The highlight of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights conference that concluded Sunday in St. Paul was a speech by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) that was that very rare and brave thing in mainstream US politics: an unapologetic endorsement of Palestinian human rights.
McCollum denounced Israel’s “brutal” “cruel” policy of detaining and torturing children, which she has sought to sanction through groundbreaking legislation that would end U.S. aid that supports those practices. She said that it is not anti-Semitic to criticize Israel: “why can’t I hold a foreign government accountable for how they abuse an entire population of people under their control?”
She referred to the power of the Israel lobby over other legislators — a power that she first defied in 2006, when she told the Israel lobby group AIPAC that it was barred from her office till it apologized for saying she supported terrorists. She said that more and more Congresspeople are at last willing to take on Israel openly, witness the 29 co-sponsors of her bill (all Democrats).
And most importantly, McCollum described Israel under its “nation state of the Jewish people” law, which was enacted last July, as an “apartheid” state.
“Friends, the world has a name of that form of government that’s codified in the nation state law, and it’s called apartheid.”
Mikkel Jordahl, a lawyer in Sedona, Ariz., can now choose to buy a different brand of printers.
No longer must he stick with Hewlett-Packard technology for fear of losing his contract with the state. For 12 years, he has provided legal advice to inmates in the Coconino County Detention Facility.
In his personal life, he avoids companies he considers complicit in Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. His aim had been to extend his boycott to his one-person law office — for instance, refusing to purchase from Hewlett-Packard because its information technology services are used at Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank.
In his professional life, however, he was bound by a law, enacted by the Arizona legislature in 2016, requiring any business that has a state contract to certify that it was not boycotting Israel. He challenged the directive in court, claiming that it violated his First Amendment rights.
A federal judge in Arizona found merit in his complaint. U.S. District Judge Diane Humetewa issued an injunction last week, blocking enforcement of the measure, which compels any business contracting with the state to submit a written pledge that it was not involved in boycott activity targeting Israel.
The Trump administration has offered various explanations for cutting aid to the Palestinians and stopping all contributions to the United Nations agency that supports five million Palestinian refugees: They need to learn to help themselves. Other Arabs should pay. Most of them are not really refugees and should stop claiming a right to return to what is now Israel. This will push them to the negotiating table. They’re not grateful enough.
These excuses range from petty to downright dangerous. Does Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, who is supposed to be preparing an Israeli-Palestinian “deal of the century,” really believe that slashing assistance to the Palestinians and stripping them of their status as refugees will compel them to accept whatever one-sided plan he cooks up or teach them to show proper respect for Mr. Trump?
Most important, does Mr. Trump understand or care that his administration has effectively abandoned the critical role his predecessors have tried to fulfill as peace brokers in the Middle East, while remaining Israel’s major friend and ally? Does he recognize that depriving Palestinians of any hope of outside mediation or support, and making their lives more miserable, could well lead to another round of violence?
The decision to stop all funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, formally announced on Friday, goes far beyond questions of respect or negotiating tactics. It affects an agency that provides critical schooling, health, food and other services for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The United States finances about a third of the budget, or about $350 million a year. The planned cut to the agency, moreover, follows an announcement last week that the State Department is cutting $200 million in other aid to Palestinians in the West Bank, primarily intended for development and infrastructure projects.
Back in 2016, without debate or an actual vote, the US Senate stealthily passed a disturbing and dangerous piece of legislation called “The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016” (AAA). The bill would have required the Department of Education (ED) to apply a State Department (DOS) working definition of anti-Semitism in evaluating complaints of discrimination on US campuses. Because some conservative Members of Congress had concerns that the legislation would violate free speech, AAA didn’t pass the House and died.
Last week, the bill was reintroduced with minor changes. As I wrote back in 2016, the AAA was (and still is) “dumb and dangerous”. Far from being designed to combat anti-Semitism, it is a thinly veiled effort to inhibit pro-Palestinian activism on college campuses – something that the pro-Israel organizations who helped write the bill have acknowledged.
Here’s why the AAA is “dumb and dangerous”:
The working definition of anti-Semitism advanced by the legislation was designed to help officials monitor anti-Semitism abroad. It was not intended to be applied to police speech on college campuses here in the US.
In developing the definition and guidance, the DOS adopted language used by the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC),
“Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious institutions.”
Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, bragged to the number one pro-Israel lobbying organization in America about the many ways she’s blocked Palestinian human rights from being addressed by the United Nations.
At AIPAC’s policy conference in March, she proudly admitted to using her power to discriminate against a Palestinian official and prevent him from serving at the U.N.:
So when they decided to try and put a Palestinian [former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad] in one of the highest positions that had ever been given at the UN, we said no and we had him booted out.
Not many in the media are noticing, which is understandable given the burden of keeping up with Donald Trump, but in the shadow of Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu, Bernie Sanders is dramatically challenging Beltway discourse on Israel.
In 2020, when Sanders likely runs for president, and journalists begin paying attention, they’re going to be shocked. The Israeli government and the American Jewish establishment will be scared out of their minds.
Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, said America’s recent move to relocate its embassy to Israel will help advance the cause of Middle East peace.
During an address Tuesday at the Milwaukee Rotary Club, Dermer called President Donald Trump’s decision to open the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem “historic” and “one of the greatest decisions in the history of Zionism.”
“I know some people are concerned that this decision will set back the cause of peace. I disagree,” he said.
“This is our historic home and peace can come to the region and the Palestinians can cross a psychological Rubicon and say, ‘You have a right to be here, too,’ ” he added.
The event was co-sponsored by the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. The Rotary has invited the Islamic Society of Milwaukee to a future presentation.
There were protests outside the War Memorial Center organized by Jewish Voice for Peace-Milwaukee, an organization that advocates for full Palestinian citizenship that has labeled Dermer “Israel’s apartheid ambassador.” Peace Action Wisconsin also was an organizer of the protest, which attracted about 60 people from various backgrounds — Jewish, Palestinian, Lebanese, black.
Israel will be testing their Arrow 3 weapons system, among other things, on Kodiak Island, Alaska in the summer of 2018. The Arrow 3 weapons system was funded and developed by both Israel and the United States. All amenities and resources will be provided for the Israeli military free of charge, paid for by American taxpayers. Kodiak has a long history of pollution from the Pentagon that they are still trying to clean up from WW2.
The Global Network recently made the decision to hire Afghan and Iraq war veteran Will Griffin of The Peace Report to serve as our social media coordinator on a part-time basis. One of his jobs will be to produce a space-related video for us each month. This new video, revealing Israeli plans to test the Arrow ‘missile defense’ system from Kodiak Island, is his first for the GN.
We’ve long been supporting the local citizens campaign on Kodiak Island to build opposition to the launching of military rockets from their pristine public lands. But the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency feels that Kodiak is ‘out of site, out of mind’. We are determined to make sure that Israel’s testing of these weapons systems does not go un-noticed and without international opposition.
Please help us spread the word about this issue by sharing this important video via email and on Facebook using the links above. Help us break through the corporate media silence surrounding this provocative and destabilizing effort by Israel (with full Pentagon support) to control the Middle East and its resources.
Will Griffin has made many videos which you can find at his site called The Peace Report.
Tuesday, June 5, 11:15 AM – 1:30 PM
Milwaukee County War Memorial
750 N Lincoln Memorial Dr
Milwaukee, WI [Map]
Since March 30th, Israeli snipers and military have killed at least 113 unarmed Palestinian in Gaza, and wounded more than 12,000. On May 14 alone, 19 medics were shot. Now one of Netanyahu’s closest allies, Ron Dermer, is coming to Milwaukee!
Dermer is also close to Trump relative Jared Kushner, who withheld his role in funding illegal settlements on the West Bank when Trump put him in charge of bringing “peace” to the Middle East. Our taxes are paying for these murders. We cannot be silent.
Palestinian protesters run for cover from teargas fired by Israeli troops near the border fence, east of Khan Younis, in the Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Israel faced a growing backlash Tuesday and new charges of using excessive force, a day after Israeli troops firing from across a border fence killed 59 Palestinians and wounded more than 2,700 at a mass protest in Gaza. Adel Hana/AP Photo
This is significant: for years WPR and NPR have avoided this type of coverage. Lately NPR has been running a few mildly sympathetic stories about Palestine and Gaza, and this is the first time WPR has ventured into the fray.
Apparently WPR is now receiving significant criticism from pro-Zionist sources, and we are asking you to let them know that you appreciate this kind of coverage and hope it continues.