Massachusetts activists defeat anti-BDS bill

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Graffiti on the Israeli separation wall in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, Jun 2014. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler / ActiveStills)

Anti-BDS measures have passed in more than 20 states, and federal legislation is pending in Congress.

By Nora Barrows-Friedman | Electronic Intifada | Feb 13, 2018


“By asking the state legislature to pass a bill that strikes at free speech, [supporters] forced legislators to choose between supporting Israel’s occupation and supporting free speech.”
— Cole Harrison of Massachusetts Peace Action


Activists in Massachusetts successfully pressured state lawmakers to stop a bill on February 8 that would have classified the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign for Palestinian rights as “discrimination.”

The bill requires anyone who enters into a contract with the state worth more than $10,000 to pledge that they will not refuse to do business with any person based on the person’s “race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, gender identity or sexual orientation.”

It has no chance of being passed this session as a key committee declined to advance it.

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Panel Discussion: Peace and Reconciliation in the Middle East

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Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace. (photo: maecannon.com)

Can multifaith dialogue help promote reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians? Can “constructive conflict” bring the two sides closer to peace?

Date: Sunday, Feb 25, 2018
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Location: Overlake Christian Church
Student Room
9900 Willows Rd NE
Redmond, WA 98052
Information: Event information here →
Tickets: Free
Event Details

The panel will discuss how multifaith dialogue and engagement in constructive conflict can help lead to a comprehensive resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During this gathering you will also hear about work being done in Palestine, Israel, and the United States to help achieve peace and justice in the Holy Land.

If you’d like to better understand the realities affecting both Israelis and Palestinians, and how people of faith in the United States can play a positive role in pursuing peace, please join us on Sunday, Feb 25 and Overlake Christian Church in Redmond.
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Israeli police recommend corruption charges for Netanyahu

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Feb 11, 2018. (photo: Ronen Zvulun)

The police accuse Netanyahu of accepting nearly $300,000 in gifts over 10 years.

By David Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner | The New York Times | Feb 13, 2018


“[The Prime Minister is] up to his neck in investigations. He does not have a public or moral mandate to determine such fateful matters for the state of Israel when there is the fear, and I have to say it is real and not without basis, that he will make decisions based on his personal interest in political survival and not based on the national interest.”
— Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking about former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who was forced to resign in 2008


The Israeli police recommended on Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, casting a pall over the future of a tenacious leader who has become almost synonymous with his country. The announcement instantly raised doubts about his ability to stay in office.

Concluding a yearlong graft investigation, the police recommended that Mr. Netanyahu face prosecution in two corruption cases: a gifts-for-favors affair known as Case 1000, and a second scandal, called Case 2000, in which Mr. Netanyahu is suspected of back-room dealings with Arnon Mozes, publisher of the popular newspaper Yediot Aharonot, to ensure more favorable coverage.

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Israel’s decision to put Ahed on trial could backfire

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Ahed Tamimi at Ofer Military Prison. (photo: Jerusalem Online)

Arrested in December for slapping an Israeli soldier who had entered her yard, 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi was later arrested in the middle of the night, is currently being held in a military prison, and is being tried in a closed military courtroom.

By Loveday Morris | The Washington Post | Feb 13, 2018


“The Israeli military supposes by arresting Ahed Tamimi they can silence their activism. But although painful, it’s definitely put a spotlight on Palestinian children in detention.”
— Fadi Quran, senior campaigner with the activist group Avaaz


Slouching in her chair and mouthing messages to her friends and family from under a cascade of strawberry-blond curls, Ahed Tamimi in many ways appears to be an everyday teenager.

But the tussle of television cameras and photographers that crowded in for a shot of her in the dock of a small Israeli military court in Ofer for a bail hearing last month was a reminder that she is far from it.

Ahed, who recently turned 17, was arrested after a video of her slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers who had entered her front yard went viral last year. On Tuesday, after nearly two months in detention, she went on trial on 12 charges, including assault of a soldier and incitement.

