A Palestinian in Israeli military court: Issa Amro, the judge, and me

Palestinian activist Issa Amro arriving at the Israeli-run Ofer military court, Betunia, near Ramallah, West Bank, Jul 9, 2017. (Abbas Momani / AFP / Getty Images)
Nonviolent resistance is becoming an organizing principle of Palestinian civil society — which explains why Israel is so invested in criminalizing it.

By Batya Ungar-Sargon | The New York Review of Books | May 13, 2019

‘Israel is not afraid of violence. They immediately react with shelling and bombing. But when Palestinians use nonviolence, they don’t know how to respond, and they call it delegitimization.’
— Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of the PLO

‘You know what is the one thing that most terrifies the State of Israel? That people, without guns, would start to walk. Picture it: 100,000 Palestinians start walking towards Jerusalem. Walking — nothing else. What would the IDF do? Say they kill fifty, they kill a hundred, they kill three hundred. What would happen if they just kept walking?’
— Ami Ayalon, a former Knesset member and former head of the Shin Bet

I think Israel is afraid of nonviolent activists. Israel knows — thank God — how to fight terrorism and violence. But if a very large number of nonviolent demonstrators would have huge marches like they had in India at the time of Gandhi, I don’t know how Israel would be able to stop that. And then, maybe, it would be a turning point in the occupation.’
— Gaby Lasky, Israeli civil rights lawyer

Two roads lead to the two separate entrances of the Ofer prison and military court in the West Bank, where Palestinians living under Israeli military rule in that territory are tried and sentenced. One road comes from the Palestinian territories. It leads to an outdoor waiting area, where Palestinian defendants and their families wait for their names to be called over a loudspeaker. The other road comes from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It leads to a guard booth, where you hand over your passport and, if you are on a list, you are waved through to a security check. This entrance is used by lawyers, dignitaries, and, early in April, me.

I was at Ofer as a journalist to attend the trial of Issa Amro, a Palestinian activist from Hebron. I have been writing about Amro for five years with growing admiration, visiting him in Hebron, chronicling his work, and publishing his words preaching nonviolent resistance against Israel’s occupation, where so many choose either violence or submission. These efforts have brought him growing prominence both internationally and within his own community. Together with the Hebron-based organization he founded, Youth Against Settlements, Amro has become famous for the kind of civil disobedience developed by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. . . .

Continue reading “A Palestinian in Israeli military court: Issa Amro, the judge, and me”

Film: Wajib (Jun 7)

Please join our brothers and sisters at the Mideast Focus Ministry for their First Friday Film series.
Date: Friday, May 3, 2019
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Location: St. Mark’s Cathedral
Bloedel Hall
1245 10th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98102
Information: Event information here →
Tickets: Free Admission
Event Details

There’s a quiet warmth that runs like a current through ‘Wajib,’ a new film from the Palestinian director and writer Annemarie Jacir. The title is Arabic for “duty,’ and here the obligation is shared by father and son. Abu Shadi, an aging divorcee living in a Christian Palestinian community in Nazareth, is driving around his neighborhood and its outskirts all day at the beginning of the Christmas season — he’s got ‘Jingle Bells’ as his phone’s ringtone — hand-delivering invitations to his daughter’s wedding. With him is his son, Shadi, an architect who now makes his home in Rome.
— Glenn Kenny, The New York Times

Continue reading “Film: Wajib (Jun 7)”

For Iraqi refugees in Amman, kindness, support and an application to Australia

Drawings by Iraq refugees on the wall of the Collateral Repair Project, Amman. ( photo: Alice Rothchild)
Fourth in series of reports from Dr. Alice Rothchild in Amman, Jordan after attending the Lancet Palestinian Health Alliance Annual conference.

By  Alice Rothchild| Mondoweiss | May 8, 2019

Because of the concentration of Iraqi residents in Amman, many citizens blame them for rising prices for real estate, food, rent, and overcrowded schools and health care institutions, shortages of electricity and water. While there are other important contributors and the refugees are not a net drain on the country’s resources, they have seriously stretched some resources and services.

Tuesday March 26, 2019

We wait 45 minutes for an Uber to arrive and drive us to the Collateral Repair Project which is located across town in the poor neighborhood of Hashemi. There we meet with Jessica Miller, a dedicated, fast talking woman who tells us that the Collateral Repair Project was started in 2006 by two American women for Iraqi refugees. At that time, many Iraqi refugees were fleeing to Jordan. Some of the Iraqi families that came to Jordan with savings may have settled on the West side of Amman, where housing and the cost of living tended to be more expensive. However, many of those who came without such financial backing or quickly ran out of savings, unable to legally work, moved into neighborhoods in East Amman like Hashemi Shamali. CRP is located in this neighborhood which is home to many low income Jordanians and refugees from Iraq and Syria.

