BREAKING: US Disregards International Law On Israeli Settlements


  November 18, 2019

Washington, D.C. | www.adc.org | November 18, 2019 – Moments ago Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the Trump Administration will no longer view Israeli settlements as against international law. This is another step taken by the Trump Administration to thwart and bury the idea of a peace process, and further solidifying Israel as an apartheid state. This administration’s complete disregard for international law, and over four decades of American policy, undermines and delegitimizes the U.S. on the global stage – the international community overwhelmingly considers the settlements illegal.

ADC is committed to a just and lasting peace in the region, and any peaceful resolution of the conflict requires the cessation of expansion and dismantlement of all settlements; an end to the collective punishment imposed on the Palestinian population as a result of Israeli occupation policies; an end to the siege of Gaza; the exercise of the democratic rights of Palestinians in electing their government; the creation of a viable and independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and the upholding of the right of return of the Palestinian refugees under international law.

Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly states that “The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territories it occupies.” Israel has been illegally settling on Palestinian land since 1948 with impunity, and encouragement from the U.S. With his remarks today Secretary Pompeo did not address whether or not Israel violated international law, instead he indicated that international law is meaningless – which is a mark of an authoritarian regime.

The Trump Administration has given a green light to Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli government to continue the annexation of Palestinian land. These actions are extreme positions that undermine any possibility of peace. These actions continue to legitimize violence and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. This will only lead to the furtherance of an Israeli apartheid state where Palestinians are treated as second class citizens.

Join us in court and defend the right to boycott in Olympia, Washington

Center for Constitutional Rights, October 21, 2019

Join us in court tomorrow in Olympia, Washington, as Center for Constitutional Rights Deputy Legal Director Maria LaHood argues in our case Davis v. Cox defending former volunteer board members of the Olympia Food Co-op in their decision to boycott Israeli products in line with the co-op’s mission and long history of encouraging social justice.

Courts dismissed the lawsuit against our clients in 2012, 2014, and 2018, yet the plaintiffs have continued to pursue the case in an attempt to chill free speech and punish support for Palestinian human rights. We will continue to argue that the lawsuit brought against our clients is illegal and should be dismissed.

Learn more on our case page.

Revealed: rightwing push to ban criticism of Israel on US campuses

Documents seen by Guardian show fresh attack on university debate under the guise of prohibiting antisemitism


Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu in 2017. First amendment advocates see the potential spread of such laws as a major threat to free speech on campuses. (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)

Ed Pilkington, The Guardian US, 17 Oct 2019

Rightwing activists are attempting to spread new laws across Republican-controlled states that would ban criticism on public university campuses of Israel and its occupation of Palestinian territory.

Pro-Israel and conservative lobbyists are encouraging state lawmakers to outlaw antisemitism in public education, from kindergarten through to graduate universities. But the proposed definition of antisemitism is so wide that, in addition to standard protections against hate speech towards Jews, it would also prohibit debate about the human rights violations of the Israeli government.

First amendment advocates see the potential spread of such laws as a major threat to free speech on campuses.

Among the activities that would be prohibited by the new laws are human rights investigations focusing specifically on Israel. Also banned would be any speech “demonizing Israel by … blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions” or “delegitimizing Israel by … questioning Israel’s right to exist”.

The push began at a conference in August held by the American Legislative Exchange Council, Alec, a conservative network which has a long history of propagating rightwing policies at state level through model bills. The group, dubbed a “bill mill”, has spearheaded attacks on trade unions, opposition to Obamacare, voter suppression measures and legislation blocking efforts to address the climate crisis.

The meeting at Alec is disclosed in emails obtained under a freedom of information request by David Armiak, research director for the watchdog Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and shared with the Guardian. They show that several Republican state lawmakers joined pro-Israeli lobbyists in Austin, Texas, to discuss disseminating new restrictions on speech relating to Israel on campuses across the heartlands.

The private meeting was led by Randy Fine, a Republican from Florida who was instrumental in passing in May the first state law outlawing antisemitism in public education. A week later he emailed fellow participants under the subject line: Anti-Semitism Bill Discussed at Alec.

Fine has faced controversy in the past over his aggressive opposition to public debate about Israel. Earlier this year he called a local Jewish constituent a “Judenrat” because the man had attended a forum titled: Palestine/Israel, Opening the Dialogue.

