Ghosting Palestine: Hiding health and human rights violations

Palestinian doctors receive the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine at the Ministry of Health, in Gaza City, on February 22, 2021. (photo: Ashraaf Amra / APA images)
A global alliance of academic health and humanitarian advocates call out the power imbalance between the settler colonial state and the colonized in Palestine.

By Alice Rothchild | Health and Human Rights Journal | July 26, 2021

Since the founding of Israel, efforts to document Palestinian history and rights has consistently been met by well-organized protests that include a large number of letters to journals and media outlets and hostile personal attacks on authors and editors.

Journals in the medical, social, and political sciences have begun to highlight an appreciation of structural racism, and the personal and public health costs of bigotry and chronic stress. For oppressed populations, understanding these forces is critical to the establishment of basic human rights, including the right to health in its broadest sense: access to health services, clean water, sanitation, nutrition, housing, education, employment, and freedom of movement. International human rights law requires states to support these rights and calls out governments, groups, or individuals who violate these principles. However, there is one area of scholarship where these insights often do not apply, and that is Palestine.

The recent retraction of the article in Scientific American, “As Health Care Workers, We Stand in Support of Palestine,” is the latest example. The COVID-19 pandemic and repeated Israeli assaults have made it clear that the health of Palestinians is dependent on their liberation and the end of the Israeli occupation and siege

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Watching their land shrinking and their freedoms restricted, Palestinians take initiative

Palestinians protest the death of opposition activist Nizar Benat shortly after he was detained by Palestinian security forces in Ramallah, West Bank on June 26, 2021. (photo:  Issam Rimawi / Anadolu Agency)
Young Palestinians firmly believe that the only way out is to take things into their own hands.

By Yousef Aljamal |  Politics Today | July 26, 2021

Many Palestinians today feel that the PA falls short of adopting a discourse that reflects their visions under Israeli military occupation and apartheid.

Most young Palestinians were born after the signing between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel of the Oslo Accords in the White House in 1993. The agreement was based on the two-state solution paradigm and promised Palestinians peace and a sovereign state; however, the agreement has never materialized. Palestinian intellectuals such as Edward Said, Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, and Walid Khalidi, foresaw that the Oslo Accords were a trap for the PLO, with Said calling it a “second Nakba.”

Long ago young Palestinians lost any hope in the so-called peace process, which served only to marginalize the PLO’s role by creating a Palestinian Authority (PA) that has a limited sovereignty and power, and that would serve as a barrier between them and the Israeli occupation. The Oslo Accords have turned the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from occupied territories to disputed territories. Israel has not stopped building new settlements in the Palestinian territories and the land of the future Palestinian state has shrunk over time, while the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank has jumped to over half a million.

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A Palestinian activist fights the IDF and the Palestinian Authority

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Issa Amro walks through the market of Hebron’s Old City on June 27, 2021. (photo: Emmanuel Dunand / AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)
Disenchanted with corrupt Palestinian self-governance and Israeli apathy, Issa Amro looks to American Jews for change.

By Elhanan Miller | Tablet | July 20, 2021

“I knew that participating in a public meeting with Blinken would have a political cost for me, because there are Palestinians who don’t like the U.S., and they’re right.”
— Issa Amro, Palestinian political activist

When Issa Amro was invited to an intimate meeting with Antony Blinken in Ramallah in May, he decided to aim straight for the heart. “As a Jew, is this your dream?” Amro rhetorically asked him. “Did you dream of seeing an apartheid state?”

A native of Hebron, Amro warned the American secretary of state of the “Hebronization” of East Jerusalem and the entire West Bank. By “Hebronization” he means the extension of a dual legal system for Israelis and Palestinians, the closing of main roads to Palestinian pedestrians and shop owners, and social segregation.
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Israeli spyware maker is in spotlight amid reports of wide abuses

An NSO Group display at the European Police Congress in Berlin last February. (photo: Hannibal Hanschke / Reuters)
Data leaked to a consortium of news organizations suggests that several countries use Pegasus, a powerful cyberespionage tool, to spy on rights activists, dissidents and journalists.

