US labor board affirms union’s right to boycott Israel

“As Americans who have a constitutional right to criticize our own government, we certainly have a right to criticize and, if we choose, boycott a foreign government that is heavily subsidized by US taxpayers.”

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 25 July 2016

The United Electrical Workers backed BDS in a vote of delegates at the union’s August 2015 national convention in Baltimore. (via Facebook)

The National Labor Relations Board has reaffirmed its dismissal of charges against the United Electrical workers union because of its support for the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

The NLRB is the US federal agency that enforces the country’s trade union legislation.

In August 2015, the 30,000-strong United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, known as UE, became only the second national trade union in the US to back BDS by a vote of delegates at its annual convention in Baltimore.

In October, Shurat HaDin, a lawfare group with ties to Israel’s Mossad spying and assasination agency, filed a complaint against the union, claiming that its support for BDS amounted to a violation of the law against secondary boycotts.

In January, the labor board dismissed the complaint, stating it had investigated and found “there is insufficient evidence to establish a violation” of the law.

Shurat HaDin appealed the dismissal, but on 26 May the labor board’s general counsel issued a letter that the union says reaffirms the earlier decision to throw the case out.

Victory for BDS

UE national president Peter Knowlton welcomed the decision in a press release on Friday.

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Israeli Defense Minister Compares Beloved Palestinian Poet to Hitler

JAMES GLANZ, The New York Times, JULY 21, 2016

Avigdor Lieberman, an ultranationalist, said that Army Radio should not have aired a show about Mahmoud Darwish, who is considered the Palestinians’ national poet

A memorial for the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish in the West Bank city of Ramallah in 2008. He occupies a unique place among Palestinians: their national poet, beloved by politicians, academics and defiant youth. (Abbas Momani/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

Those Who Pass Between Fleeting Words
O those who pass between fleeting words
carry your names, and be gone
Rid our time of your hours, and be gone
Steal what you will from the blueness of the sea
And the sand of memory
Take what pictures you will, so that you understand
That which you never will:
How a stone from our land builds the ceiling of our sky.

From you steel and fire, from us our flesh
From you yet another tank, from us stones
From you teargas, from us rain…

It is time for you to be gone
Live wherever you like, but do not live among us
It is time for you to be gone
Die wherever you like, but do not die among us
For we have work to do in our land.

O those who pass between fleeting words
It is time for you to be gone
Live wherever you like, but do not live among us
It is time for you to be gone
Die wherever you like, but do not die among us
For we have work to do in our land

So leave our country
Our land, our sea
Our wheat, our salt, our wounds
Everything, and leave
The memories of memory
those who pass between fleeting words!
Mahmoud Darwish

JERUSALEM — Israel’s ultranationalist defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, managed to offend both Palestinians and free-speech advocates on Thursday, comparing the Palestinians’ national poet to Adolf Hitler and threatening the independence of Israel’s Army Radio station.

The controversy erupted after Army Radio, which has been under pressure from right-wing politicians to broadcast more patriotic programming, aired a show about the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish, a revered figure among Palestinians whose work is a staple of school curriculums and is showcased at a signature museum in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The Defense Ministry issued a statement on Thursday saying that Mr. Lieberman had excoriated the commander of the radio station over the show. The statement said that “according to this same logic,” it would be possible to “glorify during a broadcast the literary marvels of ‘Mein Kampf,’” Hitler’s autobiography.

Months after Israel’s conservative culture minister raised hackles by trying to adjust Army Radio’s playlist, Mr. Lieberman recently assigned a Defense Ministry official to make recommendations on whether the station should continue to operate. The left-leaning Israeli news organization Haaretz reported that Israel’s attorney general had phoned Mr. Lieberman on Wednesday night “to remind him he has no authority to intervene in Army Radio’s programming.”

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Poetry is not a Crime

Join over 150 renowned writers, poets, translators, editors, artists, public intellectuals and cultural workers.

