I Support Boycotting Settlements — Should I Be Banned From Visiting Israel With My Children?

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Participants in the Open Hillel Conference, Harvard University. (photo: Gili Getz)

On Monday, the Knesset passed a law denying entry to any person “who knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel” or any territory “under Israeli control,” which includes settlements in the West Bank. I’m one of those people.

By Peter Beinart / The Forward
March 8, 2017


Now, it seems, the Knesset wants me to choose. Either stop visiting Israel or stop opposing the occupation. In a variety of ways, that’s the deal Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been offering American Jews for close to a decade now. Embrace Israel at the cost of your principles or embrace your principles at the cost of Israel.


I have a theory about American Jewish kids and Israel. I’m trying it out on my own children.

My theory boils down to “Love first, truth later.” When my kids near adulthood, I’ll encourage them to visit the West Bank. I’ll encourage them to see for themselves what it means to hold millions of people as noncitizens, under military law, without free movement or due process. I’ll encourage them to read real histories of Israel’s war of independence, histories that explode the myth that most Palestinian refugees left their homes willingly. I’ll encourage them to consume as much Palestinian poetry, literature, journalism and film as possible. I want them to see how Israel looks from the other side.

But not too early. My fear is that if they encounter harsh truths at too young an age, it will drive them away. They’ll grow to hate Israel, or wash their hands of it. I’ve seen that happen a lot.

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Israel’s Far-Right Demagogue Bringing Fringe Beliefs to the Center

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Bezalel Smotrich wants the Israeli military to be allowed to kill children who throw stones. (photo: Youtube)

Bezalel Smotrich has transformed himself from radical activist into a mainstream politician with an extremist manifesto.

By Emma Graham-Harrison / The Guardian
March 11, 2017


“A healthy person — who loves those who love him and hates those who hate him — doesn’t turn the other cheek.”
— Bezalel Smotrich


Bezalel Smotrich has backed segregated maternity wards separating Jewish and Arab mothers, called for government reprisal attacks on Palestinians and once organized a homophobic “Beast Parade” protest against Gay Pride. He is also a member of Israel’s Knesset, a confident polemicist and increasingly prominent political figurehead for the country’s ascendant far-right.

Like the far-right European and American politicians who have upended the political order further west, his stock in trade is drawing fringe beliefs into the political mainstream, shifting the centre of debate.

A commitment to defending settlements on Palestinian land, deemed illegal under international law, runs through his personal and political life. He was born in one, lives in one now and, in one of his most recent forays into controversy, he likened the evacuation of Amona, an outpost deemed illegal by Israel’s own courts, to “a brutal rape.”

He wants the Israeli military to be able to shoot to kill when children throw stones, flatly rejects a two-state solution and believes Jews have a divine right to all land that made up biblical Israel, he told Haaretz newspaper in a recent interview. “Looking after my people means that the whole land of Israel is mine, religiously, historically and also in practical terms,” he said. “I abort their [Palestinian] hopes of establishing a state.”

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Israel’s Travel Ban Backlash: Over 100 Jewish Studies Scholars Threaten to Not Visit Israel in Protest

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Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University (photo: Michael Walzer)

“In spite of our different views, we stand in strong opposition to the new law,” petition reads, while other liberal U.S. Jews warn new law will cause drift toward BDS camp.

By Taly Krupkin / Haaretz
March 10, 2017


“I’m very disappointed that Israel cannot deal with criticism in a democratic manner, and instead has to ban people who do not agree with the current government’s policy, Zionists, friends of Israel, people who feel deeply connected to the country.”
— David Biale, Professor of Jewish History, U.C. Davis


Dozens of prominent Jewish scholars worry they won’t be able to visit Israel anymore, citing a new law entitling the government to deny entry to supporters of boycotts against the country or its settlements in occupied territory. Meanwhile, only days after the passing of the new law, more than 100 Jewish studies scholars have signed a letter in which they threaten to refrain from visiting Israel in protest.

“Among us are those who oppose the BDS movement, those who oppose BDS but support a settlement boycott, and those who support BDS,” says the petition that has come to the attention of Haaretz, although it has not yet been published.

“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 hope that the Israeli judiciary will overturn the new law and assure us that our political speech will not prevent us from continuing our rich scholarly interactions with Israeli colleagues in the field of Jewish studies. Should the law stand, we may no longer be permitted — nor permit ourselves — to enter the State of Israel.”

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Chair of U.K. Palestine Solidarity Campaign Refused entry to Israel

Hugh Lanning
(photo: The Jewish Chronicle)

Hugh Lanning was refused entry just a week after the Knesset passed a law banning foreign nationals who call for boycotts.

