Israel arrests BDS coordinator in night raid

Anti-BDS laws are a constitutional and PR mess. Here's how to make ...
People protesting anti-BDS laws in New York, June 9, 2016. (photo: Erik McGregor / Getty Images)
The global, peaceful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has grown in prominence worldwide.

By Ali Abunimah | The Electronic Intifada | July 30, 2020

‘Mahmoud is a leading Palestinian human rights defender who is highly regarded in Palestine and around the world for his tireless and passionate advocacy of Palestinian rights,’ Barghouti said.
— Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement

Israeli occupation forces detained the general coordinator of the BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – movement in a night raid early Thursday.

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Present absences

Near Tulkarem, 1948. (photo: Bettmann / Getty)
Book review of Rashid Khalidi’s latest book, The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017.

By Kaleem Hawa | The Nation | July 27, 2020

For as long as I have been alive, the barriers in the West to advocating for Palestinian rights have deterred all but the most committed people.

Here’s the script: Criminalize the boycotts, deport the human rights advocates, rebrand anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism, smear the leftist Jews, infiltrate the leftist organizations, defund the aid programs, torpedo the political campaigns, fire the high school teachers and speech pathologists and network commentators, and pinkwash the occupation. The tactics vary today, but the intent remains the same. For as long as I have been alive, the barriers in the West to advocating for Palestinian rights have deterred all but the most committed people.

Often, as a result, the responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of Palestinians. Rashid Khalidi, a professor at Columbia and a codirector of its Center for Palestine Studies, is one of the best known to have taken up this responsibility. An acclaimed historian and former adviser to the Palestine delegation during the Madrid talks in 1991, he has written about the origins of Arab nationalism, American Cold War policy in the Middle East, the construction of Palestinian identity, and the history of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He has also played an important role in representing Palestinians in Western media and in mentoring a growing generation of Palestinian writers and academics, including Noura Erakat and Lana Tatour.

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Friends of the IDF lobby group secures forgivable US COVID loans for Israeli soldiers


Israel Defense Forces Feature photo
In this Nov 26, 2015 photo, members of the Israel Defense Forces pose for a photo for social media. (photo: Twitter / @IDF
A non-profit organization that supports IDF soldiers received a $2.5 million PPP loan under the guise of a “religious organization,” but adds up to a mere pittance of the continued bonanza of American tax-payer dollars flowing to the apartheid state.

By Raul Diego | MintPress News | July 24, 2020

From aiding the wholesale dispossession of Palestinian lands by Israeli settlers to killing children with targeted headshots, the Israeli Defense Forces are anything but a boon for humanity.

A non-profit organization that “that provides for wellbeing of the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)” was awarded a $2.5 million forgivable PPP loan by the (Small Business Administration) SBA. The Friends of Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF) is the only organization “authorized to represent the IDF across the United States and Panama” where they claim to operate 20 regional offices, with a P.O. Box in New York.

The FIDF’s loan was filed under the category of “religious organization” in the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan data, despite the NPO being listed as a Y12 organization under the IRS’ NTEE classification system for non-profits: a “Mutual/Membership Benefit Organization,” which (in the case of FIDF) raises funds for issues relating to “foreign affairs and national security,” according to the tax-exempt organizations database published by ProPublica.

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The cultural importance of Peter Beinart

Peter Beinart, from the Center for American Progress.
Peter Beinart challenges Jewish culture because he refuses to use the Holocaust lens of perpetual victim-hood when considering Palestinian resistance.

By Yakov Hirsch | Mondoweiss | July 26, 2020

This ‘Holocaust lens,’ Beinart claims, is what makes it so difficult for Jews to see Palestinians as created ‘b’tselem Elohim,’ in the image of God.

In his recent essay arguing for equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians, Peter Beinart says the Jewish dehumanization of the Palestinians is the biggest threat to a peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians, and he points to the misinterpretation of the Holocaust as a reason for that dehumanization. This “Holocaust lens,” Beinart claims, is what makes it so difficult for Jews to see Palestinians as created “b’tselem Elohim,” in the image of God.

