“We don’t have another place to go”

Dispossession, Settler Violence, & Resistance in Masafer Yatta

Occupied Thoughts, Foundation for Middle East Peace, 1/12/2022

"We don't have another place to go:" Dispossession, Settler Violence, & Resistance in Masafer YattaIn this episode of Occupied Thoughts, FMEP's Sarah Anne Minkin speaks with activist and author Ali Awad about the threats of dispossession and state-backed settler violence facing Palestinians in the Masafer Yatta area of the South Hebron Hills.

Ali's most recent article, co-authored with Awdah Hathaleen, describes extreme violence against a village elder in a non-violent protest in Masafer Yatta: "Israeli police shattered this Palestinian elder’s bones — and drove away."

Bios

  • Ali Awad is an activist from the village of Tuba in the South Hebron Hills.
  • Sarah Anne Minkin, PhD, is FMEP’s Director of Programs & Partnerships.
  • Original music by Jalal Yaquoub

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Human rights defenders targeted by Israel launch joint website

Online Hub Provides Information and Calls to Action Aimed at Reversing Ban on Six Palestinian NGOs

14 December 2021, RamallahThe Palestinian civil society organizations (CSOs) targeted by the Israeli government alongside partners have today launched a new website www.PalCivilSociety.com as part of their #StandWithThe6 campaign. This follows Israel’s escalation of its systemic efforts to shrink civic space, defund, criminalize human rights defenders (HRDs) and civil society.

This culminated in Israeli Minister of Defense, Benny Gantz outlawing the six organizations on 19 October 2021 under Israel’s domestic Anti-Terrorism Law (2016), and as “unlawful organizations” on 3 November 2021, by the Israeli Military Commander in the West Bank. These baseless accusations aim to effectively outcast and discredit the work of leading Palestinian CSOs, placing them and their supporters at imminent risk of reprisals, including cutting off funding, office closure, and arrest of staff members. 

In response to the designation, the international community including world leaders, UN representatives, celebrities, funders and international NGOs have condemned the designation as a blatant threat to human rights. However, Israel continues to firmly maintain its unlawful designation, and by not calling for an immediate reversal of this policy, governments are allowing this dangerous attack to go unchallenged, putting all HRDs at risk, in Palestine and globally.

The website consolidates the efforts of the six Palestinian CSOs and partners, and provides resources for supporters outlining the full context of Israel’s ongoing harrasment campaigns to silence and diminish Palestinian civil society overall. The website will be a central space where supporters can mobilize in solidarity with civil society, starting by sending emails to US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, and Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy asking them to take decisive action to force Israel to reverse the unlawful designation.

As jointly stated by the six organizations, “this designation is only the latest of a series of attacks against us and certainly won’t be the last. This continued assault on Palestinian human rights defenders is also accompanied by systematic use of cybersurveillance technology to hack our phones and surveil us. It’s clear that Israel’s intention is to silence and harrass Palestinian human rights defenders who criticize Israel’s apartheid and settler-colonial regime and call for holding Israeli authorities accountable for their human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Through this common digital space we invite all supporters of human rights and freedom around the world, to take action and show solidarity with Palestinian civil society.”

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‘I thought I was a free man’: the engineer fighting Texas’s ban on boycotting Israel

Rasmy Hassouna, a Palestinian American, is suing the state over a provision that bans him or his company from protesting Israel or its products


Rasmy Hassouna: ‘If I don’t want to buy anything at WalMart, who are you to tell me not to shop at WalMart?’ Photograph: Courtesy Rasmy Hassouna

Erum Salam, The Guardian, 7 Dec 2021

For more than two decades, Texan civil engineer Rasmy Hassouna was a contractor for the city of Houston. Hassouna has consulted the city on soil volatility in the nearby Gulf of Mexico – a much needed service to evaluate the structural stability of houses and other buildings.

He was gearing up to renew his government contract when a particular legal clause caught his eye: a provision that effectively banned him or his company, A&R Engineering and Testing, Inc, from ever protesting the nation of Israel or its products so long as his company was a partner with the city of Houston.

For Hassouna – a 59-year-old proud Palestinian American – it was a huge shock.

“I came here and thought I was a free man. It’s not anybody’s business what I do or what I say, as long as I’m not harming anybody,” he told the Guardian. “Were you lying all this time? If I don’t want to buy anything at WalMart, who are you to tell me not to shop at WalMart? Why do I have to pledge allegiance to a foreign country?”

