New York Jewish Voice for Peace Proud to #StandWithIlhan

Dear Rep. Engel and Rep. Lowey,

We, members of the Westchester chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, are your constituents. And we proudly #StandWithIlhan.

Many of our colleagues and allies have already robustly and eloquently called out the dishonesty, Islamophobia, and anti-Black racism evident in Democratic leaders’ swarming attack on Rep. Omar. We echo those views, and note that your actions do nothing to counter the real and growing threat of antisemitism in this country and around the world.

But we wish to address a different point that your attacks on Rep. Omar seek to suppress, namely that your fidelity to the Israel lobby is inconsistent with your responsibilities as our elected representatives in Congress.

This non-exhaustive list highlights some of our areas of concern:

  1. The most glaring recent example of your willingness to subvert the essential obligation of your office — to uphold our Constitution — is your determination to enact lobby-drafted laws that would penalize Americans for exercising their Constitutional right to free speech that criticizes Israel. There is no way to dress up this legislation as anything other than an effort to silence legitimate, Constitutionally-protected speech and debate on questions of significant importance. Shame on you both.

  2. Where the State of Israel has pursued policies that are contrary to US interests and long-held policy you have thrown your support behind Israel, as you both did, for example, in opposing the JCPOA (multilateral Iran nuclear deal); condemning the US abstention on the UN Security Council vote acknowledging the illegality of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine; and supporting relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. These positions are incomprehensible to us; they weaken the rule of law and the cause of peace and stability in the region.

  3. For years we have watched in amazement and disgust as both of you impugn the mountains of findings of fact and conclusions of law by actual experts, documenting Israel’s extensive and systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as of essential norms concerning interstate relations like the prohibition against the acquisition of territory through force — and uncritically spout dishonest and discredited lobby-drafted talking points to justify your support for those policies of oppression. We deserve representatives who are willing to countenance real facts, even if those facts challenge their long-held beliefs.

  4. Continue reading

Two Palestinian children killed in blaze after Israel blocks fire brigade

The children were burned to death at their home

Middle East Monitor, March 6, 2019

Two Palestinian children have been killed in a blaze at their home in occupied Hebron after the Israeli authorities prevented the fire brigade from reaching them in time.

The two children – one of whom is believed to have been just 18-months old – were burned to death in a fire at their home in the Al-Salaymeh neighbourhood of Hebron’s Old City in the occupied West Bank. One was reported dead late last night, while the second succumbed to the burns received this morning after receiving emergency treatment at the nearby Hebron government hospital. A third child, thought to be the dead children’s brother, also suffered severe burns in the incident and remains in intensive care, according to hospital Director Dr Walid Zalloum.

The names of the three children have not been released formally, but Palestinian news site Palestine Today named the two who were killed as four-year-old Wael Al-Rajabi and his 18-month-old sister Malik. The local police spokesman, Colonel Loai Arziqat, confirmed in a press statement that two children had died, but did not offer further information.

Though the emergency services were called, the fire brigade was prevented from reaching the scene by Israeli soldiers. In a video filmed last night at 21:50 local time (19:50 GMT), the fire engine can be seen trying to drive down a narrow street. The truck comes to a stop at a road block obstructing the way, while local residents implore the Israeli soldiers stationed there to “open the gate quickly, for the children.”

The Israeli soldiers, however, did not yield to the onlookers’ pleas, delaying the emergency services’ response and preventing them from reaching the property. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

READ: Hebron shooter Azaria backs Israel soldiers who beat Palestinians in custody

Israel is no stranger to restricting emergency services’ access to Palestinians in need. According to Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), citing the Palestine Red Crescent Society, since 2015 Israel has prevented ambulances from crossing checkpoints on 123 occasions. In addition, there were 386 attacks against Red Crescent teams across the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) during the same period, as well as 105 ambulances damaged.

In December, Israeli soldiers shot a Palestinian child then prevented him from receiving potentially life-saving medical treatment; he died soon thereafter. Seventeen-year-old Mahmoud Nakhle was shot as Israeli forces suppressed protests around Al-Jalazun refugee camp near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. A few minutes later, the soldiers chased off a Palestinian ambulance, threatening the driver with their rifles and not giving Nakhle first aid themselves. Only after a quarter of an hour did the soldiers allow an ambulance to be summoned, but Nakhle died en route to hospital.

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Call NOW to stop resolution targeting Rep. Omar Ilhan

#StandWithllhan

Please consider calling or emailing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and your own Representative:

    Speaker Pelosi: 202-225-0100, press “1” to leave a message, or email form
    Rep. Mark Pocan: 202-225-2906 in DC, or email form

The vote is now scheduled for Thursday, 3/7/19.

