No, Kansas, you can’t ban contractors from boycotting Israel

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(photo: The Kansas City Star file photo)

The Supreme Court ruled decades ago that boycotts are constitutionally protected speech. Nonetheless, Kansas passed a law requiring all those who contract with the state to certify that they are not boycotting Israel.

By Editorial Board | The Kansas City Star | Jan 31, 2018


“Speech, assembly, and petition . . . to change a social order. . . [are] on the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values.”
— US Supreme Court

“The Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment protects the right to participate in a boycott like the one punished by the Kansas law.”
— US District Judge Daniel Crabtree


A federal judge in Topeka has ruled that Kansas cannot tell contractors what they can and cannot boycott. That would seem obvious to anyone familiar with free speech protections under the First Amendment.

But last summer, Kansas passed a law requiring all those who contract with the state to certify that they are not boycotting Israel.

Why? Continue reading “No, Kansas, you can’t ban contractors from boycotting Israel”

Confederation: The one possible Israel-Palestine solution

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY CHARLES LEVINSON
Palestinian boys playing soccer against the backdrop of the Israeli separation barrier that bisects their school playground in East Jerusalem, 2006. (photo: AWAD / AFP / Getty Images)

Talk of confederation sounds wistful in the current environment, but any talk of peace does. What’s really naïve is to suppose that only bad faith or ideological fanaticism has caused the two-state solution to fall into disrepute.

By Bernard Avishai | The New York Review of Books | Feb 2, 2018


The justification for the two-state solution is rooted, after all, in two persistent truths: first, that two separate national communities, each with a different language, historical grievance, sense of identity in the wider world, and dominant religious culture, have been squeezed by tragic events into a single small space. . . . Second, that a majority on each side prefers some form of compromise to a fight to the finish. . . . [But] moderate majorities “increasingly doubt its viability,” largely because they have grown jaded regarding the intentions of the other side, not because, in principle, they refuse the compromises two states would entail.


“The two-state solution is over,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters, responding to Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “Now is the time to transform the struggle for one state with equal rights for everyone living in historic Palestine, from the river to the sea.” As The New York Times subsequently reported, Erekat is hardly alone. The “over”-ness of “two states” — albeit with radical disagreements about the character of a hypothetical single state — has been claimed by ideological zealots, severe liberals, and exasperated peacemakers alike.

On the Palestinian side, one hears about the almost 700,000 Israeli settlers’ making annexation an established fact; on the Israeli side, about preventing recalcitrant Palestinian terrorists from firing missiles at Ben-Gurion Airport. For those of us living in Jerusalem, just speaking of two states, implying two capitals — but also, vaguely, some redivision of the city — invites skeptical, or pitying, stares from most Jews, as well as from Arabs, over a thousand of whom applied for Israeli citizenship in 2016.

Continue reading “Confederation: The one possible Israel-Palestine solution”

Jerusalem municipality freezes millions from UN and church bank accounts

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The Dormition church on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. (photo: Anna Kaplan / Flash90)

Jerusalem mayor using international organizations in budget dispute with Finance Ministry.

By Michael Bachner | The Times of Israel | Feb 4, 2018


Jerusalem enjoys an annual “capital grant” from the [Israeli Finance Ministry] that helps it offset low tax revenue due to large populations with relatively high percentages that are not part of the taxpaying workforce, including roughly a third of the city’s population that is made up of ultra-Orthodox Jews and another third of Palestinian Arabs.


The Jerusalem municipality has handed out fines totaling millions of dollars to properties owned by the United Nations and by churches, citing a new legal opinion that says the properties are not legally defined as places of worship and therefore aren’t entitled to exemptions from property tax.

The step appeared to be an escalation of a dispute between the municipality and the Finance Ministry over funds. Mayor Nir Barkat has been conducting a high-profile campaign against Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon that included instructing workers to dump trash at the entrance to the ministry offices in Jerusalem and threatening to lay off more than 2,000 city employees.

Continue reading “Jerusalem municipality freezes millions from UN and church bank accounts”

Narendra Modi is visiting the Occupied Territories this week — here’s why Palestinians shouldn’t embrace him

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Modi will visit Ramallah, where there were mass anti-Trump protests after the US recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (photo: AFP / Getty)

Many will say Modi’s visit to Ramallah is an historic moment, but India buys 41 per cent of total Israeli arms exports.