The term “Judenrat” was the name for Nazi-mandated councils in Jewish ghettos during the second world war and has been used to refer to Jews who collaborated with the Nazis.

Also attending the meeting at Alec were lawmakers from South Carolina, North Carolina, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma, as well as representatives of two pro-Israel lobbying groups. “It was great to see you at the Alec conference last week in Austin and to briefly share the work we did in passing HB 741, the strongest antisemitism bill ever passed in the United States,” Fine wrote to them.


The former governor of Florida Jeb Bush speaks at the American Legislative Exchange Council in 2013. (M. Spencer Green/Associated Press)

The Florida Republican encouraged peers in other state assemblies to work with one of the lobbying groups, the Israeli-American Coalition for Action, which he said had been “instrumental in providing outside support as I pushed the bill”. In a separate email to the group, IAC for Action’s Joseph Sabag said that he and his legal team had taken Fine’s Florida bill and “refined it into a model that can be brought elsewhere. I urge you to contact me or Rep Alan Clemmons and take advantage of our policy support if you are considering filing a bill.”

Clemmons is Alec’s national chairman. A Republican representative from South Carolina, he introduced a similar antisemitism definition into a budget bill in his state in 2018.

Sabag told the Guardian that it would be incorrect to suggest that IAC for Action was encouraging state lawmakers to adopt the definition. He said his organization “provides legal analysis and policy resources in response to requests from legislators who wish to draw upon our subject matter expertise. Antisemitism is a hot issue right now, so of course there are many who are naturally interested.”

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Palestinians Protest Facebook ‘Bias Favoring Israel’

New campaign exposes double-standard of social media giant in dealing with Israeli and Palestinian incitement

Dima Abumaria, The Media Line, 10/07/2019

Journalists, activists launch campaign against alleged violations of user freedoms by social media platform

A Palestinian social media campaign rejecting what it calls “violations” of Facebook rules by censoring Palestinian content has been launched by Palestinian journalists and activists in cooperation with Sada Social Center, which monitors social media violations against Palestinian content.

The campaign is calling on users to tweet using the hashtag #FBblockspalestine by Wednesday night at 8 p.m. to highlight “the threat posed by Facebook against Palestinian content, and to make it public, as well as reveal the double-standard policy of Facebook management in dealing with Israeli and Palestinian incitement on its site.”

“Twitter is the first in a series of actions we will take,” Eyad Rifai, head of Sada Social Center, told The Media Line. “Next week, we will meet with a group of institutions and potential partners to discuss ways to jointly counter the attack on Palestinian content. At a second stage, we will hold field protests as well.”

Rifai said the campaign aims to “protect the digital rights of the Palestinian people so they can practice their right of absolute freedom of speech via cyberspace, although without the involvement of Facebook management that limits their freedoms while allowing Israeli users to incite against Arabs as well as call to kill them.”

He continued by saying that “Facebook has developed an algorithm that automatically deletes users’ posts and accounts if they include names of Palestinian political parties, for example ‘Hamas,’ ‘Jihad,’ ‘Popular Front,’ ‘Qassam,’ ‘Saraya’ and ‘Islamic Jihad,’ or names of martyrs, leaders and others without looking at the context in which they were posted, which sets a historic precedent for infringement on media freedom.”

Rifai pointed out that Palestinian journalists and media people are “unable to practice their journalistic work as a result of Facebook’s unfair policy, which doesn’t pay attention to professional work standards. This puts the Palestinian narrative on Facebook in real danger.”

He said the campaign had sent a letter to the Middle East management of Facebook to condemn the policy, adding that he “isn’t very optimistic” to receive a positive response.

“We will receive the same justification, which isn’t new anymore, that Facebook is an American company committed to renouncing terrorism as part of an agreement with the American government. The algorithm is simply unfair and doesn’t take into account the specificity of the Palestinian cause,” Rifai said.

Dahoud Abu Dalfeh, a Gaza-based journalist who said his Facebook account had been deleted in September for “using content that is against Facebook policy,” told The Media Line that “Facebook management sees using Palestinian symbols, names or political parties as incitement to violence, regardless of the nature of the work of the publisher.”

He insists he was not trying to provoke anyone.

“I was just doing my job when I lost my account,” he explained.

