US cuts funding for children’s soccer games between Israel and Palestine

Palestinian girls play soccer in Ramallah. (photo: Abbas Momani / AFP / Getty Images)
The United States is cutting the last of its funding to Palestine, in support of cross-border programs between Israelis and Palestinians.

By Edward Wong | The New York Times | Sep 14, 2018

The decision to cut off funding for the West Bank and Gaza [is] a sign that this White House has failed at diplomacy. This is not a partisan view. It’s the view of those who recognize that you don’t advance the cause of peace by cutting off programs that are designed to promote tolerance, understanding and address shared problems.
— Tim Rieser, foreign policy aide to Sen. Patrick Leahy, (Dem. VT)

As part of its policy to end all aid for Palestinian civilians, the United States is blocking millions of dollars to programs that build relationships between Israelis and Palestinians, according to current and former American officials briefed on the change.

The move to prevent Palestinians — including, in many cases, children — from benefiting from the funds squeezes shut the last remaining channel of American aid to Palestinian civilians.

The money had already been budgeted by Congress for allocation in fiscal year 2017, which ends this month. In the past, these designated funds went mostly to programs that organized people-to-people exchanges between Palestinians and Israelis, often for youth. Some went to programs for Israeli Jews and Arabs.

Continue reading “US cuts funding for children’s soccer games between Israel and Palestine”

Canary Mission’s threat grows from US campuses to the Israeli border

(photo: Nikki Casey / Forward)
While Canary Mission hides behind its well-protected anonymity, pro-Israel students take the blame for its activities, whether or not they were involved.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis | Forward | Aug 3, 2018

We made strategic decisions within our organization about who would be out-facing members and who would be in-facing members, knowing that Canary Mission . . . would have different consequences for different people.
— Abby Brook, a leader in both Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace at George Washington University

Last December, Andrew Kadi flew to Israel to visit his mother. As he walked through Ben Gurion International Airport, officials pulled him aside and said that the security services wanted to speak with him.

Kadi is among the leaders of a major pro-Palestinian advocacy group, and border authorities always question him when he travels to Israel to see his family. This time, however, something was different.

During his second of what ended up being three interrogations, spanning more than eight hours, Kadi realized that much of what the interrogator knew about him had come from Canary Mission, an anonymously-run online blacklist that tries to frighten pro-Palestinian students and activists into silence by posting dossiers on their politics and personal lives.

Continue reading “Canary Mission’s threat grows from US campuses to the Israeli border”

The US can’t punish the Palestinians into negotiating

The Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington. (photo: Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images)
Diplomacy as coercion goes against everything American foreign policy stands for.

By Dana Allin and Steven Simon | The New York Times | Sep 17, 2018

Sanctions and deterrence should always be part of the American diplomatic arsenal. But punishment for its own sake is not how the United States traditionally conducts diplomacy. Nor is there much evidence that punishment works — just ask Israel, which has been using it for years to try to wring Palestinian concessions.

Are President Trump’s advisers checking his worst impulses? From trade to NATO, we’ve been assured that the “adults” in the White House are working quietly to prevent the president from following through on his often erratic foreign policy proclamations.

In fact, many of those advisers are leaving their own mark on American international relations by amplifying the president’s instincts or, in some cases, using the opportunity to advance their own radical agendas. While we focus on the president’s latest utterances, they have been fundamentally altering the direction of United States foreign policy, from one based on cooperation and leadership to one rooted in punishment and domination.

Nowhere is this more clear than in America’s Middle East policy. Last week John Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, announced the closing of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington; the administration also revoked the visas for the organization’s envoy and his family.

Continue reading “The US can’t punish the Palestinians into negotiating”

Hardline anti-BDS tactics are targeting students, And no one knows who’s behind It

(photo: Nikki Casey / Forward)
The precise identities of the people and groups behind the new, hard-edged anti-BDS tactics remain hazy, though chinks have begun to appear in the armor.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis | Forward | Aug 2, 2018

The people behind these new tactics are going to great lengths to hide their identities, though they seem to be working in concert with each other. They are conducting surveillance on BDS activists. They are creating anonymous pop-up websites that attack activists and student government representatives. They are hiring top-level political strategists and opposition researchers. And in Canary Mission, they are running a long-term campaign to blacklist student activists.

Strange things started happening at George Washington University this April, as their student government prepared to vote on a resolution supported by pro-Palestinian campus activists.

