Biden needs to reverse Pompeo on Israel/Palestine


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu make a joint statement after meeting in Jerusalem, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, Pool)

Tsela Barr and Jeff Spitzer-Resnick, The Cap Times, Dec 4, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in another lame-duck effort to tie the hands of the incoming administration and give a parting gift to the far right in Israel and to right-wing Christian Evangelicals at home, has just poured kerosene on the fire of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The most senior U.S. official ever to publicly visit an Israeli settlement on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, Pompeo proclaimed that settlement-produced goods imported to the U.S. will no longer be labeled as they had previously been, “made in West Bank/Gaza.” Instead, they can now be labeled “made in Israel,” despite the fact that neither U.S. law, nor the United Nations, recognizes Israel’s de facto annexation of large swaths of Palestinian territory.

Trump and Pompeo hope to drive one more nail in the coffin of long-standing official U.S. policy, which, while not sufficiently supportive of the aspirations of the Palestinians for legitimate self-governance on their own land, at least until now has held the settlement enterprise to be illegal, illegitimate, counterproductive to the cause of regional peace and stability, and even damaging to Israel’s own interests.

But there is an even more dangerous part of Pompeo’s pronouncements: that henceforth, the U.S. will officially label the international grassroots movement known as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as anti-Semitic and will create what amounts to a blacklist of organizations that support it.

The BDS movement is an international effort by millions of people to try to pressure the Israeli government to respect the human, political and economic rights of Palestinians. It is inspired by a similar movement that targeted and helped overthrow apartheid rule in South Africa.

While, as American Jews, we have serious concerns about rising anti-Semitism, which is traditionally defined as hostility to, prejudice toward, or discrimination against Jews, we are united in opposition to labeling BDS (or other criticism of Israeli policies), as anti-Semitic and even worse, to using the power of governments at all levels to outlaw or punish the BDS movement.

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Pompeo Labels BDS Antisemitic, Threatens Blacklist

This week Pompeo broke with longstanding U.S. policy and visited illegal Israeli settlements. On his trip, he made several announcements, including that the State Department is designating BDS as antisemitic and calling for the U.S. Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism to create what is essentially a blacklist of organizations that support BDS. We will have more on this soon, but for now:

  • Please share the JVP Action statement condemning this widely (this is compliant to share on chapter lists and chapter social media). You can also re-share our petition to the State Department on this issue.
  • Here are other statements you can check out and lift up:
  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Boycotts Yitzhak Rabin Event

    Yesterday progressive Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) was headlined in the Palestine news-sphere as word came out about her speaking at a Peace Now event memorializing former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

    For Palestinians, this news was triggering. For us, Rabin is not known as the “peacemaker” as U.S. history memorializes him, but as a colonial military general who oversaw ethnic cleansing campaigns and violent tactics to suppress Palestinian protests.

    Today AOC’s office let us know that she has officially pulled out of the event memorializing Yitzhak Rabin after learning about his true legacy. Rabin’s legacy is much more than his handshake with Yasser Arafat at the White House and his assassination by a right-wing Israeli extremist. In assessing Rabin’s legacy, it’s important to center on the people most gravely harmed by his actions, the Palestinian people.

    Not all Nobel Laureates are heroes, not all peace deals are just. We need look no further than the arms-trade deals President Trump is trying to pass off as peace accords between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain to know this to be true.

    Young people around the world are demanding we rethink the legacy of historical figures valorized and celebrated uncritically. Israeli leaders are no exception.

    Thank you for listening to the lived experience of Palestinians, Congresswoman.

    Adalah Justice Project is a Palestinian advocacy organization based in the U.S. that aims to shift public discourse and policy on Palestine. We work towards collective liberation. Adalah Justice Project is a fiscally sponsored project of the Tides Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

    Tell General Mills: Stop manufacturing Pillsbury products on stolen Palestinian land!


    Did you know that food giant General Mills is manufacturing Pillsbury products on stolen Palestinian land?

    That is not OK.

    The Pillsbury factory is located in Atarot Industrial Zone, an illegal settlement near the infamous Qalandia Checkpoint that separates East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.

    Stand up for Palestinian rights! Join AFSC in telling General Mills: Stop profiting from the occupation.

    The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights listed General Mills as one of the companies supporting illegal Israeli settlements. AFSC’s own research shows that the land the factory was built on was confiscated by force. The factory is located on land that used to be part of Beit Hanina, a Palestinian town which was dissected by Israel’s separation wall. Israel annexed this area into Jerusalem.

    We wrote a letter to General Mills CEO Jeff Harmening, urging him to stop doing business in an illegal settlement—and received no response.

    Please join us in taking action today:

    1. Write your own letter to Jeff Harmening and tell him: “No dough for the occupation!”

    2. Boycott Pillsbury products until General Mills stops manufacturing on stolen land.

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    DNC Delegates Demand Apology from the Biden Campaign

    Attacks on Palestinian-American Delegate Linda Sarsour

    After DNC delegate and Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour spoke at an official DNC event of the Muslim Delegates and Allies Assembly on August 18th, 2020, Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for the Joe Biden campaign, issued a statement saying,

    “Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of Israel and a vehement opponent of anti-Semitism his entire life, and he obviously condemns her views and opposes BDS, as does the Democratic platform. She has no role in the Biden campaign whatsoever.”

    As Palestinian-American delegates and allies, we stand by our fellow Palestinian-American delegate Linda Sarsour and condemn any effort to exclude elected national DNC delegates from official DNC events. We reject efforts to marginalize and demonize the Palestinian narrative. We also call upon the Democratic National Committee to renew its commitment to its own core principles of equality and justice for all.

