BDS Ban: Interfaith Leaders Denied Entry to Israel

American Muslims for Palestine, July 24, 2017

Interfaith delegation, including AMP board member Shakeel Syed, (second from right).Four members of the group of interfaith delegates banned from entering Israel pose. AMP national board member Shakeel Syed is second from right.

Airline employee tells group it received orders from “Israeli immigration authorities” to refuse boarding to the five interfaith travelers.

(WASHINGTON DC — July 24, 2017) – Five members of an interfaith delegation were prevented from boarding their flight to Israel because of their public criticism of the Israeli government’s policies towards Palestinians. The group of Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders were apparently singled out for their public support of the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel. Upon arrival at the Lufthansa check-in counter at Dulles International Airport, an airline employee informed the group that the Israeli government had told the airline not to let them board.

The five people prohibited from flying are Rabbi Alissa Wise, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) deputy director, Philadelphia, PA; Alana Krivo-Kaufman, Brooklyn, NY and Noah Habeeb, Virginia, both also of JVP; Rick Ufford Chase, of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Rockland County, NY; and Shakeel Syed, a national board member with American Muslims for Palestine, Los Angeles, CA.

“As a person of faith, Israel’s denial of my right to visit the Holy Land doesn’t dampen, but rather, emboldens my pursuit of justice and peace for Palestinians and long overdue freedom for Palestine,” Syed said. “Despite that I had my boarding pass to Tel Aviv in hand, the Lufthansa representative informed me that they had a direct order from ‘Israeli immigration authorities’ to not allow us to board the plane. Furthermore, they refused to even show us the Israeli order.”

The Israeli Knesset (parliament) passed a bill in March banning entry to those who support boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel until Palestinians have full equal rights. Israel’s BDS ban includes those who have endorsed boycotts of products from Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law and longstanding official U.S. policy. It is believed that this is the first time that the policy has been enforced before people even board their flight. It is also the first time that Israel has denied entry to Jews, including a rabbi, for their political positions. This new political litmus test for entry into the country is an extension of the longstanding practices of racial, religious and ethnic profiling of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim visitors to Israel.

“Israel denied me the ability to travel there because of my work for justice for Palestinians, even though I’m Jewish and a rabbi,” said Rabbi Alissa Wise. ”I’m heartbroken and outraged. This is yet another demonstration that democracy and tolerance in Israel only extends to those who fall in line with its increasingly repressive policies against Palestinians.”

The BDS travel ban is part of a broader crackdown on support for these nonviolent tactics to hold Israel accountable to international law. The United States Congress is currently considering the draconian Israel Anti-Boycott Bill that would penalize people and companies that boycott business with Israel or Israeli settlements with penalties of up to 20 years in jail and $1 million in fines.

That Israel barred members of an interfaith delegation at a time when it is also threatening the internationally recognized status quo of Al Aqsa mosque compound proves Israel is not a democratic state and is intolerant of other faith traditions.

“I am part of a Jewish, Muslim and Christian delegation of committed, nonviolent peacemakers whose plan is to meet with those in both Israel and Palestine who are working every day for a Just Peace in the Holy Lands,” Rick Ufford-Chase, Moderator of the 216th General Assembly, PC(USA) and member of the Activist Council of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. The other 18 participants on the Interfaith Network for Justice in Palestine (INJIP)* delegation arrived in Israel this morning, and were allowed to enter after several hours of detention and questioning that particularly focused on Muslim members of the delegation. The delegation plans to meet with dozens of faith-based organizations, grassroots activists and human rights groups in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Now the remaining delegates will continue this work, without five of their members, with the intention to learn, witness and co-resist Israeli occupation, displacement and siege with Palestinian and Israeli partners on the ground.

Churches are standing up!

, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, 23 Jul 2017

Have you heard the news? In the last several weeks alone, more than 35 local, regional, national, and international church bodies have taken bold actions in support of Palestinian rights!

A flurry of churches — 17 and counting — have declared themselves HP-free across the country in denominations including American Baptist, United Methodist, United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalist, Presbyterian, Church of the Brethren, Quaker, Catholics, and others, as Friends of Sabeel – North America announced this week. The global Boycott HP Campaign campaign continues to escalate pressure on HP until it responds to these key questions and commits to ending its role in Israel’s abuses of Palestinian rights. Are you part of a church? Learn how your congregation can become HP-free. It’s easier than you think!

These principled churches have brought local congregations into the larger snowball of regional, national, and international churches taking action. Brace yourselves… there are a lot of them!

