New Entry Law Is a Reminder That Palestinians Live in Israel’s Prison

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Palestinian workers stand in line next to a portion of the separation wall, waiting to cross through the checkpoint from Bethlehem into Israel. (Miriam Alster / Flash90)

The reality in the West Bank is one that resembles a prison, where Israel controls the law, the security, who can leave, and now who can visit.

By Noam Sheizaf / Local Call via +972 Magazine
March 7, 2017


There is no peace process, nor is there a real discussion over one state or two states. Even discussions on whether Israel is an apartheid state have become intellectual fodder for Jews and leftists. The reality is one that resembles a prison, and the prisoners will continue to be held by force . . . .


The Knesset passed a law Monday night denying entry visas or residency rights to foreign nationals who call for boycotts against Israel or the settlements. The law won’t have much of an effect on entry into Israel proper, but rather will mostly affect those trying to enter the West Bank — a solid reminder that the ban is yet another example of the way Israel holds Palestinians prisoners. After all, one can assume that most people who enter the Palestinian territories oppose the settlements or support some version of the boycott.

Because Israel controls every point of entry into areas under Palestinian control in the West Bank, Palestinians cannot leave (without a permit) or come back (without a permit). With the passage of the law, they are no longer allowed to have visitors. In other words: they are prisoners, and these restrictions are just the tip of the iceberg.

Continue reading “New Entry Law Is a Reminder That Palestinians Live in Israel’s Prison”

Fordham’s Decision to Block Pro-Palestine Group Is an Attack on My Academic Freedom

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(photo: townhall.com)

By Jacob Linker / townhall.com
March 13, 2017


Fordham University has a real problem with political speech. In the name of avoiding controversy, they suck the air out of political life on campus and then act surprised that so few are able to take a deep breath. The fear of political polarization or controversy . . . often stifles meaningful dialogue on campus and deprives students of the opportunity to engage in the marketplace of ideas.


I am a proud Jew and a proud American. However, I cannot defend the actions of my school — Fordham University — which has recently blocked the formation of a Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter on campus.

On November 17th, the United Student Government stated that SJP “fulfills a need for open discussion and demonstrates that Fordham is a place that exemplifies diversity of thought.”

However, Dean of Students Keith Eldredge would go on to deny SJP official recognition. He stated that Fordham “cannot support an organization whose sole purpose is advocating political goals of a specific group, and against a specific country.” Seemingly unaware of the irony, he went on to argue that “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict . . . often leads to polarization rather than dialogue.”

Continue reading “Fordham’s Decision to Block Pro-Palestine Group Is an Attack on My Academic Freedom”

172 Scholars Decry Israel’s Travel Ban

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Signatures on the Israeli Declaration of Independence, May 14, 1948. (image: Israeli Knesset)

As published on Mondoweiss.net
March 12, 2017


In spite of our different views, we stand in strong opposition to the new law. It will be bad for Israel, bad for the cause of democracy at this fragile moment, and bad for the principles of free speech and thought on which our scholarship is based.


We, the undersigned scholars of Jewish studies, write to express our dismay over the bill passed on March 6 by the Israeli Knesset that would bar entry to any foreigner who supports the BDS movement or supports boycotting settlements or goods produced in the occupied territories. We are researchers with a wide range of professional, social, and personal ties to Israel and a diverse array of ideological positions. But we are unified in our belief that this law represents a further blow to the democratic foundations of Israel, continuing the process of erosion wrought by a recent series of bills including the Regulation Law, the Suspension of MKs Law, and the NGO Law, as well as the earlier Boycott Law. This is unacceptable. Continue reading “172 Scholars Decry Israel’s Travel Ban”

Mississippi “Dreamer” Speaks Out

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Daniela Vargas, 22, was released Friday from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody. She had been detained after speaking out at a news conference in Jackson, Mississippi. (photo: Elijah Baylis / The Clarion-Ledger)

Daniela Vargas talks about her life before being detained by ICE agents, what life what like in detention and what her hopes are for the future.

By Sarah Fowler / The Clarion-Ledger
March 13, 2017


“We’re all here for the same reason, even Americans.America is the land of the free. Who wouldn’t want to be here?”
— Daniela Vargas


For 10 days, Daniela Vargas existed in a world closed off from the rest of society.

She didn’t eat, didn’t sleep. She cried for the first 48 hours.

She was alive but she wasn’t living. Her new reality was a far cry from the life she knew. The life she knew before immigration agents took her into custody.

