May 1st has long been recognized as a day of solidarity and action around immigrant rights. This year, our partners at Voces de la Frontera are hosting their annual May 1st action, strike, and mass march: “May Day: A Day Without Latinx and Immigrants.”
Together, we must stand up for immigrant families and support Voces de la Frontera in demanding
(1) WI conservatives stop blocking drivers licenses for all and in-state tuition for all, (2) U.S. Congress pass immigration reform, and (3) our federal leaders deliver permanent protections for DACA recipients and extend Temporary Protected Status for immigrants.
Our asks of you 👇
Show up and get involved! Voces de la Frontera is hosting their “May Day: A Day Without Latinx and Immigrants” mass march on May 1st in Milwaukee. Find more information on their May Day page and RSVP to their event on Facebook. There will also be a rally in Madison at the State Capitol on May 2nd starting at 11:30am.
Get educated on the issues and challenges facing immigrant families in Wisconsin. Learn more about Voces de la Frontera’s priority issues and campaigns on their website.
Leopold’s Books Bar Caffè
1301 Regent Street, Madison
7 – 9 pm
Join us for an intimate interview and book talk about Dr. Wagner’s latest memoir, which details his personal, political, and religious journey from Evangelical Christian faith and conservative politics to solidarity with the poor and advocacy for anti-war, anti-racism, and Palestinian rights.
Desserts will be served; drinks available for purchase. Signed books for purchase will be available at the conclusion of the event.
NEW: MRSCP is partnering with Building Unity on a “Care-avan” carpool to this event from Madison and Janesville; if you would like to offer a ride or are in need of a ride, please click here then scroll down and fill out the form at the bottom to RSVP and get updated information
2023 marks the 75th anniversary of the Nakba (“Catastrophe” in English), when over 750,000 Palestinians were banished from their homes upon the formation of the settler-colonial state of Israel. Today, there are close to five million Palestinian refugees who continue to demand their Right to Return to the homes and lands from which they were exiled.
To commemorate the Nakba, the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) and the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR) have arranged a brief U.S. Nakba Day 75 tour, to take place from May 15th – May 20th, featuring Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, elected member of the South African National Assembly representing the African National Congress – and grandson of the late Nelson Mandela – as the tour’s keynote speaker.
Mr. Mandela, also the tribal chief of the Mvezo Traditional Council, holds a degree and a post-graduate diploma in Political Science and International Studies from Rhodes University. Unabashed in his support for the Palestinian people, just like his grandfather, he speaks regularly about Palestinian liberation at conferences, rallies, and other events across the world.
Join us at Turner Hall in Milwaukee on the evening of Monday, May 15th, for this historic event!
Be sure to follow USPCN (@uspcn) on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and @uspcnmke for updates!
*Please note:We are not charging for admission, but instead asking if our communities would help us support this historic tour with a donation!*
Why are we asking you to write to the Sierra Club Board candidates?
In March 2023, the Sierra Club sponsored a “nature outing” to Israel that willfully ignored ongoing Israeli settler colonialism, Israel’s illegal military occupation, and its brutal siege on Gaza.
Although the Sierra Club canceled a similar trip last year after meeting with a coalition of Palestinians, Indigenous leaders from Turtle Island, and Jewish and Black allies, it failed to come through on its commitment to cancel future trips.
These trips support Israeli apartheid and Israel’s abuses of the Palestinian people. They are part of Israel’s greenwashing strategy to cover up settler colonialism and environmental destruction.
The reality is:
Israel commits water apartheid, where settlers use three to eight times as much water as the Palestinian people whose lands they occupy in the West Bank, redirecting water to prioritize Israeli settlers.
Only 11% of trees in Israeli forests are indigenous species. The rest are non-native species replanted by Israel to quickly take over land where lies the ruins of at least 182 destroyed Palestinian villages.
The Israeli state has designated much of Palestinian land stolen in 1948 as protected nature parks and reserves, similar to U.S. conservationists’ establishment of national parks on plundered native land. Colonization and erasure of Indigenous people is never green—it’s deadly greenwashing.
Sierra Club claims that it is promoting environmental justice by attempting to repair past harm toward Black and Indigenous communities. However, it cannot make this claim if it excludes Palestinians who are still being ethnically cleansed by the state of Israel.
Fortunately, we have an opportunity to take action together.
Sierra Club members are currently voting on their next Board of Directors.
Candidates for open board positions are taking questions from Sierra Club members and supporters up until voting ends on April 26th. This is our opportunity to push candidates to take a stand, and clarify their position on the Sierra Club’s greenwashing tours.
Invite your neighbors to question how the U.S. government uses our tax dollars to fund Israeli violence—and imagine what could happen if those funds powered the future of our local communities instead.