“Even when we cover news regarding Lebanon, we can’t use terms concerning Hizbullah or [Hizbullah leader Hassan] Nasrallah,” he went on. “A lot of times we are not allowed to object or report the deletion of an account. When we try, we receive a message that an unknown error has occurred, which creates another issue.”

Abu Dalfeh said Facebook management “does not handle the escalating Israeli incitement against Palestinians the same way or use similar algorithms, which makes it biased toward Israel.”

In August, the Sada Center documented more than 17 violations against Palestinian content on social media, most of them on Facebook, “which created a need for the center and other activists to actively protest Facebook managerial procedures rather than just continue to just monitor its violations.”

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ESPN Host Panicked by Israel-Palestine Comment

Literally the only thing Democrats and Republicans can agree on nowadays is that it’s bad to kowtow to China, but it’s good to capitulate to Israel.

Billy Haisley, Deadspin, 10/8/19

At the tail end of First Take’s extended discussion today about the ongoing debacle between the NBA and China, Stephen A. Smith had one final take he wanted to get off. He began auspiciously, if not with his trademark eloquence: “I would remind you that, throughout this world, one of the things that exists is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Shocking no one, host Molly Qerim just about broke her neck trying to rush to the commercial break.

I’m pretty sure Max Kellerman wasn’t the only one on set making that face.

The funny thing is, Stephen A. was actually making a good point—just not for the reasons he thought. It is true that the vast majority of public figures are exceedingly wary of wading into the Israel-Palestine conflict out of fear of offending the sensibilities of those who refuse to countenance any criticism of Israel, knowing the swift and forceful backlash headed their way if they do. For that reason, it is more or less unchallenged that Israel-Palestine is “too complicated” and “too risky” for the savvily self-interested to opine about. No one wants to get Ilhan Omar’d.

The difference between Israel-Palestine and China-Hong Kong, then, is only that Israel has been more successful in branding its conflict with those it oppresses as genuinely above reproach than China has thus far been with its dealings with Hong Kong. In fact, when comparing the American media coverage of and political response to Israel-Palestine with China-Hong Kong, the main difference is that all the powerful political forces in the U.S. are united in their alignment in support of Israel and in opposition to China. Literally the only thing Democrats and Republicans can agree on nowadays is that it’s bad to kowtow to China, but it’s good to capitulate to Israel.

Stephen A.’s only problem is that he takes exactly the wrong lesson from this. The point he seems to be making isn’t that Israel-Palestine’s presence in political no man’s land is bad and only serves to protect Israel from the criticism it deserves, but instead the opposite, that China-Hong Kong should be placed right alongside Israel-Palestine as terrible things no one in their right mind should want to call out publicly. This fits well with his prior statements on the matter, where he called Daryl Morey “childish” for standing up for a cause. To Stephen A., no value is as sacred or adult as shutting up when there’s money to be had.

Harvard freshman denied entry at Logan Airport by immigration officials

Posts by friends on social media were critical of the United States

Deirdre Fernandes, Boston Globe, August 27, 2019

A 17-year-old Palestinian student en route to Harvard University to begin his freshman year was denied entry to the United States at Logan Airport last weekend, heightening fears that the Trump administration’s restrictive immigration policy is making it harder for international students to come to study.

The student, Ismail Ajjawi, lives in Lebanon and had a valid visa to study in the United States, but upon his arrival at Logan he was questioned by immigration officials and then sent on a flight back home, according to officials with Amideast, an international education nonprofit that administers the Hope Fund scholarship
the student received to help him attend Harvard.

Ajjawi was reportedly denied entry over political posts his friends made on social media that were critical of the United States.

The case has drawn anger and concern about the increased scrutiny facing the thousands of international students who flood US campuses, particularly those in the Boston area, every fall.

“It’s so counterproductive to American interests to close the doors to kids like this,” said Geraldine Brooks, the novelist, who was involved with the Hope Fund in its earliest days, nearly 20 years ago.

The more than a dozen freshmen who have come through the Hope Fund annually have studied through the shelling of their neighborhoods and had their schooling disrupted for long stretches, but they see a US degree as a path forward. One went to work for NASA, others have become engineers and educators, and one is a Rhodes Scholar, Brooks said.

“This is an indicator of a serious and dark problem happening unseen in back rooms of our airports,” Brooks said. Ajjawi is fortunate to be going to Harvard, an institution that has the resources and network to help him try and resolve the problem, she said.