That dehumanization includes the idea that Palestinians are motivated by antisemitism in their opposition to Israel. The claim, Beinart says, is a function of “Jewish trauma.” And, Beinart argues, it says more about us than it does about them:

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The real war on free speech

Bari Weiss, as a sophomore at Columbia University, speaks at a press conference organized by Columbians for Academic Freedom, a group she co-founded, on March 31st, 2005. (photo: AP Photo / Tina Fineberg)
Some of the Harper’s letter signatories use their defense of free speech to silence support for Palestinian rights.

By Mari Cohen & Joshua Leifer | Jewish Currents | July 23, 2020

…failure to recognize the tension between their free speech advocacy on the one hand, and their pro-Israel advocacy on the other, reveals an unwillingness to reckon with the relationship between speech and power.

TWO WEEKS AGO, an open letter published in Harper’s Magazine and signed by more than 150 public figures, most of them writers or academics, ignited a new round of debate over “cancel culture” and its discontents. The letter portrayed freedom of expression in the United States as dangerously imperiled: “We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters. But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought.” A week later, Bari Weiss, one of the letter’s high-profile signatories, resigned her position at the New York Times op-ed desk and self-published her resignation letter. Echoing the Harper’s letter, Weiss’s statement decried an increasingly “illiberal environment” in public discourse writ large and at the Times in particular. She wrote that her colleagues—and the public—have become unwilling to accommodate views that don’t adhere to “the new orthodoxy.”

Yet, as some critics have noted, Weiss has a long history of claiming to support free speech while trying to curtail the speech of Palestinian rights advocates, from her college days through her years at the Times. And she is not the only signatory of the Harper’s letter who has sought to silence those with whom she disagrees. Cary Nelson, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois, is a prominent opponent of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and has written extensively about the need to combat anti-Zionist scholarship in the name of academic freedom.

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From Portland to Palestine to the Southern Cone: The reappearance of the disappeared

Federal agents in Portland, Oregon. (photo: via Social Media)
Israeli arms sales, surveillance and police training contributes to the militarization of police now being seen across cities in the US. In reality the disappearing has been happening for a long time.

By Benay Blend | The Palestine Chronicle | July 21, 2020

…it is possible to draw attention to Israel’s role in ‘snatching and disappearing people all over the world,’ but in particular the Southern Cone, Palestine, and now in the United States.

“What was old has become new again,” wrote local activist Lee Einer in a Facebook post this morning. Einer is referring to Donald Trump’s use of federal law enforcement officers, dressed in camouflage but with no identification, riding in unmarked cars, rounding up Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland, Oregon. Since July 14th multiple videos have documented officers whisking people off in cars with no explanation as to why they are being detained.

Reporting for The Nation, Jeet Heer contends that these actions are “illegal and unconstitutional.” Nevertheless, it is likely that they are operating under the aegis of Barack Obama’s approval of the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act which permits the detention of Americans if suspected of being terrorists.

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Israel’s Jewish National Fund is uprooting Palestinians – not planting trees

The Jewish National Fund blue box
The Jewish National Fund Blue Box
The Jewish National Fund is a thriving relic of Europe’s colonial past, even if today it wears the garb of an environmental charity. As recent events show, ethnic cleansing is still what it excels at.

By Jonathan Cook | Mondoweiss | July 22, 2020

But the JNF’s expulsion activities did not end in 1948, when Israel was established through a bloody war on the ruins of the Palestinians’ homeland – an event Palestinians call the Nakba, or catastrophe.

The Jewish National Fund, established more than 100 years ago, is perhaps the most venerable of the international Zionist organizations. Its recent honorary patrons have included prime ministers, and it advises UN forums on forestry and conservation issues.

It is also recognized as a charity in dozens of western states. Generations of Jewish families, and others, have contributed to its fundraising programs, learning as children to drop saved pennies into its trademark blue boxes to help plant a tree.

And yet its work over many decades has been driven by one main goal: to evict Palestinians from their homeland.