But Vargas did what she has been doing since she was a 7-year-old immigrant who didn’t speak the same language as the other first-graders. She adapted.

Continue reading “Mississippi “Dreamer” Speaks Out”

Israel Closes Palestinian Office Tracking Illegal Settlements

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A man takes a photo of the sealed offices of Khalil Tufagji, a prominent Palestinian cartographer, in East Jerusalem. Israeli police raided Tufagji’s office on Mar 14, 2017. His office is to remain closed for six months. (photo: Mahmoud Illean / Associated Press)

Israel briefly detains Palestinian cartographer, confiscates computers and files, and closes his office for six months.

By Joseph Federman / AP and The Washington Post
March 14, 2017


Tufagji is considered the foremost Palestinian expert on Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas claimed by the Palestinians for a future state. . . . More than 200,000 Israelis now live in East Jerusalem, along with a similar number of Palestinians. Israel considers its developments to be neighborhoods of its capital, but the Palestinians and most of the international community label them as illegal settlements.


Israeli police on Tuesday burst into the offices of a Palestinian cartographer who tracks Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and detained him for several hours, accusing him of illegally working for the Palestinian Authority.

It was believed to be the first arrest of its kind since Israel banned the Palestinian Authority from carrying out official business in East Jerusalem in 2001. It also illustrated the deep sensitivities over East Jerusalem, an area with deep religious and strategic significance claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians.

Khalil Tufagji, a former Palestinian negotiator, said police entered his office early Tuesday and confiscated computers and files before taking him away. He was released after several hours. Tufagji denied working for the Palestinian Authority.

Continue reading “Israel Closes Palestinian Office Tracking Illegal Settlements”

U.N. Report Says Israel an “Apartheid State”

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Palestinian boys are seen outside artist Banksy’s newly opened Walled Off hotel in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on March 3. The British street artist recently opened the hotel next to Israel’s separation wall. (photo: Thomas Coex / AFP / Getty Images)

If being an apartheid state means committing inhumane acts, systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another, then Israel is guilty, a United Nations panel has determined in a new report.

By Ruth Eglash / The Washington Post
March 16, 2017


“[Concluding that Israel has established an apartheid regime] is not an easy matter for a United Nations entity. In recent years, some have labeled Israeli practices as racist, while others have warned that Israel risks becoming an apartheid state. A few have raised the question as to whether in fact it already has.”
— Rima Khalaf, U.N. Undersecretary General


Titled, “Israeli Practices Toward the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid,” the report was written by Richard Falk, a former U.N. special rapporteur to the Palestinian territories known for harsh criticisms of both Israel and the United States, and Virginia Tilley, professor of political science at Southern Illinois University.

The two concluded that Israel has established an apartheid regime aimed at dominating the Palestinians. Their recommendations include reviving the U.N. Center Against Apartheid, which closed in 1994 after South Africa ended its apartheid practices. . . .

Dividing the Palestinian people into four distinct groups, the authors write that although they are treated differently by Israel, they all face “the racial oppression that results from the apartheid regime.”

Continue reading “U.N. Report Says Israel an “Apartheid State””

Remembering Rachel: A Message from Cindy & Craig Corrie

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Rachel Corrie (painting by Malak Mattar)

By Cindy & Craig Corrie / Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice
March 16, 2017


“I am also discovering a degree of strength and of the basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances. . . . I think the word is dignity.”
— Rachel Corrie


March 16th, marks the 14th anniversary of the day our daughter Rachel stood in Gaza with other international activists and challenged the Israeli military’s illegal confiscation of Palestinian land and the demolition of Palestinian homes. Rachel’s life was stolen that day, but her spirit was not. As these anniversaries approach, there are sometimes tensions as we struggle to find the best way to remember, and to explain why we do so. But in a moment of illumination, we are reminded that each March 16th is for us another opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to Gaza. It is a place that overflows with suffering, yet is filled with so much more. Rachel wrote to us about the people. “I am also discovering a degree of strength and of the basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances. . . . I think the word is dignity. I wish you could meet these people. Maybe, hopefully, someday you will.”

During the past fourteen years, we have been blessed with our connections to Palestinians in Gaza, in the West Bank, and elsewhere in the world. We have built relationships with them and with Palestinian and Jewish Israelis who reflect the strength and dignity Rachel recognized, and with open hearts and minds steadfastly pursue justice.

