U.S. weighs labeling leading human rights groups ‘anti-Semitic’

amnesty
Amnesty International USA’s interim executive director said any allegations of anti-Semitism were “baseless.”. (photo: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is pushing for the declaration, according to a congressional aide with contacts inside the State Department.

By Nahal Toosi  |  Politico  |  Oct 21, 2020

“Criticizing government policy is not the same as attacking a specific group of people. For example, our critiques of U.S. government policy do not make us anti-American.“
—  Eric Goldstein, Human Rights Watch 

The Trump administration is considering declaring that several prominent international NGOs — including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam — are anti-Semitic and that governments should not support them, two people familiar with the issue said.

The proposed declaration could come from the State Department as soon as this week. If the declaration happens, it is likely to cause an uproar among civil society groups and might spur litigation. Critics of the possible move also worry it could lead other governments to further crack down on such groups. The groups named, meanwhile, deny any allegations that they are anti-Semitic.

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Israel arrests Palestinian journalist in West Bank

Abdel Rahman al Thaher screengrab
Abdelrahman al-Thaher, 38, is Palestinian journalist and filmmaker from Nablus (photo: Screengrab)
Filmmaker Abdelrahman al-Thaher is one of more than 20 Palestinian journalists reportedly currently detained by Israel.

By Middle East Eye staff | Middle East Eye |  Oct 27, 2020

‘We condemn the arrest of journalists, we affirm the freedom of journalists to do their work and we call on the (Israeli) occupying forces to immediately release Abdelrahman and all fellow journalists,’
— The Palestine International Forum for Information and Communication

Israeli forces on Tuesday arrested Palestinian journalist and filmmaker Abdelrahman al-Thaher at his home in the city of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank.

Rasha al-Sayeh, Thaher’s wife, told Middle East Eye that the family woke up to the sounds of military jeeps and then heavy knocks on the doors of nearby houses at 2am, before soldiers arrived at their house and Thaher opened the door.

“The Israeli officer asked [Thaher] if he was ‘the famous journalist’,” Sayeh said. “He then requested to search the study and his personal belongings.”

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A call to preach Palestine: Keep Awake

Some worship resources to amplify the voice of Palestinian Christians and promote a just peace in Palestine and Israel.

By Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)  |  Oct 2020

November 29th is the first Sunday in Advent, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

Responding to the Cry for Hope from Palestinian Christians, we call on Christian leaders across the U.S. to commit their congregations to “Preach Palestine” on November 29th. November 29th is the first Sunday in Advent, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. We have gathered resources for worship planners from a diversity of traditions and voices that lift up liberation from Turtle Island to Palestine. Can you commit your congregation to be a part of our goal of 100 churches to “Preach Palestine” on November 29?

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So, you think Trump has been good for Israel?

1024px-President_Trump_Unveils_a_Plan_for_a_Comprehensive_Peace_Agreement_Between_Israel_and_the_Palestinians_49456368773-640x400
President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, in the East Room of the White House to unveil details of the Trump administration’s Middle East Peace Plan. (photo: Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)
Trumps one-sided approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict hurts Israel and makes any peace agreement harder to achieve.

By Dov Waxman  |  The Times of Israel  |  Oct 20, 2020

By favoring Israel so much, and by trying to punish and pressure the Palestinian leadership, Trump has only angered and alienated Palestinians.

Recent polls show that Israelis strongly prefer President Trump to his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. The reason for this is obvious. Many Israelis, specifically Jewish Israelis, think that Trump has been the most ‘pro-Israel’ president in modern times. That’s why he’s so popular in Israel—there are even city squares named after him and an Israeli settlement on the Golan Heights that bears his name.

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The enduring power of Rachel Corrie

rachel_corrie
Rachel Corrie.  (photo: Wikipedia)
A short life with a long impact.

By Philip Weiss  |  Mondoweiss   |  Oct 20, 2020

‘[Rachel Corrie’s] passion for social activism, and willingness to put her own life on the line for it, is what is inspiring to me…’
— Director Christine Bokhour

Two Saturdays ago, a theater company near me presented a reading of the play, “My Name Is Rachel Corrie,” with four young women speaking Rachel’s words on a simple stage 50 feet from commuter rails.

About 60 people were in the audience, and there was none of the political drama that accompanied the play’s New York premiere in 2006. Israel’s friends did not succeed in shutting down a progressive theater company‘s production of the show… When the show did get staged, no one handed out flyers outside the theater with pictures of Israeli girls killed in suicide bombings.

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Israeli conscientious objector begins third stint in military prison

Israeli CO
Israeli conscientious objector Hillel Rabin. (Courtesy of Mesarvot)
Conscientious objector Hallel Rabin was sentenced to 25 days behind bars for refusing to join the Israeli army over its policies toward the Palestinians.

