Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice Spotlight

 

Dena Eakles, WNPJ Board Member, 1/30/23

This past week, nine Palestinians were murdered in the West Bank city of Jenin by Israeli forces. I went to one of WNPJ’s member groups, Madison–Rafah Sister City Project, to learn more about the massacre in Jenin and the current plight of the Palestinian People. 

From “A Massacre Took Place in Jenin”:

“2022 was the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank in nearly 20 years, with the most deaths since the United Nations began recording fatalities in 2005. The new, far-right Israeli government and its forces remain adamant about continuing, if not increasing, their brutality. We're only 26 days into 2023, and Israel has already killed 30 Palestinians, including five children—setting a pace to double the murder of Palestinians in 2022.” 

The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project is a wonderful website, full of good endeavors like creating housing, playgrounds, providing fresh food and clean water as well as hosting educational events and providing well-written articles on BDS and more. How to Help will bring you additional information and offer ways for you to be involved. 

I have deep appreciation for the efforts of our member groups that keep us informed and inspired. May Peace Prevail.

 

Kuffiyeh Contingent at the National March on Madison

Show your support for Palestinian women during the January 22 National Women’s March in Madison! Join the Kuffiyeh Contingent and stand with us in the State Capitol Rotunda.

Madison Rafah Sister City Project plans to be in the Rotunda of the State Capitol near the State Street entrance at 1:00 pm.

Wear your Kuffiyeh (we’ll have some available to buy or borrow) and bring a Palestinian flag and signs that celebrate the strength and resilience of Palestinian women at this important event.

Event info at National Mobilization on Madison – BIGGER THAN ROE

We hope to see you there!

Note: This is a change from the original plan to assemble on the Library Mall.
 

Join the Kuffiya Contingent at the National March on Madison

    January 22, 2023
    Rally on Library Mall 12:00-12:45
    March to the Capitol Building 1:00-1:45
    Speakout at the Capitol 1:45-4:00

Show your support for Palestinian women during the January 22 National Womens March in Madison! Join the Kuffiya Contingent and walk with us as the March moves to the Capitol.

Madison Rafah Sister City Project will be on the steps of The UW Library facing Library Mall at Noon. Wear your Kuffiya (we’ll have some available to buy or borrow) and bring a Palestinian flag and signs that celebrate the strength and resilience of Palestinian women at this important event.

Event info
National March on Madison
Kuffiya Contingent at the Madison Womens March
Patti Smith and Over 600 artists worldwide sign #MusiciansForPalestine letter
 

Rights Advocates Alarmed Over Israel’s New ‘Fascist, Racist, and Settler’ Government

“The occupation and apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territories have made Jewish supremacy the de facto law of the land and the new government seeks to adopt this into their official policy”


Israelis carry banners and flags as they gather in front of the the Knesset to protest Israel’s new far-right government in Jerusalem on December 29, 2022.(Mostafa Alkharouf, Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

JESSICA CORBETT, Common Dreams, Dec 29, 2022

Global concerns about the new Israeli government—especially what it means for Palestinians—continued to grow Thursday as Benjamin Netanyahu took the oath of office to again serve as prime minister, this time leading the most far-right and religiously conservative coalition in the country’s history.

The embattled leader was sworn in following a 63-54 vote of confidence in his new government by the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. He has appointed 30 ministers and three deputy ministers from his Likud party as well as Noam, Otzma Yehudit (“Jewish Power”‘), Religious Zionism, Shas, and United Torah Judaism.

“It is already clear that the emerging coalition will be disastrous for human rights between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”

The coalition finalized Wednesday features “a mix of an ultra-Orthodox and right-wing bloc,” with some of the most “right-wing politicians we’ve seen,” Al Jazeera‘s Sara Khairat reported Thursday from West Jerusalem, as protesters gathered. “They were on the fringes of politics and now here they are on the main stage.”

Some ministry appointments were only possible because of a pair of laws passed by the Knesset on Tuesday—one enabling Aryeh Deri of Shas to serve as minister of the interior despite his recent tax fraud conviction and another allowing Religious Zionism’s Bezalel Smotrich to take on multiple posts.

“These laws… dovetail with Netanyahu’s own attempt to escape potential liability for his long-running corruption/bribery trial,” wroteMondoweiss‘ Jonathan Ofir. “If such exceptions can be made for Smotrich and Deri and cemented into law, this paves the way for the same being done for Netanyahu, when the need arises.”


