Landmark Endorsement of Rep. Joaquin Castro for House Chair

Over 50 progressive organizations endorse Rep. Joaquin Castro for Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC). At the end of November, Democratic House members will vote on who takes leadership of this important committee. HFAC makes decisions on arms control and disarmament issues, international funding and aid, deployment and use of armed forces, drug policy, international sanctions, and global health issues, such as COVID.

Rep. Castro represents the kind of leadership we need to build a foreign policy that reflects the growing progressive calls for diplomacy, support of human rights, and justice. We welcome Rep. Castro’s commitment to ensuring that Palestinian voices are heard in the Committee and his recent statements pushing for accountability on Israel for violations of international law.
Adalah Justice Project

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Urgent news from Sheikh Jarrah

November 13, 2020

I’m writing with some urgent news from East Jerusalem that hits very close to home – we’ve just received word that new eviction orders have been issued to four families in the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, and they may be forcibly removed as early as Saturday.

Sadly, this is a story we’re intimately familiar with. Sheikh Jarrah was home to Just Vision’s first office and we witnessed the devastating takeover of the neighborhood by right-wing settlers, backed by the Israeli courts and police, over the course of years. The experience of this Palestinian community was chronicled in our 2012 short documentary, My Neighbourhood, and the El-Kurd family – whose teenage son Mohammed sat at the heart of the film – is one of the four who may find themselves homeless in the midst of a pandemic in just a few short days.

Mohammed is watching the heart-breaking developments from his apartment in New York, unable to get home due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, and is asking that we share this story far and wide. You can read his personal appeal – which has more context – below.

While the cases in Sheikh Jarrah are thinly veiled as a legal matter, the political motivations are clear. This latest round of evictions is part of a broader attempt by the Israeli state to forcibly displace Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The process is methodical and impacts thousands of lives on a daily basis. In the past month alone, Israel hid under the US election media frenzy to undertake the largest demolition of Palestinian homes and structures in a decade, and just yesterday, announced a new settlement, Givat Hamatos, that would effectively cut East Jerusalem off from Bethlehem.

This all happens under the United States’ watch – subsequent US administrations have done little to hold the Israeli government to account, and the latest administration has given a carte-blanche for unjust activity like this.

Israeli courts could determine the fate of the El-Kurd family, and several others, in a matter of days. And while the families are appealing the decision, their chances of success are extremely low.

With the courts and police working in lockstep with Israeli settler organizations, Sheikh Jarrah is calling on those in the international community who are concerned about what’s happening to help raise visibility and apply pressure to halt the evictions. Will you share this widely with your networks?

Thank you, and if you have suggestions of ways to amplify this story, please be in touch.

With determination,

Suhad Babaa
Executive Director, Just Vision


From: Mohammed El-Kurd
Subject: Critical Update from Sheikh Jarrah
Date: November 13, 2020 at 2:58:46 PM EST

Hello friends,

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Kafr Qasim Massacre, October 29, 1956

Today is the anniversary of the 1956 massacre at Kafr Qasim. Kafr Qasim is one of hundreds of Palestinian villages occupied by Israel during the 1948 ethnic cleansing campaigns. Located near the militarized border of Israel’s expanding colonial rule in 1956, Israeli “border police” enforcing an unannounced early curfew killed 47 Palestinian workers, 23 of whom were under the age of 18.

We created these social media graphics to create awareness of this tragic event and to show how the fight against Israeli settler colonialism is part of the movement for labor justice. We hope you’ll learn from these graphics and share widely.

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Diplomats tour Palestinian communities Israel is expelling from the South Hebron Hills

The diplomats tour today. Photo by: B'Tselem\Breaking the SilenceThe diplomats tour today. (Photo: B’Tselem – Breaking the Silence)

B’Tselem, 19 October 2020

The representatives of 17 countries, including EU members as well as other countries, are currently visiting Palestinian communities in the South Hebron Hills, whose residents Israel is seeking to expel. Since 2000 the residents have been waging a legal struggle in Israel’s High Court of Justice. Last August, before the last hearing in the case, the Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research revealed a document that proved what was already clear: Israel had declared the area a firing zone to facilitate the expulsion of its residents. The judges ignored that information and the residents are currently awaiting their ruling.

