Conscientious objector: ‘I don’t want to wear a uniform that symbolizes violence and pain’

Shahar Perets, who was sentenced to prison for refusing to join the Israeli army, talks about meeting Palestinians for the first time, her visits to the West Bank, and how Israeli society represses the occupation.


Israeli conscientious objector Shahar Perets. (Oren Ziv)

Oren Ziv, +972 Magazine, September 1, 2021

Israeli conscientious objector Shahar Perets was sentenced to 10 days in military prison on Tuesday after announcing her refusal to join the Israeli army over its policies toward Palestinians. 

Perets, 18, from the town of Kfar Yona, is one of the 120 teenagers who signed the “Shministim Letter” (an initiative with the Hebrew nickname given to high school seniors) in January, in which they declared their refusal to serve in the army in protest of its policies of occupation and apartheid. In June 2020, she was one of the 400 Israeli teenagers who signed a letter to the Israeli leadership demanding it halts its erstwhile plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank as part of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s so-called peace plan. 

On Tuesday morning, dozens of supporters, including Joint List MK Ofer Cassif, accompanied both Perets and conscientious objector Eran Aviv — who will enter his fourth stint behind bars — to the Tel Hashomer induction base in central Israel, where they both told the army they would not serve. Aviv has spent a total of 54 days in military prison for refusing to serve in the army, and was sentenced to an additional 10 days behind bars. After they are released, they will have to return to the induction base and repeat the process until the army decides to discharge them. Military conscription is mandatory for most Jewish Israelis. 

Aviv arrived to the induction base in uniform after he began the enlistment process in May, when the army promised him a position that was unrelated to the occupation. When army officials reneged on the promise, he chose to refuse — yet from the IDF’s point of view, he is considered a soldier.

Shahar’s father, Shlomo Perets, who himself sat in prison four times for refusing to serve in Lebanon and the occupied territories, was also there to support his daughter. “These are her choices, she does what she has decided out of awareness, care, and a desire to make a change. I support her and hope that she will succeed in not doing the things that go against her principles and refusing to be what she is not.”

What Happens to a Palestinian Who Protects His Land

Home Invasions and False Arrests: Aref Jaber defies settlers’ attempts to take over his plot of land near Hebron, and finds himself facing harassment from the army too

Amira Hass, Haaretz, Aug. 28, 2021

On December 11, a structure made of wood and cinder blocks appeared on a piece of land belonging to Aref Jaber of Hebron. Just before he found the structure, relatives told him that Israeli Jews were squatting on his land, on a hill east of Hebron in the West Bank, in an area called al-Bak’aa.

Since that day, Jaber and his family have been constantly harassed: raids on his land and home, other illegal structures going up and being demolished, intrusive drones, imposter Israel Police officers saying they’re from the Shin Bet security service, and false arrests by the army and police.

New Prime Minister, Same Human Rights Violations

Dear Friend,

I am heavy, but hopeful. The last two weeks have been heartbreaking and enraging in so many ways: we see U.S. government fingerprints, our tax dollars at work, on carnage around the world, from Afghanistan to Palestine. Our government has left the Afghan people to a chaotic power vacuum in the aftermath of 20 years of U.S. invasion, and denied refuge to so many. And the U.S. welcomed the new Prime Minister of Apartheid Israel, Naftali Bennett, to the White House just days after Israeli forces shot Palestinian protesters in Gaza, injuring a 13-year-old child.

But as a communication professional in advocacy, I know the power of shifting the narrative to transform what’s possible for future policy. This week we’ve seen people-powered actions disrupting the narratives of the powerful. On Afghanistan, that looks like an outpouring of people’s support for Afghan refugees—follow Afghans for a Better Tomorrow on Instagram and Twitter for one view into the outpouring of community support for providing refuge to Afghans made vulnerable by our disastrous foreign policy. And on Palestine, we’ve been part of a powerful conclusion to August’s month of action this week, with people like you speaking up in the media, in joint letters, and in the streets to condemn this red carpet rollout for war criminal Bennett and push toward an end to U.S. support for Israel’s colonialism once and for all.

Join us by raising your voice: Today the mainstream media is reporting on Israeli PM Bennett and President Biden’s meeting on “peace” and “security,” while an end to billions of dollars of U.S. weapons to bomb, cage, and displace Palestinians remains off the agenda.