  • July 10 – The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada affirmed the rights of Palestinian children and called for withholding U.S. military aid to Israel with a nearly unanimous vote!
  • July 7 – The World Communion of Reformed Churches, with a membership of 80 million Christians worldwide called for solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and rejected any use of the Bible to legitimize injustice.
  • July 6 – The Mennonite Church voted by approximately 98% to institute a policy against investment in Israel’s military occupation!
  • July 2 – The United Church of Christ (UCC) General Synod (national) passed with 79% a resolution in defense of Palestinian children, having already passed divestment in 2015.
  • June 10 – The Minnesota Conference of the UCC voted 144 – 5 to divest its $8 million in investments from companies involved in the occupation.
  • May/June – Fifteen United Methodist Annual Conferences — representing thousands of congregations — adopted a total of 23 resolutions this year supporting the HP boycott, excluding investment in occupation, opposing anti-BDS legislation, and more.

That’s a lot to take in! After you’ve caught your breath, take a moment to thank the Disciples, Mennonites, and UCC so they know what broad support they have in this time.

A stone cross appears on a Palestinian building near the Israeli separation wall dividing the West Bank town of Bethlehem, April 29, 2014. (credit: Ryan Rodrick Beiler)

The Palestinian Christian community has long — through the Kairos Document — called on churches to support their struggle for collective liberation, a sentiment recently echoed by the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine’s letter to the World Council of Churches and the ecumenical movement. Learn more on the Palestine Portal.

At a time when Palestinian rights advocacy is under severe repression, churches are not backing down. We know that those defending Israel’s occupation malign boycotts, divestment, and sanctions as tools for social change for one simple reason: they work.

This week, Ha’aretz reportedForeign Companies Wary of Operating Jerusalem’s Light Rail Because It Traverses ’67 Border.” Following billions of losses in contracts following boycott and divestment campaigns, the multinational Veolia divested of its contracts with Israel in 2015, and other companies are shying away from the same contracts precisely because of the political and economic cost. Together, our work is taking the profit out of occupation.

P.S. The US Campaign has supported one church win after another, year after year. But we still have so much work to do. We need you by our side to keep taking the profit out of occupation and changing hearts and minds across the country. Please invest in more wins with a donation to the US Campaign today.

 

US Campaign & ACLU on the Israel Anti-Boycott Act


 
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights

Hot off the press: The ACLU is raising red flags about the unconstitutionality of the latest, most draconian attempt to date to deny activists the right to boycott. For Congress to heed its call to oppose this bill, they need to hear from BDS supporters like you!

On March 23, Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rob Portman (R-OH), and Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Juan Vargas (D-CA), introduced the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.720 and H.R.1697).

This bill seeks to impose fines and criminal penalties and deny government loans to corporations refusing to do business with corporations in illegal Israeli settlements. It infringes on our First Amendment right to promote boycott, divestment and sanctions and seeks to legitimize Israel’s settlements.

Click here to learn if your Members of Congress support the Israel Anti-Boycott Act and then contact them by phone and email to state your opposition to penalizing boycotting Israel and its illegal settlements.

When confronted by a reporter inquiring why he is seeking to penalize BDS supporters, the bill’s lead sponsor, Senator Ben Cardin, claimed: “We are very sensitive to freedom of speech.”

The ACLU, and we at the US Campaign, beg to differ. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act would punish business owners that boycott Israel or Israeli settlement products with “a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison,” according to a letter by the ACLU. It even goes so far as to penalize people for just requesting information about a boycott.

The ACLU explained its opposition to the bill:

    “The bill would punish businesses and individuals based solely on their point of view. Such a penalty is in direct violation of the First Amendment.”

An expose out yesterday from The Intercept called foul on Members of Congress who have claimed to stand up for civil rights and civil liberties, but cosponsored this bill denying our right to boycott for justice:

    “Among the co-sponsors of the bill are several of the politicians who have become political celebrities by positioning themselves as media leaders of the anti-Trump #Resistance… These politicians, who have built a wide public following by posturing as opponents of authoritarianism, are sponsoring one of the most oppressive and authoritarian bills that has pended before Congress in quite some time.”

Please contact your Members of Congress right now to let them know you support BDS and oppose unconstitutional attempts to restrict our First Amendment right to advocate for it.

The LA Times recently called BDS a “classic tool of peaceful political expression,” and Members of Congress may soon start singing the same tune if they keep hearing from their BDS-supporting constituents.

We need you to take action against the Israel Anti-Boycott Act now!

Sincerely,
LEAH MUSKIN-PIERRET
Government Affairs Associate
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights

Gaza Lights Campaign

The electricity shortage impacts every family in Gaza. Please support the Gaza Lights Campaign!


 
It’s been 10 years of living under siege in Gaza. Three years after the most brutal Israeli assault. And things keep getting worse.

    Gaza now gets only about 2 hours of electricity each day.

Without electricity sewage goes untreated into the sea. Water doesn’t get pumped to high rise apartments or rural areas.