This article originally appeared in “The Landline,” +972’s weekly newsletter. Subscribe here.
It took only two months for Israelis to shatter one of their biggest political taboos in the fight against the far-right government. Riled by the coalition’s relentless power trip, Jewish opposition parties have pledged not to participate in the Knesset’s final votes on legislation aimed at overhauling the judiciary. Israeli diplomats and envoys are quitting their posts in protest. Army reservists are objecting to service en masse, affecting every unit from combat troops to the air force. Tech companies and venture capital firms are relocating abroad and transferring out hundreds of millions of dollars. Artists, writers, and intellectuals are calling on world leaders to shun meetings with senior Israeli officials, including the prime minister.
None of these groups will admit it, but this is, by all accounts, one of the most impressive BDS campaigns ever witnessed.
In the topsy-turvy Israel of today, boycotts, divestments, and sanctions — though not explicitly named as such — have become central strategies of the Israeli protest movement. Large swathes of society are not just distancing themselves from the government’s agenda, but are actively pursuing nationwide disruption and international intervention to stop it. The economy, security, and day-to-day life are all necessary sacrifices in the name of saving “democracy.” At this scale, the movement has gone beyond merely ending public complicity; it is, in effect, a civil revolt.
Ironically, these methods of civil resistance are being encouraged by figures who spent years undermining those who used them. Yair Lapid, the Knesset opposition leader and former prime minister, is continuing to call for mass demonstrations and strikes, and has urged municipalities not to cooperate with certain government ministry units, later describing such political expression as part of Israelis’ “deep democratic instinct.” This is the same Lapid who accused Israeli anti-occupation groups of “subversion” for exposing military abuses; oversaw the outlawing of Palestinian human rights NGOs as “terrorists”; and demanded American anti-BDS laws be used to punish the ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s for not selling products in illegal West Bank settlements, blasting the divestment as a “shameful surrender to antisemitism.”
Activists carry a BDS banner during a protest calling for the liberation of Palestine and to protest the recent Israeli assault on Gaza, Paris, May 22, 2021. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)
Israel’s own anti-boycott law, enacted in 2011, now technically hovers over all these new dissidents, enabling any citizen to sue the protesters for causing “financial or reputational harm” to the state and other entities under its control. The Israeli Supreme Court — the institution that the protest movement has been fighting so hard to defend — enthusiastically approved the anti-democratic law in 2015, calling boycotts a form of “political terror,” “bigoted, dishonest, and shameful,” and an attempt to “annihilate” the Jewish state. Israeli politicians, including from the center and center-left, saw the price tag on civil rights as necessary not just to stifle Palestinians, but to deter Jewish Israelis from boycotting the settlements. Now, if the right chooses so, the anti-government movement could be made to pay a literal price for its sedition.
‘We told you so’
The cognitive dissonance of this moment is not lost on Palestinians. In the two decades since the BDS movement was launched, Palestinians and their allies have been smeared, censored, and attacked for calling on citizens, companies, and governments to use nonviolent tactics to pressure Israel into ending its human rights abuses. Its demands, explicitly rooted in international law, are to achieve equality for Palestinians in Israel, end military rule in the occupied territories, and allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland — basic rights which, in any other country, would not be so controversial.
However, far from even respecting the right to challenge Israel, BDS has been aggressively denounced as “counterproductive” at best and “antisemitic” at worst. A slew of U.S. and European laws and policies are effectively criminalizing the movement and defining it as a form of racism. Even liberal American Jewish groups — some of whom entertain the idea of conditioning military aid to Israel, and last week called for revoking the visa of Israel’s finance minister — still adamantly insist that they neither support nor participate in the BDS movement.
That distancing is, in many ways, a cop out that reveals the hypocrisy and racism at the heart of the debate around BDS. It is perfectly reasonable, it seems, to shun Israeli officials, cut off financial ties, and disrupt public spaces when mainstream Jews call for it. But when Palestinians living under Israeli oppression demand the same, their calls are to be scrutinized, rejected, even punished. It is also telling that BDS tactics are currently being legitimized in the name of helping Jewish Israelis protect a status quo ante in which racial supremacy and military occupation were the norm, albeit wrapped in more democratic clothing; using BDS in the name of equality, freedom, and justice for Palestinians, though, is an existential threat.
The speed at which many abroad are suddenly embracing harsher language and policy ideas against the Israeli government, including members of the U.S. Congress, shows how even well-intentioned groups are still acting as gatekeepers to what Palestinians are allowed to say, do, and have. The discrediting of Palestinian voices, the conditioning of their rights on Israeli diktats, and the refusal to hold the “only Jewish state” accountable to international law, is precisely what has bought Israel the time and impunity to arrive at its latest fascistic stage.
