Supreme Court Upholds Muslim Ban

Statement from AAI Executive Director Maya Berry on the Supreme Court’s decision in Trump v. Hawai’i, June 26, 2018

Washington, DC — Today, Arab American Institute Executive Director Maya Berry released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Muslim Ban case:

“Along ideological lines, the Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s xenophobic Muslim Ban that discriminates against individuals predominantly because of their Muslim faith or national origin. A vast majority of those impacted by the ban are Muslim, with four Arab countries included in those singled out. This policy is not rationally related to national security interests and will continue to tear families apart while undermining America’s standing in the world.

The Muslim Ban was implemented among an unprecedented amount of evidence of a policy enacted to codify the religious animus of the Trump administration. As a candidate for the presidency, Donald Trump stated, “I think Islam hates us… we can’t allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States…” He called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Once in office, President Trump added security concerns as a mere pretext for bigotry, noting that “People were so upset when I used the word Muslim. Oh, you can’t use the word Muslim… I’m talking territory instead of Muslim. The majority’s unwillingness to recognize this reality renders those justices complicit in the damage this policy will continue to inflict on immigrant communities in this country.

President Trump justified his Muslim Ban by stating that Roosevelt “did the same thing” regarding the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. As the dissent notes, this holding will echo Korematsu v. United States as a standard of judicial injustice history will not soon forget. Justice Sotomayor wrote, “the Court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one “gravely wrong” decision with another.” The U.S. Government formally apologized for the injustice of interning Japanese Americans 46 year after that horrific episode. Arab American and American Muslim communities should not be victimized by a repetition of history, subjected to discrimination without apology or consequence while the Government slowly finds its moral compass.

Instead of neutral arbiters upholding fundamental rights, today’s decision seems to have been reached by politicians in robes. The majority bought President Trump’s bigotry hook, line, and sinker. This decision undermines both the world’s confidence in America, and America’s confidence in our highest court.

With this ruling, the majority has given a blank check to President Trump and future presidents to discriminate simply by claiming national security justifications. Today we need Congress, as a coequal branch of government, to act to affirm the equal dignity of all, regardless of religion or national origin. In spite of this decision, AAI will continue work tirelessly with both the legislative and judicial branches toward the goal of ensuring that all Americans, as well as guests in our country, are free from government-sponsored discrimination.”

Founded in 1985, the Arab American Institute (AAI) is a nonprofit organization committed to the civic and political empowerment of Americans of Arab descent. AAI provides policy, research and public affairs services to support a broad range of community activities. For more information please visit aaiusa.org.

Nikki Haley brags about bullying the UN on behalf of Israel



If Americans Knew, May 10, 2017

Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, bragged to the number one pro-Israel lobbying organization in America about the many ways she’s blocked Palestinian human rights from being addressed by the United Nations.

At AIPAC’s policy conference in March, she proudly admitted to using her power to discriminate against a Palestinian official and prevent him from serving at the U.N.:

So when they decided to try and put a Palestinian [former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad] in one of the highest positions that had ever been given at the UN, we said no and we had him booted out.

Fayyad, a popular diplomat, was going to be appointed to lead the U.N. Mission to Libya, until Haley objected. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres claimed at the time that his sudden rejection of Fayyad had nothing to do with U.S. pressure.

In her AIPAC speech, Haley also explained how she pressured the U.N. to retract a report commissioned by Dr. Rima Khalaf, the Secretary of Economics for West Asia, that documented Israel’s practices of segregation and apartheid against Palestinians:

And a ridiculous report, the Falk Report, came out. I don’t know who the guy is or what he’s about, but he’s got serious problems. Goes and compares Israel to an apartheid state. So the first thing we do is we call the secretary general and say, this is absolutely ridiculous. You have to pull it. The secretary general immediately pulled the report. And then the director has now resigned.

The report had been written by Dr. Richard Falk and Dr. Virginia Tilley. Richard Falk is an international law and international relations scholar who taught at Princeton University for forty years, and was Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Tilley, a professor at Southern Illinois University, is also a recognized expert on the region and the author of multiple books and papers.

