ADC Stands With Congresswoman Ilhan Omar!

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), February 12, 2019

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) unequivocally condemns all attacks and mischaracterizations against Representative Ilhan Omar for her outspoken position in support of Palestinian human rights. It is absurd that Representative Omar is being targeted for exercising her legal right to question the influence of AIPAC, one of the most influential special interest groups in the U.S. for the last twenty years.

The American people expect elected representatives to be transparent on special interest funding, and most polls show support for campaign finance reform. Representative Omar has the responsibility as a member of Congress to use her platform to question the influence that special interest groups have on U.S. policies; it is precisely why she was elected by her constituency.

Let us be clear, these attacks are not new and have absolutely nothing to do with anti-Semitism. The fictitious statements including those coming from one of the most xenophobic and racist Presidents in history, confirms that these attacks are rooted in a continued pattern and practice of vicious, bigoted, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-Black rhetoric that started before Representative Omar was elected. To falsely conflate anti-Semitism, is dangerous to the victims of true anti-Semitism, as we tragically saw in Charlottesville and at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Ohio.

ADC is equally disturbed by the growing trend in the U.S. to undermine civil liberties when it comes to engaging in Palestinian human rights work. This is best exemplified in the recent congressional efforts to punish those who peacefully exercise their First Amendment right to boycott. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) is not anti-Semitic, in fact it is against anti-Semitism and all forms of racism. Indeed, the U.S. Palestinian human rights movement condemns the very hate that it is being falsely linked to.

As, Palestinians continue to endure violations committed by Israel with impunity, Representative Omar’s questioning of the U.S. role should be applauded. Just last week, Israel shot and killed two Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip, including a 14-year-old Palestinian boy. In 2018 alone, Israel killed 57 Palestinian children. It is the duty of all members Congress to question AIPAC’s substantial influence on U.S. policies and its role to shield Israel from accountability.

We commend Representative Omar and other members of Congress that stand up for the values that this country claims to uphold, justice and dignity for all. Thank you for taking a principled position in defense of human rights and justice for all. ADC is proud to stand with you.

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Prominent Democrats Form Pro-Israel Group to Counter Skepticism on the Left


Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm spoke at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington last March. (Sipa, via Associated Press)

Jonathan Martin, New York Times, Jan. 28, 2019

WASHINGTON — Several prominent veteran Democrats, alarmed by the party’s drift from its longstanding alignment with Israel, are starting a new political group that will try to counter the rising skepticism on the left toward the Jewish state by supporting lawmakers and candidates in 2020 who stand unwaveringly with the country.

With polls showing that liberals and younger voters are increasingly less sympathetic to Israel, and a handful of vocal supporters of Palestinian rights arriving in Congress, the new group — the Democratic Majority for Israel — is planning to wage a campaign to remind elected officials about what they call the party’s shared values and interests with one of America’s strongest allies.

“Most Democrats are strongly pro-Israel and we want to keep it that way,” said Mark Mellman, the group’s president and a longtime Democratic pollster. “There are a few discordant voices, but we want to make sure that what’s a very small problem doesn’t metastasize into a bigger problem.”

The group, whose board includes former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and a former Clinton administration housing secretary, Henry Cisneros, will create a political action committee later this year and may engage in Democratic primaries, Mr. Mellman said. They also are planning an “early states project” with the goal of organizing pro-Israel Democrats in the first nominating states to lobby the party’s presidential hopefuls.

For many traditional Democratic supporters of Israel, there is a deepening concern that voters in America’s two major political parties appear to be moving apart in how they view the country.

As Republican backing for Israel surges thanks to the rise of evangelicals in their coalition and President Trump’s close alignment with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an increasingly liberal Democratic Party is growing more uneasy with a country they see as an oppressor of a marginalized group, the Palestinians.

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U.S. Senate Defends Israeli Government From Boycotts

First and Bipartisan Bill in the Midst of the Shutdown


Chuck Schumer speaking at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 5, 2018. (Sipa USA via AP)

Ryan Grim and Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, January 5 2019

When each new Congress is gaveled into session, the chambers attach symbolic importance to the first piece of legislation to be considered. For that reason, it bears the lofty designation of H.R.1 in the House and S.1 in the Senate.

