Protect the right to boycott Israel in Wisconsin

Barbara Olson and Tsela Barr, Wisconsin State Journal, November 11, 2017

Barbara OlsonTsela Barr
Gov. Scott Walker just issued an executive order prohibiting current or future state contracts with any “business entity” that engages in the constitutionally protected right to boycott Israel for its human rights violations.

Republicans are pushing two similar bills in the state Legislature that would compel individuals as well as companies to support Israel if they want to do business with local or state government agencies. The provisions against boycotts, divestment and sanctions (often referred to as BDS) are to be written into contracts, and long-standing low-bidder requirements are to be superseded.

Our state politicians are not alone in singling out Israel — including the Palestinian territories it illegally occupies by military force — for this special status. In Congress, the proposed “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” would make it a felony to choose not to engage in commerce with companies doing business in Israel and its illegal settlements. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, violations would be punishable by a civil penalty that could reach $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.

Such laws, resolutions and executive orders have been sprouting like mushrooms after the rain. Twenty-four U.S. states now have them on the books. Nationally, Republicans and some Democrats have gotten on board thanks to well-funded efforts by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Bipartisanship may be dead when it comes to things the American people really need, but not when it comes to government overreach on behalf of the foreign state of Israel.

The absurd and dangerous consequences are becoming increasingly clear. Last month, people in a Houston suburb were required to sign an anti-BDS pledge to receive hurricane relief. (Individuals, but not companies, were eventually freed from this requirement after protests.)

And a Kansas math teacher who refused to sign an anti-BDS pledge was de-selected from a position in a state-funded teacher training program. A Mennonite, she follows her church policy to avoid purchasing goods and services from Israeli companies and those doing business with Israeli settlements. (Apparently, religious freedom exempts you from the law to provide women’s reproductive health services, but not from the duty to support Israel.) She is now suing the state of Kansas.

This “Palestine exception” to the First Amendment is of obvious concern to the millions of people who support the global BDS campaign called by Palestinian civil society to get Israel to comply with international law and basic standards of human rights.

But it should alarm anyone who values their freedom to engage in collective economic action to right wrongs and build a better society. How long before others — such as those in the burgeoning movement to divest from fossil fuels — will have their own “exceptions” written into law? Contact your state legislators and ask them to oppose these bills and Gov. Walker’s executive order.

Olson is a member of the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project. Barr is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace-Madison.

November 9 – Global Day of Action: A World without Walls

Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall)

From Israel’s apartheid Wall on Palestinian land to the US Wall of Shame on indigenous land at the border with Mexico – Walls are monuments of expulsion, exclusion, oppression, discrimination and exploitation. As people affected by these walls and as movements that pose justice, freedom and equality as our tools to resolve the problems of this planet, we join the call for the 9th of November as a Global Day of Action for a World without Walls.

 

Read and endorse the Call for Action below. 


Follow us on facebook to keep updated about the global mobilisation.

Click here to endorse the Global Call for Action. 


Register here for a FOSNA livestream of two workshops November 10 and 11 from the SOA Watch Border Encuentro in Tucson.

November 10 10:00 AM Pacific | 12:00 PM Central | 1:00 PM Eastern
“From Palestine to Mexico, All the Walls Have Got to Go: BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) and Border Militarization” with Palestinian BDS National Committee, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, and Friends of Sabeel North America

November 11 1:15 PM Pacific | 3:15 PM Central | 4:15 PM Eastern
“Towards a World Without Walls! Combating the Violence of Border Walls and Militarization from Palestine to the US/Mexico and Beyond” with Jamal Juma of Stop The Wall (Palestine), and Pedro Charbel of the Palestinian BDS National Committee

You can also take action on November 9 by

  • Posting on social media about the walls you resist and why, using the hashtags #WorldWithoutWalls and #MundoSinMuros
  • Reaching out to the members of your congregation to support those impacted by Trump’s immigration policies
  • Connecting with those working on immigrants rights in your community
  •  


    "There is no word for wall in our language. We've asked our elders. We have searched. There is no word for wall because there shouldn't be walls."