These signers, from Alice Walker and Claudia Rankine to Naomi Klein and Jacqueline Woodson, represent some of the most respected individuals in the arts and literary worlds. For the list of signers, please scroll down.

Dareen Tatour has been charged with incitement to violence based on a poem posted to YouTube. She is one of over 400 Palestinians arrested in the last year for their expressions of resistance to the Israeli Occupation over social media.

She had her first court hearing last month, charged by Israel for Facebook postings and a poem posted to YouTube called “Qawim ya sha’abi, qawimhum” (Resist my people, resist them).

We believe in the rights of artists and writers to openly express their artistic vision and share work freely. The Israeli government’s actions reveal a desire to silence Tatour, part of a larger pattern of Israeli repression against all Palestinians.

Expressing resistance to oppression and Occupation through poetry is by nature non-violent and should not be criminalized by any government.

We, the undersigned – writers, artists, and people of conscience from around the world – believe that poetry is not a crime. We are calling for poet and activist Dareen Tatour to be released immediately from house arrest and for all charges to be dropped.

Add your name:

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Israel releases Palestinian MP Khalida Jarrar after imprisonment of 15 months

Khalida Jarrar greets speaks to reporters in her hometown, the West Bank city of Ramallah, following her release from an Israeli jail on June 3, 2016 (AFP)

ANADOLU AGENCY, Daily Sabah, June 3, 2016

RAMALLAH, Palestine — Israeli authorities on Friday released a Palestinian female lawmaker who spent the last 15 months in Israeli jails.

Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council representing the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was released at the Jbara checkpoint near the West Bank city of Tulkarm.

“I was arrested by the Israeli army because I stand up for my people’s rights,” Jarrar told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) shortly after her release.

“We should use all means at our disposal to preserve our national rights,” she asserted.

Jarrar went on to urge all Palestinian political factions to resist Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestine and strive for the release of Palestinian prisoners still languishing in Israeli jails.

On April 2015, Israeli soldiers arrested Jarrar after raiding her home in the West Bank city of Ramallah. She was later slapped with a 15-month jail term by an Israeli court.

Jarrar was charged with having committed a number of “security offenses”, including membership in the banned PFLP, which Israel considers a “terrorist” organization.

The court also accused her of calling for the abduction of Israeli soldiers by Palestinian resistance activists to be used as bargaining chips for the release of jailed Palestinians.

Following Jarrar’s release on Friday, six Palestinian lawmakers continue to be held by the Israeli authorities.

Are state boycotts of the anti-Israel BDS movement constitutional?


An Egyptian wears a T-shirt with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) logo in 2015. The state of New Jersey is expected to pass legislation Monday, which would boycott companies that support BDS.(Amr Nabil/AP)

Aidan Quigley, June 27, 2016

The New Jersey state legislature is expected to pass legislation on Monday that will prevent the state from investing in companies that participate in the “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” movement against Israel, joining a growing number of states that already have similar regulations in place.

Supporters say the bill will strengthen the state’s relationship with Israel, while opponents of the bill say it – and similar legislation in other states – is unconstitutional and amounts to a restriction on free speech and the right to “peaceful political activity.”

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement was established by Palestinian civil society in 2005 and encourages a boycott of Israeli companies, divestments from organizations that support Israel and encouraging sanctions against Israel. The movement has seen support in Europe and in the United States, especially on college campuses, as The Christian Science Monitor reported last year.

State lawmakers who are pushing for the bill say it will send a strong message to those who oppose Israel.

Andrew Cuomo’s Anti-Free Speech Move on BDS

Alex Nabaum

As a Jew who has lived in Israel and has many relatives there, I feel that the government should not be dictating how I relate to the Jewish state and in what ways I voice my objection to its policies

DANIEL SIERADSKI, New York Times, JUNE 12, 2016

IN 1985, Gov. Mario M. Cuomo proposed that New York State divest of its billions of dollars in investments in companies that did business with South Africa “to demonstrate,” he declared, “the abhorrence of our residents to the pernicious system of apartheid.” An opponent of Mr. Cuomo’s plan, the state comptroller, Edward V. Regan, told The New York Times, “We’re not in the foreign-policy business.”

