Netanyahu Cancels Meeting After German Official Visits Protest Group

Israel has come under increasing criticism for seeking to silence groups that are critical of the 50-year military occupation of the West Bank. The Israeli Parliament passed a law in March barring entry to Israel for foreigners supporting a boycott of the country.

IAN FISHER, The New York Times, APRIL 25, 2017

Sigmar Gabriel, the German foreign minister, in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Mr. Gabriel’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was canceled because Mr. Gabriel met with members of Breaking the Silence, a group opposed to the occupation of Palestinian territories. (Abir Sultan/European Pressphoto Agency)

JERUSALEM — It was hardly the first time a top-level meeting had been canceled over hard feelings. But when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel called off a session with the German foreign minister here on Tuesday, it seemed a particularly sharp reflection of the tension within Israel, and with its allies, these days.

Israeli and German officials said the cancellation of the top-level meeting planned for later in the day came after the German minister of foreign affairs, Sigmar Gabriel, met with the group Breaking the Silence, which opposes the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. Mr. Netanyahu has accused the group of “slandering” Israeli soldiers.

The tension began when the Israeli news media addressed the possibility that Mr. Gabriel would visit with the group and reported that Israeli officials — and probably Mr. Netanyahu himself — were threatening that the visit would be a deal-breaker for the planned top-level meeting ahead.

Perhaps predictably, Mr. Gabriel, who is also Germany’s vice chancellor, did not take it well.

“It simply can’t be,” Mr. Gabriel told reporters in Israel. “Imagine if we would invite Mr. Netanyahu to Germany and he wants to meet with NGOs that are critical of the government and we say, ‘If you do that we’ll break off the visit.’ People would tell us we’re crazy.”

He refused to speculate on whether the cancellation was a tit-for-tat move after the German leadership postponed a governmental exchange with Israel, originally planned for May, citing scheduling conflicts. “The whole situation has to cool down,” Mr. Gabriel said.

After the meeting of the two leaders was called off, an Israeli official in Mr. Netanyahu’s office, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Gabriel refused to take a phone call from the Israeli prime minister. German officials could not immediately be reached to comment.

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Update: Feds Drop Charges against AMP staffers

American Muslims for Palestine, April 22, 2017

(WASHINGTON DC 04.21.2017) — The federal government has dropped the charges against AMP staffers Taher Herzallah and Kareem El-Hosseiny. Stephen Rickard, Deputy Chief of the misdemeanors section in the U.S. Attorney’s office notified the men’s attorney Ann Wilcox on Friday evening.

Filing what is called a “nolle prosequi,” or a formal notice of abandonment, the charges have been dropped and the case is closed.

“The United States of America, by and through its attorney, the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, hereby notifies the court and the defense that the government is entering a nolle prosequi in this case, thereby causing the information to be dismissed without prejudice.”

“We are overjoyed,” Herzallah said. “We showed the federal government we were not going to take their biased charges silently. This really shows the power of the people to speak truth to power.”

Herzallah and El-Hosseiny were arrested in February along with four others from Code Pink and If Not Now for protesting at the Senate confirmation hearing for U.S. Ambassador David Friedman. Herzallah and El-Hosseiny — the only two Arabs and Muslims in the group — were the only two with criminal charges filed against them by the U.S. Attorney’s office. Three of the protesters were allowed to pay a small fine the same day. One had his case transferred to traffic court.

The men rejected a plea deal that would have required 32 hours of community service and included being banned from Capitol grounds for a lengthy period of time. Instead, they opted for a trial to fight the selective prosecution charges on the grounds they were based on racial, religious and ethnic bias.

El-Hosseiny added, “This proves that all the public, organizational and faith-based support sent a strong message to the federal prosecutors.”

In addition to a successful social media campaign, which was joined by several Palestinian rights and social justice organizations and that reached upwards of 1 million accounts, the Huffington Post, AJ Plus, Mondoweiss, Muftah and other media outlets kept the case in the news. The Associated Press had also started working on a story.

The American Muslims for Palestine is extremely grateful for how our partners rallied around our colleagues and supported their effort to fight the charges that amounted to selective prosecution.

“AMP thanks NLG attorney Ann Wilcox for her expertise, professionalism and willingness to fight for justice and to see this through to the end,” said Dr. Osama Abuirshaid, AMP national policy director. “We could not be prouder of our colleagues and we’re relieved at the positive outcome.”

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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.

February 11, 2017
Madison Resistance March


Madison Resistance March on Facebook

Channel3000.com

Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project will be participating as a “Palestine Solidarity contingent” at the upcoming Madison Resistance March.

We will be meeting at 11:45 am outside the Boat House in Brittingham Park with our banners.  Please wear a kuffiyeh if you have one.  Also, we need signs linking Palestine to the themes of the March, including Netanyahu’s visit with Trump next Wednesday. There are some ideas listed below, but feel free to improvise! One suggestion is to have signs with both English and Spanish.

Invite your friends and try to spread the word about the march broadly!

  • Palestinians: Refugees for 70 years/Palestinos: Refugiados por 70 años
  • No Justice, No Peace from U.S. to Palestine
  • Settlements are Illegal, Not Refugees
  • No to Racism From U.S. to Palestine/No Al Racismo, Desde EE.UU. a Palestina
  • No Walls from US to Palestine
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