The Case Against ALEC Lawmakers Continues in Arizona Supreme Court

On November 15, the Arizona Palestine Solidarity Alliance (APSA), Black Lives Matter (BLM) Phoenix Metro, Mijente, and Puente continue their fight against the corporate-led American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in the Arizona Supreme Court. The groups will join the Center for Consitutional Rights and the Peoples Law Firm for oral argument in court.

Our lawsuit argues that the lawmakers, who together make up a quorum of several Arizona legislative committees, have violated Arizona’s Open Meeting Law by meeting behind closed doors at a private ALEC gathering in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2019. A closed meeting of a quorum of an Arizona legislative committee where members debate, discuss, deliberate, or otherwise work is a violation of the Arizona Open Meeting Law. In a major victory in the case, on February 15 this year, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that we may continue to pursue the lawsuit against 26 Arizona lawmakers who attended ALEC’s closed meetings in 2019. The court said the legislature cannot exempt itself from its own Open Meeting Law, rejected all of the defendants’ other arguments for dismissal, and sent the case back to the trial court. 

The initial filing in 2019 came after the Center for Constitutional Rights, Dream Defenders, Palestine Legal, The Red Nation, and the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights together released the report “ALEC Attacks: How evangelicals and corporations captured state lawmaking to safeguard white supremacy and corporate power,” which examines the harmful impact of ALEC laws on people of color. 

ALEC provides a ‘pay-to-play’ membership system in which its corporate members pay high fees in return for closed-door meetings with lawmakers to deliberate, draft, and vote on “model bills,” which are later introduced by ALEC-affiliated state lawmakers across the country. ALEC boasts that approximately one third of all state lawmakers are members. They are required to sign “loyalty oaths” to “put the interests of [ALEC] first.”

Between 2010 and 2018, ALEC’s “model bills” were introduced nearly 2,900 times, and more than 600 became law. The Arizona groups leading this fight point out that marginalized communities, particularly communities of color, have been disproportionately harmed by laws produced by ALEC. These include Stand Your Ground laws, voter ID laws, legislation targeting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement supporting Palestinian human rights, and “critical infrastructure” laws that criminalize protests by Indigenous people and other activists against oil and gas companies. 

At ALEC’s 2009 meeting, anti-immigrant former state senator Russell Pearce introduced to ALEC members what would later become Arizona’s infamous SB 1070. The law granted authority to law enforcement to racially profile Latinx people in the state. Similar laws were soon adopted in Utah, Georgia, Indiana, Alabama, and South Carolina. 

 

Rising up against Israel’s repression


Twitter StandWithThe6 600

Today across Palestine, we’re witnessing the Palestinian people rise up united once again. It is a moment in which our people declare we will not die quietly at the hands of Israel’s massive violence, but we will resist, and keep resisting, until Palestine is free.

Palestinian people on the ground are on a general strike today. The youth of Shuafat refugee camp called for the strike after Israel killed 17 Palestinian people in October alone, including Odai Tamimi yesterday, and after a series of violent attacks by Israeli settlers and soldiers.

At the same time, we’re nearing the one-year mark since the Israeli government attacked six Palestinian organizations to stop their essential human rights work, on Oct. 22, 2021. Israel wants to shut down the #StandWithThe6 organizations, and we can’t let that happen.

Israel’s brutal violence and repression of Palestinian human rights defenders is part of its all-out assault on the Palestinian people, especially anyone who dares to challenge the colonial Israeli regime.

Today, prominent supporters of Palestinian human rights like Dr. Cornel West and Rep. Rashida Tlaib are speaking up to #StandWithThe6, and you can join them.

The #StandWithThe6 organizations are currently facing Israel’s continued repression, from the shuttering of their offices this past August to Israel’s imprisonment of Palestinian human rights defender Salah Hammouri of Addameer without charge or trial.

Today, they’re asking: What happens #IfWeDisappear? Who will hold the Israeli government accountable for its brutal violence, as Israel continues to kill Palestinian people every day?

Watch and share the videos now.

Palestinian people on the ground are creating bold new ways to resist Israel’s colonial violence day by day, and we must defend their rights as we all push toward liberation.

Take action:

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Our right to boycott is headed to the Supreme Court

Just Vision, 10/20/22

Moments ago, the ACLU petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case of national significance on the right to boycott. It’s a case with massive implications for First Amendment rights.  

As you know, we’re tracking the spread of anti-boycott legislation sweeping state houses in the United States – and with great alarm. Our latest documentary, Boycott, follows plaintiffs in Texas, Arizona and Arkansas as they take on tremendous risk by suing their states over the constitutionality of these laws. One of those plaintiffs, Alan Leveritt, is at the center of the case now in front of the Supreme Court. 