In the newly controlled Democratic House, H.R.1 — meant to signal the new majority’s priorities — is an anti-corruption bill that combines election and campaign finance reform, strengthening of voting rights, and matching public funds for small-dollar candidates. In the 2017 Senate, the GOP-controlled S.1 was a bill, called the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” that, among other provisions, cut various forms of corporate taxes.

But in the 2019 GOP-controlled Senate, the first bill to be considered — S.1 — is not designed to protect American workers, bolster U.S. companies, or address the various debates over border security and immigration. It’s not a bill to open the government. Instead, according to multiple sources involved in the legislative process, S.1 will be a compendium containing a handful of foreign policy-related measures, the main one of which is a provision — with Florida’s GOP Sen. Marco Rubio as a lead sponsor — to defend the Israeli government. The bill is a top legislative priority for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

In the previous Congress, that measure was known as S.170, and it gives state and local governments explicit legal authority to boycott any U.S. companies which themselves are participating in a boycott against Israel. As The Intercept reported last month, 26 states now have enacted some version of a law to punish or otherwise sanction entities that participate in or support the boycott of Israel, while similar laws are pending in at least 13 additional states. Rubio’s bill is designed to strengthen the legal basis to defend those Israel-protecting laws from constitutional challenge.

Punishment aimed at companies that choose to boycott Israel can also sweep up individual American citizens in its punitive net because individual contractors often work for state or local governments under the auspices of a sole proprietorship or some other business entity. That was the case with Texas elementary school speech pathologist Bahia Amawi, who lost her job working with autistic and speech-impaired children in Austin because she refused to promise not to boycott goods produced in Israel and/or illegal Israeli settlements.

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A Speech Pathologist Refused to Sign a Pro-Israel Oath

So She Lost Her Texas Elementary School Job

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Map: Palestine Legal

Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, December 17 2018

A children’s speech pathologist who has worked for the last nine years with developmentally disabled, autistic, and speech-impaired elementary school students in Austin, Texas, has been told that she can no longer work with the public school district, after she refused to sign an oath vowing that she “does not” and “will not” engage in a boycott of Israel or “otherwise tak[e] any action that is intended to inflict economic harm” on that foreign nation. A lawsuit on her behalf was filed early Monday morning in a federal court in the Western District of Texas, alleging a violation of her First Amendment right of free speech.

The child language specialist, Bahia Amawi, is a U.S. citizen who received a master’s degree in speech pathology in 1999 and, since then, has specialized in evaluations for young children with language difficulties (see video below). Amawi was born in Austria and has lived in the U.S. for the last 30 years, fluently speaks three languages (English, German, and Arabic), and has four U.S.-born American children of her own.

Amawi began working in 2009 on a contract basis with the Pflugerville Independent School District, which includes Austin, to provide assessments and support for school children from the county’s growing Arabic-speaking immigrant community. The children with whom she has worked span the ages of 3 to 11. Ever since her work for the school district began in 2009, her contract was renewed each year with no controversy or problem.

But this year, all of that changed. On August 13, the school district once again offered to extend her contract for another year by sending her essentially the same contract and set of certifications she has received and signed at the end of each year since 2009.

She was prepared to sign her contract renewal until she noticed one new, and extremely significant, addition: a certification she was required to sign pledging that she “does not currently boycott Israel,” that she “will not boycott Israel during the term of the contract,” and that she shall refrain from any action “that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with Israel, or with a person or entity doing business in Israeli or in an Israel-controlled territory.”

The language of the affirmation Amawi was told she must sign reads like Orwellian — or McCarthyite — self-parody, the classic political loyalty oath that every American should instinctively shudder upon reading:

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Lawmakers Consider Adding Measure Protecting Israel

Senator Richard C. Shelby, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, has objected to unrelated bills clinging to his panel’s work. (Erin Schaff for The New York Times)

Emily Cochrane, New York Times, December 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — Just days away from a partial government shutdown, lawmakers are weighing adding a contentious measure to a stymied spending package that would keep American companies from participating in boycotts — primarily against Israel — that are being carried out by international organizations.

Critics of the legislation, including the American Civil Liberties Union and a number of Palestinian rights organizations, say the bill infringes on First Amendment rights and is part of a broader effort on the state and federal levels to suppress support for efforts to boycott, divest investments from and place sanctions on Israel, a movement known as B.D.S.

