The battle to stop family separation

Family members welcoming home a six-year-old who had been separated from his mother for nearly three months after they were detained by Border Patrol in the US, Aug 8, 2018. (photo: John Moore / Getty Images)
The administration is looking to create more family detention centers, which can already hold as many as 3,500 people, so that it can detain asylum-seeking families indefinitely.

By Lee Gelernt | The New York Review of Books | Dec 19, 2018

If there are bright spots, one is that the courts have continued to play their historic role of checking the government, sticking up for the powerless and vulnerable. The other is that the American people played an equally vital checking role, making clear during the family separation crisis that there are limits to the cruelty they will allow to be done in their name.

In March 2017, John Kelly, then Secretary of Homeland Security, said in an interview with CNN that the Trump administration was considering a national policy to separate parents from their children to deter immigrants from crossing the border into the United States. The proposal triggered a backlash because it was so unpalatable, and the administration didn’t move forward with it. But six months later, in December 2017, The Washington Post and The New York Times reported that the administration was again considering the idea. At the same time, advocates who provide services to children in government custody told ACLU lawyers they were seeing children much younger than the teenagers they usually saw entering their facilities. As the stories began to multiply, the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project quickly realized that the administration wasn’t considering the separation of children from their parents — it was already doing it.

For at least six months before then Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the zero-tolerance policy of prosecuting every adult who crossed into the United States without permission, which would result in more than 2,000 children being taken from their parents, the Department of Homeland Security had quietly began taking hundreds of children away from their parents to deter would-be asylum seekers from coming to the United States.

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How did the Israel boycott campaign grow in 2018?

Marching near the British Parliament, protesters hold a large banner that says
2018 was a banner year for Palestine rights advocacy. (Alisdare Hickson / Flickr)
Internal memo’s show that even the ADL think anti-BDS laws are bad for the Jewish community.

By  Nora Barrows-Friedman | The Electronic Intifada | Dec 31, 2018

Despite Israel’s attacks, smears and threats, boycott activists continued to make enormous gains – much to the dismay of Israeli leaders.

2018 was a year of victories by human rights activists despite heavy pressure, attacks and propaganda efforts by Israel and its lobby groups to whitewash its image.

Starting off the year, it was revealed that US President Donald Trump’s alliance with white supremacist groups and anti-Semitic figures has pushed support for Israel to a low point, especially among young American Jews.

By October, it was confirmed in another survey that support for Israel is coming primarily from Trump’s base, a hotbed of right-wing, white nationalist and Christian Zionist views, while support from other Americans continues to erode.

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The unlikeliest player in Trump’s border standoff? Israel’s prime minister.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández in Brasilia on Jan 1, 2019. (photo: Office of the Hondura Presidency / Reuters)
Netanyahu brokering deal for Honduras to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in effort to boost his upcoming election.

By Adam Taylor | The Washington Post | Jan 2, 2019

If Honduras follows through with the move, it will please both Trump and Netanyahu.

Last week, the Trump administration criticized Honduras as being weak on immigration. President Trump wrote in a tweet that Honduras was “doing nothing” about a new caravan of migrants allegedly forming in the nation and threatened to cut off US aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

This week, officials from the two countries met in Brazil to hash out their differences, moderated by an unlikely figure: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu took part in the Tuesday meeting between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández. All three men were in Brazil for the inauguration of President Jair Bolsonaro, which also took place Tuesday. An Israeli official told the newspaper Haaretz that the meeting was arranged by Netanyahu at the request of Hernández, who sought the Israeli leader’s help in dealing with the United States.

In return, Honduras pledged to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in what could be another boost for Netanyahu ahead of parliamentary elections in April.

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Water crisis may make Gaza Strip uninhabitable by 2020

Israelis, too, could face consequences from contaminated water.

By Fred de Sam Lazaro | PBS News Hour | Jan 1, 2019

In the Gaza Strip, 97 percent of freshwater is unsuitable for human consumption, and raw sewage pours into the Mediterranean Sea. Facilities for desalinating and treating water function on only a limited basis, as Israel controls the flow of fuel and supplies into the region.