By Umar Lateef Misgar | The Independent | Feb 7, 2018


India has gradually become Israel’s largest defense customer. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), between 2012 and 2016, India bought 41 per cent of total Israeli arms exports.


In an interview on Voice of Palestine radio station recently, Majid Khalidi, an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, announced the visit of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the occupied Palestinian territories this weekend. Alongside a tour to Yasser Arafat Museum in Ramallah to honour the late Palestinian leader, the Prime Minister is expected to discuss issues related to information technology, tourism and health during this brief stopover on the broader Middle East tour.

Modi’s upcoming visit to Ramallah, a first for an Indian premier, is being hailed as historic by his Palestinian hosts. However, a closer scrutiny of New Delhi’s ties with Israel along with India’s own record of military control in places like Kashmir reveals an entirely different picture.

Continue reading “Narendra Modi is visiting the Occupied Territories this week — here’s why Palestinians shouldn’t embrace him”

Israel demolishes two UN-funded school buildings in Palestinian refugee camp

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Third and fourth grade Palestinian children studying on the rubble of their classrooms in Abu Nuwar, on Feb 4, 2018. (photo: Tamer Bana / WAFA Images)

This is the sixth demolition or confiscation incident in Abu Nuwar school by the Israeli authorities since February 2016.

By Wafa | Feb 4, 2018


“Abu Nuwar is one of the most vulnerable communities in need of humanitarian assistance in the occupied West Bank. The conditions it faces also represent those of many Palestinian communities, where a combination of Israeli policies and practices — including demolitions and restricted access to basic services, such as education — have created a coercive environment that violates the human rights of residents and generates a risk of forcible transfer.”
— Roberto Valent, United Nations acting Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories


United Nations acting Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories, Roberto Valent, said on Sunday that he was deeply concerned by Israel’s destruction of donor-funded classrooms in the Palestinian community of Abu Nuwar, east of Jerusalem.

“I am deeply concerned by the Israeli authorities’ demolition this morning of two donor-funded classrooms (3rd and 4th grade), serving 26 Palestinian school children in the Bedouin and refugee community of Abu Nuwar, located in Area C on the outskirts of Jerusalem,” Valent said in a statement. “The demolition was carried out on grounds of lack of Israeli-issued permits, which are nearly impossible to obtain.”

Continue reading “Israel demolishes two UN-funded school buildings in Palestinian refugee camp”

Between Poland’s Holocaust revisionism and Israel’s Nakba denial

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The Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in Poland. (photo: Isaac Harari / Flash90)

Poland’s attempt to scrub clean its role in the murder of European Jewry is, at its core, no different from Israel’s attempt to erase the catastrophe that befell the Palestinians in 1948.

By Haneen Zoabi | +972 Blog | Jan 28, 2018


The new [Polish] law, which criminalizes any researcher who dares publish the truth [about Polish involvement in the Holocaust], is an attempt at historical revisionism. . . . So how is this law any different from the [Israeli] Nakba Law, which would withhold state funds from cultural and educational institutions that commemorate the horrors that befell the Palestinians in 1948?


The responses coming from Israel to the new Polish law, which forbids discussing war crimes committed by the Polish people during the holocaust, are nothing if not paradoxical. While the Israeli establishment, from the Right to the Left, denies the identity, history, and catastrophe of the Palestinian people, it reprimands those who deny responsibility for the fate of the Jews during the Holocaust.

 The Holocaust, a monstrous, well-planned genocide, was possible not only because of the Nazis’ nightmarishly meticulous implementation, but also because those who stood aside as it was happening. The Germans had willing accomplices, including many Poles, who took an active part in the persecution and murder. The history books talk about the “hunt for the Jews,” which led to the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews, both directly and indirectly, during the Second World War.

Continue reading “Between Poland’s Holocaust revisionism and Israel’s Nakba denial”

You don’t need Jewish values to denounce Israel’s treatment of asylum seekers

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African asylum seekers protest outside Rwandan embassy in Herzliya. (photo: AFP)

When it comes to both asylum seekers and West Bank Palestinians, we don’t need a higher, Jewish standard. Simply asking Israel to abide by International Law is radical enough.

By Peter Beinart | Forward | Feb 7, 2018


In 2015 . . . less than two percent of Sudanese asylum requests had even received a government response. Not a single one had been approved. Of the more than 2,400 Eritreans who requested asylum, the Israeli government granted it to four.


Last week, Isabel Kershner, The New York Times’ estimable Israel correspondent, wrote an article about the Netanyahu government’s decision to either expel Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers to third countries or indefinitely lock them up. The article ran under the headline, “Israel Moves to Expel Africans. Critics Say That’s Not Jewish.”

