Visit with Youth of Sumud and your guides Bana & Sami
Join us for a virtual tour of the South Hebron Hills. During this tour we will visit villages in the southern part of the West Bank where Palestinians remain steadfast and continue to resist the constant threats and attacks from nearby Israeli settlements and outposts. Saurora was abandoned in the 1990’s because of settler violence from the nearby illegal Israeli outpost of Havat Ma’On and the ancient cave homes were damaged or demolished. In 2017, members of Youth of Sumud have begun to revive the village of Saurora – rebuilding the caves and establishing a permanent presence there. Youth of Sumud have also taken on the responsibility of accompannying children who have to travel past neaby settlements and outposts to go to school and farmers who face violence from settlers and Israeli soldiers in their fields.
We will visit with Youth of Sumud and also hear about a new campaign, Defund Racism, a Palestinian-led movement to end the use of ‘charitable’ funds raised in the United States to carry out the mission of Israeli settler organizations.
Your Guides, Bana & Sami!
Bana Abu Zuluf is a researcher and community activist with the Good Shepherd Collective, where she has played a crucial role in developing the Campaign to Defund Racism, helping organize over 200 Palestinian organizations, villages and individuals from across historical Palestine to make the call to stop the flow of charitable money to Israeli settler organizations.
Sami Huraini is a political activist and community organizer in Palestine. Huraini co-founded Youth of Sumud, a nonviolent resistance movement that provides material support for marginalized communities facing settler violence across the West Bank. Youth of Sumud spearheaded the efforts to return a Palestinian presence to the displaced community of Sarura after it been abandoned for over 20 years.
Amer Zahr, founder and producer of the annual 1001 Laughs Ramallah Comedy Festival, is a rising star in both the US and the Middle East. Amer is an Arab-American comedian, speaker, political activist, writer, and adjunct professor at the University of Detroit, Mercy School of Law. “Comedy is my form of protest,” says Amer!
Join us for a conversation between Amer Zahr and Nevine El Nossery, Director of the Middle East Studies Program. We will discuss Amer’s upbringing as an Arab American, how comedy and law intersect, and how it is possible to reconcile multiple identities. We will also talk about how American society and politics affect the lives of immigrants in general and Arab-Americans in particular.
We encourage you to watch Amer Zahr’s documentary, We’re Not White, before his talk on September 13. It’s a very thought-provoking educational resource for talking to students about intersectional matters related to race, ethnicity, and other aspects of identity.
A lot of media focus has rightfully been given to Sheik Jarrah and Gaza recently, but in the South Hebron Hills similar human rights violations are going on which don’t garner as much attention. We invite you to join us and our friends at the Good Shepherd Collective and the Youth of Sumud to explore this important part of the country and the topic of settler/IDF violence.
South Hebron Hills online tour and event
We’ll explore several small Palestinian communities gradually being surrounded by Israeli settlements.
Because of the on-going violence, Palestinian children in Atwuani require a military escort to go to school. The local organization, Youth of Sumud, has led the popular nonviolent resistance struggle against the illegal settlement encroachment. They also re-established a Palestinian village in Sarura after the community had been abandoned for 20 years.
Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills live in fear, not knowing when the bulldozers will come for their homes. Demolition orders are not limited to houses, but also extend to things like the wood burning stones where villagers bake bread and lavatories.
Shahar Perets, who was sentenced to prison for refusing to join the Israeli army, talks about meeting Palestinians for the first time, her visits to the West Bank, and how Israeli society represses the occupation.
Israeli conscientious objector Shahar Perets. (Oren Ziv)
Israeli conscientious objector Shahar Perets was sentenced to 10 days in military prison on Tuesday after announcing her refusal to join the Israeli army over its policies toward Palestinians.
Perets, 18, from the town of Kfar Yona, is one of the 120 teenagers who signed the “Shministim Letter” (an initiative with the Hebrew nickname given to high school seniors) in January, in which they declared their refusal to serve in the army in protest of its policies of occupation and apartheid. In June 2020, she was one of the 400 Israeli teenagers who signed a letter to the Israeli leadership demanding it halts its erstwhile plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank as part of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s so-called peace plan.
On Tuesday morning, dozens of supporters, including Joint List MK Ofer Cassif, accompanied both Perets and conscientious objector Eran Aviv — who will enter his fourth stint behind bars — to the Tel Hashomer induction base in central Israel, where they both told the army they would not serve. Aviv has spent a total of 54 days in military prison for refusing to serve in the army, and was sentenced to an additional 10 days behind bars. After they are released, they will have to return to the induction base and repeat the process until the army decides to discharge them. Military conscription is mandatory for most Jewish Israelis.
Aviv arrived to the induction base in uniform after he began the enlistment process in May, when the army promised him a position that was unrelated to the occupation. When army officials reneged on the promise, he chose to refuse — yet from the IDF’s point of view, he is considered a soldier.
Shahar’s father, Shlomo Perets, who himself sat in prison four times for refusing to serve in Lebanon and the occupied territories, was also there to support his daughter. “These are her choices, she does what she has decided out of awareness, care, and a desire to make a change. I support her and hope that she will succeed in not doing the things that go against her principles and refusing to be what she is not.”
The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project and Palestine Partners successful yard sale during the Orton-Front Festival (above).
