If you can’t ban Muslims . . . ban their computers

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Dubai carrier Emirates is one of 10 airlines from predominantly Muslim countries affected by the new computer ban. (photo: Marwan Naamani / AFP)

“A Muslim ban by a thousand cuts.”

March 21, 2017

In a scathing opinion written by Judge Derrick K. Watson, the U.S. District Court in Honolulu blocked the Administration’s second travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries. (New York Times)

“The illogic of the Government’s contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed. . . . It would therefore be no paradigmatic leap to conclude that targeting these countries likewise targets Islam.”

Now, the Administration is prohibiting passengers from eight Muslim-majority countries from carrying computers, tablets, and cameras onboard U.S.-bound flights. (The Washington PostIndependent)

“Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Transportation Security Administration acting administrator Huban Gowadia have determined it is necessary to enhance security procedures for passengers at certain last-point-of-departure airports to the United States.”

This despite the U.K. having tried and abandoned a similar ban in 2006, and the utility of such an approach being seriously questioned being raised by security experts. (Independent, The Guardian)

“From a technological perspective, nothing has changed between the last dozen years and today. That is, there are no new technological breakthroughs that make this threat any more serious today. And there is certainly nothing technological that would limit this newfound threat to a handful of Middle Eastern airlines.”

“What appears to be new is this latest overreaction — it appears to be a Muslim ban by a thousand cuts.”

Continue reading “If you can’t ban Muslims . . . ban their computers”

Mr. Friedman, Where Do You Stand on the Demolition of a Palestinian Village and School?

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Students at Khan al Ahmar village school, Palestine (photo: Vento di Terra)

An open letter to Donald Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Israel.

By Donna Baranski-Walker / Mondoweiss.net
March 8, 2017


My question: Do your own donations to support education in the Israeli settlement of Beit El and President Trump’s trust in you put you in a unique position to stop Israel’s demolition of Palestinian communities?


David Friedman, esq.
Nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Israel

Dear Mr. Friedman,

I am writing with urgency. I have asked my Senators Feinstein and Harris to forward my questions to you and request your reply. I am bringing these questions forward because although many speculate about what shape peace between Israelis and Palestinians will take in the future, I am most concerned with how you will assure a future for Palestinians who are being forced from their land right now.

The stakes were always high, but since January 2017, this situation is critical. These past two weeks, I have once again been urging everyone I know to write to their Senators and Representatives to urgently request that they call the Israeli Embassy and the U.S. State Department to prevent the imminent demolition of a West Bank Palestinian school and village, this time the village of Khan al Ahmar. Simultaneously we await word of the State of Israel’s position re the appeal by the Palestinian village of Susiya, calls are arriving from the village of Umm al Kheir about the Israeli Army’s demolition of water catchment cisterns in their area, and more.

Continue reading “Mr. Friedman, Where Do You Stand on the Demolition of a Palestinian Village and School?”

“I’m Part of a Dying Breed that Believes in Two States”

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Jeremy Ben Ami speaks at a J Street conference. (photo: J Street)

The election of Donald Trump has emboldened fears that the two-state solution will officially be tossed into the dustbin of history. But J Street President Jeremy Ben Ami is undeterred.

By Dahlia Scheindlin / +972 Magazine
February 28, 2017


The most important value for J Street that is an issue for the Palestinian community is our Zionism. J Street’s raison d’etre in the Jewish community is to say that — for those American Jews who care about there being a nation-state for the Jewish people — things are going in the wrong direction.


Under the dark cloud of Israeli and American leaders who appear united in their disinterest in a two-state solution, and the growing refrain in policy circles that the “window” is gone, J Street, the organization whose signature policy goal is a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — might have found itself foundering. What new ideas can be found when all avenues to the goal have been exhausted? What role does it have left to play in such a bleak context?

The annual J Street Conference that ended Monday in Washington, D.C., raised all these questions — minus the despair. Organizers said that over 3,500 people had turned out, panel rooms were packed to standing-only. The abundant cheering and whooping sometimes felt spontaneous and emotional, at others seemed tinged with effort to be enthusiastic.

One person whose enthusiasm seems effortless is Jeremy Ben Ami, the founder and president of the liberal Zionist organization. Despite all signs pointing to perdition, Ben Ami is indomitable, ticking off a long list of vital roles J Street has to play in the changed landscape of both America and Israel, and insisting on the singular viability of two-state solution. I spoke to Ben Ami as the conference neared its end on the role J Street must play in influencing U.S. government policy, among other things.

