Meet the South Bronx congressional candidate speaking out on Palestinian rights

Samelys López, candidate for New York’s 15th Congressional District. (photo: Corey Torpie Photography via López for the People)
Samelys Lopez hopes to bring her brand of working-class politics to Washington and that includes supporting Palestinian rights and the right to boycott Israel.

By Alex Kane | +972Magazine | May 26, 2020

‘I stand against colonization and human rights abuses in every continent and will fight for liberation from occupation for all people,’
— Samelys López,  New York 15th District congressional candidate 

As one of 12 Democratic candidates running to represent New York’s 15th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives this June, Samelys Lopez has to distinguish herself. One way the community organizer from the South Bronx is doing so is by speaking out on Palestine.

Unlike her main opponents — New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres, who has pitched himself as a progressive for Israel, and Ruben Diaz Sr., whose Israel support stems from his evangelical background — Lopez is staunchly committed to Palestinian human rights. Her pro-Palestinian stance has won her the endorsement of Jewish Voice for Peace Action, the political and advocacy arm of Jewish Voice for Peace.

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What can the pandemic-stricken world learn from Palestinians’ resilience?

Palestinian chefs prepare meals for the needy in a commercial kitchen
Palestinian cooks prepare food at a restaurant kitchen to be delivered to a centre where people returning from Israel and Egypt are quarantined as a precaution against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, in Gaza City on May 5, 2020. (photo: Majdi Fathi / Nurphoto via Getty Images)
Palestinians have relied on mutual solidarity and support to overcome a long history of injustices and grief.

By Rana Nashashibi |  Truthout | May 10, 2020

With the spread of COVID-19, collective solidarity is on display across the occupied Palestinian territory.

As a Palestinian woman from Jerusalem and a mental health professional, I am both treating and experiencing the extensive impact and far-reaching ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across the world, communities are dealing with the unbearable pain of death and serious illness, compounded by not being able to comfort or even mourn the victims. On a global scale, people are facing what for many are unprecedented restrictions on freedoms, insecurity and anxiety about the future.

In these testing times, I feel compelled to share our special, decades-long Palestinian caregivers’ experience with dispossession, displacement, denial of basic rights, uncertainty and visceral grief while still maintaining a sense of joy, beauty and finding collective responses that give us realistic hope.

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Palestinian Authority ends West Bank COVID-19 lockdown

A Palestinian man wearing a protective face mask shops during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan in the West Bank City of Nablus on May 09, 2020. (Photo: Shadi Jarar'ah/APA Images)
A Palestinian man wearing a protective face mask shops during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan in the West Bank city of Nablus on May 9, 2020. (Photo: Shadi Jarar’ah / APA Images)
Health protocols and regulations have largely not been enforced for the last month, but some restrictions will remain.

By Yumna Patel |  Mondoweiss | May 26, 2020

The announcement to reopen the country comes after a turbulent Eid weekend, filled with protests and violent interactions with Palestinian security forces in several cities across the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority officially declared an end to the coronavirus lockdown in the occupied West Bank on Monday, nearly three months after the first state of emergency was declared.

During a press conference in Ramallah, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh announced that the 3 million Palestinian residents of the West Bank could expect a return to normal life, albeit with some restrictions, once the current Eid holidays are over.

Banks, government ministries, courts, shops, and public transportation networks are set to reopen on Wednesday morning, while mosques and churches will be opened beginning at dawn prayers on Tuesday morning.

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May 2020 persevering Palestinians

The image was snapped at a protest against Israel's blockade of Gaza on October 22 [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu]
The image was snapped at a protest against Israel’s blockade of Gaza on October 22 (photo: Mustafa Hassona / Anadolu)
A monthly reflection on Palestine from Ed Crouch, member of University Congregational United Church of Christ (Seattle), Palestine Action Group (PAG).

By Ed Crouch | | May 25, 2020

Words are used to cleverly to rewrite history. Israel has boasted for decades that Palestine was ‘land without a people for a people without a land.’

A World War III pandemic has begun, and will wreak havoc for years. Just a hint of what Palestinians have been living with for decades. Let’s list some items:

Living with Rage: This May 15th was the anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (translated Catastrophe). From 1947 to 1949, 750,000 Palestinians became refugees. Zionist forces ethnically cleansed and destroyed about 530 villages and cities. In the process they killed about 15,000 Palestinians in a series of 70 massacres. Now Israel claims 85% of the land.

Living with Fear: A vibrant 85 year old Palestinian friend of mine in Seattle lived in Jerusalem as a girl. In the summer of 1946, 12 year old Huda visited a friend who lived across from the King David Hotel. They were chatting on the girl’s front steps when there was a large explosion at the hotel. They saw the south wing, which housed the British administration of Palestine crumble. 91 were killed by a bomb planted by the Irgun. This Zionist terror organization was trying to get Britain to give up control of Palestine. Huda’s family fled to Egypt. Months later the Zionists succeeded in gaining control of 56% of historic Palestine and the state of Israel was born.

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Peace process was never intended to give Palestinians a state — true confessions from Council on Foreign Relations

Israeli soldier holding a mobile phone in front of the photographer, trying to prevent the documentation of the events taking place in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, April 20, 2018. (photo: Anne Paq)
Truth telling about the objective of the peace process.

By Philip Weiss | Mondoweiss | May 22, 2020

We should be grateful to Cook for saying that the point of the peace process was to fail; and that failure was all for Israel’s interest.

Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations has an article at Foreign Policy saying that the U.S. should phase out aid to Israel and “end the special relationship” because the peace process has attained its real objective: Israel is established as a secure country with a standard of living rivaling the UK and France, and no real military threat.