August 28, 10 am to 4 pm outside 1820 Rutledge St, Madison [Map]
Madison-Rafah Sister City Project and Palestine Partners will hold our first in-person crafts sale since February 2020, near Yahara Park during the Orton-Front Festival. Stop buy to see beautiful fair-trade crafts from Gaza, Hebron, and other parts of Palestine, including embroidery, ceramics, wood products, jewelry, keffiyehs, and olive oil soap.
You can browse before the sale at the Madison-Rafah Marketplace!
(Rain date is Sunday, August 29 at the same location, from 11 am to 3 pm)
Home Invasions and False Arrests: Aref Jaber defies settlers’ attempts to take over his plot of land near Hebron, and finds himself facing harassment from the army too
On December 11, a structure made of wood and cinder blocks appeared on a piece of land belonging to Aref Jaber of Hebron. Just before he found the structure, relatives told him that Israeli Jews were squatting on his land, on a hill east of Hebron in the West Bank, in an area called al-Bak’aa.
Since that day, Jaber and his family have been constantly harassed: raids on his land and home, other illegal structures going up and being demolished, intrusive drones, imposter Israel Police officers saying they’re from the Shin Bet security service, and false arrests by the army and police.
I am heavy, but hopeful. The last two weeks have been heartbreaking and enraging in so many ways: we see U.S. government fingerprints, our tax dollars at work, on carnage around the world, from Afghanistan to Palestine. Our government has left the Afghan people to a chaotic power vacuum in the aftermath of 20 years of U.S. invasion, and denied refuge to so many. And the U.S. welcomed the new Prime Minister of Apartheid Israel, Naftali Bennett, to the White House just days after Israeli forces shot Palestinian protesters in Gaza, injuring a 13-year-old child.
But as a communication professional in advocacy, I know the power of shifting the narrative to transform what’s possible for future policy. This week we’ve seen people-powered actions disrupting the narratives of the powerful. On Afghanistan, that looks like an outpouring of people’s support for Afghan refugees—follow Afghans for a Better Tomorrow on Instagram and Twitter for one view into the outpouring of community support for providing refuge to Afghans made vulnerable by our disastrous foreign policy. And on Palestine, we’ve been part of a powerful conclusion to August’s month of action this week, with people like you speaking up in the media, in joint letters, and in the streets to condemn this red carpet rollout for war criminal Bennett and push toward an end to U.S. support for Israel’s colonialism once and for all.
Join us by raising your voice: Today the mainstream media is reporting on Israeli PM Bennett and President Biden’s meeting on “peace” and “security,” while an end to billions of dollars of U.S. weapons to bomb, cage, and displace Palestinians remains off the agenda.
Sign this petition to demand President Biden support real justice for Palestinians.
Ahead of President Joe Biden’s first in-person meeting today with newly-elected Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, ADC, along with the undersigned organizations, insists President Biden center core Palestinian calls for justice and demand that the Israeli government ends its ongoing and systemic violations of Palestinian rights, including ending the blockade of Gaza and immediately halting ongoing ethnic cleansing and forced expulsions of hundreds of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, Jerusalem.
Palestinians have suffered under, and resisted, Israeli ethnic cleansing, military occupation, and crimes of apartheid since the creation of the state of Israel. The U.S. has enabled those policies by sending billions of dollars in unconditional military funding and by regularly shielding Israel from accountability in the international arena. If President Biden truly wants to center justice and human rights in U.S. foreign policy, he must finally condemn and take action to end U.S. diplomatic support and military funding for the Israeli government’s ongoing and systemic violations of Palestinian human rights. These include restrictions on freedom of movement; extrajudicial killings; demolitions of homes; ill-treatment and torture of children in military court systems; illegal annexation of land; theft of water and other natural resources; the suffocating blockade of Gaza and deadly and repeated military assaults on Palestinians there; the denial of the right of refugees to return to their homes; and more.
It is painfully clear that without pressure and demands for accountability from the U.S.—including cutting military funding to the Israeli government and sanctions—the Israeli government will continue to violate Palestinian rights. Our tax dollars should be invested in life affirming policies like housing and healthcare, not harm to communities around the globe.
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) Legislative and Policy Coordinator Chris Habiby said,“President Biden has an opportunity with this meeting to shift his administration’s complicity in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people by instead advocating in support of the human rights of Palestinians. He must rise to meet this moment and demonstrate that the US will not stand idly by while Israel routinely kills Palestinians, while they routinely throw Palestinians out of their homes, and while they routinely deny Palestinians access to clean water and medical care – an issue that is of particular importance during a global pandemic.”
Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC) Executive Director Lara Kiswani said, “Biden owes his presidency to the millions of people who rose up to resist racist authoritarianism. He now has an obligation to stand with mass movements demanding change by taking decisive action for the sovereignty of Palestinian people to raise his voice against apartheid, supporting a moratorium on military funding to Israel, demanding an end to the siege on Gaza, and calling for an immediate end to ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem.”
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR) Executive Director Ahmad Abuznaid said, “President Biden is complicit in fueling Israeli violence against the Palestinian people – including the Israeli massacre of Palestinians in Gaza this spring, after which his administration pushed to approve additional weapons sales to Israel. Every Israeli government has advanced Israel’s colonialism and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. The Biden administration has the chance to end our complicity in ongoing Israeli violence once and for all.”