I’m Jewish, and I want people to boycott Israel

The country must be held accountable for its human rights abuses.

Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace
The Washington Post, June 24, 2016

In 2009, I was living in Tel Aviv during Operation Cast Lead. During that offensive, Israel killed about 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza. When small numbers of us went out into the streets to protest the war, we were often pelted with eggs or attacked by passersby. When I dropped my children off at their preschool, parents chatted as if nothing unusual was going on. When they asked me what was wrong, I would tell them I was deeply upset about what was happening just 40 miles away. Their response: awkward silence, or an angry defense of Israel’s actions.

The Old City walls of Jerusalem (EPA/JIM HOLLANDER)

I wanted to take concrete action to bring about freedom and full rights for Palestinians. So I embraced the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. The non-violent effort, started in 2005 by a broad coalition of Palestinian civil society organizations, is a call for solidarity from the international community until Israel complies with international law and ends its violations of Palestinian rights. It’s hard going though — the governor of my own state, New York, recently condemned BDS in a unilateral executive order.

Seven years later, there have been two more horrific assaults on Gaza. About 500 Palestinian children were killed in 2014. Even when there are no intensive bombing campaigns, Palestinians in Gaza live under siege. West Bank residents are severely curtailed by Israel’s matrix of control in the area, including checkpoints, administrative detention and home demolitions. Inside Israel, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship live in a system of unequal laws and rights. Outside of Israel, refugees cannot return home.

Of course, during this time there have been attacks on Israeli civilians too. These are a horrifying symptom of ongoing occupation and repression, as Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai pointed out after a recent attack in Tel Aviv killed four Jewish Israelis.

I believe that Israel won’t change its policies until outside pressure becomes impossible to ignore. BDS is a powerful way to encourage the state to act. And during my time with the movement, we’ve had growing success. Mainstream churches have divested from companies profiting from the occupation. Dozens of American campuses have passed divestment resolutions. More than 100 artists refuse to perform in Israel, and multinational corporations like G4S and Veolia have withdrawn from the Israeli market.

During this time, there’s also been a shift in public opinion. A 2015 Brookings Institute poll found that 49 percent of Democrats support imposing economic sanctions against Israel over settlement construction. A Pew poll released last month found that for the first time, liberal Democrats were more sympathetic to Palestinians than to Israelis. In May, the research firm Ipsos found that one-third of Americans support the boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel until it respects Palestinian rights.

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Poll: Small majority of Palestinians and Israelis support two-state solution

Ma’an News Agency, August 22, 2016

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an ) — A small majority of both Palestinians and Israelis support the two-state solution despite their differing views on the terms of a permanent settlement to peace negotiations, a survey published on Monday found.

The survey, conducted jointly by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in Ramallah and the Jerusalem-based Israel Democracy Institute (IDI), showed that 51 percent of polled Palestinians supported the two-state solution, compared to 58.5 percent of Israelis — 53 percent among Jews and 87 percent among Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.

The survey also found that two sides underestimated each other’s capacity for compromise and viewed the other’s intentions as threatening.

“Nonetheless, at least a quarter of the opposition to a permanent settlement on both sides is flexible and it is likely that its opinion might be changed with the right incentives,” the report stated.

Fewer Palestinians than Israelis supported a peace agreement based on compromise — 39 percent compared to 46 percent of surveyed Israelis.

The terms of the compromise included a demilitarized Palestinian state, an Israeli withdrawal to the Green Line with equal territorial exchange, a family unification in Israel of 100,000 Palestinian refugees, West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, and slitting sovereignty of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City between Jewish and Muslim holy sites.

In terms of the nature of peace talks, Palestinians said they preferred multilateral negotiations (44 percent) while the Israelis said they preferred the bilateral option (40 percent), in line with the views of their respective governments.

Meanwhile, a quarter of Israelis and 35 percent of Palestinians told the pollsters they supported a one-state solution.

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Death threats and detainment: Opposing the Israeli occupation when Palestinian

This article has raised concern about the welfare of Al Mezan Center for Human Rights staff and our other friends and fellow civil society activists in Rafah and Gaza.

Attacks on human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are recurrent, and are part of a consistent Israeli policy targeting voices critical of the prolonged military occupation at the hands of the State of Israel.

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, 19 August 2016

A demonstrator waves a Palestinian flag in front of Israeli soldiers during a protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah August 12, 2016A demonstrator waves a Palestinian flag in front of Israeli soldiers during a protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah August 12, 2016 (REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)

This statement was originally published on cihrs.org on 19 August 2016.

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) stands in full solidarity with its long standing partners and leading human rights organizations and groups working on Palestinians rights, who are currently facing rising attacks, harassment, intimidation and smear campaigns aimed at undermining their human rights work and silencing their voices. We believe that this wave of intimidation is directly linked to their credible, professional work to push for accountability for human rights and humanitarian law violations taking place in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

Attacks on human rights defenders in the OPT are recurrent, and are part of a consistent Israeli policy targeting voices critical of the prolonged military occupation regime and the systematic rights violations in the OPT. These attacks have reached an extremely worrying level by turning into death threats, among other serious forms of intimidations, against prominent Palestinian advocates and their families. CIHRS condemns in the strongest terms such attacks, and demands that they be halted immediately. An independent and through investigation should be opened into all incidents documented, and perpetrators should be brought to justice.

At least three leading Palestinian human rights organizations, Al Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, and BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights have reported serious intimidations and death threats received by members of their staff, including staff based in European cities, in recent months. These attacks have taken different forms, including phone calls and messages from individuals believed to be using pseudo names asking them to “stop what they are doing”, death threats by email and messages on their home doorsteps, and pictures sent to them of their loved ones. Some defenders have had their email accounts hacked, and anonymous phone calls made to their families and friends threatening their safety if they continued their work. There is reason to believe that the Israeli security service stands behind these attacks.

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Israel to crack down further on foreign pro-Palestinian activists

Israel’s public security minister, Gilad Erdan, said everything possible must be done to weaken the boycott movement. (Tsafrir Abayov/AP)

Peter Beaumont, The Guardian, 8 August 2016

Israel is intensifying its campaign against foreign pro-Palestinian activists, announcing that it will establish a taskforce to identify and deport or deny entry to individuals who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting the Israeli occupation.

The country’s interior minister, Aryeh Deri, and the public security minister, Gilad Erdan, announced the move on Sunday.

The taskforce will attempt to locate hundreds of activists already in Israel and deny entry to others trying get in.

Israel has a long history of denying entry to those it says are damaging to its interests, but the latest proposal marks a new escalation against the BDS movement and activists.

According to reports in the Israeli media a number of as yet unnamed groups active in Palestine have already been listed.

Since Israeli naval forces intercepted the Mavi Marmara protest flotilla in 2010, killing nine people, the so-called delegitimisation department of the Israeli military intelligence research division has routinely monitored the activities of groups abroad (£).

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