Continue reading ““I’m Part of a Dying Breed that Believes in Two States””

New Entry Law Is a Reminder That Palestinians Live in Israel’s Prison

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Palestinian workers stand in line next to a portion of the separation wall, waiting to cross through the checkpoint from Bethlehem into Israel. (Miriam Alster / Flash90)

The reality in the West Bank is one that resembles a prison, where Israel controls the law, the security, who can leave, and now who can visit.

By Noam Sheizaf / Local Call via +972 Magazine
March 7, 2017


There is no peace process, nor is there a real discussion over one state or two states. Even discussions on whether Israel is an apartheid state have become intellectual fodder for Jews and leftists. The reality is one that resembles a prison, and the prisoners will continue to be held by force . . . .


The Knesset passed a law Monday night denying entry visas or residency rights to foreign nationals who call for boycotts against Israel or the settlements. The law won’t have much of an effect on entry into Israel proper, but rather will mostly affect those trying to enter the West Bank — a solid reminder that the ban is yet another example of the way Israel holds Palestinians prisoners. After all, one can assume that most people who enter the Palestinian territories oppose the settlements or support some version of the boycott.

Because Israel controls every point of entry into areas under Palestinian control in the West Bank, Palestinians cannot leave (without a permit) or come back (without a permit). With the passage of the law, they are no longer allowed to have visitors. In other words: they are prisoners, and these restrictions are just the tip of the iceberg.

Continue reading “New Entry Law Is a Reminder That Palestinians Live in Israel’s Prison”

Fordham’s Decision to Block Pro-Palestine Group Is an Attack on My Academic Freedom

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(photo: townhall.com)

By Jacob Linker / townhall.com
March 13, 2017


Fordham University has a real problem with political speech. In the name of avoiding controversy, they suck the air out of political life on campus and then act surprised that so few are able to take a deep breath. The fear of political polarization or controversy . . . often stifles meaningful dialogue on campus and deprives students of the opportunity to engage in the marketplace of ideas.


I am a proud Jew and a proud American. However, I cannot defend the actions of my school — Fordham University — which has recently blocked the formation of a Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter on campus.

On November 17th, the United Student Government stated that SJP “fulfills a need for open discussion and demonstrates that Fordham is a place that exemplifies diversity of thought.”

However, Dean of Students Keith Eldredge would go on to deny SJP official recognition. He stated that Fordham “cannot support an organization whose sole purpose is advocating political goals of a specific group, and against a specific country.” Seemingly unaware of the irony, he went on to argue that “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict . . . often leads to polarization rather than dialogue.”

Continue reading “Fordham’s Decision to Block Pro-Palestine Group Is an Attack on My Academic Freedom”

172 Scholars Decry Israel’s Travel Ban

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Signatures on the Israeli Declaration of Independence, May 14, 1948. (image: Israeli Knesset)

As published on Mondoweiss.net
March 12, 2017


In spite of our different views, we stand in strong opposition to the new law. It will be bad for Israel, bad for the cause of democracy at this fragile moment, and bad for the principles of free speech and thought on which our scholarship is based.


We, the undersigned scholars of Jewish studies, write to express our dismay over the bill passed on March 6 by the Israeli Knesset that would bar entry to any foreigner who supports the BDS movement or supports boycotting settlements or goods produced in the occupied territories. We are researchers with a wide range of professional, social, and personal ties to Israel and a diverse array of ideological positions. But we are unified in our belief that this law represents a further blow to the democratic foundations of Israel, continuing the process of erosion wrought by a recent series of bills including the Regulation Law, the Suspension of MKs Law, and the NGO Law, as well as the earlier Boycott Law. This is unacceptable. Continue reading “172 Scholars Decry Israel’s Travel Ban”

Mississippi “Dreamer” Speaks Out

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Daniela Vargas, 22, was released Friday from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody. She had been detained after speaking out at a news conference in Jackson, Mississippi. (photo: Elijah Baylis / The Clarion-Ledger)

Daniela Vargas talks about her life before being detained by ICE agents, what life what like in detention and what her hopes are for the future.

By Sarah Fowler / The Clarion-Ledger
March 13, 2017


“We’re all here for the same reason, even Americans.America is the land of the free. Who wouldn’t want to be here?”
— Daniela Vargas


For 10 days, Daniela Vargas existed in a world closed off from the rest of society.

She didn’t eat, didn’t sleep. She cried for the first 48 hours.

She was alive but she wasn’t living. Her new reality was a far cry from the life she knew. The life she knew before immigration agents took her into custody.