But Hassouna’s reaction did not stop at anger. He took action, launching a case that is challenging the Texas law and – by example – similar provisions that have spread all over the US that seek to stop government contractors from boycotting Israel and can be found in more than 25 US states. Along with the Arkansas Times newspaper, A&R Engineering and Testing Inc is now one of only two companies fighting this kind of law in the nation.

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November 28, 2021
Defund Racism Webinar: A Palestinian Call for Solidarity

12 Noon Central Time

Join Christian Peacemaker Teams-Palestine and the Good Shepherd Collective for a conversation on international structures and funding sources that perpetuate racism and the Israeli Occupation in Palestine.

Featuring Bana Abu Zuluf from the Good Shepherd Collective and Hisham Sharabati & Ahmad Abu Monshar, human rights activists from Hebron.

New York Times Op-ed on BDS



November 22, 2021

I’m writing to share some news: a few hours ago, The New York Times published an important op-ed by Alan Leveritt, a news publisher in Arkansas who is suing the state over its anti-boycott legislation.

Alan is also one of the protagonists of our new film, Boycott, and his article — “We’re a Small Arkansas Paper. Why Is the State Making Us Sign a Pledge About Israel?” — paints a vivid picture of the impact of legislation designed to silence voices of dissent on Israel-Palestine.

Alan is writing at a crucial time. His case is right now being reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, and he’s not optimistic that the ruling will go his way.

If it doesn’t, the case will likely end up at the Supreme Court, potentially impacting not just the right to boycott Israel for its human rights record — boycott being constitutionally protected under the First Amendment — but also our right to voice dissent on a whole range of issues.

We hope you’ll share Alan’s op-ed widely. Please forward this email or share the article on social media. We just had the world premiere of Boycott at DOC NYC last week. With Alan’s case awaiting a ruling, this is a crucial time to spread the word and raise awareness about the dangers of these laws, which, to date, have largely gone underreported.

With determination,

Suhad Babaa
Executive Director & President, Just Vision
Producer, Boycott

Tell Justin Bieber to Cancel his Performance in Apartheid Israel

Pop star Justin Bieber is scheduled to perform in Israel on October 13, 2022. Sign the petition to him asking him to heed the call from Palestinian civil society to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel. Tell him to support Palestinian human rights by cancelling his show. 

Dear Justin, 

We the undersigned appeal to you to cancel your planned October 13, 2022 performance in Tel Aviv Israel. 

According to Human Rights Watch, the most respected human rights organization in the world, and B’tselem, Israel’s largest human rights organization, Israel is practicing apartheid. From the river to the sea, Israel privileges one group of people (Jews) over another group of people (Palestinians) in order to maintain Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land. To achieve this, Israel dispossesses Palestinians from their lands, demolishes Palestinian homes, subjects Palestinians to checkpoints, child imprisonment, and numerous daily humiliations and violence. The separate and unequal system that Israel imposes on Palestinians is a daily nightmare.

This fall, Israel designated six Palestinian civil society human rights organizations as “terrorist” organizations. Israel has not been able to evidence that these groups are involved in terror but nevertheless, they are continuing to persecute the groups. Employees of the organizations have been spied on by Israel who implanted spyware on their phones without their knowledge or consent. 

In the West Bank, Israel has two sets of laws for two groups of people. Israeli settlers, who live illegally on Palestinian land and frequently carry out violent attacks, are subject to Israeli civilian law while Palestinians are subject to Israeli military law. Under Israeli military law, protest is illegal and children as young as 12 are arrested and denied their basic rights. Israel is the only country in the world with a juvenile military court and it is for Palestinian children only. 

In Gaza, due to the Israeli blockade, over 50% of the population is unemployed and essential goods, like medicines and fuel are in short supply. 97% of the water in Gaza is unfit for human consumption and electricity is usually only four hours a day at most. Palestinians in Gaza are unable to leave. It’s an open-air prison. 

When you released your album Justice, faced criticism for using samples of Dr. Martin Luther King in the album’s songs. You responded to the criticism by listening and learning and admitting that you “just didn’t know better” and you hadn’t received an education in Black history during your upbringing. “I want to keep growing and learning about just all social injustices and what it looks like for me to be better,” you said. We hope you learn about the crimes Israel commits against the Palestinian people and follow the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King to stand with the oppressed.

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Vermonters for Justice in Palestine #StandWithThe6

Vermonters for Justice in Palestine, November 16, 2021

Our own Executive Director, Reverend Mark Davidson, sent this opinion editorial to the News and Observer last week to urge our community at large to stand for justice against Israel’s designation of six Palestinian human rights groups as “terrorist organizations.” Please read below.

