Meet Rashida Tlaib’s grandma: ‘Who wouldn’t be proud of a granddaughter like that?’

Rep. Tlaib’s grandmother says the family had already prepared a lamb

Muftiyah Tlaib, the grandmother of Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), spoke to The Washington Post on Aug. 16 from her home in the West Bank. (Video: James McAuley/Photo: James McAuley/The Washington Post)

James McAuley and Sufian Taha, The Washington Post, August 16, 2019

BEIT UR AL-FAUQA, WEST BANK — Rashida Tlaib’s grandmother does not understand why her granddaughter, a sitting U.S. congresswoman, could not visit her as originally planned.

Muftiyah Tlaib — who says she is somewhere between 85 and her early 90s — lives in the village of Beit Ur al-Fauqa, about 15 miles outside Jerusalem and close to the seam line between Israel and the West Bank, territory that Israel occupied in the 1967 war and that Palestinians hope to see as part of an independent state someday.

She lives in the same elegant limestone house in the same sleepy village she has called home since 1974 — the house where the whole village once came to celebrate Rashida Tlaib’s wedding, and the house that looks directly onto an Israeli settlement with a visible military presence.

“She’s in a big position, and she cannot visit her grandmother,” she laughed, seated in her living room on Friday. “So what good is the position?”

In the end, Muftiyah Tlaib will not see her granddaughter in the coming week. The reunion would have marked the first meeting for the two since about 2007, she said.

Rep. Tlaib says she will not go to Israel after the country initially rejected her request for a visit, then reversed course

On Friday, Israel partly reversed its decision from the day before to deny entry to Tlaib (D-Mich.) and fellow congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from a planned tour of the Palestinian territories, on the grounds that “the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.”

Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said Friday that he would approve a separate humanitarian request for Tlaib to visit her grandmother, or “sity” in Arabic.

“This could be my last opportunity to see her,” Tlaib wrote in a letter to Israeli authorities. “I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit.”

For many Palestinians, the fact that Tlaib accepted these terms was itself an affront, a humiliating compromise in which she was made to forgo her opinions to see her loved ones.

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Israel Denies Entry to Omar and Tlaib After Trump’s Call to Block Them


Isabel Kershner, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Peter Baker, New York Times, Aug. 15, 2019

JERUSALEM — Under intense pressure from President Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on Thursday barred two members of the United States Congress from entering Israel, reversing a previous decision to admit two of the president’s most outspoken critics.

By enlisting a foreign power to take action against two American citizens, let alone elected members of Congress, Mr. Trump crossed a line that other presidents have not, in effect exporting his partisan battles beyond the country’s borders. And he demonstrated the lengths that he will go to to target his domestic opponents, in this case two of the congresswomen of color he has sought to make the face of the Democratic Party heading into his re-election campaign.

In blocking the visits of the two Democratic congresswomen, who are both Muslim, Mr. Netanhyahu cited their support for boycotting Israel, acceding to the wishes of the American president, who declared on Twitter shortly before Israel’s announcement that letting them in would “show great weakness.”

[Is B.D.S. anti-Semitic? A closer look at the boycott Israel campaign.]

The move not only inflamed the politics of both countries, it joined Mr. Trump and Mr. Netanyahu even more closely as partners against their mutual adversaries as the prime minister faces a critical election next month.

Speaking with reporters before flying to Manchester, N.H., for a rally, Mr. Trump would not say whether he spoke directly with Mr. Netanyahu about the matter but acknowledged that he “did speak with people” privately even before tweeting about it.

The congresswomen, Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, are vocal supporters of the Palestinians and the movement called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or B.D.S.

The president has repeatedly attacked them, along with Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts, at one point demanding that they “go back” to their home countries, even though they are all American citizens.

Israel’s decision was criticized not only by Democrats but also by some top Republicans, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group, also said it was a mistake.

In a statement, Mr. Netanyahu said Israel respects Congress but defended the decision. “As a free and vibrant democracy,” he said, “Israel is open to critics and criticism, with one exception: Israeli law prohibits the entry into Israel of those who call for, and work to impose, boycotts on Israel, as do other democracies that prevent the entry of people believed to be damaging to the country.”