“The crux of it is silencing one side of the Israel-Palestine conflict,” said Manar Waheed, the senior legislative and advocacy counsel for the A.C.L.U. “Anything that creates a penalty for any First Amendment-related activities is an infringement of the First Amendment.”

The bill, known as the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, is one of several pieces of pet legislation that lawmakers are advocating in the final days of the session, hoping to add to a package of seven spending bills that need to pass to keep the government fully funded past Friday. President Trump has said repeatedly that he will not sign any spending bills unless they contain at least $5 billion to begin building a wall on the border with Mexico.

As the package languishes, lawmakers see an opportunity to give their bills life before the current Congress ends this month. Other pieces of legislation that could be added include the so-called Blue Water Bill, which would allow Vietnam-era sailors who say they were exposed to Agent Orange as they served offshore to receive the same health benefits as those who were exposed on land. Other lawmakers are seeking to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which was extended with a brief stopgap spending bill two weeks ago.

But so far, neither the White House nor congressional Democrats have signaled that they are willing to negotiate on wall funding, so none of the bills have a moving vehicle to latch onto.

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Curbing Speech in the Name of Helping Israel

A Senate bill aims to punish those who boycott Israel over its settlement policy. There are better solutions.

Senator Ben Cardin speaking at the J Street National Conference in April. (Michael Brochstein/Sipa, via Associated Press)

The New York Times Editorial Board, December 18, 2018

One of the more contentious issues involving Israel in recent years is now before Congress, testing America’s bedrock principles of freedom of speech and political dissent.

It is a legislative proposal that would impose civil and criminal penalties on American companies and organizations that participate in boycotts supporting Palestinian rights and opposing Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

The aim is to cripple the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement known as B.D.S., which has gathered steam in recent years despite bitter opposition from the Israeli government and its supporters around the world.

The proposal’s chief sponsors, Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, and Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, want to attach it to the package of spending bills that Congress needs to pass before midnight Friday to keep the government fully funded.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a leading pro-Israel lobby group, strongly favors the measure.

J Street, a progressive American pro-Israel group that is often at odds with Aipac and that supports a two-state peace solution, fears that the legislation could have a harmful effect, in part by implicitly treating the settlements and Israel the same, instead of as distinct entities. Much of the world considers the settlements, built on land that Israel captured in the 1967 war, to be a violation of international law.

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ADC is Proud to Stand with Marc Lamont Hill

for Defending the Rights of the Palestinian People
November 30, 2018

ADC is proud to stand with Dr. Marc Lamont Hill for defending equal rights for the Palestinian people. ADC condemns in the strongest terms the abhorrent decision by CNN to fire Dr. Hill from his position as a commentator with the network. Dr. Hill continuously stands in support of human rights, justice, and equality for the Palestinian people — the very principles which got him fired. It is outrageous that CNN would fire Dr. Hill simply for his position that the Palestinian people are entitled to have full equal rights and protection under the law. The action taken by CNN is a shameful decision and contradictory to the networks supposed principles of fairness and fact telling.

During a United Nations organized event commemorating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Dr. Hill gave a compelling and comprehensive testimony describing Israel’s ongoing decades long assault and occupation of the Palestinian people. Throughout his testimony, Dr. Hill outlined the institutional forms of discrimination and racism that the Palestinian people experience on a daily basis. ADC commends Dr. Hill for advocating for equal political and human rights for the Palestinian people.

CNN provides platforms to commentators who regularly make anti-Arab and xenophobic remarks. One of their regular commentators is former Senator Rick Santorum who routinely denies the existence of Palestinians as a people. CNN still refuses to take any action against Santorum. This is one example of many in which the network has ignored racist commentary, and instead provides a platform for those like Santorum to continue their campaign of dehumanizing Arabs and Palestinians.

ADC stands firm in support of Dr. Hill’s call to the international community to uphold the principles of human rights and international law for all peoples. The Palestinian people cannot be an exception to human rights or the principle of equality. It is the obligation and duty of the international community to hold Israel accountable for its ongoing violations against the Palestinian people and ensure the protection of their rights.