“I’m completely outraged and so concerned about the kids who aren’t trying to get to clout-rich institutions,” Brooks said.

PEN America, a nonprofit that advocates for free expression issues, called the decision to send Ajjawi back “perverse.”

“The idea that Ajjawi should be prevented from taking his place at Harvard because of his own political speech would be alarming; that he should be denied this opportunity based on the speech of others is downright lawless,” Summer Lopez, senior director of the organization, said in a statement.

Officials with the Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on the specifics of the case, but said the student was deemed inadmissible and his visa was canceled.

US Customs and Border Protection has several layers of review and approval before officials deny someone admission into the country, said Michael McCarthy, a spokesman for the agency.

“CBP is responsible for ensuring the safety and admissibility of the goods and people entering the United States,” he said in a statement.

Ajjawi, who grew up in a refugee camp, is one of more than a dozen freshmen participating in the Hope Fund. These Palestinian students attend US institutions such as Stanford University and Smith College.

Ted Kattouf, a former US ambassador and the president of Amideast, declined to comment about Ajjawi’s case.

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Barbara Olson and Tsela Barr: Congress needs to stand against Israeli travel bans


In this July 15, 2019, file photo, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn, right, speaks, as U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., listens, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington. (J. Scott Applewhite)

TSELA BARR AND BARB OLSON, The Cap Times, August 23, 2019

Last week, the Israeli government took the unprecedented step of denying two sitting members of the U.S. Congress, Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, entry to Israel.

Their crime was to set up their own independent fact-finding trip to visit Palestine rather than participate in the scripted, AIPAC-sponsored free trip to Israel that most Congress members participate in.

They couldn’t be allowed to meet with Israeli or Palestinian peace activists, or visit places like heavily occupied Hebron that aren’t on the itinerary of the AIPAC junket.

Tlaib and Omar had to be kept out because they had the gall to criticize Israel and express support for the non-violent South Africa-inspired Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement seeking justice and human rights for Palestinians.

This may be outrageous, but it is hardly surprising. Israel has been denying entry to Palestinians since they began expelling them in 1948. The discrimination and harassment experienced by Palestinian, Arab and/or Muslim travelers seeking to enter Israel, or just pass through it to visit the illegally occupied Palestinian territories, is well-known. Recently they have also kept out Jewish Americans who support BDS and champion Palestinian human rights.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration revoked the visa of Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court; denied a visa to Palestinian diplomat Hanan Ashrawi; and prevented Palestinian civil society activist Omar Barghouti from traveling to the U.S. for his daughter’s wedding.

It is also not surprising that Trump, no friend of human rights anywhere, seeks to score political points with his base by continuing his racist and Islamophobic attacks on Omar and Tlaib, as well as fellow Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Presley.

But alarm bells should ring out when a U.S. president openly collaborates with the government of a foreign country to which Congress generously provides some $5 billion per year in U.S. tax money in order to stop members of that same Congress from seeing the reality on the ground there.

Many members of Congress are speaking out against the Trump/Netanyahu action. One of these is our own Rep. Mark Pocan, who tweeted “Prime Minister Netanyahu is wrong to deny @RepRashida & @Ilhan entry into Israel. The U.S. is Israel’s strongest ally & has provided billions in support. PM Netanyahu must reverse this decision & no member of Congress should visit Israel until all members of Congress are welcome. “

One who has yet to speak out is Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Baldwin is a co-sponsor of Senate Resolution 120 that slanders the BDS movement, implies that it is anti-Semitic, and condemns this legally protected exercise of First Amendment rights.

Even Sen. Ron Johnson has yet to co-sponsor this bill.

Unlike earlier bills that would have imposed draconian legal and financial penalties for those who support BDS and which are being thrown out by the courts, this resolution has no “teeth.” Yet clearly it provides fertile ground for what just happened to Omar and Tlaib, and what will happen to others with far less ability to fight back.

More than ever, Baldwin needs to withdraw her support of this anti-democratic resolution.

It is long past time for Israel to change its racist and exclusionary policies towards Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims. The Palestinian people, like people everywhere, including members of the U.S. Congress, should have the freedom to visit their families (as Tlaib hoped to do in the occupied West Bank), to see the impact on the ground of U.S. policies, and to take action for justice and human rights.

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

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