Haley was the first governor to pass a law punishing businesses that participate in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS), and she promised to continue her anti-BDS campaign at the U.N.:

With the BDS [boycott, divestment, and sanctions] movement that we were able to stop in South Carolina, we’re going to continue to take that to the U.N. and make sure that they understand that is not what we need to be focused on.

“For anyone who says you can’t get anything done at the U.N., they need to know there’s a new sheriff in town,” Haley told the AIPAC crowd to thunderous applause. “I wear heels. It’s not for a fashion statement. It’s because if I see something wrong, we’re going to kick them every single time.”

Haley was a South Carolina state legislator and governor who had previously worked in her mother’s waste management company. She has a B.S. in Accounting.

Politicians from both parties seek endorsement by AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), which opens the door to large campaign donations.

Many feel that Haley is angling for higher office. Politico reports: “Her name is often raised in Republican circles as a potential future contender for the White House or other high-profile roles in government.”

Haley herself has said, “Everyone thinks that I’m ambitious, and everybody thinks I’m trying to run for something, and everybody thinks I want more.”

Haley says this is not true.


Continue reading

Speakout against Separating Families

International Socialist Organization – Madison

Saturday, June 23 at 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
UW Library Mall, Madison, WI

The Trump administration has ramped up its attacks on immigrants, separating children from their parents when crossing the border with no clear plan of reunifying them. The trauma and harm this is causing these families is terrible.

Across the US, people have and continue to come together, rally, and organize against these brutal attacks and to fight for something better.

Join together at Library Mall on the UW Madison campus for a speak-out and rally against these attacks, and for safety for all immigrants, refugees, and migrants.

Bring signs, and bring friends.

Sponsors:
Madison IWW General Defense Committee Local 100
International Socialist Organization – Madison
Madison Socialist Alternative
Democratic Socialists of America – Madison
Madison NOW – National Organization for Women
Wisconsin National Organization for Women

No More Family Separation

Sign up for a June 30 Event!
Saturday, June 30 at 3 p.m.
State Capitol, State St Entrance
Madison, WI

Donald Trump and his administration are cruelly separating children from their families. But we won’t allow it to continue. On June 30, we’re rallying in Washington, D.C., and around the country to tell Donald Trump and his administration to stop separating kids from their parents!

Join us on June 30 to send a clear message to Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress: Families Belong Together!

This evil policy decision to tear families apart must not stand!

Sponsored by
MoveOn ACLU
 National Domestic Workers Alliance  Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Debunking Four Myths Surrounding the Palestinian Protests

The justifications given for the deaths of Palestinian protesters just don’t add up

Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip, June 1, 2018. Israeli tear gas canisters fall toward Palestinian protesters and medics during clashes with Israeli security forces along the Israel-Gaza border. Photo courtesy dpa picture alliance/Alamy Stock Photo.

Muhammad Shehada and Jamie Stern-Weiner, VICE, Jun 12 2018

Over the past ten weeks, tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have participated in the “March of Return,” mass nonviolent demonstrations to protest Israel’s illegal siege. Throughout, Israel has responded with violent force.

As of June 7, Israeli forces had killed more than 110 Palestinians in the course of the protests, including 14 children, and injured more than 3,700 with live ammunition. In order to brutalize the people of Gaza into submission while minimizing the international criticism that accompanies lethal force, Israeli snipers deployed along Gaza’s perimeter fence methodically shot the legs of Palestinian demonstrators. “The aim,” reports the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, was “to leave as many young people as possible with permanent disabilities.” To this end, the snipers used expanding bullets that “pulverized” bones and left exit wounds the size of a fist. According to the Secretary-General of UNRWA, the United Nations agency providing education and healthcare for refugees in Gaza, “many” of those shot will suffer “life-long disabilities.” Mission accomplished.