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Gaza suffering a “superbug” epidemic

A hospital in Gaza, where the health system has been worn down by years of blockade. (photo: Mohammed Saber / EPA)
Doctors say antibiotics shortages stop them following protocols to fight drug-resistant bacteria, which are likely to spread to Israel and the West Bank.

By Madlen Davies and Emma Graham-Harrison | The Guardian | Dec 31, 2018

‘This is a global health security issue because multi-drug-resistant organisms don’t know any boundaries. That’s why the global community, even if it’s not interested in the politics of Gaza, should be interested in this.’
— Dina Nasser, lead infection control nurse at Augusta Victoria hospital in East Jerusalem

Doctors in Gaza and the West Bank have said they are battling an epidemic of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, a growing problem in the world’s conflict zones, which could also spill over the Palestinian borders.

The rise and spread of such virulent infections adds to the devastation of war, increasing medical costs, blocking hospital beds because patients need care for longer, and often leaving people whose injuries might once have been healed with life-changing disabilities.

Gaza is a particularly fertile breeding ground for superbugs because its health system has been worn down by years of blockade, and antibiotics are in short supply, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found.

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Israel’s conscription law assaults its own Ultra-Orthodox community

Ultra-Orthodox Jews take part in a protest against Israeli army conscription in Jerusalem, Mar 28, 2017. (photo: Oded Balilty / AP)
The Haredi community’s stance against military conscription is anchored in faith and principle that no power has been able to defeat.

By Miko Peled | Mint Press News | Dec 28, 2018

As much as the Zionist state and its various agencies want to believe that Israel is the state of the Jewish people, there is one Jewish community that will never accept this — it is the one community that is the most devout, the Haredi community.

“Nazis, Nazis,” that’s what I thought I heard. I was driving down the main road near Jerusalem’s Ultra-orthodox Me’a Sha’arim neighborhood where hundreds of young Haredi Jews were blocking the road. Dumpsters were burning and the traffic came to a halt. I jumped out of the car and ran to see what was happening. I asked a young Yeshiva student what was going on and if they were really shouting “Nazis.” He confirmed to me that they were calling the Israeli riot police Nazis and that this protest was because the police had just arrested several Haredi girls for refusal to serve in the Israeli army.

Nazis? I asked him, really? He then went on to describe the abuse and violence with which the police treat the young men and women in this community, particularly since Israel’s draft law had changed, making them all potential deserters.

It may be impossible to imagine a deeper divide than the one separating the two sides of this issue. Like a tiger that was allowed to remain in quiet slumber for some sixty-five years and has been abruptly awakened, Israel now has another angry, uncompromising community on its hands. And for no other reason than opportunistic politicians who saw in this divide a way to make a name for themselves.

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We should thank Netanyahu for destroying the two-state solution

Netanyahu was the one-state visionary. The struggle for its character lies with those who will follow him.

By Gideon Levy | Haaretz | Dec 26, 2018

In retrospect, we should be grateful to Netanyahu for taking this solution off the agenda, because it was a mirage. The events of 1948, the refugees, the return and equality would not have been resolved by the two-state solution; it would have been an interim arrangement. Netanyahu posed the truth; now the only question is what type of regime will prevail in the one state that has been here for decades and will probably be here between the river and the sea forever.

Benjamin Netanyahu must be excoriated. One can understand those who are dying for him to just go away. It’s clear his time is almost up. But one cannot say he hasn’t done anything.

In his dozen years as prime minister he has changed the face of Israel in ways that he considers wildly successful. Some of the changes he’s made could be rolled back if only some worthy liberal leader was given the chance — a hope that for now seems far-fetched.

But there is one big, fateful change, the fruit of Netanyahu’s calculated policy, that is irreversible. Against the stance of the entire world, the United States, the Palestinian Authority and even against the declared position of most Israelis, Israel’s ninth prime minister has managed to remove the possibility of a viable Palestinian state from the agenda. He has irrevocably destroyed the two-state solution. Whether reelected or not, Netanyahu will be remembered as a revolutionary statesman; the man who shaped the country in his image. . . .

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