Philanthropist Michael Leven donated to Canary Mission Blacklist

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Michael Leven at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas in 2012. (credit: Isaac Brekken / AP Photo)
The revelation makes him the third major American Jewish funder associated with the project.

By Abby Seitz and Alex Kane | Jewish Currents | October 14, 2021

Launched in 2015, Canary Mission has compiled thousands of profiles of Palestinian rights supporters, most of them students and professors who have participated in Palestinian solidarity activism on American campuses.

IN 2018, philanthropist Michael Leven, a hospitality executive who has served on the boards of major Jewish organizations, made his customary series of donations to American Jewish organizations: $125,000 to Birthright Israel, $75,000 to Hillel chapters in Georgia and Pennsylvania, $70,000 to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and tens of thousands more to other groups. But alongside those gifts to some of the most respected organizations in the American Jewish community, Jewish Currents found in a review of Leven’s foundation’s tax records, was a donation of a different nature: a $50,000 grant to Canary Mission, the controversial website that targets supporters of Palestinian rights, and which many Palestinian rights advocates describe as a shadowy blacklist that chills free speech and encourages social media harassment. Leven confirmed in an interview with Jewish Currents that he sent money to Canary Mission, saying he hoped the grant would help “identify significant antisemites” and “bring the knowledge of their antisemitism to the surface.”

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DOING JUSTICE: Israel/Palestine

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Please join our brothers and sisters at The Bishop’s Committee for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land, Diocese of Olympia for an upcoming seminar.  Grounded in the belief that peace in Israel/Palestine cannot exist without justice for all – Israelis and Palestinians: Jews, Muslims, and Christians – this seminar will examine why and how we, as American citizens, must seek effective ways to end U.S. complicity in the dispossession and human rights violations of a people living under Israeli military and civil control.
Date: Saturday, November 13, 2021
Time: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm PST
Location: Both in person and on-line options:

St. Mark’s Cathedral – Bloedel Hall
1245 10th Ave E. Seattle, WA 98102

Information: Event information here →
Tickets: In-person: $20.00 (includes lunch)
Students:  $10.00
On-line: $10.00
Event Registration
Event Details

We will look at present living conditions for Palestinians in the occupied territories, as well as the legalization of an apartheid system of discriminatory laws that deny basic political rights, including peaceful protest. The current “facts on the ground,” costs of maintaining the status quo, its harm to immediate and long-term US, Palestinian and Israeli interests, and how each of us can make a difference will be addressed by:

• Brian Baird, Ph.D., former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, will explore the role of Congress, the influence of special interests, faith-based organizations and the media, and examine the moral imperative for Palestinian advocacy.
Mark Braverman, Ph.D., Jewish American psychologist and author, co-founder of Friends of Tent of Nations North America and Executive Director of Kairos USA, will focus on antisemitism and the role of theology in the current discourse.
• Cindy Corrie, President of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, will offer practical information on how to advocate both locally and nationally and how to overcome common myths and misperceptions that stand in the way.
• John McKay, J.D., former US attorney for Western WA, coordinator for a State Department rule of law project in the West Bank and professor of constitutional and national security law, will examine Palestinian life under occupation through the lens of Israeli, U.S. and international law.
Alice Rothchild, MD, author, filmmaker and retired professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard Medical School, will discuss the current critical medical crisis and obstacles to access of radiation treatment, cancer drugs  and Covid vaccines in Gaza and the West Bank.
• Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, Palestinian American whose life and work crosses cultural, geographic and political borders, essayist, and author of Water and Salt, winner of the 2018 Washington State Book Award for Poetry, will share snapshots of the daily lives of Palestinian families.

NOTE:  Attendees will be required to follow current King County and Diocese of Olympia guidelines for indoor gatherings; at this time those guidelines require attendees to provide proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test and to wear a mask.

More information here →

Award-winning Palestinian films coming to Netflix: five titles not to miss

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Oscar-nominated short ‘Ave Maria’ by Basil Khalil is among the films released on Netflix this month. (credit: MAD Solutions and Quat Media)
Oscar-nominated short ‘Ave Maria’ and documentaries by filmmaker Mahdi Fleifel are among titles that will begin streaming this week

By Samia Badih | The National | Oct 11, 2021

The collection, curated by Front Row Filmed Entertainment, will have a total of 32 films, including some titles that are already on the streaming platform.