By Ronen Bergman and Patrick Kingsley | The New York Times | July 20, 2021

The allegations may escalate concerns that the Israeli government has abetted government abuses by granting NSO an export license to sell software to countries that use it to suppress dissent.

TEL AVIV — A major Israeli cyber-surveillance company, NSO Group, came under heightened scrutiny Sunday after an international alliance of news outlets reported that governments used its software to target journalists, dissidents and opposition politicians.

The Israeli government also faced renewed international pressure for allowing the company to do business with authoritarian regimes that use the spyware for purposes that go far afield of the company’s stated aim: targeting terrorists and criminals.

NSO strongly denied the claims.

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“This BDS win is because of our people power”: Ben & Jerry’s vows to stop sales in Israeli West Bank settlements

On Monday Ben & Jerry’s announced that it would stop selling ice cream in Israeli settlements. Israel has promised to fight the move “with all our might,” while activists say it is yet another sign of how BDS is entering the mainstream.

By Michael Arria  | Mondoweiss  | July 19, 2021

“We hope Ben & Jerry’s has understood that, in harmony with its social justice commitments, there can be no business as usual with apartheid Israel.”
— The Palestinian BDS National Committee

On Monday Ben & Jerry’s announced that it would stop selling ice cream in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. The move comes after years of pressure from activists in the company’s home state of Vermont.

“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT),” reads a statement on the company’s website. “We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.”

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The America that Israel and Palestine need

(photo: The Kansas City Star file photo)
Joe Biden promised to make democracy and human rights central to US foreign policy. But that means not insisting on Israel’s right to defend itself without mentioning its expansion of settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, its policy of discrimination, and its denial of the Palestinians’ right to an independent state.

By Mohamed Elbaradei | Project Syndicate | July 16, 2021

Over five decades, I have seen how the US approach to upholding Palestinians’ rights has become almost apologetic.

Vienna – For many generations of Arab youth, mine included, studying and working in the United States was a coveted opportunity to experience freedoms, possibilities, and the sense of egalitarianism that the American way of life embodied. It was a doubly enriching experience for those of us raised in authoritarian or conservative societies. It was thrilling to be able to think and act independently, without societal pressure. I was excited to take home some of the lessons I learned from a functioning democracy, not least the vital role of freedom of expression, the importance of civil society, and the exceptional benefits of empowering people.

Of course, I was also aware of the US system’s failings, and in particular the perpetuation of racism and inequality. I remember the Jim Crow laws enforcing racial segregation in the former Confederate states, and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., who articulated African-Americans’ dreams of equality and human decency. But I was hopeful that America’s democratic system had the tools it needs for self-correction. I remain so, based on the major transformations in values, laws, and mindsets that I witnessed.

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A Deep Dive with Jewish Voice for Peace

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Please join our brothers and sisters with the United Methodists Kairos Response (UMKR) who are leading the struggle for Palestinian rights in the United Methodist Church.  JVP’s Organizing Director, Lisbeth Melendez Rivera, and Dr. Alice Rothchild,  leader of the JVP Health Advisory Council will be speaking.
Date: Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Time: 10:00 am Pacific time, 1:00 pm Eastern time
Location: Zoom On-line
Information: Registration information here →
Tickets: Free
Event Details

Alice Rothchild is a physician, professor, author, and filmmaker who has focused her interest in human rights and social justice on the Israel/Palestine conflict since 1997. A practicing Ob-Gyn for almost 40 years, she served as Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Harvard Medical School, until her retirement. Rothchild writes and lectures widely, has contributed to a number of anthologies, and is the author of several books related to Israel/Palestine, including “Condition Critical: Life and Death in Israel/Palestine.”
She directed the documentary film, Voices Across the Divide, and is currently working on a middle grade children’s book, a young adult novel, and a memoir in verse. She serves on the board and as a mentor for the We Are Not Numbers program in Gaza, on the board of the Gaza Mental Health Foundation, and on the steering committee of Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council.