Heads of delegations and other diplomats are currently visiting Palestinian communities in the Masafer Yatta area in the South Hebron Hills, whose home Israel has declared as “Firing Zone 918”, in an effort to drive them out. Around 1,000 residents are awaiting a forthcoming ruling by Israel’s High Court of Justice in the latest petition in their
decades-long struggle against Israel’s attempts.

On the tour are representatives of the EU and of member states Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Ireland, as well as the UK, Norway, Switzerland and Canada, which concur with the EU’s position that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank are unlawful and that Israel’s policy of forcible transfer of Palestinians is unacceptable. At the village of Khirbet al-Majaz, the participants are visiting the local school, built with EU funding, and meeting community leaders along with Nidal Younis, head of the Masafer Yatta local council, and Nasser Nawaj’ah, a resident of Susiya and Field Researcher for B’Tselem. The tour, which is adhering the most up-to-date Covid-19 safety guidelines, was organized by Israeli NGOs Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem.

Breaking the Silence Executive Director Avner Gvaryahu said: “We have come here today to announce that we will not stand by while the State of Israel declares hundreds of people illegal residents in their own homes. We will not stay silent when soldiers are sent to expel people from their homes, in which they lived long before the first Israeli soldier set foot in the West Bank. We invite everyone to come here with us and look these people in the eye. That is more than the policymakers, who are forcing entire families to live in constant fear of being driven out of their homes, have ever done. This is expulsion. This is occupation.”

B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad added that “Israel has coveted Masafer Yatta for decades, viewing it as an area ready for exploitation were it not for what it perceives as the fly in the ointment – Palestinians who live in the area. The state wishes to expel all these families, demolish their homes and destroy their livelihoods, on one pretext or another. Declaring the area a firing zone was the excuse; cleansing the territory of Palestinians is the goal. This criminal plan must be stopped.”

The Khirbet al-Majaz community in Masafer Yatta. (Photo: B’Tselem – Breaking the Silence)

Background:
In the early 1980s, the Israeli military declared an area of about 3,000 hectares in the South Hebron Hills known as Masafer Yatta a restricted military zone, dubbed ‘Firing Zone 918’. At the time, dozens of Palestinian families had been living in the area for years, since before Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967. They lived in 12 small villages and earned a living as farmers and shepherds.

In October and November 1999, the military expelled around 700 residents of these communities. Following the expulsion, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Attorney Shlomo Lecker filed a petition to the High Court of Justice (HCJ) on behalf of some 200 families. The court issued an interim injunction, in power to this day, that prohibited the state to expel the residents but also put their lives on hold. They continue to live in their homes and work their land, under constant threat of demolition, expulsion and dispossession. They are also barred from new development. Left with no choice, the communities built new homes without permits, as well as the necessary infrastructure, including for supplying water and power. The Israeli authorities issued demolition orders for these structures and in many cases carried them out, and confiscated infrastructure equipment, while many other demolition orders remain in power. Since 2006 and until the end of September 2020, B’Tselem has documented the demolition of 66 structures, which were home to 358 people, including 163 minors, in these communities. Since the beginning of 2012, B’Tselem has also documented the demolition of 21 non-residential structures in these communities.