“Like much of the Western world, Israel is grappling with how to balance its right to protect its borders and prevent illegal immigration with showing compassion and humanity,” writes Kershner. “But the government’s decision has struck a particular chord here and among Jews abroad since the modern state of Israel has served as a safe haven for Jews fleeing persecution.”

Kershner goes on to say that many Jews believe the government’s decision violates “Jewish values.” She suggests that “Even secular Israelis have taken to citing biblical verses like Leviticus 19:34: ‘The stranger who resides among you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.’”

There’s a danger here. Continue reading “You don’t need Jewish values to denounce Israel’s treatment of asylum seekers”

Israel holds international anti-BDS conference

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BDS rally at McGill University, Toronto, in 2016 (photo: Sonia Ionescu / Creative Commons)

Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs leading anti-BDS efforts.

By Middle East Monitor | Feb 6, 2018


Participants were briefed about “effective methods used to pass legislation in 24 states across the US, France, Germany and elsewhere” and “gained tools and best-practices, while streamlining their tactics against efforts to ostracize the Jewish state.”


The Israeli government yesterday held an international legal conference against the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, Quds Press reported.

The news site reported Israeli media saying that the Ministry of Strategic Affairs organised the conference in cooperation with the Israeli Bar Association and the International Judicial Institute.

Israeli media said that 200 legal experts from 24 countries were invited to the conference to develop strategies “to contain the growing influence of the movement.”

According to Quds Press, Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and head of the opposition Isaac Herzog were in attendance.

Continue reading “Israel holds international anti-BDS conference”

A wall and a war: Two things every fascist regime needs

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President Donald Trump stands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he arrives at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, May 22, 2017, for his first official visit to Israel as president. (photo: Hadas Parush / Flash90)

Both Trump and Netanyahu want to secure their rule by attacking liberal, democratic forces. But in order to do so, they need two things: a wall and the promise of eternal war.

By Alon Mizrahi | +972 Blog | Feb 5, 2018


Physical segregation, which creates psychological separation, allows for the existence of a project of scaremongering and the enlistment of nationalists that feed the second project necessary for any fascist regime: eternal war.


“George Soros is funding the campaign against deporting infiltrators. . . . Obama deported two million infiltrators and they didn’t say anything.”

These remarks were made by Prime Minister Netanyahu during the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, according to a report by Channel 10. The prime minister’s choice of words is confusing, perhaps deliberately: is he referring to deporting foreigners in Israel or the U.S.? If it is the former, why bother mentioning Obama? And if he’s speaking about America, why is he calling Dreamers, as they are known there, “infiltrators?”

The confusion is deliberate. The actions and goals of the Trump administration are identical to those of Netanyahu. Both leaders try to sell the idea that the world is a jungle, the notion of a dichotomous division between the good guys and the bad guys, and the image of “us” as “good” — as god-like. In both camps, the Bible, money, and advanced technology are viewed as both proof of and ethno-cultural justification for moral, genetic, eternal supremacy.

Continue reading “A wall and a war: Two things every fascist regime needs”

I was publicly blacklisted by a shadowy website for my views on Israel

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Noa Kattler-Kupetz was publicly blacklisted by the Canary Mission, a shadowy website. (image: Forward)

Canary Mission puts people on a literal blacklist, making it tricky to get jobs or get through customs at Ben Gurion Airport.

By Noa Kattler Kupetz | Forward | Jan 30, 2018


What shocks me about finding myself on Canary Mission is that I am far from being an outspoken activist or organizer on my campus. I am a Jew whose political beliefs differ from the community she grew up in. And because of this, I’ve ended up on a blacklist. . . . I’m not a young Jew with opinions of her own, but a young “radical,” brainwashed Jew.


Earlier this week, I discovered I’d been added to Canary Mission’s database. Canary Mission is a McCarthy-esque blacklist, a website that collects and publishes information about activists who support Palestinian rights. The site claims to document “people and groups that promote hatred of the USA, Israel and Jews on North American college campuses,” with the header, “if you’re racist, the world should know.” When the site launched in 2015, it’s goal was even more explicit: “It is your duty to ensure that today’s radicals are not tomorrow’s employees.”

Apparently, I, a senior at Barnard College, am one of those dangerous radicals.

Continue reading “I was publicly blacklisted by a shadowy website for my views on Israel”