Israel practices ‘apartheid’ — Representative Betty McCollum


Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN)

Phil Weiss and Annie Robbins, Mondoweiss, October 2, 2018

The highlight of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights conference that concluded Sunday in St. Paul was a speech by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) that was that very rare and brave thing in mainstream US politics: an unapologetic endorsement of Palestinian human rights.

McCollum denounced Israel’s “brutal” “cruel” policy of detaining and torturing children, which she has sought to sanction through groundbreaking legislation that would end U.S. aid that supports those practices. She said that it is not anti-Semitic to criticize Israel: “why can’t I hold a foreign government accountable for how they abuse an entire population of people under their control?”

She referred to the power of the Israel lobby over other legislators — a power that she first defied in 2006, when she told the Israel lobby group AIPAC that it was barred from her office till it apologized for saying she supported terrorists. She said that more and more Congresspeople are at last willing to take on Israel openly, witness the 29 co-sponsors of her bill (all Democrats).

And most importantly, McCollum described Israel under its “nation state of the Jewish people” law, which was enacted last July, as an “apartheid” state.

“Friends, the world has a name of that form of government that’s codified in the nation state law, and it’s called apartheid.”

McCollum, 64, is a former social studies teacher who represents a district that includes all of St. Paul and its northern and eastern suburbs. She is endorsed by J Street, the liberal Zionist organization. Her speech, in which she accepted a leadership award, can be found on Facebook. We have transcribed much of it below.

Betty McCollum:

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States can’t punish businesses for boycotting Israel, federal judge in Arizona says


Palestinians walk past a sign painted on a wall in Bethlehem, in the West Bank, in 2015 that calls for a boycott of products coming from the Israeli settlements. (Thomas Coex/Agence France-Presse)

Isaac Stanley-Becker, The Washington Post, October 1, 2018

Mikkel Jordahl, a lawyer in Sedona, Ariz., can now choose to buy a different brand of printers.

No longer must he stick with Hewlett-Packard technology for fear of losing his contract with the state. For 12 years, he has provided legal advice to inmates in the Coconino County Detention Facility.

In his personal life, he avoids companies he considers complicit in Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. His aim had been to extend his boycott to his one-person law office — for instance, refusing to purchase from Hewlett-Packard because its information technology services are used at Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank.

In his professional life, however, he was bound by a law, enacted by the Arizona legislature in 2016, requiring any business that has a state contract to certify that it was not boycotting Israel. He challenged the directive in court, claiming that it violated his First Amendment rights.

A federal judge in Arizona found merit in his complaint. U.S. District Judge Diane Humetewa issued an injunction last week, blocking enforcement of the measure, which compels any business contracting with the state to submit a written pledge that it was not involved in boycott activity targeting Israel.

At issue in the case is the specific obligation imposed in Arizona, but the ruling cast doubt on the constitutionality of broader government efforts to regulate boycott activity by private companies, even those that do business with the state.

“A restriction of one’s ability to participate in collective calls to oppose Israel unquestionably burdens the protected expression of companies wishing to engage in such a boycott,” Humetewa wrote in her opinion in Jordahl et al v. Brnovich et al.

The finding was the second this year to turn back a wave of state legislation using public money to deter anti-Israel activity. It is in line with a similar judgment in January, when a federal judge in Kansas ruled for the first time that enforcing a state provision requiring contractors to sign a no-boycott certification violated expressive rights guaranteed under the First Amendment. Similar provisions are on the books in more than a dozen states, including Maryland, Minnesota and South Carolina, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

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Gaza’s economy is not ‘falling.’ It was pushed.


Palestinian laborers protest against the continued Israeli siege and the spread of unemployment in Gaza City on May 1, 2018. (Photo: Ashram Amra/APA Images)

Marilyn Garson, Mondoweiss, September 27, 2018

The economic and social situation in Gaza that has been declining for over a decade, has deteriorated exponentially in recent months. . . The situation has reached a critical point.
— Economic Monitoring Report to the World Bank Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, Sept 27, 2018 (PDF)

The latest Economic Monitoring Report to the World Bank Ad Hoc Liaison Committee [AHLC] quantifies the collective punishment and mounting hardship of the Gaza Strip:

  • – 6% growth in the first quarter of 2018, compared to the same months of 2017.
  • 53.7% unemployment, over 70% for youth and 78% for women in Q1, 2018. The first figures from Q2 suggest that unemployment has risen a further 5%.
  • 53% of Gazans – every second person – lives below the poverty line.
  • 2% of Gazans receive an uninterrupted supply of water. 98% do not.

The cause is not in doubt: the government of Israel imposes “restrictions that are the main impediment” to normal economic activity. “The blockade has caused Gaza’s economy to deindustrialize”. As proportions of GDP, manufacturing and agriculture have declined by more than half since 1994. The blockade and repeated wars have caused Gaza’s economy to grow more slowly than all of its comparator economies (including the West Bank).