It is therefore very tempting for Palestinians to tell the world “we told you so.” But for now, in the hope that this moment may serve as a lesson, perhaps it is best to simply say to all of Israel’s new BDS activists: welcome.
Amjad Iraqi is a senior editor at +972 Magazine. He is also a policy analyst at the think tank Al-Shabaka, and was previously an advocacy coordinator at the legal center Adalah. In addition to +972, his writings have appeared in the London Review of Books, The Nation, The Guardian, and Le Monde Diplomatique, among others. He is a Palestinian citizen of Israel, based in Haifa.
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Twenty years ago today, on March 16, 2003, word came to us that our daughter Rachel had been killed in Gaza. She had been run over by an Israeli military-operated and U.S. made and funded Caterpillar D9R bulldozer, as she stood to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian family’s home in Rafah. Members of the family watched the bulldozer approach through a hole in their garden wall.
Our family’s journey without Rachel, but with her spirit large in our lives, began on that day.
—excerpt from a letter from Rachel Corrie’s parents
Cindy and Craig Corrie join us on A Public Affair to share their daughters story and tell us how they continue to fight for justice and peace in Palestine and the middle east. More information about Rachel and the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Justice and Peace can be found here: rachelcorriefoundation.org
The death toll from the war in Yemen1 has reached nearly 400,000 and, despite diplomatic progress, 2022 was one of the deadliest years since the beginning of the conflict eight years ago. While President Biden’s February 2021 announcement2 that “we are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen including relevant arms sales” was welcome, the U.S. has continued to provide critical maintenance, logistical support, and spare parts to the Saudi coalition.
Since April 2022, Saudi Arabia has ceased its airstrikes on Yemen. Unfortunately, despite sluggish peace talks, bombings can resume at any point — Saudi Arabia could deploy its U.S.-serviced fighter jets into Yemen once more. If Congress acts to end U.S. support, the fragile pause in hostilities is much more likely to endure and move closer to an official ceasefire and peace deal.
Last December, Senator Bernie Sanders moved efforts to end U.S. support for the war by calling for a vote on his Yemen War Powers Resolution. However, the Biden administration successfully derailed the effort.3 Sanders withdrew his measure and began direct talks with the White House to find a compromise. However, Sanders promised to bring the measure back “in the near future” if discussions did not result in concrete action to end U.S. support after eight years of war.
Congress Can End U.S. Support for the War in Yemen & In Turn Pressure the Saudis to Pull Back
• U.S. support for the Saudi Air Force infrastructure enables attacks and a deadly blockade. While the Saudis have currently paused airstrikes, their brutal air and naval blockade continues. This blockade has prevented the reliable flow of food, water, and health services, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths. Saudi Arabia still prevents the free flow of fuel and commercial goods into the country. In 2023, an estimated 21.6 million people,4 or two-thirds of the population, will need humanitarian assistance.
• Congressional action to end U.S. support puts pressure on the Saudi government to end a calamity that has killed hundreds of thousands and driven 17 million Yemeni people5 to the brink of starvation.
• The most effective way for Congress to ensure that the United States is not engaging in Saudi-led hostilities that are part of this tragic war is to invoke its war powers.
Steps Members of Congress Can Take
• Introduce or cosponsor a Yemen War Powers Resolution, which would direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.
• Publicly call on Saudi Arabia and the UAE to lift the blockade and fully open airports and seaports. Additionally, call on President Biden to insist he use his leverage with Saudi Arabia to press for the unconditional and immediate lifting of the devastating blockade.
Urge Your members of Congress to help end the war in Yemen!
1. Yemen war deaths will reach 377,000 by end of the year: UN, Al Jazeera, November 23, 2021
2. Biden, Joseph, Remarks by President Biden on America’s Place in the World, White House Briefing Room, February 4, 2021
3. Abutaleb, Yasmeen and Karoun Demirjian, White House pushes to derail Sanders measure cutting Saudi support, December 14, 2022
4. Yemen emergency, World Food Programme, November 2022
5. Yemen Humanitarian Needs Overview 2023 (December 2022), UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, December 20, 2022
People across the world have watched the thousands of Israelis demonstrating against their government with at least some bemusement. After 75 years of Israel denying its own agency in the terrible catastrophe it has inflicted on the Palestinians, its new government is now blamed for doing something most Israeli governments have never done – openly discussing the aim of controlling the whole of Palestine through an exclusive Jewish apartheid state.
That this aim requires a less-than-democratic society seems obvious, and arguably Israel has never been democratic in any real sense. But now that Jews will also face some loss of rights, the old elites responsible for the Nakba – the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine – and all that followed are out on the streets.
They wish to defend their “Jewish democracy,” in which Palestinian flags and self-determination are outlawed.