After 20-odd years of legal proceedings, the High Court is set to issue its ruling soon. In the last hearing on the matter, held on 10 August 2020, the state argued that the petitioners had not been permanent residents of the area when it was declared a “firing zone”, and therefore had no right to continue living in their homes. It further argued that the communities were taking advantage of the interim injunction: people not included in it were moving into the area and residents were building without permits. The state counsel claimed that Israel had been willing to offer a “compromise,” such as allowing residents to live in their homes for two months a year with prior coordination or on weekends and Jewish holidays when the military does not train in the area, but that the petitioners had rejected all the proposals – which would have effectively destroyed their lives and forced them to leave. Relying on this statement, the justices directed the petitioners to examine various solutions that would enable the military to train in their area of residence, maintaining that “the solution lies in one balance or another.” In doing so, the court ignored an Akevot Institute finding last August that declaring the area a firing zone had been intended from the outset to help drive the Palestinians out, and was never a military necessity.

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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.

3. Help us spread the word. Share more information about the campaign with your networks as well as our campaign website: BoycottPillsbury.org. Support our call for justice for Palestinians and join us in boycotting Pillsbury today.

In peace,

Noam Perry
Economic Activism Associate
American Friends Service Committee

I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State

For decades I argued for separation between Israelis and Palestinians. Now, I can imagine a Jewish home in an equal state.


Israeli soldiers interacting in the West Bank last month with a Palestinian woman protesting the demolition of an unapproved animal shed. (Abed Al Hashlamoun/EPA, via Shutterstock)

Peter Beinart, The New York Times, July 8, 2020

I was 22 in 1993 when Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn to officially begin the peace process that many hoped would create a Palestinian state alongside Israel. I’ve been arguing for a two-state solution — first in late-night bull sessions, then in articles and speeches — ever since.

I believed in Israel as a Jewish state because I grew up in a family that had hopscotched from continent to continent as diaspora Jewish communities crumbled. I saw Israel’s impact on my grandfather and father, who were never as happy or secure as when enveloped in a society of Jews. And I knew that Israel was a source of comfort and pride to millions of other Jews, some of whose families had experienced traumas greater than my own.

One day in early adulthood, I walked through Jerusalem, reading street names that catalog Jewish history, and felt that comfort and pride myself. I knew Israel was wrong to deny Palestinians in the West Bank citizenship, due process, free movement and the right to vote in the country in which they lived. But the dream of a two-state solution that would give Palestinians a country of their own let me hope that I could remain a liberal and a supporter of Jewish statehood at the same time.

Events have now extinguished that hope.

About 640,000 Jewish settlers now live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and the Israeli and American governments have divested Palestinian statehood of any real meaning. The Trump administration’s peace plan envisions an archipelago of Palestinian towns, scattered across as little as 70 percent of the West Bank, under Israeli control. Even the leaders of Israel’s supposedly center-left parties don’t support a viable, sovereign Palestinian state. The West Bank hosts Israel’s newest medical school.

If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fulfills his pledge to impose Israeli sovereignty in parts of the West Bank, he will just formalize a decades-old reality: In practice, Israel annexed the West Bank long ago.

Israel has all but made its decision: one country that includes millions of Palestinians who lack basic rights. Now liberal Zionists must make our decision, too. It’s time to abandon the traditional two-state solution and embrace the goal of equal rights for Jews and Palestinians. It’s time to imagine a Jewish home that is not a Jewish state.

Equality could come in the form of one state that includes Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, as writers such as Yousef Munayyer and Edward Said have proposed; or it could be a confederation that allows free movement between two deeply integrated countries. (I discuss these options at greater length in an essay in Jewish Currents). The process of achieving equality would be long and difficult, and would most likely meet resistance from both Palestinian and Jewish hard-liners.

But it’s not fanciful. The goal of equality is now more realistic than the goal of separation. The reason is that changing the status quo requires a vision powerful enough to create a mass movement. A fragmented Palestinian state under Israeli control does not offer that vision. Equality can. Increasingly, one equal state is not only the preference of young Palestinians. It is the preference of young Americans, too.


Israeli soldiers checking a Palestinian’s identification in the West Bank city of Hebron in June. (Abed Al Hashlamoun/EPA, via Shutterstock)

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