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Joint Statement On Biden-Bennett Meeting

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), August 26, 2021

Ahead of President Joe Biden’s first in-person meeting today with newly-elected Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, ADC, along with the undersigned organizations, insists President Biden center core Palestinian calls for justice and demand that the Israeli government ends its ongoing and systemic violations of Palestinian rights, including ending the blockade of Gaza and immediately halting ongoing ethnic cleansing and forced expulsions of hundreds of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, Jerusalem.

Palestinians have suffered under, and resisted, Israeli ethnic cleansing, military occupation, and crimes of apartheid since the creation of the state of Israel. The U.S. has enabled those policies by sending billions of dollars in unconditional military funding and by regularly shielding Israel from accountability in the international arena. If President Biden truly wants to center justice and human rights in U.S. foreign policy, he must finally condemn and take action to end U.S. diplomatic support and military funding for the Israeli government’s ongoing and systemic violations of Palestinian human rights. These include restrictions on freedom of movement; extrajudicial killings; demolitions of homes; ill-treatment and torture of children in military court systems; illegal annexation of land; theft of water and other natural resources; the suffocating blockade of Gaza and deadly and repeated military assaults on Palestinians there; the denial of the right of refugees to return to their homes; and more.

It is painfully clear that without pressure and demands for accountability from the U.S.—including cutting military funding to the Israeli government and sanctions—the Israeli government will continue to violate Palestinian rights. Our tax dollars should be invested in life affirming policies like housing and healthcare, not harm to communities around the globe.

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) Legislative and Policy Coordinator Chris Habiby said,“President Biden has an opportunity with this meeting to shift his administration’s complicity in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people by instead advocating in support of the human rights of Palestinians. He must rise to meet this moment and demonstrate that the US will not stand idly by while Israel routinely kills Palestinians, while they routinely throw Palestinians out of their homes, and while they routinely deny Palestinians access to clean water and medical care – an issue that is of particular importance during a global pandemic.”

Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC) Executive Director Lara Kiswani said, “Biden owes his presidency to the millions of people who rose up to resist racist authoritarianism. He now has an obligation to stand with mass movements demanding change by taking decisive action for the sovereignty of Palestinian people to raise his voice against apartheid, supporting a moratorium on military funding to Israel, demanding an end to the siege on Gaza, and calling for an immediate end to ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem.”

US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR) Executive Director Ahmad Abuznaid said, “President Biden is complicit in fueling Israeli violence against the Palestinian people – including the Israeli massacre of Palestinians in Gaza this spring, after which his administration pushed to approve additional weapons sales to Israel. Every Israeli government has advanced Israel’s colonialism and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. The Biden administration has the chance to end our complicity in ongoing Israeli violence once and for all.”

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No To Israel Joining the Visa Waiver Program

Washington, D.C. | www.adc.org | August 27, 2021 – ​​​​The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is calling on President Joe Biden and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to reject Israel Envoy to the U.S. Gilad Erdan’s request for a U.S. Visa Waiver Program deal without explicit guarantees that Arab and Muslim Americans would be provided reciprocal travel privileges.

Following a meeting with Secretary Mayorkas, Erdan posted on August 16 on Facebook that he expects to see “significant progress” on a U.S. visa waiver deal. Additionally, during Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s visit to the White House on August 27, President Biden mentioned that he would discuss with the Prime Minister how to bring Israel into the program. The lack of transparency regarding this potential deal concerns ADC and could lead to a unique exemption for Israel.

If a deal is made without an explicit guarantee of equal treatment, Israel would become the only country participating in the Visa Waiver Program that would be allowed to discriminate against Americans due to their ethnicity or faith. None of the other 39 nations that participate in the program have been granted a similar exemption.

The Visa Waiver Program enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. To join the Visa Waiver Program, the entering country must allow Americans to enter without a visa as well.

Israel routinely refuses to allow Americans of Arab ethnicity or Muslim backgrounds to enter their country or the occupied territories it controls. According to the U.S. State Department’s website, “some U.S. citizens of Arab or Muslim heritage (including Palestinian-Americans) have experienced significant difficulties and unequal and occasionally hostile treatment at Israel’s borders and checkpoints.” Additionally, “U.S. citizens have been denied entry to Israel and the West Bank for involvement in and/or expressing support on social media for the BDS movement.” Such a discriminatory practice falls well short of the intent of Visa Waiver Program participation and provides clear ground for rejection.