Lisbeth Meléndez Rivera, MAL, is a 30+ year veteran of the LGBTQ and labor movements, with extensive experience organizing and training at the intersections of sexual orientation, gender identity, racial/ethnic identity, and culture related explicitly to communities of color in the United States. She has crisscrossed the country, training workers and community leaders in organizing, leadership development, and community building strategies from a grassroots perspective. Most recently, Lisbeth was the Director of Faith Outreach & Training at the Human Rights Campaign. She is a graduate of the United Theological Seminary with a master’s in Theology and Social Transformation.

More information here →

Joint militias: How settlers and soldiers teamed up to kill four Palestinians

A settler, armed with an automatic rifle, aims and opens fire at Palestinian villagers, Urif, May 14, 20201. (photo: Mazen Shehadeh)
A Local Call investigation reveals how on a single day in May, Israeli settlers and soldiers cooperated in attacks that left four Palestinians dead. The unprecedented spate of joint assaults has inaugurated a new era of terror.

By Yuval Abraham | +972 Magazine | July 15, 2021

“While the settlers did all of that, the soldiers covered for them by gunfire,”
— Mazen Shehadeh, head of the village council

Nidal Safadi was a quiet man, his neighbors said. He lived in Urif, a Palestinian village of several thousand people in the West Bank. Just 25, Safadi had three children with his wife and a fourth, a girl, on the way.

Urif is not always quiet. With the Palestinian city of Nablus less than 10 miles away, the occupying Israeli military established a base on a nearby hilltop in 1983. A year later, it was turned over to civilian purposes: part of Israel’s illegal settlement program in the Palestinian territories. Since 2000, the settlement, called Yitzhar, has been home to a yeshiva known for its hard-line Jewish nationalist views; the settlement has become known for its extremism. The so-called outpost settlements it has spurred — illegal even by Israeli law, but nonetheless defended by the Israel Defense Forces — have gradually encroached on villages like Urif. Over the past 10 years, settler aggressions have given rise to violent recriminations between the Israelis and Palestinians living nearby.

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More big investors dump Israeli settlement profiteers

Investing in firms involved in Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements presents an “unacceptable risk” of contributing to violations of Palestinian rights, says Norway’s KLP. (photo: Ahmad Al-Bazz / ActiveStills)
Norways largest pension company KLP takes action that highlights the negative impact of the settlements on Palestinians.

By Adri Nieuwhof | The Electronic Intifada | July 8, 2021

“Investors should not be profiting from human rights violations like the illegal confiscation and settlement of Palestinian land,”
— Christy Hoffman, general secretary of UNI Global Union

Norway’s largest pension fund KLP excluded 16 companies from its holdings over their links to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The pension fund dumped the settlement profiteers because there is “an unacceptable risk” that they will contribute to human rights violations.

The divestment is particularly significant not just because of its scale but also because KLP drew on the UN’s database of companies involved with Israel’s settlements.

KLP said it sold assets worth more than $31 million in the excluded companies.

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Palestinian American Christians appeal to Biden: Reconsider US policy on Hamas

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 25, 2021. (photo: Thaer Ganaim / APA Images)
Assigning the label “terrorist organization,” they say, hides a more complicated truth.

By Jeff Wright | Mondoweiss | July 9, 2021

“We believe that assigning the label of ‘terrorist organization’ to Hamas hides the more complicated truth that Hamas is a reflection and result of the untenable and unjust status quo in the land,”
— Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace (PCAP) letter

In a recent letter addressed to President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken, the Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace (PCAP) builds on remarks made by Blinken in Ramallah on May 25. During his press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Blinken acknowledged Palestinians’ aspirations “to live in freedom; to have their basic rights respected, including the right to choose their own leaders; to live in security; to have equal access to opportunity for themselves, for their children; to be treated with dignity.”

The letter, written by the board of PCAP, acknowledges “that more positive cooperation has been taking place between the United States and the Palestinians.” While citing the reopening of the American consulate in East Jerusalem, the resumption of financial assistance to UNRWA, and the U.S. commitment to provide aid to the Gaza Strip, the letter states, “…we believe that much more than these limited actions and words must transpire for democracy, justice and peace to prevail.”

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