Rise against Racism! #CounterCUFI

Friends of Sabeel – North America (FOSNA)

For too long, Palestinians have been calling for freedom, justice, and equality. As organizations that share these values, we urge you to join us in confronting Christians United for Israel (CUFI).

CUFI has quietly become the largest organization in the United States driving support for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people. With over five million members, CUFI uses its political leverage to ensure ongoing U.S. support for Israel’s colonization and military occupation of Palestine, including imprisoning Palestinian children; bombing homes, schools, and hospitals in Gaza; massacring peaceful protestors; and confiscating Palestinian land.

By its own admission, CUFI “led the charge to have the U.S. recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” and it continues to push for unconstitutional anti-BDS legislation and illegal settlement expansion.

CUFI is a Christian Zionist organization: Its ideology and politics are deeply entrenched in white nationalism, anti-Muslim racism, anti-Semitism, and other systems of oppression. In spite of its strong political influence on the Hill, CUFI has operated largely under the radar and received little attention in comparison with groups like AIPAC.

Until now. This is the moment to act: This July, many of your Congressional representatives will be attending CUFI’s annual summit as invited guests. We cannot allow CUFI’s influence to go unchallenged. Come to Washington, D.C. on July 7 and 8 to tell the world to #CounterCUFI!

It will take each and every one of us to rise against racism, to reclaim and protect our communities, and to uphold the liberation of all people in the vision of justice, equality, and freedom.

Signed,
Friends of Sabeel North America
Jewish Voice for Peace
American Muslims for Palestine
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

We will be congregating in Washington, D.C. on July 7 and 8 to challenge Christian Zionism and express our solidarity for the Palestinian people. Join us in person in D.C. by registering here and help make the action possible by donating here.

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Landmark Ruling Strikes Down Ban of Israel Boycott

Arsalan Bukhari, Informed Comment, 04/26/2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CAIR News Release) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed this afternoon’s landmark victory in CAIR’s First Amendment lawsuit on behalf of Bahia Amawi, the Texas speech language pathologist who lost her job because she refused to sign a “No Boycott of Israel” clause.

The CAIR Legal Defense Fund filed the lawsuit in December 2018 challenging Texas Anti-BDS Act, H.B. 89. CAIR actively challenges similar measures around the country, including in Arizona and Maryland.

SEE: CAIR Files Motion to Enjoin Texas Anti-BDS Act as Unconstitutional

This afternoon Judge Pitman of the Western District of Texas issued a 56-page opinion striking down H.B. 89, the Texas Anti-BDS Act, as facially unconstitutional.

READ: The Judge’s Opinion

The Court held that the Texas Anti-BDS Act “threatens to suppress unpopular ideas” and “manipulate the public debate” on Israel and Palestine “through coercion rather than persuasion.” The Court concluded: “This the First Amendment does not allow.”

Every single “No Boycott of Israel” clause in every single state contract in Texas has today been stricken as unconstitutional. The Attorney General of Texas is no longer permitted to include or enforce “No Boycott of Israel” clauses in any state contract.

Bahia Amawi can also now return to work as a speech language pathologist. Amawi received the news of her victory while driving, and pulled over to the side of the road to shed tears of joy. “God is great,” she exclaimed.

“Arabic-speaking schoolchildren in Texas have been deprived of critical services from Bahia Amawi for almost this entire schoolyear because of this unconstitutional law,” said CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri. “Today we welcome a victory for the First Amendment.”

“This is a complete victory of the First Amendment against Texas’s attempts to suppress speech in support of Palestine,” said CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas. “More importantly, it’s a complete victory for all Texans, to engage in political speech without government censorship.”

“The First Amendment blocks any effort by state governments or the federal government from forcing their citizens to take sides in the widespread international debate about the relationship between Israel and Palestine,” said CAIR Trial Attorney Carolyn Homer. “This is a lesson all public servants should remember when considering Anti-BDS measures around the country.”

“Bahia Amawi has been an inspiration to the Muslim community and all advocates for free speech in Texas,” said CAIR-Austin Executive Director Maira Sheikh.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.


Video from Informed Comment

Democracy Now! Dec 18, 2018: “Meet the Texas Speech Pathologist Who Lost School Job for Refusing to Sign Pro-Israel, Anti-BDS Oath”

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The five injured Abu Jazar brothers of the Gaza protests


The injured Abu Jazar brothers, with their father and mother in Gaza. Photo By Mohammed Asad

Ahmad Kabariti, Mondoweiss, April 20, 2019

In a dim room in a two-story building in al-Shaboora, Rafah, the poorest refugee camp in the southern Gaza strip, five brothers of the Abu Jazar family recall the details and pains of their multiple injuries by Israeli fire during 55 weeks of the Great March of Return protest.