The Democratic Party Attacks on Ilhan Omar Are a Travesty

I’m Jewish and have worked against anti-Semitism for decades. I was sitting a few feet from Omar at Busboys & Poets and I heard nothing—nothing—that smacked of anti-Semitism, overt or coded or otherwise.

Phyllis Bennis, The Nation, March 5, 2019

Ilhan OmarRepresentative Ilhan Omar at a news conference in the Capitol on January 10, 2019. (Tom Williams/AP Images)

Attacks on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar are rising. One of the first Muslim women elected, Omar is also black, an African immigrant, a former refugee from Somalia, and wears her hijab in the halls of Congress. She is under attack from the leaders of her own party for anti-Semitic statements she never made, for anti-Jewish prejudice she never expressed, for hatred of Jews she doesn’t hold. And the Democratic Party leadership is considering a resolution whose early text, at least, while not mentioning Omar by name, is clearly aimed at accusing her of precisely those things, despite the fact—ignored by the Speaker of the House and other top officials—that she never said or believed any of those words.

The most recent attacks on Representative Omar are based on her answer to a broad question about anti-Semitism during a recent town hall meeting at Busboys & Poets in Washington, DC. I was there, sitting just a few feet from Omar, asking a question during the Q&A. She never said that Jews have dual loyalty. She never expressed “prejudicial attitudes” or supported “discriminatory acts” against Jews or anyone else. And yet that is the language being proposed for a Democratic Party–sponsored resolution aimed at undermining Omar’s credibility, and likely that of Rashida Tlaib, the other Muslim woman just elected to Congress. Like Omar, Tlaib, who is Palestinian, stands forthrightly in support of Palestinian rights, against the power of the pro-Israel lobby and other lobbies that use money to influence Congress to support guns, environmental destruction, and Israeli violations of human rights—and she stands against racism and anti-Semitism.

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Maia Project Update

Latest Maia Water Filters in Rafah (28 Feb 2019)
from Josie Shields-Stromsness, Middle East Children’s Alliance

  • Drinking Clean Water
  • Drinking Clean Water
  • School Yard
  • School Yard
  • Tank & Filter Unit Delivery
  • Tank and Filter Unit Delivery
  • Units Ready for Transport
  • Filter Unit Fabrication
  • Filter Unit Fabrication
  • Control Panel
  • Control Panel
  • Water Storage Tank
  • Filter Unit Housing

maia bro for online


Contribute online at MECAforPeace.org/Madison

For more information, contact
• Congregation Shaarei Shamayim: Shamayim.org
• First Unitarian Society/Madison: FUSMadison.org
• Jewish Voice for Peace/Madison: Facebook.com/JVPMadison

Israeli Extremists Are Making a Comeback—With the Help of US Tax Dollars

American nonprofits have funneled money to Meir Kahane’s followers, who now have a chance to enter the Knesset

Israeli ExtremistsBenzion Gopstein (left), leader of the far-right Israeli group Lehava, gathers with fellow activists in Jerusalem on December 25, 2014. (Reuters/Nir Elias)

Mairav Zonszein, The Nation, 2/26/19

As Israel’s April 9 election approaches, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has paved the way for a Jewish-supremacist party—which some are dubbing the Jewish KKK—to enter the next Israeli Knesset. He encouraged the merger of three small far-right parties, Jewish Home, National Union, and Jewish Power (Otzma Yehudit in Hebrew), since each of them separately was not expected to receive enough votes to make the minimum Knesset threshold. If Netanyahu is reelected, the new far-right party, assuming it receives enough votes to make the minimum, would then help him secure a governing coalition of at least 61 seats.

All three parties are nationalist, anti-Arab, and homophobic; however, Jewish Power stands out because its platform and leaders are inspired by the violent legacy of Meir Kahane and his Kach party, which was barred from running in the Knesset in 1988 on grounds of racism, and then outlawed in 1994 on grounds of incitement to terrorism after Baruch Goldstein, who was active in Kach, murdered 29 Palestinians in Hebron exactly 25 years ago Monday. The US State Department followed suit and listed Kach and an offshoot, Kahane Chai (Kahane Lives), as a foreign terrorist group in 1997. One of Jewish Power’s leaders, Michael Ben-Ari, who served in the Knesset from 2009 to 2013, was barred from entering the United States in 2012 because of his affiliation with a “terrorist organization.”

In the 20-plus years since Kach was banned, Kahane’s disciples have found ways to continue pushing a racist, anti-Arab, and antidemocratic agenda—and to fund it. A new investigation carried out in coordination with the Democratic Bloc, an Israeli nonprofit organization founded in 2018 to research and monitor antidemocratic trends in Israel, reveals a web of interconnected groups, individuals, and websites in Israel and the United States—including several American nonprofit foundations that appear to have been founded for the purpose of funneling tax-exempt dollars to Kahanist causes, some of which are directly linked to Jewish terrorist groups. “If in the past, they relied on political mechanisms for fundraising and recruiting activists, today we are talking about a network of organizations disguised as charity groups and social causes that are raising money from the State of Israel and abroad in order to continue inciting and undermining the foundations of democracy,” said Ran Cohen, one of the founders of the Democratic Bloc.