And try doing business in an economy this volatile:

(Source: Economic Monitoring Report to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, September 27, 2018)

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 13, 2018

House Democrats Condemn Trump Administration’s Actions Harming the Palestinian People

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (WI-02), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) today released the following statement condemning the Trump Administration’s recent actions harming the Palestinian people.

“We are alarmed by the Trump Administration’s blatant attempts at exacerbating the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories. The punitive measures employed by President Trump are intended to use the Palestinian people as pawns on the negotiating table for his administration’s failed attempts to bring stability to the region.

“In the last month, the Administration has slashed $25 million of US assistance to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, rescinded $200 million in Congressionally allocated humanitarian aid to Gaza and the West Bank, and halted all U.S. funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). By cutting these important aid programs, the Trump Administration will only exacerbate tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians, while further diminishing opportunities for lasting peace.

“Further, the Trump Administration has failed to push back on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s demolitions of Palestinian communities in the West Bank, like Khan Al Ahmar. We must remind our ally, Israel, that approving the destruction and upheaval of Palestinian communities slowly deteriorates the prospects for a peaceful and just resolution to the conflict.

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24th Friday of the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege of the Gaza Strip

Israeli Forces Kill 1 Child and Wound 137 Civilians, including 26 Children, 4 Paramedics and 1 Journalist

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), September 7, 2018, Ref: 97/2018

On Friday afternoon, 07 September 2018, using excessive force against the peaceful protesters in the eastern Gaza Strip for the 24th Friday in a row, Israeli forces Killed a child and wounded 137 civilians, including 26 children, 4 paramedics and 1 journalist with live bullets and directly hit tear gas canisters. Nine of those wounded sustained serious wounds in addition to dozens of civilians suffering tear gas inhalation. Moreover, Today early morning, a young man succumbed to serious wounds he sustained during his participation in the Return Demonstration in the northern Gaza Strip on 13 July 2018.

According to PCHR fieldworkers’ observations, the border area witnessed heavy deployment of the Israeli forces this week as the latter heavily fired live bullets and tear gas canisters, increasing the number of causalities comparing with the previous weeks, despite the peaceful nature prevailing the demonstrations.

The Israeli forces continued to use upon highest military and political echelons excessive force against the peaceful demonstrators who posed no threat or danger to the life of Israeli soldiers in the areas of demonstrations.

Table of Civilian Casualties due to the Israeli Suppression since the Beginning of the Great March of Return on 30 March

Casualties Medical Crews Journalists Women Children Total Notes
Killed 3 2 1 24 132 [1]
Wounded 109 80 206 1208 7042 [2]

[1] Among those killed there are 3 persons with disabilities, while among the children killed there is a girl.
[2] Among those wounded, 433 are in serious condition and 69 had their lower or upper limbs amputated. The number of wounded includes those from live bullets and directly hit with tear gas canisters, as there have been a thousand others who suffered tear gas inhalation.


Investigations and observations by PCHR’s fieldworkers emphasize that the demonstrations in all areas were as always fully peaceful, and neither weapons nor armed persons were seen. However, the Israeli forces’ snipers continued to position on the hills, behind the sand berms and in military jeeps along the border fence.

The incidents today, 07 September 2018, were as follows:

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Sep 11, 2018
United Nations Association Lecture on Palestine

Madison Central Library
201 W Mifflin St
7:00 pm, 3rd Floor

Since 2006 the speaker has been spending from one to three months per year accompanying Palestinian children to school past Israeli settler checkpoints in the village of Tuwani and the surrounding South Hebron Hills of the West Bank. She initially volunteered with Christian Peacemaking Teams, but more recently has served with the Italian organization Operation Dove, both of which began their work in Tuwani at the invitation of the village and in response to Israeli settler attacks on schoolchildren and shepherds. She will speak about her experiences and current developments in Palestine.

More information: UNA Public Lecture — Conflict in Palestine

Sep 27-28: Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) National Conference

You are invited to FOSNA’s national meeting in Minneapolis: Prophetic Action. This event is on track to be one of the largest ecumenical gatherings of Christian leaders and activists for Palestinian rights. Participants will discuss liberative theologies across faiths, celebrate growing church wins, and reflect on the impact of their activism!

Along with keynote speaker, Reverend Traci Blackmon, participants will hear from other faith leaders and Palestinian organizers throughout the convening, including Reverend Jim Bear Jacobs from the Racial Justice at Minnesota Council of Churches, Lara Kiswani from the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Omar Haramy from Sabeel Jerusalem, and Sandra Tamari from the Adalah Justice Project. Schedule and full program, including link to register.