By Orly Noy  |  +972 Magazine  | Oct 21, 2020

‘I will not take part in a system which is based on inequality and fear. We live in a reality that raises us to be violent, and I refuse to take part in it or keep quiet about it.’
— Hallel Rabin, Israeli conscientious objector

Israeli conscientious objector Hallel Rabin began serving a 25-day sentence in military prison on Wednesday for refusing to join the Israeli army over its policies toward the Palestinians.

Rabin, 19, from Kibbutz Harduf in northern Israel, arrived at Tel Hashomer conscription base on Monday, where she was brought before the IDF’s conscientious objectors committee. Military conscription is mandatory for most Jewish Israelis.

This is Rabin’s third period of incarceration, while her appeal to the conscientious objectors committee is still pending. She was first imprisoned in August after appearing before the committee to appeal for an exemption. She was tried and sentenced to two different periods of incarceration, including during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

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Students hold online conference to support Palestinian rights, including right of return

student confeerence
The Association of Student Activism for Palestine held an online conference on Saturday, under the banner of “Justice for Palestine”
British university students encouraged to unite in working for Palestine regardless of differences in political and religious affiliations.

By Middle East Monitor | Oct 19, 2020

‘Black Lives Matter has become a target for Israeli groups, because the movement supports Palestinian human rights’.
— Nasim Ahmed, a political analyst at MEMO

The Association of Student Activism for Palestine held an online conference on Saturday, under the banner of “Justice for Palestine”. The intention, said the president of the association, Yahya AbuSeido, was to raise awareness about the Palestinian cause and promote campus and student activism at British universities.

AbuSeido urged students to unite in working for Palestine regardless of differences in political and religious affiliations. To this end, he suggested that new students should join their university Palestine societies. “This is a human rights issue,” he explained, “especially regarding Palestinian refugees and their legitimate right to return to their land.”

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Biden’s plan to revive Iran talks could calm the Middle East – but on Israel he and Trump largely agree

Trump and Biden
Donald Trump and Joe Biden. (photo:  Leah Mills / Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)
The Biden foreign policy plan differs significantly from Trump’s policies, but there is little promise there would be substantive changes in policies for Palestinians.

By Muqtedar Khan | The Conversation | Oct 19, 2020

…the United States’ global role is on the ballot in November.

When the Taliban recently voiced its hope that Donald Trump would win a second term because he would withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, it was a reminder that the 2020 U.S. election has big implications for the Middle East – and, by consequence, for American national security.

Foreign policy barely registers on Americans’ election agenda this year in a race dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, economic woes and structural racism.

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Israeli occupation of Palestine is devastating the natural environment

Israeli forces have uprooted over 800,000 trees since 1967. (Image from MEMO)
The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has devastated the environment, but there is a movement for environmental justice and sustainability growing even under the very difficult conditions of occupation and colonization.

By Mazin B. Qumsiyeh and Mohammed A. Abusarhan |  Israel-Palestine News (reposted from Science for the People) | Oct 16, 2020

Environmental sustainability was never a priority for Israel, whose practices detrimentally affected the landscape, resulting in the destruction of diverse habitats and water runoff.

Colonial Impact on the Environment

Uprooted trees
Once Israel was declared a Jewish state in May 1948, native trees (such as oaks, carobs, and hawthorns) and agricultural crops (olives, figs, and almonds) were systematically uprooted and replaced by European pine trees. These planted pines reduced biodiversity and harmed the local environment.

Pines shed leaves that are acidic and prevent the growth of underbrush plants. These trees are also very susceptible to fire because of their resins. Indeed, fires are now a common occurrence in the areas in which they were planted. Trees, however, were not the only targets of Israel’s colonial practices.

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Fighting for Palestine

A protester waves a Palestinian flag in front of the Jewish settlement of Ofra during clashes near the West Bank village of Deir Jarir near Ramallah on April 26, 2013 [File: Mohamed Torokman/Reuters]
A protester waves a Palestinian flag in front of the Jewish settlement of Ofra during clashes near the West Bank village of Deir Jarir near Ramallah on April 26, 2013. (photo: File: Mohamed Torokman/Reuters)

Despite repeatedly being cast as a nuisance to the peace and tranquillity of the world order, Palestinians continue their fight for true liberation.

By Mark Muhannad Ayyash | Al Jazeera | Oct 10, 2020

Attention is often given to the armed resistance, but far more numerous, diverse, and long-standing is the unarmed Palestinian resistance.

In the last few years, Israel has further cemented its grip on Palestine. The list of Palestinian losses is depressing: the marked movement towards international recognition of Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, official annexation of Palestinian land, an increase in the number of settlers and the development of settlements on Palestinian lands, the horrific besiegement of Gaza and the world’s participation in the siege, the “de-development” of the Palestinian economy, uninhibited killing and maiming of Palestinians, suffocating restrictions on movement, gender-based violence in prisons and at checkpoints, continued demolitions of Palestinian homes, the stifling of Palestinian activism and speech for Palestinian rights in Western Europe and North America, and the rising tide of diplomatic normalcy between Israel and Arab states.

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