Works by award-winning Palestinian filmmakers including Elia Suleiman, Annemarie Jacir and Basil Khalil are scheduled for release on Netflix this October under a new collection called Palestinian Stories.

Starting Thursday, Khalil’s 2015 Oscar-nominated short Ave Maria, Jacir’s Salt of this Sea and Suleiman’s Divine Intervention will be available on the streaming platform, among other titles.

Five titles by Palestinian documentary filmmaker Mahdi Fleifel will be available: A Man Returned (2016), A Drowning Man (2017), 3 Logical Exits (2020), Xenos (2014) and A World Not Ours (2012). Fleifel, who won the Black Pearl Award for A World Not Ours at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival in 2012, focuses his work on the refugee experience.

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Sally Rooney turns down an Israeli translation on political grounds

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Beautiful World, Where Are You book launched at a sold-out Waterstones event in London in September. (credit: Vickie Flores / EPA)
The writer has refused to sell Hebrew translation rights to her latest novel Beautiful World, Where Are You due to her stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

By Lucy Knight | The Guardian |  Oct 12, 2021

“In this particular case, I am responding to the call from Palestinian civil society, including all major Palestinian trade unions and writers’ unions.”
— Sally Rooney, author statement

Sally Rooney has turned down an offer from the Israeli publisher that translated her two previous novels into Hebrew, due to her stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The Irish author’s second novel Normal People was translated into 46 languages, and it was expected that Beautiful World, Where Are You would reach a similar number. However, Hebrew translation rights have not yet been sold, despite the publisher Modan putting in a bid.

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Biden quietly puts pressure on Israel over West Bank settlements

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President Joe Biden shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as they meet in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, August 27, 2021. (credit: Evan Vucci / AP)
Biden administration continues to exert pressure on Bennett over settlements which most of the international community view as illegal.

By Barak Ravid | Axios | Oct 6, 2021

A senior U.S. official told me the Biden administration has been engaged with the Israeli government regarding settlements on a weekly basis since the meeting between Bennett and the president.

The Biden administration has been privately pressuring the Israeli government to show restraint ahead of a key decision on settlement building in the West Bank, Israeli and U.S. officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: Both sides want to keep this from becoming a point of tension between President Biden, who considers the settlements a threat to the two-state solution, and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who leads a pro-settler party and is under political pressure on the issue.

  • Most of the international community views the West Bank settlements as illegal, and the Palestinians argue that Israel is claiming more and more land that should be part of their future state.

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Webinar: Understanding U.S. Funding to Israel

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Please join our brothers and sisters with #nowaytotreatachild campaign and leaders from Defense for Children International – Palestine and American Friends Service Committee for a webinar.  Different kinds of military funding that the U.S. sends to Israel will be discussed, updates shared from Capitol Hill that affect Palestinians, and hear from grassroots activists working to advance Palestinian human rights.
Date: Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Time: 5:00 pm PST / 8:00pm EST
Location: On-line via Zoom
Information: Event information here →
Tickets: Free, with registration 
Event Details

Approximately 2.9 million Palestinians live in the occupied West Bank, of which around 45 percent are children under the age of 18.

Palestinian children in the West Bank, like adults, face arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment under an Israeli military detention system that denies them basic rights.

Since 1967, Israel has operated two separate legal systems in the same territory. In the occupied West Bank, Israeli settlers are subject to the civilian and criminal legal system whereas Palestinians live under military law.

Israel applies civilian criminal law to Palestinian children in East Jerusalem. No Israeli child comes into contact with the military courts.

Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that automatically and systematically prosecutes children in military courts that lack fundamental fair trial rights and protections. Israel prosecutes between 500 and 700 Palestinian children in military courts each year.

Ill-treatment in the Israeli military detention system remains “widespread, systematic, and institutionalized throughout the process,” according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report Children in Israeli Military Detention Observations and Recommendations.

Children typically arrive to interrogation bound, blindfolded, frightened, and sleep deprived.

Children often give confessions after verbal abuse, threats, physical and psychological violence that in some cases amounts to torture.

Israeli military law provides no right to legal counsel during interrogation, and Israeli military court judges seldom exclude confessions obtained by coercion or torture.

More information here →

Racial justice vs. the Israel Lobby: when being pro-Palestine becomes the new normal

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US House of Representatives (credit: Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images]
Americans are now seeing the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation through the prism of the fight for racial justice.

By Dr. Ramzy Baroud | Middle East Monitor | Oct 5, 2021

Despite the eventual outcome, the fact that such a discussion even took place in Congress was a milestone in the struggle for racial justice.

