May 4, 2017
Film: “Tickling Giants”

Free speech is not settled law,
and democracy is not easily won

 

Elvehjem Building L150
455 N Park St
University of Wisconsin-Madison
6:00 PM – 9:00 PM CDT

Please join the University of Wisconsin-Madison Middle East Studies Program for a showing of Tickling Giants, a powerful story of the “Jon Stewart of Egypt” and the price of laughter in the Mideast (LA Times).

There will also be a short graduation ceremony for certificate students afterward.

ABOUT THE FILM
In the midst of the Egyptian Arab Spring, Bassem Youssef creates the satirical show, “Al Bernameg,” which quickly becomes the most viewed television program in the Middle East, with 30 million viewers per episode. But, in a country where free speech is not settled law, his show becomes as controversial as it is popular. Despite increasing danger, Bassem employs comedy, not violence, to comment on hypocrisy in media, politics, and religion. Tickling Giants follows the “Al Bernameg” team as they discover democracy is not easily won.

ASM unanimously approves contentious divestment proposal to mixed reactions from campus

Student council also approved resolution calling for community control of police

, The Badger Herald, Apr 27, 2017

Peyton David/The Badger Herald

After five hours of debate and nearly 50 people appearing before open forum, the University of Wisconsin Associated Students of Madison unanimously approved the contentious divestment proposal.

The heated resolution resulted in a 24-0-2 vote Wednesday evening.

Originally introduced in a March 29 meeting, the proposal was tabled indefinitely after six hours of debate and more than 60 people appearing before an open forum.

In the original resolution, Jewish students expressed in the March 29 open forum that they felt targeted since the legislation called to divest from several Israeli companies. To reflect the need of divesting from corporations and to keep from alienating Jewish students, ASM later amended the new legislation to focus on ending UW’s support of corporations that profit from human rights violations.

The amended resolution highlights divesting from banks and private prisons that profit off of minority oppression and rebuke corporations that engage in resource extraction from indigenous lands without consent, harming indigenous people’s way of life, divesting from fossil corporations, border walls and arms manufacturers.

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Leaked report highlights Israel lobby’s failures

No such thing as a “Jewish and democratic state” without violations of Palestinian rights

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 28 April 2017

The Reut Institute, founded by former government advisor Gidi Grinstein, has conceded in a secret report jointly prepared with the ADL that Israel’s efforts to thwart the Palestine solidarity movement have failed. (via Facebook)

Key Israel lobby groups have conceded that they have failed to counter the Palestine solidarity movement, despite vastly increasing their spending. The admission is contained in a secret report that The Electronic Intifada has obtained.

The report, published here in full for the first time, outlines Israel’s failure to stem the “impressive growth” and “significant successes” of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

It also sets out strategies, endorsed by the Israeli government, aimed at reversing the deterioration in Israel’s position.

But while calling for harsher measures against the Palestine solidarity movement, the report offers no new ideas to deal with how Israel is beset not by an image problem but a reality problem: its regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid is increasingly viewed around the world as reprehensible and unsustainable, even by many of Israel’s defenders.

The report nevertheless identifies key concerns and likely targets of Israel’s propaganda planners.

Even while attempting to come up with a formula to defeat it, the report admits that the movement for Palestinian rights is based on “appealing and sophisticated” arguments which Israel has so far failed to match.

The “20X question”

The report is spurred by what it calls the “20X question” – the fact that pro-Israel groups have increased their spending to combat the Palestine solidarity movement twenty-fold over the last six years and yet despite these tens of millions of dollars, “results remain elusive.”

The existence of the report had been revealed in February by The Jewish Daily Forward.

It was prepared by the Anti-Defamation League and the Reut Institute, an Israeli think tank founded by former government adviser Gidi Grinstein, with the help of “experts” from Israel lobby groups and the Israeli goverment.

According to the Forward, Reut and the ADL were “only circulating print copies of the report” among selected pro-Israel operatives, and the newspaper had received it on condition that it not be published in its entirety.

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#ObliteratedFamilies – Siyam Family

During the 2014 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members. Some of the families were wiped out entirely.

The #ObliteratedFamilies project tells the stories of some of these families, their loved ones who were killed and those left behind.