Continue reading “Remembering Rachel: A Message from Cindy & Craig Corrie”

Rick Steves Donates $50,000 to Palestinian Cultural Center

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(photo: ricksteves.com)

By Rick Steves / ricksteves.com
March 13, 2017


When I think about the “love thy neighbor” ethic and Golden Rule that is a common denominator of the three great religions that share the region we call the Holy Land, and then hear the leader of my country declare “America first,” I’m troubled by the disconnect.


Over the past weeks, millions of Americans have been inspired, in their own way, to celebrate and defend what they believe makes our country so . . . American. Last Wednesday, I declared that I’d give a donation to an organization helping the youth of Palestine equal to the amount spent on travel gear through last Thursday at ricksteves.com/shop.

More than 600 of you responded, spending a total of $33,287 on our Rick Steves guidebooks, DVDs, accessories, and travel bags. That’s triple our normal total!

As promised, I’m matching your collective shopping spree. And — further motivated by our government’s threat to drastically cut domestic and foreign aid programs — I’m upping my gift to an even $50,000. Thinking about how this money will help that community in such a troubled region brings me (and hopefully all of us) real joy.

Continue reading “Rick Steves Donates $50,000 to Palestinian Cultural Center”

Am I Too Dangerous to Enter Israel?

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A soldier guards a Purim celebration in Hebron. (photo: Gil Cohen-Magen)

If supporting a non-violent boycott of the settlements makes me an enemy of the Israeli state, so be it. But Israel’s border officers will have to hear my story before they turn me away for good.

By Letty Cottin Pogrebin / Haaretz
March 9, 2017


I can’t unsee what I’ve seen or ignore what I know. The violation of another people by the Jewish State in the name of the Jewish people has pricked my conscience and inspired my activism over these last four decades. It makes me mourn for the principles enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence whose words, now moribund, once sent us out in the streets dancing for joy. . . . If that makes me an enemy of the state, so be it. But like many other Jews outraged by this new ban, I will return because Israel’s founders guaranteed me refuge and my parents taught me that Israel was my second home. The border officers will have to look me in the eyes and hear my story before they turn me away for good.


Okay,  yes, I’ve written critical articles and signed Open Letters protesting Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and decrying the settlement enterprise; and yes, I’ve been a member of Americans for Peace Now for more than 30 years and a supporter of B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch, ACRI, and the New Israel Fund, among other “suspect” organizations. So it’s a safe bet that, under the new Israeli entry ban, I’m going to end up on the government’s blacklist.

But if they’re going to ban me, I think they ought to know a few other facts about the American Jewish woman they’ve judged too dangerous to step foot beyond the security gate at Ben Gurion airport. To wit:

  • My paternal grandparents made aliyah in the 1930s and both are buried in Tiberias, my grandfather the victim of an Arab raid, my grandmother the casualty of her traumatic loss.

Continue reading “Am I Too Dangerous to Enter Israel?”

I Support Boycotting Settlements — Should I Be Banned From Visiting Israel With My Children?

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Participants in the Open Hillel Conference, Harvard University. (photo: Gili Getz)

On Monday, the Knesset passed a law denying entry to any person “who knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel” or any territory “under Israeli control,” which includes settlements in the West Bank. I’m one of those people.

By Peter Beinart / The Forward
March 8, 2017


Now, it seems, the Knesset wants me to choose. Either stop visiting Israel or stop opposing the occupation. In a variety of ways, that’s the deal Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been offering American Jews for close to a decade now. Embrace Israel at the cost of your principles or embrace your principles at the cost of Israel.


I have a theory about American Jewish kids and Israel. I’m trying it out on my own children.

My theory boils down to “Love first, truth later.” When my kids near adulthood, I’ll encourage them to visit the West Bank. I’ll encourage them to see for themselves what it means to hold millions of people as noncitizens, under military law, without free movement or due process. I’ll encourage them to read real histories of Israel’s war of independence, histories that explode the myth that most Palestinian refugees left their homes willingly. I’ll encourage them to consume as much Palestinian poetry, literature, journalism and film as possible. I want them to see how Israel looks from the other side.

But not too early. My fear is that if they encounter harsh truths at too young an age, it will drive them away. They’ll grow to hate Israel, or wash their hands of it. I’ve seen that happen a lot.

Continue reading “I Support Boycotting Settlements — Should I Be Banned From Visiting Israel With My Children?”