But Vargas did what she has been doing since she was a 7-year-old immigrant who didn’t speak the same language as the other first-graders. She adapted.

Continue reading “Mississippi “Dreamer” Speaks Out”

Israel Closes Palestinian Office Tracking Illegal Settlements

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A man takes a photo of the sealed offices of Khalil Tufagji, a prominent Palestinian cartographer, in East Jerusalem. Israeli police raided Tufagji’s office on Mar 14, 2017. His office is to remain closed for six months. (photo: Mahmoud Illean / Associated Press)

Israel briefly detains Palestinian cartographer, confiscates computers and files, and closes his office for six months.

By Joseph Federman / AP and The Washington Post
March 14, 2017


Tufagji is considered the foremost Palestinian expert on Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas claimed by the Palestinians for a future state. . . . More than 200,000 Israelis now live in East Jerusalem, along with a similar number of Palestinians. Israel considers its developments to be neighborhoods of its capital, but the Palestinians and most of the international community label them as illegal settlements.


Israeli police on Tuesday burst into the offices of a Palestinian cartographer who tracks Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and detained him for several hours, accusing him of illegally working for the Palestinian Authority.

It was believed to be the first arrest of its kind since Israel banned the Palestinian Authority from carrying out official business in East Jerusalem in 2001. It also illustrated the deep sensitivities over East Jerusalem, an area with deep religious and strategic significance claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians.

Khalil Tufagji, a former Palestinian negotiator, said police entered his office early Tuesday and confiscated computers and files before taking him away. He was released after several hours. Tufagji denied working for the Palestinian Authority.

Continue reading “Israel Closes Palestinian Office Tracking Illegal Settlements”

U.N. Report Says Israel an “Apartheid State”

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Palestinian boys are seen outside artist Banksy’s newly opened Walled Off hotel in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on March 3. The British street artist recently opened the hotel next to Israel’s separation wall. (photo: Thomas Coex / AFP / Getty Images)

If being an apartheid state means committing inhumane acts, systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another, then Israel is guilty, a United Nations panel has determined in a new report.

By Ruth Eglash / The Washington Post
March 16, 2017


“[Concluding that Israel has established an apartheid regime] is not an easy matter for a United Nations entity. In recent years, some have labeled Israeli practices as racist, while others have warned that Israel risks becoming an apartheid state. A few have raised the question as to whether in fact it already has.”
— Rima Khalaf, U.N. Undersecretary General


Titled, “Israeli Practices Toward the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid,” the report was written by Richard Falk, a former U.N. special rapporteur to the Palestinian territories known for harsh criticisms of both Israel and the United States, and Virginia Tilley, professor of political science at Southern Illinois University.

The two concluded that Israel has established an apartheid regime aimed at dominating the Palestinians. Their recommendations include reviving the U.N. Center Against Apartheid, which closed in 1994 after South Africa ended its apartheid practices. . . .

Dividing the Palestinian people into four distinct groups, the authors write that although they are treated differently by Israel, they all face “the racial oppression that results from the apartheid regime.”

Continue reading “U.N. Report Says Israel an “Apartheid State””

Remembering Rachel: A Message from Cindy & Craig Corrie

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Rachel Corrie (painting by Malak Mattar)

By Cindy & Craig Corrie / Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice
March 16, 2017


“I am also discovering a degree of strength and of the basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances. . . . I think the word is dignity.”
— Rachel Corrie


March 16th, marks the 14th anniversary of the day our daughter Rachel stood in Gaza with other international activists and challenged the Israeli military’s illegal confiscation of Palestinian land and the demolition of Palestinian homes. Rachel’s life was stolen that day, but her spirit was not. As these anniversaries approach, there are sometimes tensions as we struggle to find the best way to remember, and to explain why we do so. But in a moment of illumination, we are reminded that each March 16th is for us another opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to Gaza. It is a place that overflows with suffering, yet is filled with so much more. Rachel wrote to us about the people. “I am also discovering a degree of strength and of the basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances. . . . I think the word is dignity. I wish you could meet these people. Maybe, hopefully, someday you will.”

During the past fourteen years, we have been blessed with our connections to Palestinians in Gaza, in the West Bank, and elsewhere in the world. We have built relationships with them and with Palestinian and Jewish Israelis who reflect the strength and dignity Rachel recognized, and with open hearts and minds steadfastly pursue justice.

Continue reading “Remembering Rachel: A Message from Cindy & Craig Corrie”