“She carried me in her arms from al-Abbasiyye”
Siyam family, Rafah
13 people killed
July 21, 2014

Obliterated. Her family was obliterated. Little Mayar, a noisy rascal of a girl, runs back and forth through the guest room, harassing the goats, sometimes aggressively demanding affection and attention from her grandparents Makhrous and Dalal, sometimes being a cutie and posing for the camera. She understands only to some degree what happened in 2014. She lost her parents, and her only sibling, 5-year-old Moin.

Nabil and his son Baderaddin, standing in the place where the Siyam family was attacked.

Netanyahu Cancels Meeting After German Official Visits Protest Group

Israel has come under increasing criticism for seeking to silence groups that are critical of the 50-year military occupation of the West Bank. The Israeli Parliament passed a law in March barring entry to Israel for foreigners supporting a boycott of the country.

IAN FISHER, The New York Times, APRIL 25, 2017

Sigmar Gabriel, the German foreign minister, in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Mr. Gabriel’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was canceled because Mr. Gabriel met with members of Breaking the Silence, a group opposed to the occupation of Palestinian territories. (Abir Sultan/European Pressphoto Agency)

JERUSALEM — It was hardly the first time a top-level meeting had been canceled over hard feelings. But when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel called off a session with the German foreign minister here on Tuesday, it seemed a particularly sharp reflection of the tension within Israel, and with its allies, these days.

Israeli and German officials said the cancellation of the top-level meeting planned for later in the day came after the German minister of foreign affairs, Sigmar Gabriel, met with the group Breaking the Silence, which opposes the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. Mr. Netanyahu has accused the group of “slandering” Israeli soldiers.

The tension began when the Israeli news media addressed the possibility that Mr. Gabriel would visit with the group and reported that Israeli officials — and probably Mr. Netanyahu himself — were threatening that the visit would be a deal-breaker for the planned top-level meeting ahead.

Perhaps predictably, Mr. Gabriel, who is also Germany’s vice chancellor, did not take it well.

“It simply can’t be,” Mr. Gabriel told reporters in Israel. “Imagine if we would invite Mr. Netanyahu to Germany and he wants to meet with NGOs that are critical of the government and we say, ‘If you do that we’ll break off the visit.’ People would tell us we’re crazy.”

He refused to speculate on whether the cancellation was a tit-for-tat move after the German leadership postponed a governmental exchange with Israel, originally planned for May, citing scheduling conflicts. “The whole situation has to cool down,” Mr. Gabriel said.

After the meeting of the two leaders was called off, an Israeli official in Mr. Netanyahu’s office, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Gabriel refused to take a phone call from the Israeli prime minister. German officials could not immediately be reached to comment.

“Diplomats are welcome to meet with representatives of civil society,” Mr. Netanyahu’s office said, “but Prime Minister Netanyahu will not meet with those who lend legitimacy to organizations that call for the criminalization of Israeli soldiers.”

Breaking the Silence, which includes Israeli combat veterans, declined to comment.

Germany is one of Israel’s strongest allies in Europe, but it has often been critical of Israeli policies. The tension increased recently after Germany criticized an Israeli law that would retroactively legalize thousands of homes in a settlement built on private Palestinian land.

Mr. Gabriel’s visit to Israel came the same week as Holocaust Remembrance Day. He visited Yad Vashem, the museum and memorial to the six million Jews killed by the Nazi regime in World War II.

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#ObliteratedFamilies – Al-Kilani Family

During the 2014 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members. Some of the families were wiped out entirely.

The #ObliteratedFamilies project tells the stories of some of these families, their loved ones who were killed and those left behind.

“Don’t worry. This is routine for us.”
Al-Kilani family, Beit Lahiya
11 people killed
July 21, 2014

Fatma al-Kilani walks briskly into the room, gives it a quick glance, and locks her eyes on her son Saleh. She is mumbling a stream of barely intelligible words. Suddenly, she asks her son in a clear voice, “Saleh, did you find them?” When there is no answer, just an embarrassed, apologetic smile, she goes back to muttering and wandering around the house. She does not know how to sit still. Neither did her younger son, Ibrahim.

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