In order to legitimize its resort to overwhelming force, Israel has sought to cast doubt on the popular character of the demonstrations in Gaza and to present them as a threat to its security. A number of myths about the Gaza protests have consequently gained widespread traction. They bear as tenuous a relation to reality as Israel’s insistence back in the 1980s that the overwhelmingly nonviolent First Intifada comprised a “campaign of terror” by “mobs,” or, more recently, its repeated denials that the Israeli military deployed white phosphorus in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.

No one is suggesting that Palestinian forces have never engaged in violent forms of resisting Israel’s protracted, illegal siege—which has made Gaza “unlivable,” according to UN officials. But the current protests are overwhelmingly nonviolent, and have been met with murderous force.

Here are some of the most prominent myths about these recent protests, and why they’re not true.

The demonstrations in Gaza are violent

The Government of Israel claims that the Gaza demonstrations have featured “violent mass incidents” that were “exceptional in their scope and the extent of threat they posed.” These violent incidents allegedly included the throwing of grenades and explosive devices, as well as the firing of live ammunition at Israeli soldiers. But such claims are either un-evidenced, implausible, or blown so out of proportion as to misrepresent what transpired.

First, credible observers report that, while a minority of demonstrators threw stones and flaming bottles toward out-of-reach Israeli soldiers, the demonstrations “have largely involved sit-ins, concerts, sports games, speeches, and other peaceful activities.” An American journalist in Gaza found that, even among those demonstrators who approached the fence, “[t]here were no guns, no grenades, no rockets.” Fieldworkers for the respected Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza “did not witness weapons or armed persons even dressed in civilian clothes among the demonstrators,” while Amnesty International informed us that, as of June 8, it had “not seen evidence of the use of firearms by Palestinians against Israeli soldiers during the protests.” This would explain why Israeli soldiers felt able to stand around in plain sight of the protesters while taking pot-shots into the crowd. Armed security personnel in civilian clothes were present at the protest tents—but not near the fence—in order to guard the high-profile political figures in attendance, obstruct intelligence-gathering by collaborators, and maintain public order. Although a couple of isolated violent incidents occurred far away from the perimeter fence, none of the numerous witnesses we contacted had seen even a single “armed protester” or any armed individual approaching the perimeter fence.

Second, Israel has presented no credible evidence of armed protesters or armed attacks. Even a veteran Israeli military correspondent noted that “[n]either we nor the international media received images and firsthand testimonies illustrating the danger and the threat to the snipers and other IDF [Israeli military] forces deployed along the fence.” The same correspondent mocked Israel’s refusal to permit journalists to approach the Gaza fence, instead positioning them “at a safe distance… where they were in no danger of being hit by a rock or by a marble fired from a sling or, God forbid, inhaling teargas.”

The connection between the underwhelming threat that confronted Israeli soldiers and the military’s failure to provide reporters with compelling propaganda material appears not to have occurred to him. Did he expect the IDF to send him a photo of a “marble fired from a sling?”

Inasmuch as Israeli forces were equipped with sophisticated surveillance equipment, including “footage from drones hovering” overhead, and insofar as Israel claimed to use lethal force only against “those who are with weapons,” the lack of evidence of these alleged explosives and live ammunition is surely cause for wonder. What “evidence” Israel has provided only underlined the absence of a military presence at the demonstrations. Witness, for instance, the images and footage of what Israel termed “grenades” and “improvised explosive devices,” but which were in fact homemade firecrackers, familiar to Gazan teenagers who sometimes set them off at weddings and parties, which make a loud noise and little else.

Continue reading

Bernie Sanders’ Criticism Of Israel Is Radical. And He’s Taking It Mainstream

Aiden Pink, Information Clearing House, June 13, 2018

Not many in the media are noticing, which is understandable given the burden of keeping up with Donald Trump, but in the shadow of Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu, Bernie Sanders is dramatically challenging Beltway discourse on Israel.

In 2020, when Sanders likely runs for president, and journalists begin paying attention, they’re going to be shocked. The Israeli government and the American Jewish establishment will be scared out of their minds.