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Divided We Stand: Allies Debate the Two-State Solution

Separation wall between Israel and the West Bank near Jerusalem. (photo: Mazur Travel via Shutterstock)
Please join our brothers and sisters at New York Jewish Agenda (NYJA) for a livestreamed debate over the future resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Participants in the discussion will feature Peter Beinart, Jeremy Ben-Ami, and Rabbi Jill Jacobs.
Date: Friday, July 24, 2020
Time: 1:00 pm Eastern Time / 10:00am Pacific Time
Location: Online Event
Information: Event information here →
Tickets: Zoom registration
Event Details

The event will feature Jewish Currents Editor-at-Large Peter Beinart, author of a recent essay arguing that the two-state solution is obsolete, in discussion with Jeremy Ben-Ami and Rabbi Jill Jacobs.

Peter Beinart is professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York, Editor-at-Large of Jewish Currents, an Atlantic and CNN contributor and a fellow at the Foundation for Middle East Peace.

Jeremy Ben-Ami is the President of J Street, bringing to the role both deep experience in American politics and government and a passionate commitment to the state of Israel.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs is the Executive Director of T’ruah. Formally, she was a Rabbi-in Residence at Jewish Funds for Justice (JFSJ), a national public foundation dedicated to mobilizing the resources of American Jews to combat the root causes of domestic social and economic injustice.

More information here →

‘People are waking up’: 50 arrested in anti-Netanyahu protests

A police water cannon douses dozens of protesters in central Jerusalem during clashes that followed a mass demonstration outside the Prime Minister's Residence, July 14, 2020. (Oren Ziv)
A police water cannon douses dozens of protesters in central Jerusalem during clashes that followed a mass demonstration outside the Prime Minister’s Residence, July 14, 2020. (photo: Oren Ziv)
A protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned into a chaotic and historic night, during which Israeli-Jewish leftists turned their anger on the police.

By Oren Ziv  | +972  | July 15, 2020

…it became apparent that while the organizers of the protest have been reticent regarding tying the recent anti-Netanyahu protests to other struggles in Israel-Palestine, the demonstrators were far more open to more radical messaging, including about resisting the occupation and police brutality.

The organizers of Tuesday night’s “Siege on Balfour” protest, outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, never expected the latest demonstration against Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption to turn into full-blown clashes with the police that would last into the early hours of the morning. It is hard to imagine that anyone thought 50 people would be arrested.

After all, protests by Israel’s Jewish left over the past few decades have typically been relatively calm — no burning trash cans or water cannons dousing demonstrators. But on “Bastille Day in Balfour,” all that changed.

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Rita Zawaideh 2020 “Spirit of Liberty” Award


Rita Zawaideh
The Ethnic Heritage Council of the Pacific Northwest has recognized the work of Rita Zawaideh for her significant contribution to her ethnic community and ethnic heritage, as well as to the community at large.

By Ethnic Heritage Council | July 16, 2020

She is a ‘one-person community information center for the Arab community,’
— Huda Giddens

For decades, Rita Zawaideh has been an advocate and change-maker on behalf of Middle Eastern and North African communities in the United States and around the world. She is a “one-person community information center for the Arab community,” according to the thousands who have benefited from her activism and philanthropy. “The door to Rita’s Fremont office is always open,” says Huda Giddens of Seattle’s Palestinian community, adding that Rita’s strength is her ability to see a need and answer it. “She doesn’t leave a stone unturned in search of a solution,” says Giddens.

Rita was born in Jordan and grew up in Seattle. Through the years she has maintained close ties to the Arab world, as well as to the Arab-American communities throughout the U.S. She founded the Salaam Cultural Museum (SCM) to raise awareness of Arab American cultures and provide support to refugees and immigrants both locally and internationally. Rita is owner and founder of Caravan-Serai Tours, a Seattle travel agency specializing in the Middle East and North Africa. Through her travel agency network she has organized volunteer trips and donation drives for refugees in the Middle East and North Africa since the 1980s. She often labors into the wee hours of the night to solve a person’s problem, putting that person in touch with a lawyer, a city council member, a school principal, a church contact, perhaps even someone who lives on the other side of the country. No one is turned away.

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