Why won’t Israel let me mourn my father?


(image: Joao Fazenda)

After my father died in Jordan in October, it was so important for me to visit my extended family in the city of Jenin, to mourn his death with them. Unfortunately, I was prevented from doing so by the Israeli government.

By Raed Jarrar | The New York Times | Nov 23, 2017

Whether or not the Israeli government agrees with my work — and, of course, I know it doesn’t — I still should have been able to take part in those most human of activities: mourning my father and celebrating his life.

My father, Azzam Jarrar, died last month. He was a proud Palestinian, a refugee, a civil engineer, a farmer and an entrepreneur. He was also my friend and mentor. He taught me the multiplication tables on our way to school in Saudi Arabia. He taught me how to question authority when we lived in Iraq. He helped me finish my master’s degree when I lived in Jordan. Above all, though, he was the gateway to my Palestinian roots and identity.

My dad fled his home with his family in 1967, when Israeli soldiers invaded and occupied the West Bank. He went first to Jordan and then to Iraq, where I was born. I was the first Jarrar to be born east of the Jordan River since our family was established on Palestinian land centuries ago.

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Tell Congress to oppose anti-BDS legislation


(illustration: Marina Djurdjevic)

It is urgent that members of Congress hear from constituents who oppose these bills.

By Evangelical Lutheran Church of America | Feb 15, 2018

“As churches and church-related organizations, we reject any efforts by the state to curtail these rights. We urge you to oppose the proposed legislation, and thus support the rights of individuals and institutions to spend and invest in accordance with their faith, values, and policies.”

Dangerous bills that could undermine the work of advocates for a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis continue to make their way through Congress. These include the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (H.R. 1697 and S. 720) and the Combating BDS Act of 2017 (H.R. 2856 and S. 170) which are part of a larger effort at the federal and state levels to outlaw or penalize the use of boycotts, divestment and sanctions aimed at Israeli government policies.

It is urgent that members of Congress hear from constituents who oppose these and similar bills. The U.N. Human Rights Office recently released a report outlining progress in developing a database of businesses engaged in certain activities related to Israeli settlements, as mandated earlier by the U.N. Human Rights Council. A new House resolution critical of the council includes a call to support the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. . . .

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Unitarian group supports BDS nomination for Nobel Peace Prize


Norwegian member of parliament, Bjørnar Moxnes, nominated the BDS movement for Palestinian rights for the Nobel Peace Prize on Feb 2.

By Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East | Feb 9, 2018

Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East (UUJME) strongly supports the nomination of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights for the Nobel Peace Prize. Justice and human rights have been systematically denied the Palestinian people, and UUJME is convinced that this tragedy is at the heart of the war, violence and turmoil that has characterized the Middle East for 70 years. We are convinced there will not be lasting peace for anyone in the region without justice for the Palestinians, and the BDS movement for Palestinian rights is the world’s best hope for achieving that justice.

A member of the Norwegian parliament, Bjørnar Moxnes, has nominated the BDS movement for Palestinian rights for the Nobel Peace Prize. UULME have been asked by the US Interdenominational Palestine Working Group to support the nomination with a statement on our website. The goal is to persuade the Norwegian public and the Nobel committee that there is broad support for the nomination.

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Two anti-BDS bills reintroduced in Washington State legislative session


A letter to Washington State legislators.

By Washington Freedom to Boycott | Feb 8, 2018

“The court has rightly recognized the serious First Amendment harms being inflicted by this misguided law. . . . This ruling should serve as a warning to government officials around the country that the First Amendment prohibits the government from suppressing participation in political boycotts.”
— Brian Hauss, ACLU attorney

To the Honorable Representative:

As Washington residents and Washington organizations, we are disturbed at ongoing attacks on our First Amendment right to boycott. In the Washington State Legislature, two measures from 2017, HJM 4004 and HJM 4009, both condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, have been reintroduced into the House Judiciary Committee during the 2018 legislative session. Though these measures appear not to be moving forward, we are concerned that similar anti-boycott language might be inserted into final legislation during this busy session.

HJM 4004 and 4009 radically mischaracterize the BDS movement. BDS is a grassroots campaign to gain equal rights for Palestinians and to pressure Israel to abide by international humanitarian law. While BDS is modeled after the South African boycott and thus calls for broad boycotts against Israeli institutions, nothing in it calls for discrimination against individuals solely because of their national origin, religion, or ethnicity.

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Massachusetts activists defeat anti-BDS bill


Graffiti on the Israeli separation wall in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, Jun 2014. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler / ActiveStills)

Anti-BDS measures have passed in more than 20 states, and federal legislation is pending in Congress.

By Nora Barrows-Friedman | Electronic Intifada | Feb 13, 2018

“By asking the state legislature to pass a bill that strikes at free speech, [supporters] forced legislators to choose between supporting Israel’s occupation and supporting free speech.”
— Cole Harrison of Massachusetts Peace Action

Activists in Massachusetts successfully pressured state lawmakers to stop a bill on February 8 that would have classified the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign for Palestinian rights as “discrimination.”

The bill requires anyone who enters into a contract with the state worth more than $10,000 to pledge that they will not refuse to do business with any person based on the person’s “race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, gender identity or sexual orientation.”

It has no chance of being passed this session as a key committee declined to advance it.

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Israeli police recommend corruption charges for Netanyahu


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Feb 11, 2018. (photo: Ronen Zvulun)

The police accuse Netanyahu of accepting nearly $300,000 in gifts over 10 years.

By David Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner | The New York Times | Feb 13, 2018

“[The Prime Minister is] up to his neck in investigations. He does not have a public or moral mandate to determine such fateful matters for the state of Israel when there is the fear, and I have to say it is real and not without basis, that he will make decisions based on his personal interest in political survival and not based on the national interest.”
— Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking about former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who was forced to resign in 2008

The Israeli police recommended on Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, casting a pall over the future of a tenacious leader who has become almost synonymous with his country. The announcement instantly raised doubts about his ability to stay in office.

Concluding a yearlong graft investigation, the police recommended that Mr. Netanyahu face prosecution in two corruption cases: a gifts-for-favors affair known as Case 1000, and a second scandal, called Case 2000, in which Mr. Netanyahu is suspected of back-room dealings with Arnon Mozes, publisher of the popular newspaper Yediot Aharonot, to ensure more favorable coverage.

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Israel’s decision to put Ahed on trial could backfire


Ahed Tamimi at Ofer Military Prison. (photo: Jerusalem Online)

Arrested in December for slapping an Israeli soldier who had entered her yard, 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi was later arrested in the middle of the night, is currently being held in a military prison, and is being tried in a closed military courtroom.

By Loveday Morris | The Washington Post | Feb 13, 2018

“The Israeli military supposes by arresting Ahed Tamimi they can silence their activism. But although painful, it’s definitely put a spotlight on Palestinian children in detention.”
— Fadi Quran, senior campaigner with the activist group Avaaz

Slouching in her chair and mouthing messages to her friends and family from under a cascade of strawberry-blond curls, Ahed Tamimi in many ways appears to be an everyday teenager.

But the tussle of television cameras and photographers that crowded in for a shot of her in the dock of a small Israeli military court in Ofer for a bail hearing last month was a reminder that she is far from it.

Ahed, who recently turned 17, was arrested after a video of her slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers who had entered her front yard went viral last year. On Tuesday, after nearly two months in detention, she went on trial on 12 charges, including assault of a soldier and incitement.

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