Michael Bennett boycotts trip, says he won’t be used by Israel

Steve Almasy, CNN, February 12, 2017

Michael Bennett enjoyed his brother’s recent Super Bowl victory along with actor Mark Wahlberg.

(CNN) — Michael Bennett, a Pro Bowl defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks, is one of the NFL’s most outspoken players on social issues.

And once again he is in the middle of a controversy after announcing he was withdrawing from a overseas trip hosted by the Israeli government.

Bennett will be joined on the sidelines by at least one other player who objects to what the players say is Israel using them as political tools.

Bennett, whose brother, Martellus plays for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, tweeted Friday that he had been looking forward to the trip next week.

But he read an article in an Israeli newspaper, he said, where a Israel’s Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister Gilad Erdan was quoted as saying: “The ministry which I lead is spearheading an intensive fight against the delegitimization and BDS campaigns against Israel, and part of this struggle includes hosting influencers and opinion-formers of international standing in different fields, including sport.”

BDS stands for boycott, divestment and sanctions, and is a movement that aims to end what it sees as “international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.”

Another Israeli official said he hoped the players would become ambassadors of goodwill for Israel.

It caused Bennett to change his mind.

“I will not be used in such a way,” he wrote.

March 15, 2017
Film: Occupation of the American Mind

Occupation of the American Mind (2016)
Marquee Theater
Union South, UW-Madison
7:00 pm

Doors open 30 minutes before showtime and will be seated on a first-come, first-served basis.

USA | 82 min | NR | DVD | Dir. Loretta Alper

The Occupation of the American Mind explores how the Israeli and US governments and the pro-Israel lobby have joined forces to shape US media coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Israel’s ongoing military occupation of Palestinian territory and its repeated invasions of the Gaza strip have triggered a fierce backlash against Israeli policies virtually everywhere in the world — except the United States. The Occupation of the American Mind takes an eye-opening look at this critical exception, zeroing in on pro-Israel public relations efforts within the U.S. The film explores how the Israeli government, the U.S. government, and the pro-Israel lobby have joined forces, often with very different motives, to shape American media coverage of the conflict.

A discussion will be held after the film led by Deepa Kumar, Professor of Media Studies, Rutgers University, and Allen Ruff, host of WORT’s A Public Affair.

Presented by the Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Film Committee and the A. E. Havens Center for Social Justice. See WUD Film’s current and upcoming schedule. All films are shown in The Marquee Theater on the second floor of Union South.

The UW-Madison Havens Center’s Annual Film Series explores important contemporary social topics from critical perspectives. For a complete list of all the films, and other Havens Center events, please see: http://www.havenscenter.org/.

White House warns Israel on settlements

Trump was reportedly blindsided by Israel’s announcement of 5,500 new housing units to be built in the West Bank

Jordan Fabian, The Hill, 02/02/17

The White House on Thursday warned Israel to stop settlement announcements that could undermine peace with the Palestinians, according to the Jerusalem Post. 

The surprising statement comes as President Trump signaled he would depart from former President Obama’s Israel policy and forge a close relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a strong proponent of settlements. 

But Trump was reportedly blindsided by Israel’s announcement of 5,500 new housing units to be built in the West Bank, which would have been the first new settlement in around 20 years. 

“As President Trump has made clear, he is very interested in reaching a deal that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is currently exploring the best means of making progress toward that goal,” an official told the paper. 

“With that in mind, we urge all parties from taking unilateral actions that could undermine our ability to make progress, including settlement announcements,” the official added. “The administration needs to have the chance to fully consult with all parties on the way forward.”

In a separate statement Thursday, the White House made clear its opposition to the recent burst of settlement activity. But in a departure from the Obama administration, the statement does not call settlements an impediment to a two-state solution.

“While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal.”

“The Trump administration has not taken an official position on settlement activity and looks forward to continuing discussions, including with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he visits with President Trump later this month.”

Trump’s election is believed to have emboldened Netanyahu’s government, which has moved aggressively to expand its settlement activity.  

Netanyahu is set to meet with Trump at the White House on Feb. 15. 

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David Friedman Is Unfit to Be Ambassador to Israel

, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, 31 Jan 2017

DavidFriedman

Donald Trump’s first ten days in office have resulted in a whirlwind of policies that have led to major protests, from blocking refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, to ordering a wall built on the US-Mexico border, to moving forward with the Keystone and the Dakota Access Pipelines, to name just a few.

Amid his flurry of Executive Orders, you may have missed the fact that on Inauguration Day, Trump formally submitted to the Senate his nomination of David Friedman to be US Ambassador to Israel.

In case you haven’t heard of Friedman, here’s what you need to know:

He personally identifies with Israel’s illegal colonization of Palestinian land and raises millions of dollars each year to fund an Israeli settlement.

He opposes Palestinian exercising sovereignty over any portion of their historic homeland and speaks approvingly of Israel’s annexation of the West Bank.

And he’s an ardent advocate of moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognizing Israel’s claims to sovereignty over the entire contested city.

These extremist views and actions contradict decades of stated bipartisan US policy. Our ambassador to Israel must uphold US opposition to Israeli settlements, not represent Israel’s settler movement.

Contact your Senators today to tell them that David Friedman is unfit to be Ambassador to Israel and urge them to vote against his nomination.

And after you do so, please spread the word on Facebook and Twitter.

Here are a few select quotes illustrating Friedman’s extremist views:

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TAKE ACTION: Congress to Vote on Pro-Settlement Resolution!

Josh Ruebner, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, 04 January 2017

By now you’ve probably heard that President Obama—after waiting eight years and watching Israel’s settler population increase by more than 100,000—finally did something about Israel’s unrelenting colonization of Palestinian land.

On December 23, the United States abstained on UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which reiterated that Israeli settlement activity “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” This abstention allowed the resolution to pass, 14-0.

The resolution is consistent with fifty years of stated bipartisan US opposition to Israeli settlements and recapitulates the international community’s longstanding consensus on this issue. Secretary of State John Kerry admitted that the resolution “does not break new ground.

Nevertheless, some Members of Congress are indignant that the Obama administration allowed the resolution to pass, even though it doesn’t even threaten to sanction Israel if it refuses to comply.

Tomorrow, as one of its very first acts of business in the new 115th Congress, the House of Representatives will vote on H.Res.11 objecting to UN Security Council Resolution 2334 and the Obama administration’s abstention.

And from what we’re hearing, the Senate will soon be voting on its own version of a similar resolution.

Call your Members of Congress right now and urge them to oppose these Congressional resolutions, which are designed to protect and promote Israel’s illegal colonization of Palestinian land.

    Rep. Pocan Madison: 608-258-9800
    Rep. Pocan DC: 202-225-2906
    Sen. Baldwin Madison: (608) 264-5338
    Sen. Baldwin DC: (202) 224-5653
    Sen. Johnson DC: (202) 224-5323

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