Last month, Sanders crossed one of the red lines demarcating politically acceptable Washington discourse about Israel. He organized the first letter written by multiple senators criticizing Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Then, last week, he raced past that line again with a video that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen from an American senator.

To understand how radical Sanders’ video is, it’s worth remembering how liberal Democrats like Barack Obama, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton talked about Israel and the Palestinians as recently as two years ago. While Obama, Kerry and Clinton did sometimes criticize Israeli policy, they generally did so in the language of Israeli self-interest, not of Palestinian human rights. Israeli settlement policy was bad for Israel, they argued, because it threatened Israel’s future as a democratic Jewish state.

On Gaza, the Obama administration never publicly urged Israel to negotiate with Hamas, even as former Israeli security chiefs did. And Obama effectively endorsed Israel’s position that Palestinians should not be allowed to hold elections because Hamas might win. (This despite the fact that Israeli parties that oppose the two state solution — among them, Likud — run in Israeli elections all the time).

When Gaza came up in a 2016 Democratic primary debate, Clinton placed the blame for its people’s suffering exclusively on Hamas. “Remember,” she declared, “Israel left Gaza. They took out all the Israelis. They turned the keys over to the Palestinian people. And what happened? Hamas took over Gaza. So instead of having a thriving economy with the kind of opportunities that the children of the Palestinians deserve, we have a terrorist haven that is getting more and more rockets shipped in from Iran and elsewhere.” Her comments, which are demonstrably false, could easily have come from Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz.

Contrast that with the video Sanders released last week. (It’s the third he’s released on Gaza since April). For starters, it consists entirely of interviews with Palestinians in Gaza. That alone is extraordinary. Palestinians in Gaza are almost never included in the debates on American TV. Palestinians are rarely invited to hold public briefings on Capitol Hill, and when they are, it’s hugely controversial.

In his video, Sanders lets Palestinians from Gaza speak for themselves. And they say things American politicians simply don’t say. Again and again, the speakers, who are not politicians but rather academics, students and journalists, call Gaza a “prison.” They talk about having only four hours of electricity per day. In one comic-tragic moment, the lights go on behind a young woman while she is speaking. She notes that the power has just returned after being off for 16 hours. Then it flickers off again.

A professor of political science notes that his family hasn’t left Gaza in more than twenty years. A young man says his “biggest dream is to travel from Gaza for one time in my life. To see how life is from outside the walls of the prison.” He later comments that many of his friends have contemplated suicide: “They cannot continue to live without any types of hope.” A young woman says, “I want the situation to change to where I feel like an equal human being to Israelis.”

By allowing ordinary Palestinians to describe their plight, Sanders’ video allows Americans to see the Great Return March as the product not of blind hatred of Israel but of a quintessentially human desire for a better life. “This protest,” says the professor, “was designed and orchestrated by young, independent and frustrated Palestinians who were sick, tired and exhausted of their living conditions.”

And by allowing ordinary Palestinians to speak for themselves, the video shows how dehumanizing it is to describe the people protesting Israel’s blockade as mere pawns of, or “human shields” for, Hamas. Brilliantly, Sanders’ video shows clips of American pundits blaming Hamas for the protests, and then lets Palestinians in Gaza do something they can rarely do on American television: respond.

“I’m talking with you. I’m not Hamas,” exclaims one man.

“It’s a big lie to say that Hamas is pushing Palestinian children and Palestinian women in the front line,” says the Palestinian professor.

“The majority of the people are not following Hamas,” insists the young man. “They are just participating peacefully because they just want to be free.”

Criticizing Hamas is both legitimate and necessary. But Sanders’ video shows how the media’s obsession with Hamas obscures the human causes of Palestinian protest, and the human consequences of Israel’s brutal response.

“The right question to ask is not whether there is someone asking them to go to the fence,” argues a young woman. “The right question is what is driving these people to walk up to the fence. What kinds of conditions would drive someone to risk their lives knowing that there are snipers who are willing to shoot them?”

And when you look at her, you imagine being that desperate yourself.

Continue reading