Another controversial pick is Otzma Yehudit’s Itamar Ben-Gvir, the new national security minister, who in 2007 was convicted of incitement to racism against Arabs and supporting a terrorist organization. As Common Dreamsreported last week, the government reached a deal to lift the ban on parliamentary candidates who incite racism.

In a joint statement Thursday, several advocacy groups said that “it is already clear that the emerging coalition will be disastrous for human rights between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”


“Previous Israeli governments have already entrenched military control over millions of Palestinians, severely harmed their human rights, and made the possibility of a just future more difficult,” they continued. “The senior figures in this new government have made it clear that they intend to exacerbate this trend and advance dangerous measures.”

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“International pressure is crucial to ending Israel’s rule over Palestinians”

A portrait of Benjamin Netanyahu with streaks of blue and white paint in the background.
Credit…Illustration by Rebecca Chew/The New York Times; photograph by Dan Balilty for The New York Times

Re “The Ideal of Democracy in Israel Is in Jeopardy” (editorial, Dec. 18):

As the editor of a progressive Jewish magazine that closely covers Israel and Palestine, I was deeply dismayed by the editorial.

Though the editorial is critical of the Biden administration for failing to push back more strongly against Israeli extremism, it doesn’t urge any specific actions. Mr. Biden has many forms of leverage at his fingertips: He could place human rights conditions on the $3.8 billion in military aid that the U.S. sends Israel annually, or halt the sale of U.S. weapons that are used against Palestinian civilians, or end our country’s decades-old policy of shielding Israel from accountability at the U.N. The editorial presses for none of these.

Instead, it echoes the president in emphasizing the inviolability of the U.S.–Israel alliance — a bromide that assures Israel that its blank check is guaranteed.

Israel is indeed on a dangerous path, but the contention that its “democracy” is “in jeopardy” as a result of this election obscures the state’s undemocratic 55-year military occupation of the Palestinian territories, which denies Palestinians their basic human rights.

This new extremist coalition has substantial domestic support, which means that international pressure, especially by the U.S., is crucial to ending Israel’s rule over Palestinians. The Times has meanwhile offered a master class in how to offer nothing but hand-wringing.

Arielle Angel
Brooklyn
The writer is editor in chief of Jewish Currents.

To the Editor:

Perhaps your editorial headline should have read “The Era of Gaslighting in Israel Is Over.” A nation that has deprived an indigenous population of the right to vote for the past half-century is not a democracy.

Department of Education to investigate Berkeley Law School

Complaint from Israeli lawfare group prompts investigation over student group challenging Zionism

MICHAEL ARRIA, MONDOWEISS, DECEMBER 16, 2022

How the Israeli government will turn its Jewish critics into dissidents

The transformation of Israeli leftists into dissidents is a reminder that no one is safe from the attempts to turn the ‘wrong kind’ of Jews into enemies.

Edo Konrad, +972 Magazine, December 16, 2022

Israeli activists hold a protest in Tel Aviv against Israeli military rule over Palestinians in the West Bank, September 23, 2021. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)
Israeli activists hold a protest in Tel Aviv against Israeli military rule over Palestinians in the West Bank, September 23, 2021. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Most left-wing Israeli Jews do not generally think of themselves as political dissidents, and have likely never aspired to such a status. Despite the lavish praise they receive for their bravery, Israeli-Jewish leftists have the ability to speak out without suffering the consequences faced by Palestinians, not to mention activists in other undemocratic states. Leftist Jews have very often been afforded the privilege of being opponents of the right, rather than its enemies.

But all that seems like it may change, and far quicker than even the biggest pessimists in my camp anticipated. In just the last month, since Itamar Ben Gvir was appointed as presumptive national security minister, Bezalel Smotrich given the power to lord over the day-to-day lives of millions of Palestinians in the occupied territories, and Avi Maoz granted the power to implement his homophobic agenda in school curriculums, the shifts have been palpable for Jewish critics of the state and its occupation. The government has not yet been formed, but it is clear to everybody which way the wind is blowing.

Israeli police have since summoned Israel Frey, a left-wing Haredi journalist, for interrogation over a tweet praising a Palestinian who sought security forces, rather than civilians, for a planned attack (Frey has thus far refused to appear before the police). Israeli soldiers attacked and threatened leftists, some of them journalists, during a tour in occupied Hebron (a routine event for Palestinians in the city). Right-wing activists managed to pressure the Pardes Hanna-Karkur Local Council to cancel a screening of my colleague Noam Sheizaf’s new film on the occupation due to his politics. And on Thursday, during a hearing by the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, Likud MK Hanoch Milwidsky interrupted Breaking the Silence Executive Director Avner Gvaryahu to call him a “traitor” and an “informant” who should “be imprisoned.”

