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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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February 22, 2016
Panel: Does Free Speech Apply to the Conversation on Israel?

Jewish Voice for Peace members in the Madison area are hosting an exciting event which we hope you will join:

Does Free Speech Apply to the Conversation on Israel?
A panel featuring Rabbi Michael Davis of Chicago and Two UW Madison SJP Students
Sequoya Public Library, 4340 Tokay Blvd. (at Midvale), Madison WI
Monday, February 22 at 7:00 PM

Madison area members of Jewish Voice for Peace invite you to hear three human rights activists discuss free speech challenges they have faced while working for peace and justice in Israel/Palestine. A Q&A will follow the formal part of the program.

Speakers include:
Rabbi Michael Davis
A founding member of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council, a former Israeli settler, and a longtime Chicago-based advocate for peace. He founded Reform Cantors of Chicago in 2009 and the Open Hillel Rabbinical Council in 2014. He has served on the faculty of the Hebrew Seminary in Skokie, IL. Rabbi Davis was born in the United Kingdom and grew up in Israel.

Amal Ayesh
Co-president of Students for Justice in Palestine at UW-Madison, and a biology major from Ramallah, Palestine. Her family moved to Milwaukee when she was 10 years old.

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January 8, 2016
Live Webcast – “Uncivil Rites”

Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom

Dr. Steven Salaita, Author & Professor
The Palestine Center, Washington, DC
1:00-2:00 pm EST

In the summer of 2014, renowned American Indian Studies professor Steven Salaita had his offer of a tenured professorship revoked by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. Salaita’s employment was terminated in response to his public tweets criticizing the Israeli government’s summer assault on Gaza. His firing generated a huge public outcry, with thousands petitioning for his reinstatement, and more than five thousand scholars pledging to boycott the University of Illinois. His case raises important questions about academic freedom, free speech on campus, and the movement for justice in Palestine. In this book, Salaita combines personal reflection and political critique to provide a thorough analysis of his controversial termination. He situates his case at the intersection of important issues that affect both higher education and social justice activism.

Steven Salaita is the author of six books, including Israel’s Dead Soul (Temple University Press 2011). During the 2015-2016 academic year, he is serving as the Edward W. Said Chair of American Studies at the American University of Beirut.


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‘Most-read’ article at Washington Post calls Israel ‘savage, unrepairable society’

Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, October 25, 2015

Assaf Gavron

The leftwing movement of criticism of Israel is getting more and more mainstream by the second. Everyone is walking the path; they’re just getting there a little later. The Washington Post, a hotbed of neoconservative ideas for the last 15 years, has another article harshly critical of Israel today, written by an Israeli. And guess what: that article along with yesterday’s article by the two prestige Jewish academics calling for boycott of Israel are the two “most-read” articles on the Post list this morning!

This one tops the list: novelist Assaf Gavron’s article titled, “Confessions of an Israeli Traitor.” It turns out that Max Blumenthal’s portrait of a rightwing Israel was an accurate one:

The internal discussion in Israel is more militant, threatening and intolerant than it has ever been. Talk has trended toward fundamentalism ever since the Israeli operation in Gaza in late 2008, but it has recently gone from bad to worse. There seems to be only one acceptable voice, orchestrated by the government and its spokespeople, and beamed to all corners of the country by a clan of loyal media outlets drowning out all the others. Those few dissenters who attempt to contradict it — to ask questions, to protest, to represent a different color from this artificial consensus — are ridiculed and patronized at best, threatened, vilified and physically attacked at worst. Israelis not “supporting our troops” are seen as traitors, and newspapers asking questions about the government’s policies and actions are seen as demoralizing…

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