The recent ructions present Jews abroad with a painful dilemma: Do they – as many do – continue to support Israel in an unqualified and unquestioning manner? Or is it a time for a somber, self-searching reflection – a rethink of their identity, no less?
Not something they would normally choose to embark on, and most seem to be shying away from the need to look in the mirror.
The face of Jewish Zionism is hardly an appealing sight. The new Israeli government has been in power for nearly two months and the number and severity of Jewish terror attacks and anti-Palestinian pogroms by settlers and the army have climbed to terrifying heights.
Israel’s exceptionalist strategy has proved a success, allowing it to continue its occupation, its construction of illegal settlements and its denial of rights and the continued oppression of the indigenous people of Palestine.
The United States, Israel’s major funder and mentor, remains strongly wedded to the continued denial of Palestinian rights, even in the face of the current unrest. US President Joe Biden has perhaps proven himself to be even more damaging than Donald Trump to the Palestinian cause, which must be some kind of record.
Such uncritical and shameful US support for Israel has protected it from any sanctions. As long as Israel’s leaders sporadically mention their commitment to the two-state solution, this process of taking over Palestine has gone on mainly unnoticed.
The Western democracies – such as they are – are placated by this meaningless lip service, accepting it as the normative, required noise about the settler-colonial conflict in Palestine.
Terrifying plans in store
This went swimmingly for over five decades and would have continued for another five if Israel had not grown tired of the long series of elections and went on to elect the most right-wing government in its history. This was a government prepared to say aloud that Israel considers the whole of Palestine its own.
This claim is now a new one. Bezalel Smotrich, finance minister and ideological force behind the current right-wing Israeli administration, outlined in a 2017 article titled “Tipping the Scales” the options facing Palestinians (though he refers to them as “Arabs,” since the nationality of Palestinians is denied by his ilk). They may either accept that all of Palestine is rightly Jewish and live there as residents without citizenship, or simply leave the country.
For those who resist this generous offer, Smotrich reserves the promise of “decisive treatment by the security forces, with stronger intensity than is done currently and in conditions favoring us.”
In case such wording might be misunderstood, he describes his solution: “Whoever thinks he can stay here and continue to violently undermine Israel’s right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people will face a decisive IDF [Israel’s military] that will quash him with God’s help by military means.”
Of course, the West Bank must be annexed to make such changes possible and to make Israeli law the law of the whole of Palestine. One suspects that if this was all Smotrich was suggesting, no Israelis would have chosen to go out and demonstrate.
While past leaders of Israel were much more circumspect when expressing their views – recognizing the need for less bragging and more action – what they did chimes exactly with the aims of the new administration.
Past leaders have known that such open talk might help the opponents of this process of dispossession of a whole nation – a process that most Israelis accept and partake in in a variety of ways.
But this is not all the new rulers of Israel desire. They have other plans, ones that terrify many Israelis.
De jure apartheid
Benjamin Netanyahu, a secular Jew if ever there was one, is adept at donning a kippa and pretending to be a believer, though until now it was seen as one of the embarrassing duties an Israeli prime minister must perform, a mere act. But this time, Netanyahu found himself with the only government on offer – the forces of right-wing, ultra-religious ethno-nationalist parties, which, together with the two ultra-Orthodox parties, enabled his coalition.
A Pew survey revealed some ominous findings: 89 percent of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jews have voiced a preference for religious law over Israeli law, while only 3 percent of them say that democratic principles should be favored over religious law. Over 96 percent of ultra-Orthodox Jews believe the state should offer preferential treatment to Jews – a clean way of defining apartheid.
These figures were correct in 2016 when this survey was conducted and are certainly higher now, a fact clearly demonstrated by the 2022 election results. And with it comes the process of replacing Israel’s secular legislation with religious edicts – a process called hadatha, or religionization, in Hebrew.
While this process has been going on for decades, it has now arrived at the heart of the government and its policies and budgets. It’s a process that, despite what the minority of secular Jews would like to believe, is now clearly irreversible.
The near future could look something like this for Israel.
Advances in LGBTQ rights will be reversed; abortion will be made illegal (at least for Jews, one could assume, as it lowers the Jewish population numbers); schools and universities will be split by gender; and public transportation on Saturdays will be outlawed.
Netanyahu has the required number of members in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, to pass such and other legislation needed for a de jure apartheid and a Judaic republic.
To clinch this, the Knesset’s so-called reforms to the judicial system will remove high court powers to delay or stop legislation deemed unconstitutional. The court will become a rubber stamp for the religionized Israel, which will remove most of the current realities that secular Jews, once the majority of Jews, took for granted.
The legislative stampede is moving so fast that a month after it started being rolled out the first week of January, it makes the changes made by Hungary’s and Poland’s right-wing governments seem lacking in drive and vision.