temporary respite from the terrors of the Israeli occupation.

But even as most aspects of everyday life have been turned upside down in Israel, Palestine, and the rest of the world, the one thing that has remained steady in the lives of Palestinians, is the presence of the occupation.

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Demand Israel protect Palestinians in Gaza

Screen Shot 2020-04-02 at 8.12.20 AM

A plea for action to help Palestinians in Gaza by lifting the blockade and immediately delivering medical supplies.

By IfNotNow | The Action Network |  March 2020

… 1.8 million people only have access to enough COVID-19 test kits for 190 people, meaning only 1 in every 9,473 Palestinians there can be tested.

In response to the Coronavirus global pandemic, governments across the world are enacting emergency measures in order to protect the health of their citizens and stabilize their economies. However, 1.8 million Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip appear to be on the precipice of catastrophe — and the Israeli government, which controls what goes in and out of Gaza, has a responsibility to act now.

Palestinians in Gaza must now weather the Coronavirus in addition to the punishing, 15-year-long Israeli blockade of the coastal enclave. The international community must do everything it can to protect everyone in the world from this pandemic — and this must include the stateless Palestinians in Gaza, whose lives are controlled by the Israeli military.

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Palestinians are good enough to save Jews’ lives in Israel, but not to be in their government

Medical team praying posted by Nir Dvori of Channel 2 news in Israel Mar 24, 2020.  (photo: Twitter)
Palestinian health care workers in Israel are healing everyone while Netanyahu continues to label Palestinian legislators as terrorists.

By Philip Weiss | Mondoweiss | Mar 25, 2020

‘If the thousands of Arab health workers — doctors, nurses, pharmacists —were to stay at home, the entire system would collapse…’
—Ephraim Halevy, former Mossad spy chief

The political news from Israel really could make you lose your mind right now.

A great number of the professionals who are helping Israelis fight the coronavirus pandemic are Palestinian: “18 percent of doctors and 24 percent of nurses and 47 percent of pharmacists,” according to Eli Kowaz of the Israel Policy Forum.

The Israeli health system would collapse without Palestinians. “If the thousands of Arab health workers–doctors, nurses, pharmacists–were to stay at home, the entire system would collapse,” former spy chief Ephraim Halevy wrote in Haaretz.

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From electoral politics to coronavirus response: In Israel, apartheid mentality reigns

A man wearing a mask amid the global coronavirus outbreak looks through a fence as he waits for Palestinians returning from abroad, at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, southern Gaza Strip, March 8, 2020. (photo: Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
Israel’s longstanding political crisis didn’t end due to some altruistic desire to pull together in a time of crisis, it ended because Israelis were faced with a choice, work with Arabs or throw it all away.

By Miko Peled  | MintPress News | Mar 27, 2020

Israeli racism is deeply institutional and deeply personal to a point where a career politician, in this case, Benny Gantz, gave up the chance to be Prime Minister because it meant he would need to rely on Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Once again, Benjamin Netanyahu wins big in Israeli politics. Even as his main opponent, former Israeli army chief Benny Gantz was given a mandate to form and head a coalition government, Netanyahu, indicted and presumed to be on his way out, managed to pull in Gantz, break up the Blue and White opposition party, stop the coalition from forming, and remain on top.

Fifteen seats
In an unprecedented upset, the Arab Joint List, a coalition of four predominantly Palestinian political parties, was able to win fifteen seats in the Israeli Knesset. This made them the third largest block within the legislature. They were going to support a Gantz-led government from the outside, which means they would not be a part of the actual coalition government. This is an enormous gesture on behalf of the Joint List, whose constituents are primarily Palestinian citizens of Israel, the country’s most disenfranchised group of citizens.

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Jerusalem’s intangible culture

Jerusalems-Intangible-1
Lady Tansiq Mausoleum.
This article inspired by conversations in the UNESCO office in Ramallah.

By Ali Qleibo| This Week in Palestine| Mar 2020

The homes we live in, the neighborhoods, the services rendered, the consumer lifestyle, the values and norms, and the way people interact is a world view in which tangible and intangible cultural expressions interweave to impart Jerusalem its unique character.

The ever-shifting, elusive “character” of Jerusalem is a reflection of the dynamic needs, desires, and wishes of its inhabitants. Intangible culture is not merely the listing of professions and trades; it is the sung parodies that advertise the new seasonal cucumber (asabe’ el bubbu ya khyar), and the variety of recipes that Jerusalamites swap about the best way to prepare artichokes and ‘akkube (a wild form of artichoke) or preserve bitter oranges both as marmalade and sharab, or even how to construct a kite using dough instead of glue, bamboo, and newspaper sheets. It also includes visiting the cemetery to pray for one’s deceased close relatives after the early morning ‘Eid prayers and reciting the fatihah each time one passes by a cemetery, mausoleum, or maqam. It is the marking of the Muslim New Year with green olive twigs on house doors, the special sweets, and the family visits. The homes we live in, the neighborhoods, the services rendered, the consumer lifestyle, the values and norms, and the way people interact is a world view in which tangible and intangible cultural expressions interweave to impart Jerusalem its unique character. It is the human art of making life livable.

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