If you’re new to this story, here’s the gist: anti-boycott laws, now passed in 34 states, require public contractors to sign a pledge promising that they do not, and will not, boycott Israel for the duration of their contract. Several Americans have challenged these laws, suing their respective states for violating their First Amendment rights. In almost every case — from Texas to Arizona to Kansas to Georgia — the plaintiffs won, with courts finding the anti-boycott laws unconstitutional. 

But this past summer, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Alan’s case that boycotts are not protected by the First Amendment, a shocking break from Supreme Court precedent. The Eighth Circuit determined that boycotts, even when politically motivated, are strictly economic activity and not a form of expression. 

Video: Boycotts that changed history

As a news publisher, Alan believes the court is dead wrong. As he wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed: “We don’t take political positions in return for advertising. If we signed the pledge, I believe, we’d be signing away our right to freedom of conscience. And as journalists, we would be unworthy of the protections granted us under the First Amendment.”  

As the Supreme Court weighs whether to hear the case, we’re bracing ourselves for the implications. It’s become clear that these laws target more than just those advocating for Palestinian rights. Israel-focused anti-boycott laws have already been used as a template to ban boycotts on several other issues. There are now copycat bills, using nearly identical language, targeting boycotts of fossil fuels, firearms and other industries. (See our legislative tracker for what’s currently in play around the country and to see if your state is impacted.) 

It’s not only advocacy for the environment, gun safety and Palestinian rights that stands on the line — but the very right to wield boycotts as a form of political expression. We’re also fully aware that anti-boycott laws are the tip of the iceberg: across the country, states – backed by corporate lobbyists and right-wing coalitions – are passing anti-protest laws designed to punish and, in some cases, criminalize political organizing and dissent. 

We’re watching this story carefully, whether the Supreme Court hears it or not. But we’re also clear-eyed – the power to affect real, tangible change lies not in the courts, but in the hands of the people. We will continue to amplify those at the front lines, to ensure that our right to voice dissent is sacrosanct and fully protected.   

Onward,

Suhad Babaa
Executive Director & President, Just Vision

Anti-Palestinianism makes the misuse of antisemitism possible

Beating back anti-Palestinian prejudice, which shouldn’t even exist in the first place, doesn’t feel like a win.


SHAHD ABUSALAMA (FACEBOOK)

MONA ABUAMARA, MONDOWEISS, AUGUST 20, 2022

Anti-Palestinianism has been increasingly witnessed worldwide but especially within western liberal democracies. It presents itself in every attempt to portray any act carried by Israel and its lobby against Palestine, the Palestinians, and those advocating for Palestine, as inevitable for the protection of Jewish communities.

Antisemitism is a grave assault on humanity, and the world has witnessed firsthand its atrocious ramifications. But Never Again in no way contradicts striving for a free Palestine—if anything, these principles of universal rights, freedoms, and values go hand in hand. Using accusations of antisemitism to suppress voices advocating for the legitimate rights of the Palestinians dilutes the accusation of antisemitism and empowers real antisemites.

In the past few years, exploiting the working definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) for antisemitism has become one of the latest acts of subterfuge practiced by Israel and its lobby.

By employing its fluid, Israel-centered description, coupled with its vague language and the baseless association between Palestine advocacy and antisemitism, the Israel lobby used its newfangled definition to label and smear Palestine advocates, including Jews, as either antisemites or self-hating Jews.

Clearly, being exposed for being an apartheid state is disgruntling. But Israel’s supporters seem to be laboring under the delusion that the Palestinians will simply roll over and accept their lot and embrace their place within the apartheid system. All of this is to circumvent the bad press that might disrupt the charade of “the only democracy in the Middle East”

With the help of its lobby, Israel has been at work covering up its atrocities, weaponizing its distorted depiction of the IHRA definition of antisemitism to urge the international community to normalize discrimination and prejudice against the Palestinians. The act is both selfish and appalling.

Recently Maram Mansour, a Palestinian journalist, won a lawsuit against her wrongful dismissal by Deutsche Welle. Before her, Shahd Abusalama, a Palestinian associate lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, was reinstated after being unlawfully suspended and investigated by her university. These cases only represent those who were able to successfully fight the injustices done to them. Unfortunately, there are countless other Palestinians and world activists who have and continue to be wrongly prosecuted. You might have heard of some of their agonizing tales, but there are so many that no one will ever encounter. 

