June 2 – 3, 2017
Havens Center FORWARD 2017:
Where Do We Go from Here?

Understanding the Current Crisis &
Building Social Justice in the Midwest

 

FORWARD is an annual gathering of community activists, students, and educators committed to social justice.

This year’s gathering, which will take place on the weekend of June 2-3 at Edgewood College on the shores of Lake Wingra in Madison, WI, will focus on the current crisis and its implications for the struggle for social justice in the Midwest.

For Program and Registration details, please click on the links below:

May 6, 2017
Amy Goodman Talk and Book Signing

1:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Madison College – Downtown
211 N Carroll St, Room 240

The Madison College Journalism Program, WORT-FM Community Radio, and The Progressive magazine present a live talk and book signing with Amy Goodman from Democracy NOW. The free event celebrates the paperback release of Democracy NOW – 20 Years Covering the Movements Changing America. Books will be available for purchase from Room of One’s Own Bookstore.

May 4, 2017
Film: “Tickling Giants”

Free speech is not settled law,
and democracy is not easily won

 

Elvehjem Building L150
455 N Park St
University of Wisconsin-Madison
6:00 PM – 9:00 PM CDT

Please join the University of Wisconsin-Madison Middle East Studies Program for a showing of Tickling Giants, a powerful story of the “Jon Stewart of Egypt” and the price of laughter in the Mideast (LA Times).

There will also be a short graduation ceremony for certificate students afterward.

ABOUT THE FILM
In the midst of the Egyptian Arab Spring, Bassem Youssef creates the satirical show, “Al Bernameg,” which quickly becomes the most viewed television program in the Middle East, with 30 million viewers per episode. But, in a country where free speech is not settled law, his show becomes as controversial as it is popular. Despite increasing danger, Bassem employs comedy, not violence, to comment on hypocrisy in media, politics, and religion. Tickling Giants follows the “Al Bernameg” team as they discover democracy is not easily won.

Israel sunk in ‘incremental tyranny’, say former Shin Bet chiefs

“You live in a democracy, and suddenly you understand it is not a democracy any more”

Peter Beaumont, The Guardian, 6 April 2017

Ami Ayalon, ex-head of the Shin Bet intelligence services, suggests Israel has a dynamic ‘of ongoing war’ and ‘like 1984, there’s always an enemy’. (Photograph: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Two former heads of Israel’s powerful domestic intelligence service, the Shin Bet, have made an impassioned and powerful intervention ahead of events to mark the 50th anniversary of the country’s occupation of the Palestinian territories in June.

One of the pair warned that the country’s political system was sunk in the process of “incremental tyranny”.

Ami Ayalon and Carmi Gillon were speaking ahead of a public meeting at a Jerusalem gallery which is threatened with closure for hosting a meeting organised by the military whistleblowing group Breaking the Silence, one of the main targets of the rightwing government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

During his recent visit to the UK, Netanyahu also asked Theresa May to cut UK government funding to the group – a request that baffled diplomats as no direct UK funding exists.

“Incremental tyranny [is a process] which means you live in a democracy and suddenly you understand it is not a democracy any more,” Ayalon told a small group of journalists, including the Guardian, ahead of the event. “This is what we are seeing in Israel. The tragedy of this process is that you only know it when it is too late.”

Ayalon cited recent moves by ministers in the Netanyahu government to change the laws to hit groups such as Breaking the Silence by banning them from events in schools and targeting their funding, while also taking aim at the country’s supreme court and independence of the media.

Issues of freedom of speech and expression have become one of the key faultlines in Israeli society – in everything from the arts to journalism – under the most rightwing government in the country’s history.

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Taking Orders for Olive Oil and T-Shirts!

The latest shipment of Holy Land Palestinian olive oil is here! Besides the usual 500 ml bottles, we also have new 750 ml bottles available. Prices are

  • 500 ml: $15 each, box of six $84
  • 750 ml: $20 each, box of six $112

If you would like to purchase some oil, contact Veena at veena.brekke@gmail.co or phone 608-332-8745. She may be able to arrange delivery for larger orders in the Madison area.

Note: We have just a few bottles of last year’s shipment left, at a discounted price of $12 per 500 ml bottle. If interested in those, let Veena know.

MRSCP plans to order a batch of these “We Will Not Be Silent” English/Arabic T-shirts that some of us have been wearing and people have asked about.

For more info and available sizes see WE WILL NOT BE SILENT. We are planning to order black, short-sleeved men’s/unisex sizes M, L, XL and 2XL. If you want something else, let us know. The women’s sizes seem to run very small. The shirts are 100% cotton.

For ordering a shirt, reply to rafahsistercity at yahoo.com by Sunday, March 12. Shirts will be $16 for all sizes (except $18 for 2XL), payment on pick up.