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Nov 2018 Israel/Palestine Impact Trip: Informational meeting

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Do you want to better understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Do you wonder if there’s a role for Christians to play in this long-running and often violent dispute?

Date: Saturday, Feb 24, 2018
Time: 9:30 – 11:00 am
Location: Bellevue Presbyterian Church, Room S-140
1717 Bellevue Way NE
Bellevue, WA  98004
Information: More information here →
Event Details

Join us to hear about the Bellevue Presbyterian Church trip to Israel this November that explores the Biblical themes of reconciliation and social justice. Much of our time will be spent with Israeli and Palestinian guides and guests. We’ll listen to them share their stories with the hope we can glimpse what stands in the way of peace and reconciliation to the Holy Land. We will also visit the holy sites of Jerusalem and the places where Jesus spent time around Galilee.

Through a diverse array of tour guides and speakers — Israeli and Palestinian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim, political, religious and tribal leaders, policymakers, peace builders, grassroots activists, artists, journalists, musicians, writers, and many more — this trip provides rare cultural immersion for travelers of all backgrounds and perspectives.

More information here →

The new anti-Semitism

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Neve Gordon, Professor of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. (photo: ynet.co.il)

How Israel is “weaponizing” anti-Semitism.

By Neve Gordon | London Review of Books | Jan 4, 2018


The Israeli government needs the “new anti-Semitism” to justify its actions and to protect it from international and domestic condemnation. Anti-Semitism is effectively weaponized, not only to stifle speech — “It does not matter if the accusation is true.” . . . [Its] purpose is “to cause pain, to produce shame, and to reduce the accused to silence” — but also to suppress a politics of liberation.


Not long after the eruption of the Second Intifada in September 2000, I became active in a Jewish-Palestinian political movement called Ta’ayush, which conducts non-violent direct action against Israel’s military siege of the West Bank and Gaza. Its objective isn’t merely to protest against Israel’s violation of human rights but to join the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination. For a number of years, I spent most weekends with Ta’ayush in the West Bank; during the week I would write about our activities for the local and international press.

My pieces caught the eye of a professor from Haifa University, who wrote a series of articles accusing me first of being a traitor and a supporter of terrorism, then later a “Judenrat wannabe” and an anti-Semite. The charges began to circulate on right-wing websites; I received death threats and scores of hate messages by email; administrators at my university received letters, some from big donors, demanding that I be fired.

I mention this personal experience because although people within Israel and abroad have expressed concern for my wellbeing and offered their support, my feeling is that in their genuine alarm about my safety, they have missed something very important about the charge of the ‘new anti-Semitism’ and whom, ultimately, its target is.

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Florida tries to cancel Lorde concert, citing anti-BDS law

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Grammy-Award-winning New Zealand singer, songwriter, and record producer Lorde. (photo: Getty Images)

In December, Lorde cancelled a planned concert in Tel Aviv in support of BDS.

By Colin Wolf | Orlando Weekly | Feb 8, 2018


“Florida has no tolerance for anti-Semitism and boycotts intended to destroy the State of Israel. Current statutes are clear — local governments cannot do business with companies that participate in anti-Semitic boycotts of Israel. When Lorde joined the boycott in December, she and her companies became subject to that statute.”
— Florida State Representative Randy Fine


Last December, Grammy-award winning pop-singer Lorde canceled a planned concert in Tel Aviv after activists called for her to join what’s called the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement,” which campaigns for a global boycott of Israel until it withdraws from Palestinian territories.

“I have had a lot of discussions with people holding many views, and I think the right decision at this time is to cancel the show,” said Lorde in a statement. “I’m not too proud to admit I didn’t make the right call on this one.”

Now, Republican state Rep. Randy Fine is trying to get Miami and Tampa to cancel Lorde’s upcoming shows, citing a state statute that prohibits businesses from conducting business over $1 million with any organization engaged in a boycott of Israel.