Continue reading “For Iraqi refugees in Amman, kindness, support and an application to Australia”

Event: Un-Apologetically US: Building Muslim power for 2020 & beyond

Cair event3

Please join our brothers and sisters from Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) – WA for a Ramadan fundraiser and evening of conversation, inspiration and strategizing with Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN), Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell (PA) and local leaders Dr. Anisa Ibrahim and Ed Masih Fouladi.
Date: Saturday, May 25, 2019
Time: 6:00 – 10:00 pm
Location: Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue WA
Information: Event information here →
Tickets: $30.00
Event Details

The coming year will be pivotal for our community and for the nation as a whole. There are many challenges from violent Islamophobia to xenophobic policies, but there’s also hope. American Muslims have seen political representation like never before, including the election of Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American and one of two American Muslim women elected to Congress. Born in Somalia, Ilhan and her family fled the country’s civil war for the United States when she was 8 years old. Ilhan’s interest in politics began at the age of 14 when she was as an interpreter for her grandfather at local DFL caucuses. Through her advocacy work, she’s advanced important issues, including support for working families, access to education, environmental protection, and racial equity.

Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell is the first Muslim woman in the Pennsylvania State Legislature. An activist whose life has been impacted by gun violence, Johnson-Harrell became the first Muslim woman to be elected to the Pennsylvania state legislature earlier this year.

More information here →

“Endless trip to hell” — Israel jails hundreds of Palestinian boys each year

Israeli forces detain Palestinian Fevzi El-Junidi, 14, following clashes in the West Bank city Hebron, Dec 2017. (photo: Wisam Hashlamoun / Anadolu Agency)
Every year Israel arrests almost 1,000 Palestinian youngsters, some of them not yet 13. They’re seized in the dead of night, blindfolded and cuffed, abused and manipulated to confess to crimes they didn’t commit.

By Netta Ahituv | Haaretz | Mar 16, 2019

‘[Israeli soldiers] enter the village at night and arrest [the youths]. And whether these youths are the ones who threw the stones or not, you have already put a scare into the whole village.’
— Gerard Horton, a lawyer with the British-Palestinian Military Court Watch

It was a gloomy, typically chilly late-February afternoon in the West Bank village of Beit Ummar, between Bethlehem and Hebron. The weather didn’t deter the children of the Abu-Ayyash family from playing and frolicking outside. One of them, in a Spiderman costume, acted the part by jumping lithely from place to place. Suddenly they noticed a group of Israeli soldiers trudging along the dirt trail across the way. Instantly their expressions turned from joy to dread, and they rushed into the house. It’s not the first time they reacted like that, says their father. In fact, it’s become a pattern ever since 10-year-old Omar was arrested by troops this past December.

The 10-year-old is one of many hundreds of Palestinian children whom Israel arrests every year: The estimates range between 800 and 1,000. Some are under the age of 15; some are even preteens. A mapping of the locales where these detentions take place reveals a certain pattern: The closer a Palestinian village is to a settlement, the more likely it is that the minors residing there will find themselves in Israeli custody. For example, in the town of Azzun, west of the Karnei Shomron settlement, there’s hardly a household that hasn’t experienced an arrest. Residents say that in the past five years, more than 150 pupils from the town’s only high school have been arrested.

At any given moment, there are about 270 Palestinian teens in Israeli prisons. The most widespread reason for their arrest — throwing stones — does not tell the full story. Conversations with many of the youths, as well as with lawyers and human rights activists, including those from the B’Tselem human-rights organization, reveal a certain pattern, even as they leave many questions open: For example, why does the occupation require that arrests be violent and why is it necessary to threaten young people. . . .

Continue reading ““Endless trip to hell” — Israel jails hundreds of Palestinian boys each year”

Australian, Canadian firms pull out of Israeli settler railway

Youths throw stones at a tram
The Jerusalem light rail which links Israel’s illegal West Bank colonies is a symbol of oppression to Palestinians. (photo: Faiz Abu Rmeleh / ActiveStills)
There is a growing acknowledgement that doing business with Israel’s settlements makes companies complicit in human rights violations.
By Ali Abunimah | The Electric Intifada | May 8, 2019

Palestinian campaigners see the latest withdrawals as victories for their efforts to hold companies complicit in Israel’s occupation and colonization accountable.

The Electronic Intifada can exclusively reveal that Canadian engineering giant Bombardier has pulled out of a bid to expand and operate an Israeli tramway linking settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Bombardier is one of several global firms – two others being Australia’s Macquarie and Germany’s Siemens – to drop out of the tender to build the next phase of the Jerusalem light rail.

The light rail system links settlements to each other and to Jerusalem, helping to entrench and facilitate Israel’s colonial expansion in the occupied territory – a war crime.