Mr. Trump, who has sought to elevate a handful of controversial but relatively powerless liberal freshmen of color into symbols of the opposition, promptly welcomed the decision on Twitter. “Representatives Omar and Tlaib are the face of the Democrat Party, and they HATE Israel!” he wrote. Continue reading

Fordham University Students Win Landmark Fight to Establish Palestine Club

Judge Orders University to Recognize Students for Justice in Palestine Club


Students for Justice in Palestine at Fordham University

Center for Constitutional Rights, August 6, 2019

New York— Five Fordham University students have won a landmark legal victory against Fordham University, which sought to prohibit them from forming a Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) club at their university. The students, represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, Palestine Legal, and cooperating counsel Alan Levine, argued that Fordham University violated its own rules when, in 2016, it vetoed the United Student Government’s approval of SJP, preventing the students from forming the SJP club. 

The court annulled Fordham’s decision to deny SJP club status, finding it arbitrary and capricious, as nothing in Fordham’s rules permitted it to “reject an application of a student club because it criticized the policies of only one nation.” In her ruling, Justice Nancy Bannon stated that “it must be concluded that [Fordham University’s] disapproval of SJP was made in large part because the subject of SJP’s criticism is the State of Israel, rather than some other nation, in spite of the fact that SJP advocates only legal, nonviolent tactics aimed at changing Israel’s policies.” 

Justice Bannon noted that “the consideration and discussion of differing views is actually part of Fordham’s mission, regardless of whether that consideration and discussion might discomfit some and polarize others.”  

Awad, et al. v. Fordham University is the first lawsuit in the country challenging institutional censorship of students advocating for justice in Palestine, and this win marks the first major legal victory for free speech for advocates of Palestine on college campuses.

“The administration unfairly hindered my and my fellow classmates’ abilities to advocate for the human rights of Palestinians,” said Ahmad Awad, who graduated from Fordham University in 2017. “Although over 1,000 days have passed since we initiated the process for club status, I did not give up on my fight for human rights and free speech. I continued to advocate for justice in Palestine, and now because of Justice Bannon’s order, no Fordham student will be restricted or prohibited from advocating for justice in Palestine.”

Said Veer Shetty, whose attorneys argued on his behalf in February to add him to the complaint since the last remaining original petitioner graduated in May, “I am beyond happy that Justice Bannon chose to uphold the supposed values of our university and academic freedom. A huge thank you goes to everyone who worked on our behalf. Fordham’s Students for Justice in Palestine would not exist today without all of their tireless efforts. We, as a new club, will be equally tireless in our efforts to fight for the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people.”

Said Sapphira Lurie, who graduated from Fordham University in 2017, “When universities promise they are ‘committed to research and education that assist in the alleviation of poverty, the promotion of justice, the protection of human rights and respect for the environment,’ as Fordham defines its university’s characteristics, they must allow students to pursue this education. Rather than allow Fordham’s administration to impose its backwards and imperialist politics on us, we were victorious in the fight for students’ rights to organize for justice for Palestine. This victory shows that when we fight back, we can win. Free Palestine!”

The lawsuit, filed in April 2017, argued that Fordham’s veto of the student government’s approval of SJP was arbitrary and capricious, violating its own policies. In November 2017, the students filed a motion for a preliminary injunction asking the court to direct the university to recognize SJP urgently, as some of the students had graduated and others would soon graduate. Last night, Justice Bannon granted the students’ petition and unambiguously ordered Fordham University to “recognize Students for Justice in Palestine at Fordham University as a university-sanctioned club…”

“We are thrilled that students at Fordham will finally be able to form a Students for Justice in Palestine club,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Deputy Legal Director Maria LaHood. “The students’ support for Palestinian rights and their demand to freely express that support truly exemplify Fordham’s stated values, unlike the Administration’s shameful actions here.” 

Said Levine, “Fordham’s decision to deny recognition to Students for Justice in Palestine was so utterly arbitrary and irrational that it can only be understood in the context of the nationwide effort to silence those voices seeking justice for Palestinians. In succumbing to those forces, Fordham abandoned its obligation to foster critical points of view on matters of public concern. Justice Bannon’s principled decision reasserts the judiciary’s role to ensure that voices of marginalized communities will be heard. Nothing could be more important at this moment.”

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Security forces make deadly use of crowd control weapons in Gaza

B’Tselem, 06 August 2019

From the beginning of the Great March of Return protests on Land Day, 30 March 2018 until the end of June 2019, Israeli security forces killed 216 Palestinians, 43 of them minors, and wounded thousands, the vast majority with live ammunition. However, security forces also make deadly use of crowd control weapons, including tear gas canisters which are not designed to hit people directly.

