US Jewish organizations warn against West Bank annexation

Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu points to a Jordan Valley map. (photo: Getty Images)
Responding to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s intent to extend Israeli sovereignty over large parts of the West Bank, the Progressive Israel Network released their opposition to annexation.

International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) | Nov 11, 2019

‘It’s vital for Israeli leaders to recognize that whatever the dangerous and deluded policies of the Trump administration, the vast majority of Americans and American Jews are strongly opposed to annexation,’
— Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of Progressive Israel Network

A coalition of American Jewish groups has sent a letter to leaders of Israel’s political parties, warning them against full or even partial annexation of the occupied West Bank.

The letter, written by the Progressive Israel Network, asks Israeli politicians to oppose the annexation plan being pursued by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, even if US President Donald Trump gives it a green light.

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The unbearable heaviness of finding freedom outside Gaza

A Palestinian family sits in their destroyed home in the At-Tuffah district of Gaza City, which was heavily attacked during last Israeli offensive, September 21, 2014. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)
A Palestinian family sits in their destroyed home in the At-Tuffah district of Gaza City, which was heavily attacked during last Israeli offensive, September 21, 2014. (photo: Anne Paq / Activestills.org)
The conditions in Gaza are leaving a trail and legacy of trauma and mental health issues for those able to leave.

By Salsabeel H. Hamdan |  +972  |  Nov 5, 2019

‘I have developed a strange belief that things might go wrong. I am afraid that I will be questioned or stopped. I am seriously unable to believe that I have the right to move.’
— Ahmed Almassri, 25, studying in Australia

For a Palestinian, Gaza is a place from which escape is nearly impossible. Israel has, for the past 13 years, denied all but a tiny number of applicants the right to travel outside the congested, blockaded strip of land that is often described as the world’s largest open-air prison. For those fortunate few who manage to attain a permit to depart, the extreme shock of life outside Gaza is almost unbearable. Freedom is painful: it triggers the release of long-suppressed emotions, and the realization that a lifetime of unending psychological trauma has rendered them unable to normalize the understanding that their lives can be free of fear, scarcity, and helplessness.

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Gaza Fights for Freedom – Film

gaza

Please join our brothers and sisters at the Palestine / Israel Network for a film viewing in Edmonds WA.  The film will be introduced by former Democratic U.S. Representative Brian Baird, who will also answer questions and tell how Congress deals with the Israel/Palestine conflict. He is one of the few Americans who has been to Gaza 5 times.
Date: Friday, November  8, 2019
Time: 7:00 – 9:00pm
Location: Edmonds United Methodist Church Sanctuary 828 Caspers St, Edmonds, WA
Information: Event Information Here →
Tickets: Free
Event Details

This collaborative film by Abby Martin shows you Gaza’s protest movement like you’ve never seen before. Filmed during the height of the Great March Of Return protests, it features exclusive footage of demonstrations where 200 unarmed civilians have been killed by Israeli snipers since March 30, 2018.

This film is hard hitting and sometimes violent. Light refreshments will be served.

More information here →

Israel Supreme Court expels human rights activist

Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch Israel and Palestine Director, looks up before his hearing at Israel’s Supreme Court in Jerusalem, Sep 24, 2019. (photo: Ammar Awad / Reuters)
The government’s real motivation was to hamper Human Rights Watch activities in the country. Previously, Shakir had been forced to leave Egypt and Syria over his human rights work, and was denied an entry visa to Bahrain.

By Steve Hendrix and Ruth Eglash | The Washington Post | Nov 5, 2019

‘The Supreme Court has effectively declared that free expression in Israel does not include completely mainstream advocacy for Palestinian rights. If the government now deports a Human Rights Watch’s researcher for asking businesses to respect rights as we do across the world, there’s no telling whom it will throw out next.’
— Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch executive director

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the government could expel the head of Human Rights Watch’s Israel and Palestine office after accusing him of supporting boycotts against the country.

The ruling represents the likely culmination of the protracted effort to remove Omar Shakir, a US citizen, and marks an escalation in Israel’s determination to prevent critics from operating in the country under new laws that equate support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) with challenging Israel’s right to exist.

Others have been denied entry visas under the laws, including two US congresswomen in August, but Shakir, who first had his work permit revoked in May 2018, would be the first to be expelled. He has 20 days to leave the country. . . .

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Facebook COO ignores Palestinian complaints of censorship, pledges $2.5 mill to Israel advocacy group

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook. (photo: wiki commons)
The Israeli government & the ADL, which advocates for Israel, help Facebook executives decide which content to censor and perhaps it’s no coincidence that Palestinians’ Facebook pages are increasingly being removed.

By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | Oct 30, 2019

While some American organizations that work on the Palestinian issue have largely been able to function on Facebook with relatively small difficulties (including the one I work for), the story for Palestinians living in the occupied Territories has been markedly different.

While Facebook is in the midst of a controversy in which Palestinian journalists are complaining that the company has a different standard for Palestinians than for Israelis, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, publicly pledged $2.5 million to an organization that advocates for Israel.

This action was in line with Sandberg’s life history of connection to Israel. And it coincided with Facebook’s pattern of a double standard for Palestinians vs. Israelis.

While some American organizations that work on the Palestinian issue have largely been able to function on Facebook with relatively small difficulties (including the one I work for), the story for Palestinians living in the occupied Territories has been markedly different.