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Tell CNN to Reinstate Marc Lamont Hill

On Thursday, November 29, 2018, CNN announced that it had severed ties with Temple University Professor and CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill over a speech he gave in support of Palestinian human rights at the United Nations a day earlier.

Professor Hill addressed the UN on International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, drawing attention to the continued human rights violations perpetrated against the Palestinian people. Professor Hill has been vilified, defamed, and falsely accused of harboring hateful views. His words were distorted by pro-Israel groups seeking to undermine his call for one state with equal rights for all.

Marc Lamont Hill

In his defense of the Palestinian people, Professor Hill did not call anyone to violence, nor did he call for the destruction of Israel. His legitimate criticism of Israeli apartheid policies, which include rights and privileges afforded only to Jewish citizens of Israel, has been unfairly conflated with anti-Semitism, which is a well-worn tactic used by pro-Israel activists to smear their opponents.

Professor Hill has been a tireless champion of human rights and justice for all people, and has always denounced all forms of hate and racism. On Thursday, he reiterated his position in a series of tweets, writing, “I do not support anti-Semitism, killing Jewish people, or any of the other things attributed to my speech. I have spent my life fighting these things.”

CNN’s decision to dismiss one of its most popular commentators based on his principled stance against the oppression of Palestinians is blatant censorship. It’s hypocritical considering that one of its contributors is Rick Santorum whose hateful speech against Palestinians includes the denial of their existence. Another regular contributor, Alan Dershowitz, has a history of demonizing Palestinians and supported Israel’s use of torture against them. And yet, CNN chose to fire one of its few contributors of color.

The silencing of voices conducive to the free exchange of ideas is dangerous. It is not befitting a media outlet that prides itself on objectivity to stifle a critical viewpoint—much less one that is becoming increasingly mainstream.

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Tell CNN: Advocating for Palestinian Rights is not Antisemitic


On Wednesday, Marc Lamont Hill, a political commentator on CNN, delivered a speech to the United Nations in support of the Palestinian people. He advocated for their human rights, outlined how Israel denies Palestinians their basic liberties, and asked the international community to ‘commit to political action’.

The next day — under pressure from right-wing leaders and the Jewish establishment — CNN fired him.

This news is appalling. We are demanding that CNN reinstate Marc Lamont Hill because advocating for Palestinian rights should NOT be a fireable offense. In supporting Palestinian freedom, Marc Lamont-Hill was in no way being anti-semitic.

Marc Lamont Hill has spent much of his life fighting against racism and oppression in America. In a tweet responding to accusations against him, he said “I support Palestinian freedom. I support Palestinian self-determination. I am deeply critical of Israeli policy and practice. I do not support anti-Semitism, killing Jewish people, or any of the other things attributed to my speech. I have spent my life fighting these things”.

Especially in the Trump Era, it is dangerous to link advocating for Palestinian rights to anti-semitism. It distracts from real threats to Jewish community — the rise of white nationalism.

Unfortunately, the ADL already vilified Marc Lamont Hill for his criticism of Israeli policy. Once again we are seeing the American Jewish establishment censor conversations about Palestinian rights by falsely claiming antisemitism, and it is setting a terrifying precedent.

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The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act Is Back: Free Speech Is at Risk

Dr. James Zogby, Arab American Institute (AAI), June 09, 2018

Back in 2016, without debate or an actual vote, the US Senate stealthily passed a disturbing and dangerous piece of legislation called “The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016” (AAA). The bill would have required the Department of Education (ED) to apply a State Department (DOS) working definition of anti-Semitism in evaluating complaints of discrimination on US campuses. Because some conservative Members of Congress had concerns that the legislation would violate free speech, AAA didn’t pass the House and died.

Last week, the bill was reintroduced with minor changes. As I wrote back in 2016, the AAA was (and still is) “dumb and dangerous”. Far from being designed to combat anti-Semitism, it is a thinly veiled effort to inhibit pro-Palestinian activism on college campuses – something that the pro-Israel organizations who helped write the bill have acknowledged.

Here’s why the AAA is “dumb and dangerous”:

The working definition of anti-Semitism advanced by the legislation was designed to help officials monitor anti-Semitism abroad. It was not intended to be applied to police speech on college campuses here in the US.

In developing the definition and guidance, the DOS adopted language used by the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC),

“Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious institutions.”

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