Faith Leaders Oppose F-35 Fighter Jets

Find inspiration and hope reading this full-page ad from the July 29 Wisconsin State Journal.

In an expression of moral solidarity, 39 leaders of local faith organizations clearly state why they oppose bringing F-35 Striker Force jets to our county and our country. Calling on our Senators to stop supporting these deadly war machines, these leaders call on us to demand state and federal officials oppose their deployment and find a new mission for the Wisconsin National Guard at Truax “more in keeping with the humane values of peace, equity, sustainability and concern for the health and security of our community.”

What you can do:

  • “Tell Leader Pelosi: NO COVID-19 relief money for weapons of war!” on Win Without War’s Action page.
  • Contact your House and Senate members and tell them to reject the Pentagon giveaways in COVID-19 relief.

Text of Wisconsin State Journal Ad, 29 July 2020 (PDF of scan):

We, the undersigned faith leaders, wish to publicly raise our voices in opposition to the basing of an F-35A Joint Strike Fighter Force in the Madison community. For a number of reasons, we find this deployment morally offensive and feel compelled to speak out against it.

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Breaking! Fordham University is still trying to silence Students for Justice in Palestine


July 27, 2020

July 27, 2020, New York –  Students asked New York’s Appellate Court on Friday to reject an effort by Fordham University to overturn a decision ordering the school to recognize the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) club. The students are represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, Palestine Legal, and cooperating counsel Alan Levine. 

“It’s ridiculous to us that our university is still trying to censor us now,” said Veer Shetty, vice president of SJP at Fordham. “We’ve already been active for a year, and appealing the court’s ruling feels especially cruel.”

The original case stems from a fall 2015 effort by Fordham University students to start a Students for Justice in Palestine club on campus. Administrators dragged out the application process for a year – including multiple meetings, questioning students on their political views, and amendments to SJP’s constitution.

In November 2016, Fordham’s undergraduate student government approved SJP as a student club. One month later, Fordham University Dean of Students Keith Eldredge took the unprecedented step of vetoing the student government’s approval based on SJP’s “political goals” and the possibility it would lead to “polarization.” 

The Center for Constitutional Rights, Palestine Legal, and Alan Levine sued Fordham on behalf of four students in April 2017, winning the case in August 2019 when a New York court annulled Fordham’s decision, mandating that the university recognize SJP as an official club. 

Fordham appealed the ruling in January 2020. Oral argument is expected in the Court’s September term.  

While all of the original students who wanted to form SJP have since graduated, petitioner Veer Shetty was successfully added to the suit in 2019 as a sophomore who wanted to join SJP.   Shetty has served as SJP’s vice president during the 2019-2020 school year following the legal victory. Fordham is also challenging the ruling accepting Shetty as a petitioner. 

“Last August, the court found that Fordham acted irrationally in banning SJP and ordered Fordham to recognize the club,” said Maria LaHood, deputy legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “Now, even after SJP has been active on campus for a year, Fordham is still shamelessly trying to stop them – for what?”

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Israel demolishes Palestinian coronavirus testing centre

Israeli soldiers watched construction on desperately needed facility for two months before sending in the bulldozers


Palestinian engineer Raed Maswade inspects the rubble of the testing centre after it was demolished by Israeli authorities in Hebron (AFP)

Akram Al-Waara and Mustafa Abu Sneineh, Middle East Eye, 21 July 2020

Israeli authorities have demolished a Palestinian drive-through coronavirus testing centre in the city of Hebron, south of the occupied West Bank.

The West Bank is struggling to contain a second wave of coronavirus infections, after appearing to successfully ward off the pandemic with a strict weeks-long lockdown implemented in March.

Hebron, the territory’s largest city and powerhouse of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) economy, has been hit particularly hard. The PA recorded 65 coronavirus-related deaths in the Palestinian territories on Tuesday.

Hebron municipality has set up a coronavirus crisis centre, but social stigma and the difficulties caused by the Israeli occupation have hindered its response.

Raed Maswadeh, a 35-year-old engineer whose family owns the land in which the drive-through test service was being built, told Middle East Eye that three months ago the municipality had appealed to Palestinians to raise funds to build the facility.

“My family decided to donate our land at the northern entrance of Hebron for the purpose of constructing a Covid-19 test clinic,” Maswadeh said.

It was built in the memory of his grandfather, who died recently due to coronavirus, and Maswadeh said the project cost his family around $250,000.

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If Not Now Rallies Against Annexation


American Jews playing klezmer in front of House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi’s home in San Francisco to demand she take action against annexation.

Over the past few weeks, IfNotNow has organized a series of coordinated, powerful actions to tell our elected officials at both the local and national levels that words alone cannot stop annexation. We are tired of the blank check that the US gives to the Israeli government every year and we are ready to ramp up the fight.