There is an unmistakable shift in American politics regarding Palestine and Israel, one that is inspired by the way in which many Americans, especially young people, view the Palestinian struggle and the Israeli occupation. While this shift is yet to translate into reducing Israel’s stranglehold over the US Congress tangibly, it promises to be of great consequence in the future.

Recent events at the US House of Representatives demonstrated this unprecedented reality. On 21 September, Democrat lawmakers successfully rejected a caveat that proposed to give Israel $1 billion in extra military funding as part of a broader spending bill, after objections from several progressive Congress members. The money was destined specifically to fund the purchase of new batteries and interceptors for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system.

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The brutality of denying water to Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills

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A Palestinian farmer fills water tanks in the West Bank village of Khirbet al-Makhoul, Jordan Valley, October 9, 2013. (credit: Activestills.org)
For the past 15 years, I have witnessed how the Israeli army cuts Palestinian communities from accessing water in order to expel them and take their land.

By Daphne Banai | +972 Magazine | Sept 24, 2021

Denying water to the Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills is one of many brutal methods for expelling the local population in order to take its land and hand it over to Jewish settlers.

Abu Hani and his family live only two kilometers from the Israeli settlement outpost of Avigayil in the occupied South Hebron Hills. But unlike Avigayil’s residents, who are connected to Israel’s national water grid, Abu Hani and his children are barred from doing so. Not only do they not receive a drop from Mekorot, Israel’s national water company, the Israeli authorities also prohibit them from maintaining cisterns for storing rainwater, as they had been doing until Israel took over the area.

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Reclaiming the Covenant of Fate

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The broken window of a synagogue in Cottbus, Germany, that was vandalized in November, 2015. (credit: Patrick Pleul / dpa via AP)
As American Jewry’s Zionist consensus crumbles, we must learn to address one another across communal divides.

By Peter Beinart | Jewish Currents | Sept 20, 2021

American Jews of all ideological stripes need shared spaces, based on mutual respect, which encourage the kinds of conversations that aren’t possible on Twitter.

This spring and summer, as violence engulfed Israel-Palestine and antisemitic attacks in the US made media headlines, some hawkish Jewish commentators began using an arresting phrase to describe Jews who oppose the Jewish state. In a tweet in May, UCLA professor Judea Pearl proposed that just as Jewish leaders in the 17th century excommunicated the followers of the false messiah, Shabtai Tzvi, it was now time “to proclaim Jewish-born Zionophobes: ‘Ex-Jews.’” That same month, in an article in the Orthodox publication Cross-Currents, Yitzchok Adlerstein, director of Interfaith Affairs for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, scrolled through his own roster of historic turncoats—“the Pablo Christianis and Johannes Pfefferkorns who reinvented themselves as Christians to find fame and money”—before declaring that Bernie Sanders, who “devotes his energies to undermining the largest Jewish community in the world,” is an “ex-Jew.” In June in Tablet, historian Gil Troy and former Soviet dissident and Israeli cabinet minister Natan Sharansky improvised on the theme: They labeled Jewish anti-Zionists “Un-Jews.”

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Why Palestinians are divided

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A Palestinian boy walks past a mural of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on a section of Israel’s separation barrier at Oalandia checkpoint, between Jerusalem and Ramallah on July 6, 2012. (credit: Mahfouz Abu Turk / APA Images)
To say the current Palestinian political crisis is simply a Hamas-Fatah split is to ignore a history of division that cannot be solely blamed on Palestinians.

By Ramzy Baroud | Mondoweiss | Sept 29, 2021

Even Palestinian division has rarely been a Palestinian decision, although the Palestinian leadership deserves much blame for failing to develop a pluralistic political system that is not dependent in its survival on a single group or individual.

The political division in Palestinian society is deep-rooted, and must not be conveniently reduced to the Hamas-Fatah split, or disagreements around elections—and the lack thereof—and the Oslo Accords. The divisions are linked to events that preceded all of this and are tied to the issue of who is the representative of the Palestinian people. Today’s disunity is the outcome of one political party’s decades-long sortie becoming dominant.

This dates back to Palestinian politics prior to the establishment of Israel in 1948 on the ruins of historic Palestine, when various Palestinian clans fought for control over the entire Palestinian body politic. Disagreements led to conflict, often violent, though, at times, it also resulted in relative harmony, for example, the establishment of the Arab Higher Committee (AHC) in 1936.
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