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.
Israel’s extremist government decided today to keep everyone in the dark about if and how it will make use of the “golden opportunity” offered by the Trump administration to embark on de jure annexation of large swathes of the occupied Palestinian West Bank. No one should be misled, however. Israel will continue to quietly de facto annex occupied Palestinian territory, as it has done for decades, while trying to appease its Western allies. But as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said, “Annexation is illegal. Period. Any annexation.”
Hundreds of international law scholars agree. They write that Israeli annexations of occupied territory are “null and void, entail consequences of international wrongfulness, and – under certain circumstances – lead to individual international criminal liability,” regardless whether such annexations are effected “through ‘extension of sovereignty,’ ‘extension of law, jurisdiction, and administration,’ or explicit annexation.” They concluded, “de facto annexation entails the same legal consequences as de jure annexation.”
For over a thousand European parliamentarians, “Failure to adequately respond [to Israeli annexation] would encourage other states with territorial claims to disregard basic principles of international law,” undermining “the most basic norms guiding international relations, including the UN Charter.”
Congressman, @repmarkpocan just issued a statement on Israeli annexation: "Congress must put conditions on U.S. funding to Israel to demonstrate opposition to annexation and the violation of Palestinian human rights." pic.twitter.com/ZNiypRTBGM
This letter, signed by more than 100 progressive, anti-war, and faith-based U.S. organizations, urges presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden (and Donald Trump) to adopt a principled foreign policy towards Israel and the Palestinian people based on justice, freedom, equality, and human dignity.
Endorsers of the letter include American Friends Service Committee, American Muslims for Palestine, CODEPINK, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Demand Progress, If Not Now, Jewish Voice for Peace, Just Foreign Policy, Kairos USA, PAX Christi USA, Peace Action, and Win Without War.
The letter comes in the context of the 2020 Democratic primaries having experienced a monumental shift in leadership positions towards the state of Israel and the Palestinian struggle for freedom. Despite this, on May 19, the Biden campaign released a revolting statement of support for Israel and Jewish Americans. The letter began by conflating American Jewry with support for Israel. It promised to continue attacking the nonviolent boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, bragged about having increased military assistance to Israel at the end Obama’s term, and referred to Palestinian “choices” to commit violence.
Within days of the May 19 Biden campaign statement being released, so much backlash had accumulated that the degrading language of Palestinian “choices” had been removed. This signals an opportunity for us as progressives to influence and shift policy positions regarding Palestinians and Israel. We hope that this letter representing millions of Americans helps do that. See the letter to Trump here.
Saturday, June 27
Local Letter Campaign to End Violence Against Black People
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM CDT
Damita Brown, Restorative Justice Director for the Dane County Time Bank’s Restorative Justice Program, will lead this action opportunity via Zoom.
Sponsored by Building Unity, Dane County Time Bank, Freedom Inc. and Wisconsin Network for Peace, Justice, Sustainability (WNPJS). For more information see the Facebook page or register here.
NOTE: The sponsors are looking for people or groups to host similar sessions. You can get a Co-conspirator Toolkit that shows you step by step how to host your own letter writing party for friends, neighbors, colleagues, family, co-workers and others. For more information, write to Damita Brown: damita at danecountytimebank.org
Sunday, June 28
Counter CUFI with FOSNA
6 PM CDT
Christian Israeli lobbies like Christians United For Israel (CUFI) leverage their political power to ensure the US gives moral and political cover to Israeli colonization, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing.
The Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington will be the largest digital gathering of poor, dispossessed and impacted people, faith leaders, and people of conscience … The increasing urgency of a broad movement led by the poor and most impacted is more apparent every day. Now is the time to organize towards collective action to enact a moral agenda for the nation. As our ranks grow in the coming months due to COVID-19 and the ongoing crisis of poverty, building a platform for the plight, fight, and insight of the poor is even more urgent.
We are marshalling our collective voices to demonstrate the power of our communities. We demand that both major political parties address the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism by implementing our Moral Agenda.
Madison Juneteenth Rally
Olin Park, 1156 Olin-Turville Ct
12 Noon – 7 pm
Juneteenth events are being held this year all across the country, not only as the traditional celebration of Black culture and emancipation from slavery, but with a renewed focus on the fight against police brutality, racist violence, and systemic institutional racism.
The horrific police murder of George Floyd, caught on a cell phone by a teenager who then posted the harrowing footage on social media, is only the latest reminder that the civil rights struggles of the past century have not translated into safer streets—not even safer homes–for Black people in the USA. Yet in this deeply painful moment, there is also a sense of cautious hopefulness, as Americans of all races, but also as people globally, are taking to the streets with one message: “Black Lives Matter.”
And from Ramallah to Haifa to the Gaza Strip, Palestinians in the homeland are joining the global denunciations of the system of racial supremacy that has too long held down an oppressed people who taught the world that justice is indivisible, and that none of us can breathe until Black people can breathe. This video compiles some of their statements of solidarity, including “We see you,” “your pain is our pain,” and affirming the belief that justice will prevail.
The Black Lives Matter slogan, “Defund the Police,” is also resonating in all corners of the globe, along with denunciations of the blanket criminalization of Black people, and of the racist underpinnings of American law enforcement, which has always placed property over humanity. A much-needed discussion is taking place in homes, on social media, and in the streets, about the very identity of the police institution, with its beginning as slave patrols. As I wrote elsewhere: “With their origin as runaway slave patrols—always prioritizing the property of whites over the lives of African Americans, the US police forces have been racist for centuries […]Their behavior today, as they form a weaponized wall protecting banks and shopping malls, rather than the protestors rising up against centuries of injustice, is a direct evolution of their initial mandate—to protect the privileged and their wealth, from the violently dispossessed, those who have been looted of their land, and the fruit of their labor.”