IfNotNow members gathered together and held rallies in front of the homes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Congressman Brad Sherman. We showed the Jewish community’s support for bold action on annexation, like the letter put forward on June 30th by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Pramila Jayapal and nearly a dozen others that advocates for conditioning military funding should the Israeli government move forward with annexation. We did so with shofars, homemade instruments; with stirring, emotional speeches, and with, of course, lots of singing and chutzpah.

See below for some of our favorite photos from these actions!


Young Jews rallying in front of Jared Kushner’s home in Washington, DC to hold him accountable for giving a green light to Netanyahu to move forward with annexation without regard for Palestinian rights.


Jewish IfNotNow leaders marching towards Rep. Brad Sherman’s home in Los Angeles to demand that he support conditioning US military funding to the Israeli government.


American Jews in Detroit making their way to their local Jewish Federation to demand that it stop upholding the occupation and support real action against annexation.

This is just the beginning. We know that getting our government to take real political action to end the occupation will require a movement of American Jews raising our voices for the freedom of both Palestinians and Israelis. In order to do that, we need your help so that we can give more support to the volunteers who made these protests happen and pay for all the materials we use at these rallies.

I am so proud of these actions. I am so proud of our community. I’m so hopeful about what we can do together. Please consider joining me in sustaining our push for justice.

L’chaim,
Naftali
IfNotNow

Israel Raids Cultural Centre and Conservatory of Music


Date: 23 July 2020
Time: 09 30 GMT

On Wednesday, 22 July 2020, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) raided Yabous Cultural Centre and Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (ESNCM) in the center of occupied East Jerusalem and confiscated thousands of documents, files, PCs, tablets, and surveillance cameras. At the same time, IOF raided a house owned by the couple: Rania Elias and Suhail Khouri, Directors of the abovementioned centers, in Beit Hanina village, north of occupied East Jerusalem. IOF searched the house and confiscated several devices and private files and arrested both Khouri and Elias.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns IOF’s illegal and systematic violations targeting the presence of Palestinian associations in occupied East Jerusalem and aiming at altering the city’s features. PCHR calls on the international community to pressure IOF to stop their attacks and attempts to change the city’s features and create Jewish majority in addition to threatening Palestinian presence, last of which was the arrest of Jerusalem’s Mayor a week ago pending investigation, and activating relevant security Council resolutions, including the resolutions that cancel changing the status of the holy city.

According to PCHR’s follow-up, at approximately 09:00 on Wednesday, 22 July 2020, an Israeli force of the police and Intelligence Service raided Yabous Cultural Centre and ESNCM on al-Zahra’a street in occupied East Jerusalem, and confiscated documents, files, PCs, tablets, and surveillance cameras. Mohammed Maraghah, Director of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, said that an Israeli force of police and Intelligence Service stationed adjacent to ESNCM waiting for the staff to arrive before raiding it, alleging that they have a search warrant from the Israeli police and approved by the court, that allow them to search ESNCM and confiscate the devices and files alleging connection to funding terrorism. An Israeli force also arrested Dawoud al-Ghoul, Director of Jerusalem Arts Network – Shafaq after raiding his house in Silwan village, and confiscated documents and files.

Maraghah added that IOF confiscated large numbers of files and PCs, financial files of the years from 2014 – 2020, and 7 PCs and all papers from the center. Mraghah also said that about 15 Israeli police and intelligence officers were inside ESNCM, in addition to other forces deployed in its vicinity. They also confiscated about 21 medium-sized boxes of files and devices from both centers and the surveillance cameras. It should be noted that IOF confiscated devices Khuori and Elias’ house, Directors of both centers. Maraghah emphasized that IOF raided both centers under the pretext of counter-terrorism and alleged having a search warrant by the Israeli court that allowed them to confiscate any content in the center without explanation. Maraghah pointed out that IOF raided ESNCM auditor’s office in Jerusalem.

For his part, Nasser Oudah, the couple’s lawyer, said that Khouri and Elias were detained at Abu Ghnaim police station, south of occupied East Jerusalem on charges of financing terrorist organizations. They were interrogated for 12 consecutive hours and then released with conditions. As for Dawoud al-Ghoul, Director of Jerusalem Arts Network, his detention was extended until appearing before court the next day.

Israeli authorities claimed during a joint statement by the Israeli spokesperson for the Israeli police in Jerusalem, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice, and a spokesperson for the Tax Authority, that the detention was based on confidential investigation of suspicious violations and serious economic crimes related to income tax evasion, money laundering, and other crimes.