They were acquitted of allegations that were clearly baseless and should never have been taken seriously in the first place, and they were reinstated into positions that should never have been stripped from them. Not your typical win.

Indeed, although Maram and Shahd were ultimately vindicated, they shouldn’t have been on the proverbial stand in the first place. Let us pause here to examine what they have theoretically won. They were acquitted of allegations that were clearly baseless and should never have been taken seriously in the first place, and they were reinstated into positions that should never have been stripped from them. Not your typical win.

Why were the attacks against them warranted to begin with? The answer, simply, is anti-Palestinianism. And of course, the fact that they eventually “won” doesn’t erase the damage that has been done, after the slander has been made public. Who will be held accountable for spewing such accusations? No one. A quiet settlement occurs, followed by a noiseless admission of the falsehood of those accusations. Little more.  

In a way, this shouldn’t be surprising, as the campaigns have by now become rather predictable—the goal was never about delivering a guilty verdict; the tortuous, punishing battle to overturn it was the whole point. These women persevered in the face of this adversity, but who else might balk in the face of a similar threat? Who might think twice, from now on, knowing that they may be put through the ringer like Maram and Shahd?

Israel and its lobby use the smear of antisemitism to defend their aggressions and to warrant their anti-Palestinianism. 

Of course, Israel has much to fear from people like Shahb and Maram. It needs shielding simply because these advocates have dared to stand with Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, or Masafer Yatta—demanding a stop to the ongoing Palestinian Nakba. Israel is afraid when free voices call for the release of Palestinian political prisoners and for an end to the 15-year blockade on Gaza. 

Jews have nothing to do with this, and none of the above is a threat to Jews. It is, however, a threat to the continuation of a brutal apartheid regime. 

Ask yourself: would the Palestinians have acted differently had the religion or nationality of their oppressor been different? Or maybe Palestinians, like any oppressed group, are simply demanding their legitimate rights?

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October 5-9, 2022
Acclaimed Film Boycott free online

An online film salon for the acclaimed film:
BOYCOTT

Sunday, 9 October 2022

1pm PT, 2pm MT, 3pm CT, 4pm ET (US, Canada)
Register here

A bracing look at the far-reaching implications of anti-boycott legislation sweeping the U.S. and designed to penalize businesses and individuals that choose to boycott Israel due to its human rights record. 

BOYCOTT illustrates how these laws are being used as templates to stop us from boycotting around other justice issues, further limiting our constitutional right to free speech. 

A legal thriller with “accidental plaintiffs” at the center of the story:

When a news publisher in Arkansas, an attorney in Arizona, and a speech therapist in Texas are told they must choose between their jobs and their political beliefs, they launch legal battles that expose an attack on freedom of speech that has swept across 33 U.S. states

BOYCOTT is an inspiring tale of everyday Americans standing up to protect our rights in an age of shifting politics and threats to freedom of speech. 

The film will be available for free viewing for a few days only, through a special arrangement with the film producers at Just Vision.

You must register to receive access to the film and to join the discussion

When you register, you will get an email on October 4th, with a link and password to watch the film. You will have 4 days to watch the film for free before the discussion on Oct 9th.
 

THE PANEL:

BAHIA AMAWI: protagonist of the film Boycott, free-speech plaintiff vs. Texas Attorney General and Pflugerville, TX School District

 

Special Guest, PETER BEINERT: Editor-at-Large, Jewish Currents; CNN & MSNBC Commentator; Professor of Journalism & Political Science, Newmark School of Journalism, CUNY; and Fellow, Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP)

JEN MARLOWE: JustVision filmmaker, author, playwright, journalist, and human rights activist

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President Biden: Stop Israeli Government’s Attacks on Palestinian Civil Society

(Final version, emphasis added)

Dear colleagues and comrades,

Thank you so much for signing on to our global open letter calling on the Biden administration to take immediate action in response to Israel’s escalated attack on Palestinian civil society. The letter was signed by over 290 social justice, civil rights, human rights, and faith-based organizations, as well as grassroots movement partners from around the world. President Biden’s chief of staff has confirmed receipt and we will keep you updated on next steps.
 
We called on President Biden to not only condemn and reject the Israeli government’s authoritarian assault on Palestinian civil society, but to take concrete steps to protect our colleagues and work to eliminate the conditions that make their vital work so necessary.
 
Here is the link to the letter on our website, and links to our social media accounts – TWIGFB – for you to share with your networks.