Everything has to be done in the dark — cooking, eating, caring for babies and those who are sick or old. Food rots in refrigerators. No fans cool the stifling Gaza summer. Children can’t read, and students can’t study. Candles have caused death and injury in tragic house fires. Hospital and home health equipment can’t function.

Recently a team of volunteer Gaza engineers designed a rechargeable, battery-operated system that can power lights, fans, and phones for twelve hours. While the only solution to this crisis is to end the Israeli/Egyptian blockade of Gaza and restore electrical power, in the meantime you can help people in Gaza survive.

The “Gaza Lights” systems will be produced quickly in Gaza and distributed to needy families by the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.

    Your contribution of just $11 will give one family in Gaza 3 lights for their home. $20 buys them a fan, $31 a rechargeable battery, and $91 a complete Gaza Light system.

To make a contribution dedicated to Rafah, send a check to “MRSCP” with the note “Gaza Lights” to

    MRSCP
    P.O. Box 5214
    Madison WI 53705

You can also contribute online at the Middle East Children’s Alliance:


What is it like to live without electricity in Gaza in the summer?

“I talked to my family in Gaza earlier this week and asked them: ‘How do you sleep at night when you don’t have electricity?’ The temperature at night there doesn’t go below 74 degrees Fahrenheit, and humidity is high. My 12-year-old sister answered: ‘We don’t.’

“She explained that even if they try to sleep, open all the windows, drink a lot of water – still, they can’t breathe. If they lie down, they spend hours sweating profusely while listening to the Israeli drones’ intimidating noise outside, with nowhere to go. They prefer to stay awake at night until they can’t resist their eyes closing. Even then, they’re troubled by insomnia, and nightmares. They wake up to find themselves drowned in sweat.

“By the morning, the flaming sun limits their options. One option is to spend the day in the Capital Mall, the only mall in Gaza equipped with internet, air conditioners, private electrical generators and a place to sit down. Or they could go and visit a relative who has a big enough battery to operate a small fan while they speak. They can no longer go and sit by the sea, when the risk of catching diseases from the contaminated water is so high, though others have stopped really caring about getting sick or not. As a friend of mine told me: ‘The sea is 99% polluted, we swim in the 1% that’s left.’

“Their electricity, however, suddenly comes back on for two to three random hours at most each day, and that’s the only time you can turn on the pumps to store a little bit of undrinkable water in the tanks that will run out as soon as you take a shower. It becomes a kind of rush hour, when everyone is desperately running around, trying to cool some purchased mineral water in the freezer, recharge cellphone batteries and radios and flashlights, and sit behind a computer screen to read the news, whose headlines are repetitive and hollow.

“As soon as the electricity goes out, the people are back to the streets, sitting in the shade on the pavements. …”

— Excerpted from “My Family in Gaza Tells Me: We Can’t Breathe”, Muhammad Shehada, Haaretz, July 16, 2017


More on Gaza
Israel implements illegal cuts to Gaza’s power supply, Charlotte Silver, The Electronic Intifada
Gaza’s electricity crisis, Al Jazeera
Gaza: Looming humanitarian catastrophe highlights need to lift Israel’s 10-year illegal blockade, Amnesty International

Demand the Release of Khalida Jarrar and Khitam Saafin

A Petition to Rex Tillerson, US Secretary of State; the European Union, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Khitam Saafin (left) and Khalida Jarrar (right)


Addameer Prisoner Support & Human Rights Association

Addameer calls for the immediate release of Khalida Jarrar and Khitam Saafin, who were arrested in pre-dawn raids by Israeli occupation forces on 2 July 2017.

On 9 July 2017, Saafin was issued a three-month administrative detention order, without charge or trial. On 12 July 2017, Jarrar was issued a six-month administrative order. Saafin and Jarrar’s trials are both based on secret evidence; therefore, their legal representatives are unable to fully address the prosecution’s argument, which asserts that Jarrar and Saafin pose a security threat.

Jarrar is a Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member and a member of the Board of Directors of Addameer. She has been the head of the Prisoners Commission of the PLC since 2006, and was appointed to the Palestinian National Committee for the follow-up to the International Criminal Court. Jarrar has been targeted by Israeli forces in recent years. She was released from prison in June 2016 after serving over a year, including one-month under administrative detention.

Saafin, president of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, has spoken internationally and participated in many worldwide events, including the World Social Forum, linking women’s struggles internationally with the struggle of Palestinian women for national and social liberation.

This practice of arbitrary detention is a grave violation of international laws and human rights standards, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention. Both women are prominent civil society leaders and additionally, their work meets the United Nations definition of a human rights defender. It is our belief that Jarrar and Saafin are being illegitimately targeted and punished by Israeli military authorities as a result of their significant human rights work.

Addameer reiterates its call for Jarrar and Saafin’s immediate release, as their detention constitutes an attack on Palestinian civil society leaders. Please take action and sign the petition now!