It should be noted that Suhail Khouri (57), contributed in establishing multiple artistic and cultural institutions in Palestine in addition to developing ESNCM with its branches spread across Palestinian cities. As for his wife, Rania Elias, who runs Yabous Cultural Centre, a Palestinian civil society organization founded in 1995 and based in East Jerusalem that aims at reviving the cultural life in the occupied city, and shedding a light on the city’s importance, its Arab identity, history, and its religious, political and cultural influences.

PCHR believes that IOF’s practices are illegal and falls under a systematic policy adopted by the Israeli occupation authorities against occupied East Jerusalem and its associations since its occupation in June 1967, which aims at uprooting Palestinians from the city, deleting their heritage and fighting any proof of their existence and history in the city; changing its features in favor of settlement expansion and to create a Jewish majority and identity to the City to impose facts on the ground that nullify the Palestinian right to it.

PCHR also emphasizes that East Jerusalem is an occupied city and that all measures taken by the Israeli occupation authorities following the occupation of the city in 1967 do not change its legal status as an occupied territory.

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Palestinians say Israel stole ancient baptismal font from Bethlehem town


THE ANCIENT BAPTISMAL FONT ALLEGEDLY STOLEN FROM TUQU BY ISRAELI FORCES. (PHOTO: MA’AN NEWS AGENCY)

YUMNA PATEL, Mondoweiss, JULY 20, 2020

Palestinians from a Bethlehem-area town are accusing Israeli forces of illegally seizing an ancient artifact from their town in the predawn hours of Monday morning. 

The incident took place in the southern occupied West Bank town of Tuqu, which is said to be the birthplace of the biblical prophet Amos, and is home to a number of Byzantine-era archaeological sites. 

Video footage, purportedly taken by residents of Tuqu, shows Israeli military forces escorting a large flatbed truck out of the village in the middle of the night. 

    ما زالت عصابات الاحتلال والعدو الصهيوني تقوم بسرقة الاثار وقرصنة لطمس الهوية الفلسطينية بعد ان نهبت الارض وهجرت سكانها بارتكاب الجرائم. لقد قامو الليله بمصادرة وسرقة حوض العماد القطعة الاثرية التي يزيد عمرها عن ١٦٠٠ عام حيث كان موجود بالخربة الاثرية خربة تقوع وتم الاحتفاظ به منذ عام ٢٠٠٠ عند منزلي لحتى وضعه بمتحف في البلده . الا انهم وبدون سابق انذار قامو بمداهمة المنزل وسرقة . يعتقدون بسرقتهم انهم قادرين على ان يطمسو هويتنا . نناشد وزارة الاثار برفع شكوى ضد هذه السرقة واسترداده .
    Posted by Tayseer Abu Mfreh on Sunday, July 19, 2020

On the bed of the truck is a massive stone, alleged to be a baptismal font that dates back to the sixth century A.D., that was once part of an ancient church in the village. 

The unique octagonal shape of the stone, which has been widely studied by Palestinian cultural organizations, is easily identifiable in the video. 

The baptismal font is reported to be one of three rare basins of its kind. The other two were found in the Church of Nativity, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, and the Church of Beit Jibrin, an ancient Palestinian village near Hebron that was forcibly depopulated in 1948. 

According to Wafa news agency, the same baptismal font was stolen by “unauthorized dealers” back in 2000, before being returned by Palestinian authorities to Tuqu in 2002. 

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Release Palestinian bodies for burial

Even in death, we are not free – we are held hostage in a frozen medical lab in Israel.

The Israeli military murdered Ahmed Erekat, a deeply loved 27-year-old son, brother, and fiancé, on June 23rd. He was shot and killed as he was running errands for his sister on her wedding day. His body is currently being held hostage at the Greenberg National Institute of Forensic Medicine, which is part of Tel Aviv University. His mother and father simply want to say goodbye to their child and lay their son to rest, but the Israeli government is refusing to return him to his family unless they promise not to bring a legal case against the Israeli soldier who murdered their boy.

The L. Greenberg National Institute of Forensic Medicine is part of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine, which has a New York State/American program that is registered and accredited as a New York State medical school.

The Greenberg Institute is complicit in this crime, when they could instead force the Israeli government to return this body to the family by refusing to cooperate in holding it hostage.

This is an urgent call to faculty, universities, and all honourable people around the world to boycott and cut ties with Tel Aviv University & the Greenberg Institute until they end their complicity in this crime, and Ahmed and other detained Palestinian bodies are freed, without stipulation, to their families and loved ones for burial.

Please sign this petition, then share it on your social media profile tagging your academic institution and insisting that they cut all ties with the Greenberg National Institute and Tel Aviv University until they return the corpses of all detained Palestinians to their families for a proper burial and to cease the practice of withholding corpses of Palestinians immediately.

Currently, there are frozen corpses of 63 Palestinians withheld in the Greenberg Forensic Institute or other Israeli police morgues, without any promise for return.

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