At least seven of the Palestinians killed died as a result of a teargas canister hitting their head or face directly. Four of them were minors. According to the OCHA Protection of Civilians Database, as of 28 June 2019, more than 1,600 Gaza protestors arrived in hospital with injuries resulting from direct teargas canister hits, more than a third of them in the first three months of 2019.

Teargas canisters are a crowd control weapon with a firing range spanning 100 meters to several hundred meters, in the case of extended range canisters. They are designed to be non-lethal and the open-fire regulations, at least officially, as well as use instructions, forbid firing them directly at people due to the grave danger involved.

In the past few months, B’Tselem’s field researchers in the Gaza Strip collected testimonies from protestors who were injured by teargas canisters and eyewitnesses. These testimonies indicate that security forces routinely fire teargas canisters directly at protestors, in contravention of the regulations. The testimonies also indicate teargas canisters are fired from elevated positions, relative to the perimeter fence (earth embankments, or the roofs of military jeeps), or through gaps in the fence itself. B’Tselem has documented direct firing of teargas canisters in the West Bank, which resulted in severe injuries and killed at least two people.

Firing tear gas canisters directly at protestors is not a stand-alone practice. It is part of the open-fire policy Israel has been implementing along the Gaza border for more than a year. This policy, which has so far claimed the lives of more than 200 protestors and injured thousands is patently unlawful and immoral. Using lethal fire, whether live or otherwise, against protestors the vast majority of whom are unarmed and pose no danger to the lives of armored security forces on the other side of the fence, in the same way for more than a year, despite its well-documented horrific results is yet another expression of Israel’s disregard for the lives and bodily integrity of Palestinians.

Muhammad Fseifes. Photo by Khaled al-‘Azayzeh, B’Tselem, 19 June 2019

Muhammad Fseifes, 21, injured in head – 31 May 2019

At about 3:00 P.M. on Friday, 31 May 2019, Muhammad Fseifes, 23, a resident of ‘Abasan al-Kabirah who is unemployed, arrived at the protest near the Gaza perimeter fence to the north of the town of Khuza’ah. At about 3:30 P.M., Fseifes and a group of young men, some waving Palestinian flags, moved forward to a spot a few dozen meters from the fence. Hanan Abu Tibah, 30, a resident of Bani Suheila, married and mother of four, also went with the group, waving a Palestinian flag.

In a testimony taken on 19 June 2019 by B’Tselem field researcher Khaled al-‘Azayzeh, Abu Tibah related:

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After the Supreme Court Praised the Open-Fire Policy, the Military Admits: We killed Protestors for No Reason

B’Tselem, 24 July 2019

Israel’s unlawful open-fire policy during the demonstrations along the Gaza perimeter fence – which were upheld by the Supreme Court – have so far resulted in hundreds of Palestinian deaths and thousands of injuries. Official sources now admit that they were well aware that people were being killed when even the State did not claim that this is justified. Despite this, no-one has taken action to amend the open-fire regulations. Instead, the military continued with its trial-and-error approach, ignoring the fact that human lives were at stake: people whose lives have been taken, and families who have been permanently devastated.

The day before yesterday (22 July 2019), it emerged that the officials were fully aware, at every stage, of the gulf between their declarations and reality. Carmela Menashe, a reporter for Kan News, reported that the military has now decided to change the open-fire regulations for snipers “after it emerged that firing at the lower limbs above the knee led, in most cases, to death, despite the fact that this was not the objective. Going forward, soldiers have been briefed to shoot below the knee and then at the ankle.” A senior officer at the military’s Counter-Terrorism School stated that the snipers’ objective “is not to kill but to injure, and accordingly one of the lessons learned related to the direction toward which they fire… At first, we told them to shoot at the leg. We saw that this can result in fatalities, so we told them to shoot below the knee, then we fine-tuned the regulations to shooting at the ankle.”

The decision to change the regulations only now, after more than a year during which they led to the deaths of at least 206 Palestinians, including 37 minors, and the injury of thousands, in no way suggests that the military attaches great value to human life. On the contrary, it shows that the military consciously chose not to regard those standing on the other side of the fence as humans. In its naivety, the High Court of Justice approved this practice. Both the military and the Court bear the responsibility for this criminal policy.