At the center of this web is Kahane protégé and Jewish Power member Benzion Gopstein, who runs Lehava, an openly racist, anti-miscegenation gang active for at least a decade. Its mission is to “save” Jewish women from assimilation. Lehava activists are notorious for violently attacking and harassing Palestinians in the streets of Jerusalem just for being Palestinian. Three activists affiliated with Lehava were convicted of setting fire to an Arab-Jewish bilingual school in Jerusalem in 2014. The next year then–Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon tried—unsuccessfully—to get Israel’s internal-security service to designate Lehava as a terrorist group. Gopstein has been arrested several times, including on suspicion of murdering an Arab couple in 1990, but has never been convicted. He has openly called for the burning of churches and has incited violence against Palestinians. He said in 2014 of Yigal Amir, the Israeli who in 1995 assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, “Rabin left him no choice.”

The Nation

The Israel Religious Action Center has been documenting Lehava’s activities for the past seven years. In 2017, IRAC, along with several other civil-society groups, petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court alleging that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit was dragging his feet by not indicting Gopstein on various charges, including incitement to violence and terrorism. They also seek to classify Lehava as a criminal organization, which is difficult because a lot of what Gopstein says falls under free-speech protections. According to IRAC director Noa Sattath, “The thuggish activity of the Lehava militia has gone on uninterrupted in Jerusalem since 2009. The Lehava organization carries out physical violence and racial incitement against Arabs in downtown Jerusalem and around the country—with the goal of demonizing Arabs and terrorizing them. Lehava’s activity is racist, antidemocratic, immoral, and goes directly against Jewish values.”

Lehava is not a registered nonprofit in Israel, and it’s unclear how and from whom it receives its funding. A Haaretz investigation in 2011 found that Lehava activists are closely linked to a registered Israeli nonprofit, Chemla (sometimes spelled Hemla), whose mission includes helping needy families and, until 2014, supporting settler youth. Chemla, which receives significant Israeli state funds, is a key organization in this web of Kahanist cronies. Gopstein is one of the founders of Chemla, as is Rabbi Yehuda Kroizer, who also serves as head of a yeshiva in Jerusalem founded by Kahane in 1987 called the Jewish Idea (HaRaayon Hayehudi in Hebrew). The Jewish Idea Yeshiva is classified as a foreign terrorist organization by the US State and Treasury departments, listed as one of the groups affiliated with or synonymous with Kach and Kahane Chai. The list also includes several variations on that name, “Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea,” and “Friends of the Jewish Idea Yeshiva.” Continue reading

February 25, 2019
Black Americans and Palestinian Solidarity

UW Multicultural Center
716 Langdon Street
Madison
8:15 pm – 9:15 pm

General meeting of UW-Madison Students for Justice in Palestine discusses the history of Black and Palestinian oppression and the roles that both have played in fighting it.

Other topics will include recognizing interconnections, co-opting struggles, and avoiding the conflation of these struggles. Free and open to the public. More info on Facebook.

March 7, 2019
Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood


Goodman Public Library
2222 S Park St, Madison
6:30 pm

Peace and Justice Book Club discusses Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat.

In this memoir set in Ramallah following the 1967 Six-Day War, Barakat captures what it is like to be a child whose world is shattered by war – fear and confusion as bombs explode near her home and she is separated from her family; the harshness of life in the Middle East as a Palestinian refugee; and her unexpected joy when she discovers Alef, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet.

Hosted by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) – Madison Chapter. Note: You don’t have to have read or finished the book to attend. Info? #608-609-7961

This Is How AIPAC Really Works

An AIPAC and Capitol Hill veteran explains the lobby’s tactics of reward and retribution.


M.J. Rosenberg, February 14, 2019

Senators at AIPACUS. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (right) join hands as they take the stage to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington, on March 1, 2015. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

One thing that should be said about Representative Ilhan Omar’s tweet about the power of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (more commonly known as AIPAC, or the “Israel lobby”) is that the hysterical reaction to it proved her main point: The power of AIPAC over members of Congress is literally awesome, although not in a good way. Has anyone ever seen so many members of Congress, of both parties, running to the microphones and sending out press releases to denounce one first-termer for criticizing the power of… a lobby?

Somehow, I don’t think the reaction would have been the same if she had tweeted that Congress still supports the ethanol subsidy because the American Farm Bureau and other components of the corn/ethanol lobby spend millions to keep this agribusiness bonanza going (which they do). Or that if she had opposed the ethanol subsidy, she would have been accused of hating farmers.