In 2013, ADC and other American Arab and Muslim rights organizations defeated an attempt in the U.S. Senate that would have permitted Israel to join the Visa Waiver Program while keeping its discriminatory and restrictive immigration policies.

August 16, 2021
Webinar on Ben & Jerry’s recent decision

We’re delighted to invite you to a timely webinar on Monday, August 16th, at 4:00 pm ET.

How did an ice cream company come to dominate the global discourse on Israel-Palestine? On July 19th, beloved ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s announced that it would end sales of its ice cream in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The backlash from the Israeli government, from US elected officials and from right wing organizations was immediate and overwhelming, with calls for US governors to use anti-boycott laws to take legal action against Ben & Jerry’s for their decision.

Join Just Vision, Americans for Peace Now and Jewish Currents along with guests Ben Cohen (Founder, Ben & Jerry’s) and Anuradha Mittal (Board Chair, Ben & Jerry’s) in conversation with our Executive Director, Suhad Babaa; Jewish CurrentsEditor-at-Large, Peter Beinart; and President and CEO of Americans for Peace Now, Hadar Susskind, to discuss this recent decision by Ben and Jerry’s and its far-reaching implications.

To register for this event, please click here. We hope to see you there.

With resolve,
Emma Alpert
Deputy Director, Just Vision

Speaker bios:

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When anti-Black and anti-Palestinian racism converge


In his resignation letter Dr Cornel West warns of ‘an intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy’ in US academia [Getty]

Sahar F. Aziz, The New Arab, 23 Jul, 2021

It is no secret that Palestine is taboo in US academia. Harvard’s recent denial of tenure to renowned race scholar Cornel West is the most recent instance. 

For decades, Arab American faculty have faced tenure denial or termination; students have been reprimanded and some even criminally charged; and Middle East studies programmes are under constant threat of defunding.  All based on the fallacious claim that teaching, research, and activism that brings to light Israel’s rampant violations of Palestinian human rights is axiomatically anti-Semitic

Big donors, alumni, and well-funded legal advocacy groups unabashedly command university administrators to cancel classes and programmes aimed to provide students with the experiences and voices of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. Never mind that cowering to such demands undermines a university’s most fundamental tenet: academic freedom. 

“Cowering to such demands undermines a university’s most fundamental tenet: academic freedom”

As they become ever more dependent on private donations and external grants to cover operational expenses, university administrators often oblige

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Ben & Jerry’s: Stop supporting apartheid in Palestine

SumOfUs, June 28, 2021

Last month, during the eleven-day assault by Israeli military on the Gaza Strip, 256 Palestinians, including 66 children, died. And last week, thousands of right-wing nationalists paraded around Jerusalem shouting ‘death to Arabs’.

The only way to stop the never-ending cycle of settlement expansion and violence is to make the economic cost of this illegal occupation too high to bear. 

Ben & Jerry’s has been one of the world’s most progressive companies since its inception, but they continue to sell and operate on stolen Palestinian land. 

And if we can get them to stop supporting the apartheid regime, other global companies like Puma and Motorola will be forced to follow suit.

Tell Ben & Jerry’s: stop supporting the brutal occupation of Palestine.

The recent violence in the region is just the latest in the chapter of oppression of Palestinians — a conflict that is marked by decades of apartheid, colonization, land theft, forced evictions, demolitions, and displacement of Palestinians by settlers waving Israel’s flag.

While Israeli settlers on stolen Palestinian land use freezers to store Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, people in Gaza have no choice but to use them to store the bodies of dead Palestinians babies as was the case after the deadly assault when close to 2,000 were killed in 2014.

The company’s normally active social media has been silent since the eleven-day assault. We know from inside sources that Ben & Jerry’s is deciding right now whether to pull out of Israel for good.

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Seattle Port Demonstration Against Apartheid

Aisha Mansour‎, The Palestine Solidarity Committee – Seattle, June 13, 2021

Thank you for your readiness to mobilize Seattle! After our successful action yesterday and rally today, we have prevented the ZIM San Diego from unloading for another day!

SSA President Edward DeNike has asked the ZIM San Diego to leave the Port of Seattle but ZIM is refusing. Let’s show apartheid profiteer ZIM what people power can do! Stay tuned for more updates. No mobilization tomorrow morning. Text to subscribe to our alerts (833) 584 – 1948.


BDS Is Gaining Momentum With #BlockTheBoat Actions in Oakland and Seattle, Yoav Litvin, Truthout, June 11, 2021