    Verlon M. Jose, Tohono O'odham tribal vice chairperson. The Tohono O'odham people's land is divided by the US/Mexico border.

    From Israel’s apartheid Wall on Palestinian land to the US Wall of Shame on indigenous land at the border with Mexico – almost 70 walls across all continents are today ripping through people’s lives and lands as they fortify often unilaterally defined borders or limits of state control. They cause thousands of deaths every year and destroy means of livelihoods and hope for many more. They are monuments of expulsion, exclusion, oppression, discrimination and exploitation.

    15 years ago Israel started building its up to 8-meter high and over 700km long Wall on Palestinian occupied land as an integral part of its policy to confiscate over 60% of the West Bank and imprison the Palestinian people on not more than 13% of their historical homeland. This adds to its wall surrounding and completely isolating the Palestinian Gaza Strip since 1994. Palestinians have never stopped resisting these illegal Walls and the continuous expulsion of their people from their land and in 2003 called for November 9 – the day the Berlin Wall fell – as International Day against Israel’s apartheid Wall.

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    Decode Hate by the Arab American Institute

    Arab American Institute
    Decode Hate examines the sprawling, deeply embedded network of monetized hate. By underscoring the deliberate misinformation and fear-mongering of featured groups, this project reveals how hate is translated into mainstream discourse and discriminatory policies.

    © Copyright Arab American Institute Foundation. 2017 All Rights Reserved.

    November 9, 2017
    Kathy Kelly at Edgewood College

     
    Anderson Auditorium
    Predolin Center
    Edgewood College
    1000 Edgewood College Dr
    Madison, WI
    7:00 PM


    “Trillions for the Military: Will That Make Us Secure?”
    Kathy Kelly, Voices for Creative Nonviolence

    Kathy Kelly, a global activist for peace, is one of the founding members of Voices in the Wilderness, and currently a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org) Believing that “where you stand determines what you see,” Voices activists have stood alongside people in war zones and helped educate U.S. people about the terrible consequences of U.S. wars.

    As a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, she has frequently visited Kabul. Experiences there and in other war zones have led her to speak and write about the futility of U.S. militarism and the potential for nonviolent resistance to war and injustice.

    Planned by Ecumenical Peace Working Group
    Hosted by Edgewood College COR General Education Program
    For more information, contact Maureen McDonnell, OP, mowisdom at gmail.com

    November 8, 2017
    Wisconsin Union Presents Bassem Youssef

    Wisconsin Union Theater
    800 Langdon Street
    UW-Madison
    8:00 pm (doors open at 7:30)

    Dubbed the “Jon Stewart of Egypt” by The New Yorker, heart-surgeon-turned-satirist Bassem Youssef is now making waves in America for his controversial brand of comedy.

    This event is co-presented with Wisconsin Union Directorate’s Performing Arts Committee and Distinguished Lecture Series. Sponsored by the UW-Madison Middle East Studies Program.

    Note: this event is free for students; others require paid tickets. For more info see Bassem Yousef in Madison.

    Madison’s Sister Cities

    A PUBLIC AFFAIR, WORT 89.9FM, OCTOBER 24, 2017
    Today we’re talking about Madison’s Sister Cities. Host Bert Zipperer speaks with Madison businessman, activist, and former City Council member Ricardo Gonzalez. You might know him as the owner of the much-beloved The Cardinal Bar, or from his work with the Madison-Camaguey Sister City Association. Later in the hour [at 33:50], we also speak with Barb Olson of the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project.

    Thousands Of Israelis Take To The Streets Calling For Palestinian Genocide

    A reporter at the scene remarked that it seemed “more like a celebration of murder than anything.”

    Whitney Webb, MintPress News, October 6, 2016

    The Tel Aviv rally—organized to support an Israeli soldier who murdered a wounded Palestinian by shooting him in the head as the victim lay on his back—was marked by chants and banners calling for mass murder.The Tel Aviv rally — organized to support an Israeli soldier who murdered a wounded Palestinian by shooting him in the head as the victim lay on his back — was marked by chants and banners calling for mass murder.