That’s American politics; the only difference between all the domestic lobbies that essentially buy support for their agenda is that AIPAC is working for a foreign government, a distinction but not much of a difference when the goal is to maintain a status quo that is not necessarily in the national interest.

What did Omar tweet that was so terrible, anyway? Actually it was two tweets that produced the unsettling but oh-so-telling coming together of President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in common denunciation of the first-term member of Congress. Omar’s crime: daring to suggest that campaign contributions orchestrated by AIPAC play a large part in achieving bipartisan support for anything proposed by the Israeli government and/or its lobby, AIPAC.

This is, of course, something everyone knows and which even a former president of AIPAC once admitted in a conversation that was recorded by an interlocutor. In fact, as early as 1988, 60 Minutes did a segment on how AIPAC divvies up the money. (Moreover, I, as an employee of the lobby from 1973 to 1975 and 1982 to 1986, repeatedly and personally witnessed the whole process of funding and defunding, which is anything but a secret within the organization. Additionally, I spent close to 20 years as a legislative assistant to Democratic House and Senate members and saw AIPAC’s tactics of reward and retribution from that vantage point too.)

Officially, of course, AIPAC does not engage in political fundraising; it would be illegal for it to do so, and the lobby is vehement on the point that it doesn’t. And it is true that, to my knowledge, it does not directly raise money to support or defeat candidates. But that is just a technicality. Political fundraising is a huge part of AIPAC’s operation. One of the three top positions in its massive Washington, DC, headquarters is that of political director, who runs both the Washington political operation (his annual salary is over $450,000) and deputy regional directors around the country. Here is how AIPAC describes what these officials do, as described in a “help wanted” description for a Los Angeles deputy regional political director:

  • Help track House and Senate races in the region
  • Assist with planning and executing local Congressional Club events and Congressional Club components in local events
  • Attend and assist in regional events
  • Establish and maintain contact with House and Senate campaigns to assist in the scheduling of candidate meetings and facilitate the submission of position papers
  • Solicit financial support for AIPAC’s Annual Campaign
  • Conduct candidate meetings
  • Research, track and record FEC and polling data
  • Work with colleagues to increase pro-Israel political participation in the region (Solicit Congressional Club commitments)
  • Assist with AIPAC legislative grassroots mobilizations
  • Assist with scheduling and organizing of caucuses in the regions and lobbying appointments during the AIPAC Policy Conference
  • Assist with the integration of AIPAC’s activist bases in the Jewish and Outreach communities
  • Promote participation at local and national AIPAC events including regional events and national political training conferences
  • Research, gather and deliver information requested by pro-Israel political activists
  • Other duties as assigned

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Death of Detainee Fares Baroud: An Example of Deliberate Negligence


Palestinian Center for Human Rights
Ref: 16/2019, February 7, 2019

 

Yesterday, 06 February 2019, a Palestinian detainee who spent 28 years in Israeli jails, Fares Mohammed Baroud (51), from al-Shati’ refugee camp in western Gaza City, died only hours after transfer from “Ramon” Prison to “Soroka” Hospital in circumstances raising suspicions of deliberate medical negligence by the Israeli authorities, especially since he suffered problems in the stomach, heart and liver. PCHR calls for an immediate and impartial investigation into the death circumstances of Baroud and is concerned that the Israeli authorities might have procrastinated in providing Baroud the immediate and appropriate medical treatment. PCHR also condemns the Israeli authorities’ neglect of the recurrent calls to release him though they knew of the deterioration of his health condition.

The Israeli forces arrested Baroud on 23 March 1991 and issued a life imprisonment sentence against him in addition to 35 years. Baroud had suffered many health problems during his detention in the Israeli jails, including problems of the stomach, kidney, liver and chest, in addition to suffering asthma. He was also placed for years in solitary confinement; the last was for 4 years consecutively between 2012 and 2016, causing a deterioration of his health condition. Last year, he underwent a surgery to remove part of his liver and suffered complications; however, the Israeli authorities did not offer him adequate treatment. Yesterday, 06 February 2019, his health condition rapidly deteriorated and he was taken to “Soroko” Hospital in Beersheba in Israel where his death was declared only hours after his arrival at the hospital.

The death of Baroud sheds light on the general deterioration of Palestinian detainee conditions in Israeli jails, showing the extent of the punitive measures taken against them, particularly the medical negligence they undergo and the inadequate treatment hundreds of patients receive, particularly those suffering from chronic and serious diseases.

Thus, PCHR holds the Israeli government fully responsible for the death of detainee Baroud and lives of dozens of sick detainees who would face the same fate if the policy of medical negligence continued while detaining them in inhuman and tough conditions, being subject to physical and psychological torture and not receiving adequate healthcare. At this time, PCHR:

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