By Rosa Doherty / The Jewish Chronicle
March 13, 2017


“We call upon the British Government to make clear to Israel that it is not acceptable for it to ban entry to British citizens whose only crime is to advocate for human rights of the Palestinian people and to protest against policies that violate those rights.”
— Ben Jamal, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign


The chairman of the [U.K.] Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has been prevented from entering Israel.

Hugh Lanning was refused entry on Sunday, just a week after the Knesset passed a law banning foreign nationals who call for boycotts.

Lanning would likely have been barred prior to the introduction of the law due to a longstanding policy to refuse entry to boycott activists; however, border police told him he had been blocked due to the new legislation.

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister, also made explicit the link between the new law and the treatment of Lanning, saying on Sunday evening: “Those acting against Israel need to understand that reality is changing. No sane country would permit entry to the main activists calling for its boycott and who work leave it isolated.”

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The Occupation Is Indefensible, Settlements Are an “Absurd Provocation” — Richard Gere

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Richard Gere during a press conference at the Israeli premiere of the movie “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer,” in Jerusalem, Mar 9, 2017. (photo: Dan Balilty / AP)

Star of “Norman” had a hard time deciding whether to come to Israel for local premiere: “I had people living here who told me, ‘Look, no good will come of this. The bad guys will use you.’”

By Allison Kaplan Sommer / Haaretz
March 12, 2017


“Obviously this occupation is destroying everyone. There’s no defense of this occupation. Settlements are such an absurd provocation and, certainly in the international sense, completely illegal — and they are certainly not part of the program of someone who wants a genuine peace process. Just to be clear about this: I denounce violence on all sides of this. And, of course, Israelis should feel secure. But Palestinians should not feel desperate.”
— Richard Gere


Richard Gere says his decision to travel to Jerusalem last week for the Israeli premiere of his new film, “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer,” wasn’t easy.

Perched on a bench in the courtyard of the Jerusalem Cinematheque, a sweeping view of Jerusalem behind him, the movie star and human-rights activist told Haaretz that despite the fact he has traveled to the country numerous times in the past, this visit “was more complex than any other time I’ve come here.”

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Obama Was the Most Pro-Israel President Since Truman

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“Netanyahu invariably repaid Obama’s generosity with ingratitude and abuse.” (photo: Stuxnet Documentary, LLC / BBC)

Believe it or not, Barack Obama had Israel’s best interest at heart. Trump, on the other hand, will drive a stake through hopes of peace.

By Avi Shlaim / The Guardian
January 17, 2017


That Obama detests Netanyahu is common knowledge. What is less well known is that Obama’s personal antipathy towards the prime minister co-exists with a genuine commitment to the welfare and security of the Jewish state.


America has not one but two special relationships: one with Britain and one with Israel. When the two clash, the alliance with Israel usually trumps the one with Britain, as Tony Blair discovered to his cost in 2003. For the sake of the special relationship Blair dragged Britain into a disastrous war in Iraq, but in the aftermath of the war his American allies reneged on their promise to push Israel into a settlement with the Palestinians. Blair was no match to the power of the Israel lobby in the US. With American complicity, Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories has now reached its 50th year and there is still no light at the end of the tunnel.

American politicians of both parties often use the mantra that the bond with Israel is unbreakable. But Israel’s continuing drift to the right has imposed serious strains on the relations with its principal ally and chief benefactor. In America, Israel is essentially an issue in domestic politics rather than foreign policy. And it is the subject of deep disagreement between the outgoing Obama administration and the incoming Trump administration.

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Perhaps the Messiah Will Come

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Uri Avnery (photo: countercurrents.org)

The only real solution is the much-maligned “Two States for Two peoples,” the one declared dead many times. It’s either that solution or the destruction of both peoples.

by Uri Avnery / antiwar.com
March 11, 2017


Right after the foundation of the State of Israel, God appeared to David Ben-Gurion and told him, “You have done good by my people. Utter a wish and I shall grant it.”
“I wish that Israel shall be a Jewish and a democratic state and encompass all the country between the Mediterranean and the Jordan,” Ben-Gurion replied.
“That is too much even for me!” God exclaimed. “But I will grant you two of the three.”


If someone had told me 50 years ago that the rulers of Israel, Jordan and Egypt had met in secret to make peace, I would have thought that I was dreaming.