The piece is shocking because it strips the mask from the peace process, saying just what Edward Said, Rashid Khalidi and Ali Abunimah said decades ago, it was intended to fail, never producing Palestinian sovereignty.

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Abbas, cornered by Israeli annexation, opts for ‘Judgment Day’ scenario

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, said he is ending security cooperation with Israel, a move that could lead to violence.
Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, said he is ending security cooperation with Israel, a move that could lead to violence. (photo: Alaa Badarneh)
The Palestinian leader has promoted security cooperation with Israel in his quest for a Palestinian state. That strategy may have hit a dead end.

By David M. Halbfinger, Adam Rasgon and Mohammed Najib | The New York Times | May 20, 2020

By declaring his intent to break off the close security cooperation with Israel that has protected his government from more radical Palestinian elements, and Israeli citizens from acts of terrorism, Mr. Abbas’s decision could remove impediments to more militant responses.

Tuesday night, for most Palestinian Muslims, was the Night of Destiny, commemorating the revelation of the first verses of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad.

For Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, it was a night of reckoning.

As long as he has led the Palestinian national movement, Mr. Abbas has opposed violence and espoused negotiations with Israel.

But Israel’s push, with the Trump administration’s support, to annex occupied territory that the Palestinians have counted on for a future state may be steering Mr. Abbas’s strategy to a dead end.

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A possible spike in Gaza

A Palestinian child wears a mask as he runs between alleys in Al-Shate' refugee camp, in the Gaza Strip on May 18, 2020. Photo by Mahmoud Al-Hindi/APA Images
A Palestinian child wears a mask as he runs between alleys in Al-Shate’ refugee camp, in the Gaza Strip on May 18, 2020. (photo: Mahmoud Al-Hindi / APA Images)
A news roundup on COVID-19 and other events in Palestine this week.

By Editors | Mondoweiss |  May 22, 2020

After a lull in cases over the previous period this week saw a slight spike in cases of COVID-19, especially in Gaza where the coronavirus had been kept in check until now.

The Latest:

  • 602 total COVID-19 cases; 368 in the West Bank, 55 in the Gaza Strip and 179 in Jerusalem
  • 16,683 Israelis have tested positive for COVID-19; 279 people have died
  • According to a study published by Tel Aviv University, more than 70% of COVID-19 cases in Israel were infected by a strain that originated in the United States
  • According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health: since the onset of the pandemic, 45,343 laboratory samples have been tested. At least 30,581 Palestinians are currently in quarantine at home

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No Bark, No Bite

Vice President Joe Biden in Des Moines, Iowa, May 3rd, 2019. (photo: Michael F. Hiatt via Shutterstock)
It appears the old rules governing the Israel debate in Washington—set by AIPAC and its allies—still apply.

By Peter Beinart | Jewish Currents | May 21, 2020

How could a letter asking Democrats to oppose annexation, which almost all of them ostensibly do, and pledging consequences no more severe than a decline in American public support for Israel—which AIPAC’s own Democratic front group has warned of publicly—still win so little support?

With each passing week, it becomes clearer that Joe Biden’s victory over Bernie Sanders is making it easier for Israel to annex the West Bank.

The latest evidence comes from the United States Senate. On May 1st, with the support of the pro-Israel, anti-occupation lobbying group J Street, three Democratic senators—Chris Murphy from Connecticut, Chris Van Hollen from Maryland, and Tim Kaine from Virginia—drafted a letter opposing annexation, which they asked their colleagues to sign. Murphy, Van Hollen, and Kaine are not Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s toughest critics in the Senate—in 2017, Kaine backed the Taylor Force Act, which cut aid to the Palestinian Authority—but this is precisely what made the three senators appealing messengers. “The letter,” one Senate staffer explained, “was designed to attract more moderate Democrats that don’t typically stick their neck out on these things.”

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3rd Thursday Action Alert: Tell Congress: No to annexation, and no to continued occupation

Action request to tell Congress that now is the time for the US to oppose Israeli annexation.

By Global Ministries | May 18, 2020

Palestinians therefore refer to the ‘ongoing nakba,’ which has meant a de facto appropriation of Palestinian land and property, and denial of their basic human and civil rights.

Last Friday, May 15, Palestinians commemorated Nakba Day. “Nakba,” an Arabic word that means “catastrophe,” is how Palestinians describe what happened to them following Israel’s declaration of independence in May 1948 and the corresponding war. During the period, more than 500 Palestinian towns and villages were destroyed by the nascent Israeli state’s military, resulting in the forcible displacement and dispossession of more than 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and villages. Today, those still living and their descendants, comprise more than 5 million Palestinian refugees, whose rights of return and/or compensation for their losses as articulated in UN resolution 194 (1948) remain unfulfilled.

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Abbas declares end to agreements with Israel, US

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, attends the meeting of the Palestinian leadership, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on May 19, 2020. (Photo: Thaer Ganaim/APA Images)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, attends the meeting of the Palestinian Leadership, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on May 19, 2020. (photo: Thaer Ganaim / APA Images)
Analysts are doubtful Abbas statement will amount to much change on the ground.

By Yumna Patel | Mondoweiss | May 20, 2020

While Abbas’ statements have made the front page of Israeli, Palestinian, and international news websites, one major question remains: will this time be any different?

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared late Tuesday night an end to “all agreements and understandings” with Israel and the United States, and that his government would be “handing over responsibility of the occupied territories back to Israel.”

In an emergency meeting with Palestinian leadership, Abbas said: “the Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are absolved, as of today of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and of all the obligations based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones.”

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