Anonymous fliers, websites and social media campaigns appeared out of nowhere to attack the student activists. And, on the day of the vote, two adult men, dressed as canaries, showed up to do a weird dance in the lobby of the college building where the student government was set to vote.

It was the canaries that really freaked out Abby Brook, a Jewish GW student active in pro-Palestinian campus groups. “I honestly didn’t believe it at first,” said Brook, who arrived at the building where the canaries were dancing a few minutes after they left. Friends showed her pictures of the two men. One had worn a full-body Tweety Bird costume, his face painted yellow; the other a yellow plague doctor mask with a long, curved beak.

Continue reading “Hardline anti-BDS tactics are targeting students, And no one knows who’s behind It”

Faith leaders support HR 4391: The Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act

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(photo: No Way to Treat a Child / Facebook)
Please ask your Members of Congress to do the same.

Children under the age of 18 comprise nearly fifty percent of the population of the occupied Palestinian territory. The prospect for peace depends on their ability to thrive without fear of mistreatment at the hands of the Israeli military.

Sep 12, 2018

Dear Representative,

We are writing to express our gratitude for your leadership in co-sponsoring HR. 4391, the Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act. This legislation, as you know, seeks to ensure US aid to Israel is not used to mistreat Palestinian youth in the Israeli military detention system.

Our faith commitments call us to pay particular attention to the rights of the vulnerable, including children. We are encouraged by this legislation, and hopeful it will ensure the United States is not supporting the continued trauma inflicted on Palestinian youth entangled in the Israeli military detention system. Continue reading “Faith leaders support HR 4391: The Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act”

Conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism

An Hasidic Jewish man, a member of Jews United Against Zionism, hoists a Palestinian flag as he protests at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington , Mar 4, 2012. (photo: Cliff Owen / AP)
If one wants to eradicate anti-Semitism, one should fight to end all forms of racism; claiming that opposition to Zionism is anti-Semitic is a false, shameless claim.

By Miko Peled | Mint Press News | Sep 13, 2018

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, anti-Semitism is defined as ‘hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.’ This is also how anti-Semitism is understood by people in general. However, the state of Israel and Zionist organizations around the world do not want the term to be defined as only racism against Jewish people but also to include criticism and rejection of Zionism.

. . . From early on, the Zionist movement and then the State of Israel have had a tense relationship with the Ultra-Orthodox community because of its clear anti-Zionist stance. Having grown up in Jerusalem I can recall how each year on particular days, including the Israeli Day of Independence, there would be processions at the Ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods where the Israeli flag would be burned.

The Anti-Defamation League, or ADL, which claims to be a civil-rights organization but is in reality a Zionist watchdog, maintains that “Anti-Zionism is a prejudice against the Jewish movement for self-determination and the right of the Jewish people to a homeland in the State of Israel.” This is an interesting twist on Zionism and what it means to oppose it.

To begin with it is not prejudice to oppose Zionism. The Zionist movement has been around for over a century and has a clear track record of racism and extreme violence. Nor is it prejudice against the right of Jewish people to live in Palestine. The creation of the state of Israel came at an enormous cost and included genocide, ethnic cleansing, and the establishment of an apartheid regime. That is enough reason to oppose any movement.

The ADL also claim that BDS — the Palestinian call for a boycott, divestment, sanctions campaign against Israel — is anti-Semitic. On its website, it says that “ADL believes that the founding goals of the BDS movement and many of the strategies used by BDS campaigns are anti-Semitic.” It goes on to say that “the [BDS] campaign is founded on a rejection of Israel’s very existence as a Jewish state. It denies the Jewish people the right to self-determination.”

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Trump’s bear hug risks crushing Israel

A Palestinian refugee waits for a medical check at a UN-operated health center at the Asker refugee camp in the West Bank, Sep 1, 2018. (photo: Jaafar Ashtiyeh / AFP / Getty Images)
By gratuitously insulting and defunding the most moderate Palestinian faction, Trump is opening the door to the radicals. That’s a Rosh Hashanah present Israel could do without.

By Max Boot | The Washington Post | Sep 11, 2018

The Trump administration, which has already pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal, has jettisoned U.S. commitment to international law. The United States, once the linchpin of the international system, is turning into a rogue state.