Thanks again and onward,

Nadia Ben-Youssef
Advocacy Director
Center for Constitutional Rights | Justice takes a fight.
666 Broadway, 7th Floor New York, NY 10012 (Lenapehoking)

President Biden: Stop Israeli Government’s Attacks on Palestinian Civil Society

Rally for Google and Amazon workers against Israeli military


Google’s anti-Palestinian worker retaliation

Huge news just broke.

Today, tech worker organizer Ariel Koren, active in our #NoTechForApartheid campaign, resigned from Google. Her resignation letter cited Google’s retaliation and the silencing of Palestinian, Muslim, Arab, Jewish, and other workers speaking up for Palestinian freedom at the company.

Make noise by sharing this huge moment in the No Tech for Apartheid campaign on Twitter and on Facebook

 

The New York Times spoke to workers like Ariel organizing against a $1 billion contract with the Israeli military and apartheid government that enables surveillance and violence against Palestinians. 

For the first time, Palestinian workers at Google publicly described the retaliation they’ve faced: “Project Nimbus makes me feel like I am making my living off my family’s oppression,” one of them said. But if they speak out, they face retaliation and threats of termination from Google.1

Google and Amazon workers are organizing against corporate contracts that fuel Israeli apartheid and state violence, and our solidarity with these workers is a show of power that increases the pressure to cut these contracts.

Google is trying to silence workers to protect their business interests, but next week, we’re turning up the pressure in solidarity with tech workers by holding direct actions at Google and Amazon offices across the country. 

If you live in San Francisco, Seattle, or New York City, RSVP here to join a No Tech For Apartheid action next Thursday, September 8th!

Tech worker organizing pressures Google and Amazon to end their contract with the Israeli military and government. Their divestment demands are clear: either stop harming Palestinians or face a devastating public relations and labor crisis. 

As Ariel told the Times: “When Google and other folks retaliate against workers, it’s about creating a culture of fear. I think the opposite is true in this case — more workers took a stand.”

Amazon and Google want to believe they can get out of this by pushing workers out and creating a culture of fear to stifle worker organizing. Let’s make sure they know it’s not going to be that easy to avoid accountability. 

Join us at a #NoTechForApartheid Day of Action next week, or if you don’t live in any of these key tech hubs, join us by making noise on social media today.

Thanks for all you do to further justice.

In solidarity,
Lau, Granate, Linda, and the MPower Change team

Sources:

1. “Google Employee Who Played Key Role in Protest of Contract With Israel Quits,” The New York Times, Aug. 30, 2022.

President Biden: Stop Israeli Government’s Attacks on Palestinian Civil Society

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write because your administration’s consistently tepid and yielding response to the Israeli government’s escalating attacks against prominent Palestinian human rights and civil society groups over the past 10 months has put the safety and well-being of Palestinian human rights defenders at serious risk. We demand immediate action in response to the Israeli government’s latest escalation so as to curtail any further imminent repressive tactics by Israeli authorities and ensure Palestinian civil society is free to continue its critical work.

Last week, in a significant escalation, Israeli military forces raided the offices of seven Palestinian human rights and community organizations in the occupied West Bank on 18 August 2022, sealing shut their doors, ordering them closed, and seizing computers and other confidential materials. In the following days, directors of the organizations were summoned by the Israeli military and Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) for interrogation. All staff are currently under threat of imminent arrest and prosecution. While many in the international community were swift to condemn the Israeli governments shameful political maneuver in October 2021 designating leading Palestinian human rights organizations as “terrorist” under Israel’s draconian Counter-Terrorism Law, your administration has refused to act or reject this clear attack on Palestinian civil society, and even took affirmative steps including canceling the valid U.S. visa held by the head of one of the targeted organizations. The response so far has only enabled and empowered the Israeli government to sustain and escalate its repression.

The targeted organizations form part of the bedrock of Palestinian civil society that has been protecting and advancing Palestinian human rights for decades across the full spectrum of issues of global concern, including children’s rights, prisoners’ rights, women’s rights, socio-economic rights, the rights of farmworkers, and justice and accountability for international crimes. They include: Defense for Children International – Palestine, Al Haq, Addameer, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Union of Agricultural Work Committees, and Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees. They are trusted partners in our collective work to secure human rights for all.

Since the Israeli government officially outlawed these civil society groups, international human rights groups, the United Nations, and governments that did investigate Israel’s claims – found them to be baseless. This includes 10 European governments that dismissed the allegations in mid-July 2022. In a deeply troubling report released this week, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency reportedly assessed information passed on by the Israeli government earlier this year finding none of the so-called evidence supported the Israeli government claims. Additionally, members of Congress have called on your administration to condemn and reject the Israeli government’s clear attack on Palestinian civil society.