The path to this moment was paved long ago. While loud and unabashed, there have been relatively few Jewish left-wing dissidents in Israeli history who have challenged the Israeli regime — from conscientious objectors, to nuclear whistleblowers, to groups such as the Israeli Black Panthers and the smattering of other independent left-wing groups — while most have focused on reforming specific policies. Meanwhile, Israel has an increasingly right-wing public that has become accustomed to managing an endless military dictatorship over the West Bank and a lethal siege on Gaza, and has little patience for anyone who criticizes it, or even speaks about it openly. The political right, from former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett — the hero of the “government of change” — to Smotrich and Ben Gvir, believe in forcing Palestinians to kneel before Israel (lest we forget that Bennett’s government dissolved over his coalition’s failure to re-authorize separate West Bank legal systems for Palestinians and Israeli Jews).

(From right) Members of Knesset Bezalel Smotrich, Itamar Ben Gvir, Dudi Amsalem, and Ofir Sofer seen during a vote for the new Knesset speaker, Jerusalem, December 13, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

(From right) Members of Knesset Bezalel Smotrich, Itamar Ben Gvir, Dudi Amsalem, and Ofir Sofer seen during a vote for the new Knesset speaker, Jerusalem, December 13, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Meanwhile, much of the Zionist left no longer has anything of value to say about the occupation, and very often closes ranks with its opponents on the right in attacking Palestinians and the radical left. In Jewish-Israeli society, this has left behind a shrinking cadre of left-wing Jewish activists who recognize that dismantling apartheid and colonialism is the only way to move toward a more just future for Palestinians and Israelis.

Into that vacuum left by the Zionist left swept far-right groups with connections to the Israeli government that have made it their duty to seek out those Jewish Israelis who refuse to toe the party line. A little less than a decade ago, these organizations were behind a chillingly concerted bottom-up effort to delegitimize anti-occupation groups such as Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Ta’ayush, and others because they refused to remain silent in the face of Israel’s human rights abuses. What seemed like a novel phenomenon in 2015 is now part of the playbook for every single aspiring right-wing politician. In this sense, the attacks of the last month are not new, but they carry a great deal of weight given the makeup of the new government.

Over the last few weeks, we have witnessed how, time and time again, it is Palestinians who are repeatedly on the front lines of Israel’s repression, most prominently in the story of Dr. Ahmad Mahajna, who is still fighting for his job after he was falsely accused of handing sweets to a 16-year-old Palestinian who carried out a stabbing attack and who was in his care at Hadassah Medical Center. For over a month, Mahajna was ceaselessly attacked by the media and far-right activists for his so-called support for “terrorism,” until enough people came forward to put an end to the witch hunt. If left-wing Israeli Jews are being transformed into dissidents, Palestinians are always one false move from being labeled enemies of the state, simply by their very existence.

Yet this transformation of Israeli leftists into dissidents is a reminder that no one is safe from Ben Gvir, Smotrich, and Maoz’s attempts to suss out the “wrong kind of Jews.” After they come for Palestinians — particularly in Area C of the West Bank, so-called mixed cities, and the Naqab/Negev — they will come for the anti-apartheid activists. After that, it could be anyone who resists the religious coercion of the agents of Jewish theocracy.

Jewish dissidents-to-be need to know the path will be fraught and often dangerous. Some of us will inevitably leave (plenty already have), while others, particularly those without anywhere to go, will either stay and fight alongside Palestinians, asylum seekers, the LGBTQ community, and any other group this government comes after, or step away from activism altogether. Those looking from the outside at what is transpiring on the ground at lightning speed need to know that we are only at the very beginning.

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Israel has deported Palestinian lawyer to France

Move constitutes a war crime

, 2022-12-18

Ramallah, 18 December 2022

Today, Sunday, 18 December, the Israeli settler-colonial authorities are unlawfully deporting French-Palestinian lawyer and human rights defender Salah Hammouri from his hometown, Jerusalem, to France for “breach of allegiance” to the occupying state. Such a move constitutes a war crime under international humanitarian law of forcible deportation of a civilian from occupied territories. It stands as a horrifying escalation in Israel’s systematic practices of ethnically cleansing Palestinians from illegally annexed and occupied Jerusalem (al-Quds).

Despite decades of harassment, Salah has never surrendered his dignity and his basic demand to remain in his beloved hometown. His tenacity and love for al-Quds represents the unwavering Palestinian connection to the city in the face decades of the most brutal policies against its residents.