Despite injuries, the brothers all planned to participate in yesterday’s 56th protest.

Ibrahim Abu Jazar. Photo by Mohammed Asad.

Ibrahim, 30, is determined to walk again. He has wounds in his right leg from live gunfire from Israeli snipers on March 30. The father of two children, he was injured while calling out loudly to protesters to move close to the fence that separates Gaza from Israel. He now considers himself “powerless” since he cannot operate his grocery and was unable to borrow a wheelchair from a double amputee neighbor, because that neighbor also plans to protest this Friday.

Faraj, 28 and the father of a daughter, sees himself as lucky, since he can easily move to the protest despite being injured three times: once when a tear gas canister hit his hand last May, again when a rubber-coated metal bullet struck his thigh last October, and more recently when a bullet struck his upper arm, which is now fitted with a metal frame called a fixator.

“Despite my young age, Israel’s 12-year blockade and nothing positive whatsoever going on are enough to push young people to protest. We have not seen a single delightful day in our lives,” Faraj told Mondoweiss.

Faraj (l) and Ashraf Abu Jazar. Photo by Mohammed Asad.

On February, a UN inquiry concluded that Israeli military had intentionally targeted Palestinians protesting in Gaza over the past year, creating a generation of disabled youth. According to the report, Israeli soldiers have targeted civilians, killing and maiming protesters, among them children, as well as journalists and medics.

Ra’eesa, 54, the sons’ stepmother, was preparing anise-flavored-cookies in the kitchen, and could not hide her grief. She said she hopes for her sons to have “more patience to overcome their pains.”

“The young need us to lift their spirits, by showing them tearless eyes,” she said. “But how could a mother hide her sadness, when one is wounded in the day and his brother is wounded before sunset.”

That is what happened to Ashraf 17, and Kayed 19, on February 15th. Each suffered a moderate injury to the leg.

Israeli Authorities Arrest Patient’s Husband While Returning to Gaza Strip

Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Ref: 64/2019, April 24, 2019

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns that the Israeli authorities stationed at Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing arrested a patient’s companion, from the Gaza Strip, while returning to the Gaza Strip.

According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 12:00 on Tuesday, 23 April 2019, the Israeli authorities arrested Karam Mustafa Mohammed Tantawi (51), from al-Qal’a buildings, south of Khan Younis. Karam, who was accompanying his wife Safa’ ‘Abed al-Majeed Tantawi (47), a cancer patient, was arrested while returning to the Gaza Strip after his wife received treatment at al-Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem.

Safa’ said to PCHR’s fieldworker that on 01 April 2019, she left the Gaza Strip along with her husband to al-Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem through Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing. She added that she received treatment for 20 days and while she was returning to the Gaza Strip along with her husband, the Israeli authorities arrested him. She clarified that after around 15 minutes, Israeli soldiers ordered her to leave alone to the Gaza Strip, but she refused and waited until 18:00. After that, the Palestinian Civil Liaison informed her that she should return to the Gaza Strip because her husband was arrested.

It should be noted that the PCHR’s lawyer, in his capacity as the legal guardian for al-Tantawi, was prevented today from visiting him in al- Majdal Prison. The court extended his arrest until next Tuesday, 30 April 2019.

PCHR stresses that the ongoing Israeli forces policy of arresting patients and their companions is considered as violation of the international human rights law and the international humanitarian law. It also constitutes a form of inhuman and degrading punishment, which coincides with the policy of tightening the illegal closure imposed on the Gaza Strip. This aggravates the patients’ suffering as their treatment is not available in the Gaza Strip hospitals.

In light of the above, PCHR:

  • Strongly condemns the arrest of Palestinian patients and their companions during their travel to receive treatment by the Israeli authorities. PCHR also calls for their immediate release and ensuring not to put their lives in danger.
  • Calls upon the international community, including the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to fulfill their obligations and assume their responsibilities and intervene to put an end to the Israeli forces’ violations to the international humanitarian law against Palestinians.
  • Calls for ensuring the freedom of movement of the Gaza Strip’s residents from/to the West Bank, including Jerusalem

500 Palestinian families in Jerusalem are about to have their homes destroyed

Action is needed to protect them and tens of thousands more who risk losing their homes under Israel’s devastating home demolition policies.

Mike Merryman-Lotze, American Friends Service Committee, Apr 19, 2019

Israeli’s home demolition policy has led to the destruction of thousands of Palestinian homes (like this one in Hebron in the West Bank) and the forced displacement of thousands of Palestinians.