As groups committed to social justice, civil rights, and universal human rights, we have seen first hand the ways that the charge of “terrorist” and the so-called “war on terror” threatens not only international human rights defenders, but also social movements and marginalized communities here in the U.S.: Indigenous, Black, brown, Muslim, and Arab activists and communities have similarly faced silencing, intimidation, criminalization and surveillance under such baseless charges. A threat against the Palestinian human rights movement is a threat against movements for social justice everywhere, and in order to protect human rights and human rights defenders, all states must be held accountable for taking such manifestly unjust actions.

While our government has long offered unconditional support to the Israeli government, our movements and organizations will always stand first and foremost with the rights and safety of people.

Therefore, we the undersigned organizations, call on you, in your authority as President to immediately:

  1. Condemn the Israeli government’s repressive tactics and escalating campaign of criminalization and intimidation against Palestinian civil society organizations and their staff and board;
  2. Reject the Israeli government’s unsubstantiated accusations levied against Palestinian civil society organizations and demand Israeli authorities rescind the designations;
  3. Take diplomatic action, in concert with European counterparts, that serves to protect the targeted Palestinian organizations, their staff and board, premises, and other assets;
  4. Refrain from imposing any obstacles or policies that would prevent direct engagement between the U.S. government and Palestinian civil society, or otherwise preclude full, comprehensive public understanding of the severity and impacts of Israeli repression;
  5. End U.S. efforts to undermine the right of Palestinians and Palestinian civil society organizations to pursue justice and accountability, including at the International Criminal Court;
  6. Ensure no actions are taken at the federal level that in any way encumbers funding from U.S.-based organizations or individuals to the targeted Palestinian organizations; and
  7. Suspend U.S. military funding to the Israeli government and cease any diplomatic efforts that enable systemic impunity for Israel’s gross violations of internationally-recognized human rights.

Sincerely (signer list in progress):
Center for Constitutional Rights
Action Center on Race & the Economy
Adalah Justice Project
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
Al-Marsad – Arab Human Rights Centre in Golan Heights Heights
American Friends Service Committee
American Muslim Bar Association
American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Americans for Justice in Palestine Action
Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC)
Asamblea Permanente de Derechos Humanos de Bolivia (APDHB)
Asociación pro derechos humanos de España
Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos-APRODEH
Association tunisienne des femmes démocrates
Black Lives Matter Grassroots
Butler University Students for Justice in Palestine
CAIR-Minnesota
Catalyst Project
Comision de Derechos Humanos de El Salvador
Charity & Security Network
Civil Liberties Defense Center
Civil Society Institute – Armenia
CODEPINK
Colectivo de Abogados JAR
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Culture and Conflict Forum
Delawareans for Palestinian Human Rights (DelPHR)
Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)
DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights
Don’t Shoot Portland
Ecumenical Peace Institute/Clergy and Laity Concerned
Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine Israel Network
Equality Labs
Eyewitness Palestine
Forum Tunisien pour les Droits Economiques et Sociaux
Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)
Fundación Regional de Asesoría en Derechos Humanos
Grassroots International
Highlander Research & Education Center
Housing and Land Rights Network – Habitat International Coalition
HRM “Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan”
ICNA Council for Social Justice
Indiana Center for Middle East Peace
Instituto Latinoamericano para una Sociedad y un Derecho Alternativos ILSA
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Internationale Liga für Menschenrechte
Islamophobia Studies CenterJahalin Solidarity
Jewish Voice for Peace Action (JVP Action)
Jewish Voice for Peace Central Ohio
Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven
Jewish Voice for Peace Los Angeles
Jewish Voice for Peace Tacoma chapter
Justiça Global, Brasil
LDH (Ligue des droits de l’Homme – France)
Liga Argentina por los derechos humanos
Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land
Madison-Rafah Sister City Project
Manushya Foundation
Movement for Black Lives
Movement Law Lab
Movimento Nacional de Direitos Humanos – MNDH Brasil
New Hampshire Palestine Education Network
Odhikar
Palestine Teaching Trunk
Peace Action
PeaceHost.net
Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos (Provea)
Project South
Queer Crescent
Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO)
Rethinking Foreign Policy
SMASH
Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression SCM
Texas Arab American Democrats (TAAD)
The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church USA Theipmn.org
The Jus Semper Global Alliance
The Palestinian Human Rights Organization “PHRO”
Union of Agricultural Work Communities
United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR)
Veterans For Peace Linus Pauling Chapter 132
Visualizing Palestine
Working Families Party
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the
  Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

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