State Republicans blocked Mr. Cuomo’s efforts, and he ultimately settled for divesting personally from apartheid, withdrawing his personal funds from banks with ties to South Africa.

How times have changed.

Last week, Mario Cuomo’s son, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, signed an executive order essentially creating a blacklist of entities that boycott or divest from Israel or encourage others to do so, banning those companies from receiving taxpayer funding.

The movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel, known as B.D.S., is a strategy intended to combat Israel’s nearly 50-year occupation of the Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza, a situation that three former Israeli prime ministers, as well as Secretary of State John Kerry, have warned would become akin to apartheid if allowed to continue.

I oppose Israel’s occupation and I want the Palestinians to have equal rights and self-determination. Still, I do not support a boycott that targets Israel as a whole. While I avoid buying products from companies that operate in Israeli settlements, I do so out of commitment to the two-state solution and my belief that the occupation endangers Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.

But I also believe that economic boycott is a legitimate form of political expression, one that the government has no business restricting by withholding state business.

Paradoxically, Mr. Cuomo has engaged in a type of boycott himself, issuing three executive orders banning nonessential travel by state employees to Indiana, Mississippi and North Carolina for discriminatory laws against L.G.B.T. people. Apparently, in Mr. Cuomo’s book, boycotts are acceptable against American states with discriminatory laws, but not against a foreign country that has systematically subjected millions of people to decades of oppression.

Documents from statehouses where anti-B.D.S. bills have passed, obtained through Freedom of Information requests, show that there is a concerted effort by advocacy groups, like the Israeli American Council, and even the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic sect, to promote anti-B.D.S. legislation in statehouses and in Congress.

While bills in other states have, for better or worse, gained legislators’ approval, Mr. Cuomo’s executive order is the first to be instituted without democratic ratification. After it became clear a bill with the same purpose would not pass the State Assembly, Mr. Cuomo decided he wanted to take “immediate action,” as he put it at the order’s signing, joking that the legislative process was often “a tedious affair.”

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AIPAC Anti-BDS Legislation

AIPAC and their right-wing allies are coming for our right to boycott — and they’re trying to legitimize illegal settlements at the same time. Tell your Representative to stand for peace.

TAKE ACTION!

AIPAC is meeting this weekend in Washington DC, but we already know what’s at the top of their agenda: legislating away our right to organize.

Here’s how: they’re putting the full might of their organization behind a bill called “Combatting BDS.” It might sound like nothing, but this bill is a brazen attempt to silence and punish those of us who support boycotts as a way of fighting for human rights. We’re already taking on similar legislation, designed to throw a stumbling block in front of our movement, in dozens of state legislatures across the country — but now AIPAC is bringing the fight to Capitol Hill.

Click here to contact Rep. Mark Pocan and tell them you oppose AIPAC’s attacks on free speech.

AIPAC is bringing in activists from across the country, and next week they’ll be flooding DC with their foot soldiers, and delivering their message of fear and militarism to Congressional offices. They’ll be going door-to-door on Capitol Hill, pretending to speak for the whole Jewish community when they attack our movement for justice.

But I’m Jewish — I’m a Rabbi — and I support BDS. So do thousands of other Jews and allies across the U.S. and around the world. That’s why we’ve hired billboard trucks to take our message right to AIPAC here in DC, and to state capitols across the country where similar legislation is coming up.

And that’s why we need to make sure that our Representatives hear our message first.

Let’s beat AIPAC to it — click here to send a message to Rep. Mark Pocan and tell them to oppose the “Combating BDS” bill, and its attacks on free speech.

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