In “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century,” Yale historian Timothy Snyder emphasizes the importance of defending institutions. He warns that institutions don’t protect themselves. They fall one after the other unless they are defended. So, if we care about democracy and human rights, he writes, “choose an institution you care about – a court, a newspaper, a law, a labor union – and take its side.”

In late October, the security establishment of the Israeli government designated six Palestinian human rights groups as “terrorist organizations.” Al-Haq, Defense of Children International-Palestine, Addameer, and three others are well-respected civil society institutions I care about and I am taking their side. They have long, distinguished track records of documenting human rights violations, defending Palestinian children, supporting Palestinian prisoners and their families, helping Palestinian farmers, and supporting women’s associations. I know and trust some of the founders of these civil society institutions. They do great work, and deserve widespread support.

The Israelis allege that these human rights groups are linked by fraud and subterfuge to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which has been designated by Israel as a terrorist organization. A serious charge, and devastating, if true. It would allow Israel to freeze their assets, dry up their funding, arrest and jail their employees, and shut down their offices. It could have cascading effects, chilling dissent, intimidating and isolating human rights work. It is a tactic straight out of the playbook of authoritarian regimes.

In May, Israel presented its “secret evidence” to European Union countries which provide important funding to these six Palestinian human rights institutions. Armed with these disturbing allegations, they strongly urged the EU countries to stop funding them. They rejected Israel’s request, because the dossier was filled with unsubstantiated claims, tortured “confessions,” innuendo, and propaganda. It provided no concrete evidence of links to terrorist activity.

Israeli governmental harrassment of Palestinian human rights organizations has been going on for years. Why now, and why this escalation? Turns out that “the red line” these Palestinian human rights organizations crossed was sharing their factual information about Israeli human rights abuses with the International Criminal Court. Frightened to face accountability for their violent policies and practices, illegal under international law, Israel has resorted to baseless attacks on human rights defenders.

The U.S. government is under enormous pressure to go along with this false, dangerous campaign to shield Israel from accountability. The price for succumbing will be a further delegitimizing of a rules-based international order. We have to hold the line and resist the continued disastrous drift toward authoritarianism both at home and abroad. I have alerted my congressional representatives not to fall for this anti-democratic smear campaign. I urge everyone who cares about human rights and democracy to support courageous local and global civil society institutions that stand up and tell the truth. I don’t want to live in a world without them.

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Miriam Adelson picks up where late husband and GOP kingmaker left off

Candidates know what the billionaire donor wants, and that’s a hawkish pro-Israel U.S. policy in the Middle East


Miriam Adelson attends 4th annual champions of Jewish values international awards gala at Marriott Marquis Times Square, 2016 (shutterstock/lev radin)

Eli Clifton, RESPONSIBLE STATECRAFT, NOVEMBER 8, 2021

It’s big news when a political party’s biggest funder announces, after a period of mourning for the death of their spouse, that they will be continuing their role as the go-to funder for congressional and presidential candidates in 2022 and 2024. You also might expect a discussion of how that donor expects to influence U.S. politics with their campaign donations. You’d be wrong.

Yesterday, Politico provided in-depth reporting on how “Republican mega donor Miriam Adelson — the widow of casino mogul and longtime GOP kingmaker Sheldon Adelson — is staging a return to politics, positioning herself to be a force in the 2022 midterms and beyond.”

This is big news. Adelson, a U.S.-Israel dual national, is worth $30 billion as the majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands, a casino and resort company with enormous business interests in Singapore and Macau, a Chinese Special Administrative Region. 

Foreign policy, both in the Middle East and East Asia, is clearly a central area of interest for the woman likely to emerge as the single biggest funder of Republican Party candidates in the 2022 and 2024 elections.

One of the couple’s final political acts, before Sheldon Adelson’s death on January 11th, was to fly Jonathan Pollard — a former U.S. Navy analyst who spent 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to spying for Israel — to Israel on one the family’s private 737s once Pollard’s travel ban was lifted. 

Indeed, foreign policy has been the key-defining issue-area of the Adelsons’ political giving. The Adelsons helped to support the ultra-hawkish pro-Likud, anti-Iran echo chamber, including, among other groups, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the Israeli American Council, United Against Nuclear Iran, and the  Zionist Organization of America — all of which the couple financially supported over the last two decades. They also provided tens of millions of dollars to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee over the years, but abruptly withdrew their backing in 2007 because of its support in Congress for an economic aid package for Palestinians.

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