    The DNC seeks to represent an inclusive and diverse population and should not discriminate against any segment on the basis of ethnicity, religion or political dissent. The vast majority of Democratic voters are calling for accountability, including BDS as a nonviolent form of curbing Israeli violations and challenging Israel’s impunity. The statement by the Biden campaign has willfully dropped the reference to freedom of speech from its platform language quote in the rush to malign, condemn and exclude Sarsour. Such an attack goes against the principles of the Democratic Party and the 2020 Democratic Party Platform to end systemic racism and to build a coalition.

    While we recognize the prevalence of anti-Semitism, criticism of Israel must not be conflated with anti-Semitism. Israel has repeatedly violated international humanitarian law and human rights as well as American international aid conditionality. Moreover, Jake Tapper of CNN has a history of singling out Palestinian-Americans, Muslim-Americans and anyone who stands behind Palestinian human rights or criticizes the Israeli occupation.

    This disavowal of Linda Sarsour reeks of misogyny, anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian bigotry. It provides a false shield for Israel’s human rights abuses. The Biden campaign must not follow the lead of the Trump administration and should rise above these attacks and make a concerted effort to be inclusive and represent the collective vision for a truly democratic Party.

    Palestinian-American delegates and allies demand an immediate retraction and apology from the Biden campaign that smeared a prominent Palestinian-American activist, undermined her constitutional right to free speech, and weaponized anti-Semitism to silence the just critique of Israeli oppression of Palestinians.

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    Breaking! Fordham University is still trying to silence Students for Justice in Palestine


    July 27, 2020

    July 27, 2020, New York –  Students asked New York’s Appellate Court on Friday to reject an effort by Fordham University to overturn a decision ordering the school to recognize the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) club. The students are represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, Palestine Legal, and cooperating counsel Alan Levine. 

    “It’s ridiculous to us that our university is still trying to censor us now,” said Veer Shetty, vice president of SJP at Fordham. “We’ve already been active for a year, and appealing the court’s ruling feels especially cruel.”

    The original case stems from a fall 2015 effort by Fordham University students to start a Students for Justice in Palestine club on campus. Administrators dragged out the application process for a year – including multiple meetings, questioning students on their political views, and amendments to SJP’s constitution.

    In November 2016, Fordham’s undergraduate student government approved SJP as a student club. One month later, Fordham University Dean of Students Keith Eldredge took the unprecedented step of vetoing the student government’s approval based on SJP’s “political goals” and the possibility it would lead to “polarization.” 

    The Center for Constitutional Rights, Palestine Legal, and Alan Levine sued Fordham on behalf of four students in April 2017, winning the case in August 2019 when a New York court annulled Fordham’s decision, mandating that the university recognize SJP as an official club. 

    Fordham appealed the ruling in January 2020. Oral argument is expected in the Court’s September term.  

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    Release Palestinian bodies for burial

    Even in death, we are not free – we are held hostage in a frozen medical lab in Israel.

    The Israeli military murdered Ahmed Erekat, a deeply loved 27-year-old son, brother, and fiancé, on June 23rd. He was shot and killed as he was running errands for his sister on her wedding day. His body is currently being held hostage at the Greenberg National Institute of Forensic Medicine, which is part of Tel Aviv University. His mother and father simply want to say goodbye to their child and lay their son to rest, but the Israeli government is refusing to return him to his family unless they promise not to bring a legal case against the Israeli soldier who murdered their boy.

    The L. Greenberg National Institute of Forensic Medicine is part of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine, which has a New York State/American program that is registered and accredited as a New York State medical school.

    The Greenberg Institute is complicit in this crime, when they could instead force the Israeli government to return this body to the family by refusing to cooperate in holding it hostage.

    This is an urgent call to faculty, universities, and all honourable people around the world to boycott and cut ties with Tel Aviv University & the Greenberg Institute until they end their complicity in this crime, and Ahmed and other detained Palestinian bodies are freed, without stipulation, to their families and loved ones for burial.

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    Letter to Biden (and Trump) Campaigns Regarding Israel and Palestinian Rights

    This letter, signed by more than 100 progressive, anti-war, and faith-based U.S. organizations, urges presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden (and Donald Trump) to adopt a principled foreign policy towards Israel and the Palestinian people based on justice, freedom, equality, and human dignity. 

    Endorsers of the letter include American Friends Service Committee, American Muslims for Palestine, CODEPINK, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Demand Progress, If Not Now, Jewish Voice for Peace, Just Foreign Policy, Kairos USA, PAX Christi USA, Peace Action, and Win Without War.

    The letter comes in the context of the 2020 Democratic primaries having experienced a monumental shift in leadership positions towards the state of Israel and the Palestinian struggle for freedom. Despite this, on May 19, the Biden campaign released a revolting statement of support for Israel and Jewish Americans. The letter began by conflating American Jewry with support for Israel. It promised to continue attacking the nonviolent boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, bragged about having increased military assistance to Israel at the end Obama’s term, and referred to Palestinian “choices” to commit violence. 

    Within days of the May 19 Biden campaign statement being released, so much backlash had accumulated that the degrading language of Palestinian “choices” had been removed. This signals an opportunity for us as progressives to influence and shift policy positions regarding Palestinians and Israel. We hope that this letter representing millions of Americans helps do that. See the letter to Trump here

    Add your organization here!