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With Gaza in financial crisis, fears that “an explosion is coming”

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A woman begged for money as residents of Gaza lined up to withdraw what money they could from A.T.M.s at the Bank of Palestine in Gaza City. (photo: Wissam Nassar | The New York Times)

Across Gaza, the densely populated enclave of two million Palestinians sandwiched between Israel and Egypt, daily life, long a struggle, is unraveling before people’s eyes.

By David Halbfinger | The New York Times | Feb 11, 2018


United Nations officials warn that Gaza is nearing total collapse, with medical supplies dwindling, clinics closing and 12-hour power outages threatening hospitals. The water is almost entirely undrinkable, and raw sewage is befouling beaches and fishing grounds. Israeli officials and aid workers are bracing for a cholera outbreak any day.


The payday line at a downtown A.T.M. here in Gaza City was dozens deep with government clerks and pensioners, waiting to get what cash they could.

Muhammad Abu Shaaban, 45, forced into retirement two months ago, stood six hours to withdraw a $285 monthly check — a steep reduction from his $1,320 salary as a member of the Palestinian Authority’s presidential guard.

“Life has become completely different,” Mr. Abu Shaaban said, his eyes welling up. He has stopped paying a son’s college tuition. He buys his wife vegetables to cook for their six children, not meat.

And the pay he had just collected was almost entirely spoken for to pay off last month’s grocery bills. “At most, I’ll have no money left in five days,” he said.

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“It’s What We Do: A Play About the Occupation”

The play, adapted from the testimony of Israeli soldiers, was recently produced in Washington, DC.

By Pam Bailey | Mondoweiss | Feb 6, 2018


This oppression is destructive for everyone: Palestinian civilians obviously suffer daily, and the Israeli soldiers — who are told “your mission is to disrupt lives” — are forced to stop thinking and do what they are ordered to do, even when the must carry out actions that are inhumane. This is called “mind occupation,” and I’m glad that some soldiers have managed to free their minds and break the silence.


This video is a production called “It’s What We Do: A Play About the Occupation,” produced and directed by Pam Nice, a member of the Washington, DC, chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Although it is a drama, the dialogue of the soldiers is adapted from the actual testimonies of Israeli soldiers from Breaking the Silence, whose vivid memories continue to haunt them. The target audience is Jewish viewers. But several We Are Not Numbers writers, who have been “targets” of Israeli soldiers, watched the video, curious to see how far the the soldiers were willing to go in their confessions. It was difficult for many of them to watch, and their reactions varied. But they all agreed the video should be required viewing for people everywhere.

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Draft DHS report called for long-term surveillance of Muslim immigrants

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Two Muslim women stand near a fence across the street from the White House before the start of a protest against the Trump administration’s proposed travel ban, in Washington, DC, on Oct 18, 2017. (photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

Those fitting broad “at-risk” profiles would be targeted for continuous vetting.

By George Joseph | Foreign Policy | Feb 5, 2018


[The report] identifies a broad swath of Sunni Muslim residents as being potentially “vulnerable to terrorist narratives,” based on a set of risk indicators, such as being young, male, and having national origins in “the Middle East, South Asia or Africa.”


Department of Homeland Security draft report from late January called on authorities to continuously vet Sunni Muslim immigrants deemed to have “at-risk” demographic profiles.

The draft report, a copy of which was obtained by Foreign Policy, looks at 25 terrorist attacks in the United States between October 2001 and December 2017, concluding there would be “great value for the United States Government in dedicating resources to continuously evaluate persons of interest” and suggesting that immigrants to the United States be tracked on a “long-term basis.”

If the report’s recommendations were implemented, it would represent a vast expansion of the Trump administration’s policies aimed at many Muslim immigrants, extending vetting from those trying to enter the United States to those already legally in the country, including permanent residents.

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