Background

In March 2018, thousands of residents of the Gaza Strip began demonstrating along the fence that separates Gaza from Israel, demanding an end to the siege of the Gaza Strip and the implementation of the right of return. From the outset, following the announcement of the first demonstration, Israel portrayed the protests as an existential threat to the state and regarded the participants as dangerous terrorists. As a result of this approach, the military implemented lethal open-fire regulations from the first day of the protests: regulations that are patently unlawful and immoral. As part of this policy, the military permitted the use of live fire against demonstrators on the other side of the fence and posed no danger to anyone, certainly not the armed and well-protected security forces stationed at a considerable distance from them. B’Tselem urged soldiers to refuse to obey these regulations and to refrain from shooting at unarmed protestors.

The regulation were legally challenged at the High Court of Justice. In its response to the petition, the State defended the regulations, declaring that “there can be no doubt regarding their legality.” The State emphasized that the regulations were approved by the Military Advocate General and the Attorney General, and that they permit live fire “solely in order to address violent disturbances that present a clear and present danger to IDF forces or to Israeli civilians.” The State added that “the rules permit precise fire at the legs of a main rioter or main instigator in order to eliminate the danger from the violence disturbance of the peace.” The State further added that “there is an orderly process in place for operational debriefing and implementation of lessons learned;” that “forces have been provided with clarifications and highlights designed to further limit, insofar as possible, the scope of injuries;” and that incidents involving fatalities have been referred for “review by the General Staff Mechanism for Fact-Finding Assessments which investigates exceptional incidents.”

The Court accepted this position verbatim and made no attempt to challenge it. Supreme Court Vice President, Justice Hanan Melcer, held that the regulations permit live fire solely when “there is an immediate, clear and present danger to IDF forces or Israeli civilians,” and allow only “precise fire at the legs of a main rioter or main instigator in order to eliminate the danger from the violence disturbance of the peace, with the goal of eliminating the anticipated imminent danger.”

Supreme Court President Esther Hayut concurred with Justice Melcer, similarly accepting each and every one of the State’s claims regarding the great caution the military exercises in the use of life fire, “in order to minimize as far as possible the potential harm to uninvolved civilians who participate in [the demonstrations].”

In the months since the beginning of the demonstrations, a gap between the State’s claims and the horrifying outcomes of the actual implementation of the unlawful open-fire regulations approved by the High Court grew wider. To date, the military has killed at least 206 Palestinian demonstrators using live fire, 37 of whom were minors under the age of 18. According to figures published by OCHA, more than 7,800 Palestinians have been injured by live fire. According to the World Health Organization, physicians have had to perform amputations in 139 cases – 30 of which involved minors and 121 involved the lower limbs. Moreover, 24 people have been left paralyzed as the result of spinal injuries.

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On the 69th Great March of Return

66 Civilians Injured by Israeli Forces: 28 Children, 2 Journalists, and 4 Women, Including a Paramedic

Palestinian Center for Human Rights – Gaza, August 2, 2019

On the 69th Great March of Return, 66 Palestinian civilians were injured due to the Israeli military’s continued use of excessive force against peaceful protests along the Gaza Strip’s eastern border. At least 28 children, 4 women and a paramedic were among those injured this Friday, 02 August 2019. Twenty-seven civilians were shot with live bullets and 2 children were deemed in a critical medical condition.

While this week’s protests saw a decline in the number of civilian injuries, PCHR fieldworkers documented many cases of live bullets targeting civilians’ upper bodies. Despite the absence of a real threat to Israeli soldiers’ lives; the occupation forces continued the systematic use of excessive force against protestors.

For the first time since the Great March of Return started in March 2018, there were no injuries reported in eastern Gaza City. The deployment of Palestinian security forces in official apparel along “Jakar” street, who denied civilians from approaching the border fence, contributed to the decline in injuries.

Today’s protest, which lasted from 16:00 to 19:00, was titled “Solidarity with Crimes against Wadi al-Humus,” and involved activities such as speeches by political leaders and theatrical performances. Dozens of civilians protested at varied distances from the border fence across the Gaza Strip.

To this date, PCHR documented 208 killings by Israel since the outbreak of the protests on 30 March 2018, including 44 children, 2 women, 9 persons with disabilities, 4 paramedics, and 2 journalists. Additionally, 13,391 were wounded, including 2,775 children, 413 women, 222 paramedics and 209 journalists, noting that many had sustained multiple wounds on multiple occasions.  Among those wounded, PCHR documented cases where 196 persons have become with disabilities, including 28 children and 5 women, and were as follows: 149 amputees; 21 paralyzed, 26 blind or deaf and 9 sexually disabled.

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