The tramway is a symbol of oppression for Palestinians.

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US denies visa to Palestinian peace activist

Nir Kafri / Haaretz)
Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO executive committee, has travelled to the US frequently for decades and has family here. No reason was given for the denial.

By Amir Tibon, Jack Khoury and Reuters | Haaretz | May 13, 2019

I’ve met (and even negotiated with) every Sec. of State since Shultz, and every President since George H. W. Bush (present administration excluded) . . .
— Hanan Ashrawi via Twitter (@DrHananAshrawi)

Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a PLO Executive Committee member and a senior figure in the Palestinian public relations arena, announced Monday evening that her US visa application has been rejected.

“It is official! My US visa application has been rejected. No reason given,” she wrote in the first of a series of tweets, providing a list of reasons for her visa’s refusal, which she told Haaretz was given without a reason.

“Choose any of the following: I’m over 70 & a grandmother; I’ve been an activist for Palestine since the late 1960’s; I’ve always been an ardent supporter of nonviolent resistance,” Ashrawi wrote.

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Reps. Omar and Schakowsky: We must confront threat of white nationalism — together

Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) call on Jews and Muslims to stand united against white nationalism, in new op-ed
Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) call on Jews and Muslims to stand united against white nationalism, in new op-ed. (photo credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images)
An appeal to a shared concern to unify against anti-Semitic and Islamphobic violence.

By Ilhan Omar and Jan Schakowsky | CNN | May 14, 2019

White nationalists win when our two communities are divided.

Just over two weeks ago, we watched in horror after a man walked into Chabad of Poway synagogue in California and opened fire on worshippers, killing 60-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye and injuring three others. The attack on the synagogue took place on Shabbat, the holiest day of the week, and Acharon Shel Pesach — the final day of Passover.

As information about the attack came in, we learned more shocking details. The same terrorist who attacked the Chabad Synagogue allegedly set fire to a nearby mosque, Dar-ul-Arqam, just weeks earlier. Evidence also suggests that the suspected Poway shooter was inspired by the Christchurch mosque massacre in New Zealand, which took the lives of 50 Muslim worshippers in New Zealand in March.

As a Muslim American and a Jewish American elected to the United States Congress, we can no longer sit silently as terror strikes our communities. We cannot allow those who seek to divide and intimidate us to succeed. Whatever our differences, our two communities, Muslim and Jewish, must come together to confront the twin evils of anti-Semitic and Islamophobic violence.

Continue reading “Reps. Omar and Schakowsky: We must confront threat of white nationalism — together”

EVENT: Israel, Zionism and the Jewish Community in 2019 (May 23)

Peter Beinart. (photo: Center for American Progress Action Fund / Flickr)
Please join our brothers and sisters for this exciting evening with Peter Beinart.
Date: Thursday, May 23, 2019
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Location: Temple de Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St
Seattle, WA 98122
Information & Registration: Event information here →
Event Details

Join us for a discussion with Peter Beinart, a prominent columnist for The Atlantic and the Forward. He will share his thoughts on anti-semitism, the changing conversation on Israel in the Jewish community, the results of the Israeli election and more.

Peter Beinart is Associate Professor of Journalism and Political Science at the City University of New York. He is also a contributor to The Atlantic, a Senior Columnist at The Forward, a CNN Political Commentator and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Foundation for Middle East Peace. He has written three books, The Good Fight, The Icarus Syndrome and The Crisis of Zionism.

Beinart has written for The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, the Boston Globe and other prominent publications. Beinart became The New Republic’s managing editor in 1995. He became the magazine’s Senior Editor in 1997, and from 1999 to 2006 served as its Editor.

This event is co-sponsored by J Street, Kavana Cooperative, Temple Beth Am, Temple de Hirsch Sinai and Congregation Beth Shalom.

More information here →

Film: Wajib (Jun 7)

Please join our brothers and sisters at the Mideast Focus Ministry for their First Friday Film series.
Date: Friday, May 3, 2019
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Location: St. Mark’s Cathedral
Bloedel Hall
1245 10th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98102
Information: Event information here →
Tickets: Free Admission
Event Details

There’s a quiet warmth that runs like a current through ‘Wajib,’ a new film from the Palestinian director and writer Annemarie Jacir. The title is Arabic for “duty,’ and here the obligation is shared by father and son. Abu Shadi, an aging divorcee living in a Christian Palestinian community in Nazareth, is driving around his neighborhood and its outskirts all day at the beginning of the Christmas season — he’s got ‘Jingle Bells’ as his phone’s ringtone — hand-delivering invitations to his daughter’s wedding. With him is his son, Shadi, an architect who now makes his home in Rome.
— Glenn Kenny, The New York Times

Continue reading “Film: Wajib (Jun 7)”