In his own words from Hadarim prison, Salah Hammouri emphasized that “Wherever a Palestinian goes, he takes with him these principles and the cause of his people: his homeland carried with him to wherever he ends up.” Despite the heartbreak of exile that Israel is imposing on Salah, it has lost morally, and has only reinforced his attachment to his homeland and strengthened the will and determination of millions of others to remain. 

Salah’s forcible deportation is only the latest stage in Israel’s long standing judicial and administrative harassment of him, his family and his crucial human rights work advocating for Palestinian political prisoners. He has been made a prime target of Israel’s policies of intimidation and silencing of those who challenge its regime of institutionalized racial domination and oppression. This has included repeated arbitrary arrests and detention (often without charge or trial), physical violence, separation from his family (including the deportation of his wife a few years ago), spyware attacks and surveillance, and most recently, the stripping of his permanent residency rights in Jerusalem under “breach of allegiance.”

The decision is yet further evidence of the Apartheid nature of the Israeli regime. Salah has sought remedies at every level of the Israeli political and legal system but has been met only by racist policies that operate with the pretense of the rule of law but that exist in reality to maintain Israeli racial domination over Palestinians. Israel’s emboldened Apartheid regime is increasingly brazen in its racism and is now on the cusp of inaugurating the most fascistic government in its history.

Israel’s expulsion of him is a dangerous precedent for all Palestinians in Jerusalem. Hence, on 16 May 2022, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) submitted communications to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on behalf of Salah Hammouri, which details years of persecution and new tactics to forcibly transfer Palestinians from occupied Jerusalem in the context of the ongoing investigation into the Situation in the State of Palestine.

This expulsion, and Israel’s wider apartheid policies, are possible due to the complicity of states and companies that provide the regime with political, economic and military support despite its ongoing breaches of international law. This is evident in France’s failure to use any of the leverage at its disposal in order to prevent the war crime of forced deportation and ongoing abuse of one of its own citizens. 

Salah will soon be reunited with his wife and children from whom he has been cruelly separated for some time.

Like the millions of other Palestinians now in exile, Salah will struggle for his right to return to his homeland.

For more information: https://justiceforsalah.net/

Salah has arrived in France

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Zoom: Playing With Fire — Jerusalem and the Incoming Israeli Government

Zoom 11:30 am Central

Alarming developments in coalition agreements and promised ministerial appointments following the Israeli elections in November have left many of us rightfully worried about the future of Israeli democracy and human rights in the region.

The incoming government, comprised of far-right extremist and Jewish supremacist politicians, is shaping up to give their parties profound power and control over a wide range of politically sensitive and explosive issues in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and within the Green Line.

What does this mean for Jerusalem and the prospects for peace?

Ir Amim (“City of Nations” or “City of Peoples”) invites you to join us for a virtual event exploring the implications of the incoming government on Jerusalem and what it means for civil society organizations active in pursuing justice, equality, and the end of the occupation.

OUR GUESTS
Professor Naomi Chazan – Professor Emerita of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Former Member of the Knesset
Nivine Sandouka – Regional Chief of Staff, Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP) & Board Director, human rights NGO Hoqoqna (“Our Rights”)

This zoom event by Ir Imim explores the implications of the incoming Israeli government on a wide range of politically sensitive issues in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and within the Green Line and what it means for civil society organizations active in pursuing justice, equality, and the end of the occupation.

I’d like to you to meet Mahmoud and Emily, a Palestinian and foreigner couple who are thinking about taking the next big step in their relationship together.

Watch “Love Under Occupation,” a 2-minute short film by Mondoweiss.

WATCH THE FILM

No relationships were harmed in the making of this video. But they will be soon.

While Mahmoud and Emily are a fictional couple, they represent real couples who will now be required to report their relationship to Israel, in an extremely invasive, oppressive process.

Under new Israeli discriminatory restrictions that went into effect in October, foreigners romantically involved with Palestinian people must declare their relationship to the occupying Israeli government as part of their permit or permit renewal application to visit or stay in the West Bank.

These Israeli restrictions on foreign entry into the West Bank threaten to separate Palestinian families, and isolate Palestinian society from the outside world.

The same laws do not apply to foreign nationals who are in a relationship with Jewish Israelis. Another clear example of anti-Palestinian discrimination under Israel’s apartheid system.

Learn how these Israeli apartheid regulations impact Palestinian people, their partners, and their families on our “Love Under Occupation” educational resources page.

WATCH THE FILM

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