Tears streaming down her face, the little girl in front of me crawled over the ruins of her home looking for toys and school books that could be salvaged from among the rubble and destruction. The night before, the Israeli army had evacuated her family from their house, set explosives, and destroyed their home.

It was 2001, and it was the first time I witnessed the devastation wrought by Israel’s decades-old home demolition policy. During the nearly two decades since then, I’ve talked with hundreds of Palestinians who have been forced out of their homes by the Israeli government. Their stories are all unique, but the result of Israel’s home demolition policy is always the same – destruction and suffering within families and communities.

Just last week, the Israeli High Court ruled that the government can move forward with the demolition of 60 buildings in Jerusalem that are home to over 500 Palestinian families. Demolitions have already begun, and thousands of Palestinians will be left without homes if this move is not stopped.

The remains of homes demolished in Nablus in the West Bank. Photo: Mike Merryman-Lotze/AFSCThe remains of homes demolished in Nablus in the West Bank. Photo: Mike Merryman-Lotze/AFSC

The Israeli government justifies these demolitions by claiming that the homes in question were built illegally without permits from the city. But for decades, the city has refused to approve zoning plans for Palestinian areas of Jerusalem, making it impossible for Palestinian residents to obtain permits and leaving them no choice but to build without permission. According to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, there are now over 20,000 housing units built without permits in East Jerusalem, all of which are at risk of demolition.

At the same time, the Jerusalem municipality is moving to retroactively approve construction carried out by the settler group Elad in the same neighborhood from which these 500 Palestinian families will soon be displaced.

This forced displacement will not just traumatize families, it will destroy a whole community. During the seven years I lived and worked in the West Bank, I saw this happen over and over – and I documented the harmful impacts. In 2008, I received an update from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that a home was being demolished in East Jerusalem, near the office where I worked. I traveled to the scene of the demolition and saw devastated family members break down as they watched the walls of their home fall.

At the time I was managing a program to assist Palestinian families whose homes were destroyed by Israel. Through our interviews with families, it became clear that the demolitions had deep, long-term negative impacts on family structures – increasing poverty and unemployment, raising levels of domestic violence, disrupting education, and leading to severe trauma for all those impacted.

A resident digs out belongings from the ruins of his destroyed home in Jenin. Photo: Mike Merryman-Lotze/AFSCA resident digs out belongings from the ruins of his destroyed home in Jenin. Photo: Mike Merryman-Lotze/AFSC

The demolition of 60 buildings in Jerusalem that was recently approved is unusual in its scale, but it is not unique. In the West Bank, tens of communities – including Umm Al-Khair, Susiya, and Khan al-Ahmar – remain under threat of complete destruction.

Destruction in communities also is not limited to the West Bank. After years of resistance, the Bedouin community of Umm Al-Hiran inside Israel will soon be destroyed and replaced with a new community designed for Jewish Israelis.

The Israeli government continues to justify the demolitions of homes and communities by claiming that they were built without proper permits. But in a situation where permits are not given, Palestinian residents have no other choice but to build without legal documentation.

The denial of permits and the refusal of the Israeli government to pass development plans for Palestinian communities in Jerusalem and the 60 percent of the West Bank controlled by Israel is not accidental. Limiting growth and restricting building guarantees Israeli control and helps push Palestinians out of areas desired for the building of settlements.

Action is needed to protect the 500 families who may be forcibly displaced over the next weeks and the tens of thousands of Palestinians who risk losing their homes. But action can’t simply be reactive.

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April 23 – 25, 2019
War Over Peace: Israel in the eyes of a Critical Sociologist

Uri Ben-Eliezer, Sociology, University of Haifa

The Havens Center, Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

    “The Nation and War, Some Reflections from Israel’s History”
    Tuesday, April 23, 4pm, 6191 Helen C. White

    “The Making, Unmaking, Remaking of Israeli Militarism”
    Wednesday, April 24, 4pm, 6191 Helen C. White

    Open seminar for public, students, and faculty
    Thursday, April 25, 12:20pm, 8108 Social Science

    FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

URI BEN-ELIEZER is a political sociologist and chair of the department of sociology at the University of Haifa, Israel. His research interests include Israeli democracy, civil society, social movements, state-society relations, army-society relations, and peace and war. He has published numerous articles in such journals as Comparative Politics, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Comparative Political Studies, Theory and Society, Political Geography, Social Politics, Social Movement Studies, and Ethnic and Racial Studies. Ben-Eliezer is also the author of three books in English: The Making of Israeli Militarism (Indiana UP, 1998); Old Conflict, New War: Israel’s Politics Toward the Palestinians (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2012); and War over Peace: One Hundred Years of Israel’s Militaristic Nationalism (University of California Press, 2019 forthcoming).