    Massive rallies and Facebook campaigns calling for Palestinian genocide are ignored by Western mainstream media and Facebook despite concerns and collaborations aimed at stopping “calls to violence”.

    Since last October, the Israeli government has accused Palestinians and their allies of “inciting violence” against Israelis, despite the fact that only 34 Israelis have died in that time frame compared to 230 Palestinians. The uptick in violence has been attributed to an internationally condemned Israeli encroachment of Palestinian lands in the contested West Bank.

    Israeli government concern over recent violence has led them to arrest Palestinians for social media content that could potentially lead to crimes. So far, 145 Palestinians have been arrested this year for “pre-crime” via social media “incitement.” This practice eventually led to a collaboration between Facebook and the Israeli government, whose joint effort to curb social media “incitement” has led to the banning of several Facebook accounts of Palestinian journalists and news agencies.

    However, social media, as well as mainstream Western media, have failed to condemn Israeli “incitement” against Palestinians, a practice that is surprisingly common considering the little to no attention it receives. Often these anti-Palestinian posts, pictures, and rallies are rife with calls for genocide, with cries of “Death to the whole Arab nation” and “Kill them all” surprisingly common.

    Even the Times of Israel ran an op-ed article about “When Genocide is Permissible” in reference to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Though the post was eventually taken down, it points to an all-too-common and dangerous mentality that social media, the Israeli government, and Western media “conveniently” ignore.

    An Israeli news agency even put the then-suspected preferential treatment to the test and found that Facebook and the Israeli authorities treated calls for revenge from Palestinians and Israelis very differently.

    Even massive rallies calling for Palestinian genocide have been ignored entirely by social media and the corporate press. Earlier this year in April, a massive anti-Palestinian rally took place in Tel Aviv where thousands called for the death of all Arabs. The rally was organized to support an Israeli soldier who killed an already-wounded Palestinian by shooting him execution-style in the head.

    The soldier, Elor Azaria, was charged with manslaughter for the killing, which occurred deep within Palestinian sovereign territory in the city of Hebron. Hebron contains an illegal Jewish settlement, but despite its illegality is protected by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) all the same. This has led to frequent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the area.

    The Tel-Aviv rally was attended by an estimated 2,000 people and several Israeli pop icons entertained attendees including singer Maor Edri, Moshik Afia, and Amos Elgali, along with rapper Subliminal. Chants of “Elor [the soldier] is a hero” and calls to release the soldier were common. One woman was photographed holding a sign reading “Kill them all.”

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    October 17, 2017
    Farhana Khera Lecture at UW

    University of Wisconsin Law School
    Room 2260, 4:00 pm [Map]
    Reception to follow

    The 2017 Mildred Fish-Harnack Human Rights and Democracy Lecture will be “Upholding America’s Promise for All” by Farhana Khera, President and Executive Director, Muslim Advocates.

    Farhana Khera is the first executive director of Muslim Advocates. Prior to joining Muslim Advocates in 2005, Ms. Khera was Counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights. In the Senate, she worked for six years directly for Senator Russell D. Feingold (D-WI), the Chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee. Ms. Khera focused substantially on the Patriot Act, racial and religious profiling, and other civil liberties issues raised by the government’s anti-terrorism policies after September 11, 2001. She was also the Senator’s lead staff member developing anti-racial profiling legislation and organizing subcommittee hearings on racial profiling, Ms. Khera wrote the first drafts of the End Racial Profiling Act and organized the first ever Congressional hearing on racial profiling.

    This lecture is named after Mildred Fish-Harnack, a Milwaukee native who was a UW–Madison student in the 1920’s. While living in Germany, Fish-Harnack assisted in the escape of German Jews and political dissidents. She is the only American civilian executed by the personal direction of Adolf Hitler for her resistance to the Nazi regime. This lectureship is designed to promote greater understanding of human rights and democracy, and to enrich international studies at UW-Madison. The lecture brings to campus a person who contributes to the cause of human rights through academic scholarship and/or active leadership. Sponsored by the Human Rights Program of the Global Legal Studies Center, a joint program of the University of Wisconsin Law School and the International Division of UW-Madison.