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Film: Imprisoning a Generation

Please join our brothers and sisters of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon Task Force for Palestinian Human Rights in the screening of this documentary film in Portland OR with director and film producer Zelda Edmunds.
       
  Date: Sunday, Nov 10, 2019  
  Time: 6:15 – 9:00 pm
Film will begin at 7:00 pm
 
  Location: Grace Memorial Episcopal Church, 1535 NE 17th Ave, Portland, OR
Park in lot on 16th & NE Weidler
 
  Information: Event information here →  
  Tickets: Free  
Event Details

Join in this film screening and discussion with Zelda Edmunds, the director and producer of this documentary film which follows the stories of four young Palestinians detained and imprisoned under the Israeli military and political system.

More information here →

Reform movement spurns iconic Israeli charity to protest West Bank land buys

A photograph taken last year from the Palestinian West Bank village Turmus Ayya shows the Jewish settlement Shilo.
A photograph of the Palestinian West Bank village Turmus Ayya shows the Jewish settlement Shilo. (photo: Jaafar Ashtiyeh/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

Issues of transparency and settlement land purchases by the Israel Jewish National Fund raise issues for the Union of Reformed Judaism, the largest Jewish movement in North America.

By Aiden Pink  | Intercept  | Oct 31, 2019

‘Anybody who is closely watching the activities of KKL in Israel knows they’re deeply enmeshed in’ expanding the settlement enterprise…
— Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

The largest Jewish denomination in the United States is turning down a donation from an iconic Israeli charity, alleging that the charity tricked the movement by buying and then hiding land purchases in the West Bank.

Keren Kayemet LeYisrael-Jewish National Fund is probably best known in the United States for its famous blue tzedakah box and for planting trees in the Holy Land. The quasi-governmental organization is also a major owner and purchaser of land throughout Israel, and the Union of Reform Judaism has long supported it.

Yet on Tuesday, URJ president Rick Jacobs published a series of tweets accusing the charity of “deceiving the board of directors and most senior leaders in the organization.”

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Israel’s new moves to ‘legalize’ the occupation

 

A Palestinian stands on his property overlooking the Israeli settlement Har Homa, West Bank, February 18, 2011. (Photo: UPI/Debbie Hill)
A Palestinian stands on his property overlooking the Israeli settlement Har Homa, West Bank, February 18, 2011. (photo: UPI / Debbie Hill)

Efforts to privatize settlements could be the next legal expansion in further delaying/denying Palestinian rights.

By Jonathan Cook | Mondoweiss | Oct 28, 2019

Their latest proposal has been described as engineering a ‘revolution’ in the occupation regime. It would let the settlers buy as private property the plots of occupied land their illegal homes currently stand on.

The United Nations’ independent expert on human rights in the Palestinian territories issued a damning verdict last week on what he termed “the longest belligerent occupation in the modern world”.

Michael Lynk, a Canadian law professor, told the UN’s human rights council that only urgent international action could prevent Israel’s 52-year occupation of the West Bank transforming into de facto annexation.

He warned of a recent surge in violence against Palestinians from settlers, assisted by the Israeli army, and a record number of demolitions this year of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem – evidence of the ways Israel is further pressuring Palestinians to leave their lands.

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Can we talk about Zionism?

Dr. Alice Rothstein (photo:  http://www.alicerothchild.com)

A look into the birth and growth of Zionism in history and context in order to understand its aspirations and contradictions.

By Dr. Alice Rothchild | Brookline Chronicle |  Oct 29, 2019

‘Political Zionism is a recent phenomenon. This is very different from my zayde’s messianic Zionism which was more a belief that the Messiah would come someday and everything would get better, but don’t hold your breath. This was often followed by a fatalistic shrug and more davening.’

Today I’m going to be discussing the recently published book, Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism: Stories of Personal Transformation. The book is a collection of curated essays by rabbis, students, academics, and activists, and includes my chapter titled: Choosing a different path. I am going to start with some definitions that I have gleaned from my own personal research and also from the excellent introduction written by Professor Carolyn Karcher who is the editor of this book.

I would define Judaism as a religion, centered on tikkun olam, on pursuing justice and loving the stranger. It is a body of sacred texts, rituals, and ethical precepts. This is very different from the definition of a Jewish macher (see Yiddish – big shot) in Boston who once said in answer to the question: “Can you be a Jew and not be a Zionist?” “You don’t understand, Israel is the religion.” Clearly I take issue with that.

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Democratic Candidates Pressed On Cutting Israel Aid

The Associated Press
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at the J Street National Conference on Monday in Washington. (photo: The Associated Press)

Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg make the strongest statements linking human rights concerns to military aid to Israel.

By Jodi Rudoren  | The Forward |  Oct 28, 2019

‘If you want military aid, you’re going to have to fundamentally change your relationship’ to Gaza…adding that some aid money ‘should go right now into humanitarian aid in Gaza.’
— Senator Bernie Sanders

Democratic presidential candidates diverged on Monday over the question of whether to condition United States military aid on Israeli policy toward the Palestinians, which activists at the annual J Street conference here in Washington seem to be trying to make something of a wedge issue in the crowded primary field.

In separate appearances before the conclave, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg said the $3.8 billion a year should indeed come with some strings attached, while Secretary Julian Castro said using the aid as a pressure tactic “wouldn’t be my first move” and Sen. Michael Bennet said he would want to carefully weigh the impact on domestic politics both here and in Israel.

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