If I had been told that the leaders of Egypt and Jordan had offered Israel complete peace in return for leaving the occupied territories, with some exchanges of territory and a token return of refugees, I would have thought that the Messiah had come. I would have started to believe in God or Allah or whoever there is up there.

Yet a few weeks ago it was disclosed that the rulers of Egypt and Jordan had indeed met in secret last year with the Prime Minister of Israel in Aqaba, the pleasant sea resort where the three states touch each other. The two Arab leaders, acting de facto for the entire Arab world, had made this offer. Benyamin Netanyahu gave no answer and went home.

So did the Messiah.

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I Am a Muslim — Ask Me Anything

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Faiez Ahmad joins two of his friends in Westlake Park. About 30 or 40 people stopped by to speak to them, including people attending a St. Patrick’s Day Parade. (photo: Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

Locals joined the national effort on “Meet a Muslim Day” to dispel myths about Islam.

By Tyrone Beason / The Seattle Times
March 11, 2017


“I’m here to say that our religion is for peace. Islam is for peace . . . Most people don’t care about religion. They care about peace.”
— Ahmad Bilal


Ahmad Bilal, Faiez Ahmad and Luqman Munir couldn’t have been better positioned to talk about being Muslims than the cultural crossroads of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle on Saturday.

The trio, all members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, took part in the organization’s “Meet a Muslim Day,” an effort in cities around the country to dispel myths about Islam and put a human face on a population that’s been the subject of stereotypes, public suspicion and in extreme cases, threats and violence.

For three hours on a showery Saturday, the men stood among the throngs of tourists and St. Patrick’s Day parade spectators at a corner of Fourth and Pine with a sign that read, “I am a Muslim: Ask me anything.”

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The 1930’s Were Humanity’s Darkest Hour. Are You Paying Attention?

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German chancellor Adolf Hitler amid huge crowds at a rally to mark the Bückeberg Harvest Festival on Oct 1, 1934. (photo: Hulton Archive / Getty)

A decade haunted by mass poverty, violent extremism and world war gives us one crucial advantage: the chance to learn the era’s lessons and avoid its mistakes.

By Jonathan Freedland / The Guardian
March 11, 2017


Witness the remarks of Steve Bannon, chief strategist in Donald Trump’s White House and the former chairman of the far-right Breitbart website. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Bannon promised that the Trump era would be “as exciting as the 1930’s.” (In the same interview, he said “Darkness is good” – citing Satan, Darth Vader and Dick Cheney as examples.)


Even to mention the 1930s is to evoke the period when human civilization entered its darkest, bloodiest chapter. No case needs to be argued; just to name the decade is enough. It is a byword for mass poverty, violent extremism and the gathering storm of world war. “The 1930’s” is not so much a label for a period of time than it is rhetorical shorthand — a two-word warning from history.

Witness the impact of an otherwise boilerplate broadcast by the Prince of Wales last December that made headlines: “Prince Charles warns of return to the ‘dark days of the 1930s’ in Thought for the Day message.” Or consider the reflex response to reports that Donald Trump was to maintain his own private security force even once he had reached the White House. The Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman’s tweet was typical: “That 1930s show returns.”

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Muhammad Ali’s Son Detained … Again

House Democrats Hold Forum On Trump Administration Immigration Policies
Muhammad Ali Jr. and his mother Khalilah Camacho-Ali participate in an immigration enforcement forum with Democratic members of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol on Mar 9. (photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

A month after being detain while returning to the U.S., the son of “The Greatest” was detained again before boarding a domestic flight in Washington, D.C.

By Marissa Payne and Des Bieler / The Washington Post
March 10, 2017


“We must step into the ring and fight this thing and keep fighting it until it’s done.”
— Khalilah Camacho-Ali, wife of the late Muhammad Ali


A month after Muhammad Ali’s son and his mother, Ali’s second wife Khalilah Camacho-Ali, were detained in a Florida airport allegedly for their “Arabic-sounding names,” he says he was held up again, this time at Reagan National Airport on Friday. He and his mother had come to Washington to lobby to end racial profiling, and he was trying to board a flight back to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

A lawyer for Ali, Chris Mancini, said that as the son of the former heavyweight champion was trying to board a Jet Blue flight, he was detained by Department of Homeland Security officials for about 20 to 25 minutes. According to comments Mancini made to the New York Daily News, they rejected his identification and repeatedly asked where he was from, before allowing the 44-year-old to board after he produced his U.S. passport.

“None of this was happening Wednesday,” Mancini said of the Alis’ trip to D.C. in remarks to the Associated Press. “Going to Washington obviously opened up a can of worms at DHS.”

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