New Senate bill threatens free speech

Instead of fighting antisemitism, new Senate bill threatens free speech

Jewish Voice for Peace, 06 December 2016

On Friday, without a single Senator in the Senate Chamber, the Senate unanimously passed the Antisemitism Awareness Act.

Judging by the title, it seems a reasonable enough piece of legislation. And the Anti-Defamation League was one of its main boosters.

But let’s look closer with a short pop quiz about why the ADL is behind this bill:

    A) To make it clear that actual neo-Nazis like the National Policy Institute, now in close proximity to power, are going to face real scrutiny and condemnation?
    B) To help prevent more violence against synagogues and Jewish poeple, like the dozens of instances of hate crimes and vandalism documented since the election?
    C) To protect the Israeli government from student protesters?

Probably the best way to figure out why the ADL supports it is to read what they’re saying themselves:

Sadly, the answer is “C.”

At a time when actual violence and bigotry against Jews is on the rise, Jewish institutions like the ADL are seizing the moment to… protect Israel from student protesters. That’s not acceptable.

We have to make sure Congressional reps hear from a more equality-focused perspective. Click here to send them a note urging them not to be fooled by the ASAA’s title. Enough pretending that defending Israeli policies is the same as fighting antisemitism. It’s time to get down to the actual business of protecting us all – especially Muslims and people of color – from hate.

I shouldn’t be shocked, but I am. “Leading” Jewish institutions have made it clear to they care more about defending Israel’s racist policies than the real slog of fighting antisemitism. Student activists — Jewish, Palestinian, Muslim, Black, documented, white, and otherwise —  pose no threat to Jews. The only threat they pose is to the culture of silence around Israeli apartheid.

Attempts to silence human rights activists are always appalling. But in this time of crisis, when actual antisemitism is seeping from our political discourse and into our streets? That is truly disgusting. As Jews and allies we have an outsized voice on this one. Please, click here now and help fight this Orwellian legislation in the House.

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Free speech triumphs over pro-Israel bullies in US universities

Nora Barrows-Friedman, The Electronic Intifada, 20 October 2016

Students constructed a mock wall on the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor campus to protest Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. (SAFE-UMich Facebook)

Students have won major victories for free speech on US campuses lately as attempts by Israel lobby groups to suppress Palestine solidarity activism continue to fall flat.

“Israel advocacy organizations driving the suppression cannot succeed in manufacturing facts, even if they try,”
Liz Jackson, an attorney with the organization Palestine Legal, told The Electronic Intifada.

Last week, the president of the University of Michigan defended Palestine solidarity activism on campus after student organizers were attacked for holding a protest against Israeli policies on the same day as a Jewish holiday.

In response to accusations that the protest was an affront to Jewish students, the protest’s organizers, Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE) stated that the charges fall “under the much larger wave of speech suppression that seeks to derail any valid criticism of Israeli state policy of oppression against Palestinians as a false claim of anti-Semitism.”

University president Mark Schlissel told The Michigan Daily, a campus newspaper, that SAFE “did what we want advocacy groups to do, and to me, they were advocating a political point of view.”

Schlissel’s statement follows a similar defense of student activism in New York City.

There, Israel-aligned groups and elected officials lost a long-waged battle to censor Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) after a six-month independent investigation yielded results that did not support their claims.

The groups and pro-Israel lawmakers steadily pressured administrators at the City University of New York to censure SJP members, accusing them of being responsible for anti-Semitism on campuses.

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Black Lives Matter Benefit Is Canceled Over Stand on Israel

The owners of the club have canceled a concert, citing a platform of groups affiliated with Black Lives Matter that calls Israel “an apartheid state”

MICHAEL PAULSON, The New York Times, September 8, 2016

Photo Credit: Karsten Moran for The New York Times

A popular Broadway cabaret club has canceled a concert benefiting Black Lives Matter, citing the movement’s criticism of Israel.

The owners of Feinstein’s/54 Below, a small performance venue just north of Times Square, this week emailed ticket buyers to the event, informing them of the cancellation. In a separate message to participants, the owners cited a platform released this summer by a coalition of groups affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement that declared “Israel is an apartheid state” and denounced what it described as “the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people.”

The concert was scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 11, and would have been directed by the actress Tonya Pinkins (“Caroline, or Change”).

In the note to participants, 54 Below said that its owners and managers “strongly believe in and support the general thrust of the goals and objectives” of the Black Lives Matter movement.

It continued, “However, since announcing the benefit they’ve become aware of a recent addition to the B.L.M. platform that accuses Israel of genocide and endorses a range of boycott and sanction actions.”

The statement said, “As we can’t support these positions, we’ve accordingly decided to cancel the concert.”

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