National security adviser John Bolton made headlines on Monday with his blistering attack against the International Criminal Court. But “Bolton attacks ICC” is a dog-bites-man story if there ever was one. Bolton has been on a tear against the ICC since its inception, and his blood-curdling threats against nations that cooperate in investigations of US troops are more of the same. In substantive terms, though, his objections were already codified in the 2002 American Service-Members’ Protection Act, which went so far as to authorize military force to free any U.S. personnel held by the court.

Of greater immediate consequence is the fact that Bolton announced the closing of the Palestine Liberation Office mission in Washington, ostensibly in retaliation for “Palestinian attempts to prompt an ICC investigation of Israel.” The Trump administration thereby takes a giant step back from the Oslo Accords, which resulted in formal diplomatic relations between the United States and the Palestinian Authority.

Continue reading “Trump’s bear hug risks crushing Israel”

Trump’s latest step backward on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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The Washington office of the Palestine Liberation Organization on Nov 18, 2017. (photo: Alex Brandon / AP)
The continuation of the 50-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is a tragedy for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

By The Editorial Board | Los Angeles Times | Sep 11, 2018

Slowly, the administration is turning the screws, sending the unmistakable message to Palestinians that the US no longer sees itself as an evenhanded broker in the effort to find a workable solution to the conflict.

There was a time when the United States and much of the rest of the world saw the Palestinians as a non-people, or as a subset of the people of Jordan, or as a backward collection of whiners and terrorists who could easily be “absorbed” into the countries of their fellow Arabs. But over the decades, that began to change. Eventually a consensus emerged that a negotiated two-state solution was the most equitable and the most practical way to address the legitimate territorial claims of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Today, however, the Trump administration is moving that cause steadily backward in a bogus search for what the president has boasted will be the “ultimate” peace deal, but which seems increasingly likely to result in a one-sided proposal that will be both unfair and unacceptable to Palestinians when and if it is unveiled.

Just consider Trump’s actions in recent months. First, he declared that, in a reversal of long-standing policy, the United States would formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel — a needlessly provocative concession to right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that complicates future negotiations.

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Pro-Israel group secretly ran misleading Facebook ads

(photo: Nikki Casey, Forward)
The smear campaign targeted a Palestinian poet, and stalked him as he toured the US.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis and Justin Elliott | Forward and ProPublica | Sepe 12, 2018

Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) ‘coordinate’ or ‘communicate’ with Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, an Israeli government department that has become the hub of the Israeli government’s overt and covert efforts against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in the US and around the world.

In 2016, as Palestinian-American poet Remi Kanazi performed at college campuses around the United States, his appearances seemed to spark student protests.

Before his visit to John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, a page called “John Jay Students Against Hate” appeared on Facebook with Kanazi’s face next to a uniformed cop, painting Kanazi as anti-police. When Kanazi crossed the country a few days later to visit San Jose State, a nearly-identical Facebook page popped up, this one called “SJSU Students Against Hate,” with Kanazi’s face superimposed over an image of military graves. Paid Facebook campaigns promoted both pages.

Despite their names, the Facebook campaigns were run by professional Washington DC political operatives who work for a group called the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), according to promotional materials obtained by ProPublica and the Forward.

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Israeli defense officials: Gaza will collapse without an alternative to UNRWA

Palestinian men collect aid food at a United Nations compound in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip on Sep 1, 2018. (photo: AFP)
Israeli delegation to upcoming conference expected to encourage donor countries to help guarantee continued delivery of food, education services and salaries.

By Yaniv Kubovich | Haaretz | Sep 9, 2018

The Israel Defense Forces warned . . . that if the UN agency’s Gaza operations cease without a workable alternative being found, an escalation in violence is nearly inevitable.

Israeli defense officials agreed in a meeting last week that the government must develop an alternative to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the Gaza Strip in order to head off a humanitarian disaster in light of the US commitment to defunding the agency.

An Israeli delegation to a donor conference in New York later this month is expected to encourage donor countries to pitch in to guarantee the continued delivery of food, education services and the salaries of the UN’s 30,000 employees in the Strip. Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, is one of several Israeli defense officials who are scheduled to attend.

In earlier meetings ideas for projects were put forward that Israel wanted to promote, mainly in the realm of infrastructure, but now Israel will now seek ways of funding more basic needs.

Continue reading “Israeli defense officials: Gaza will collapse without an alternative to UNRWA”