Daniel Levy: Apartheid Label Must Be a Wakeup Call

Daniel Levy, President of the U.S./Middle East Project

Meeting of the United Nations Security Council, Thursday, August 25, 2022
“The Situation in the Middle East Including the Palestinian Question”

I would like to thank the Council and the Chinese presidency in particular for allowing me to share some thoughts with you today. The events of earlier this month covered in detail by Special Envoy Wennesland are as concerning as they are predictable. To be very clear, Israelis deserve security; Palestinians deserve security.

Mr President, month in and month out the Council meets to repeat its familiar condemnations, formulas and slogans. I want to use this opportunity to rethink and re-appraise some assumptions and beliefs that may inadvertently contribute to the intractability in Israel-Palestine—to consider afresh, reasons why this conflict remains so prone to stalemate and human suffering.

I suggest to do this through 5 concepts that may assist us in such an endeavour:

First, Justice: The permanent dispossession and denial of the most basic rights and freedoms to the Palestinian people will never be a recipe for achieving sustainable security: this, the illegal blockade of Gaza and the unlawful occupation, represents forms of structural violence and collective punishment that we cannot ignore.

While the need for a political horizon is acknowledged, the dimensions of that horizon shrink and shrivel, becoming ever less ambitious.

There can be no effective or prolonged approach to Gaza in isolation—it is part of broader Israeli-Palestinian realities—in terms of security, the separation policy and closure. And crucially, there is a need to respect international law across the board—whether in state responses to armed threats or partisan resistance against state occupation.

Also in this context, there is a need for Palestinian political renewal, internal reconciliation and overcoming of divisions as well as an international need to engage all relevant actors without applying unrealistic and selective preconditions.

Second, Equilibrium: Any attempt to resume negotiations between the parties without addressing power asymmetries is a hollow and redundant exercise. As Comfort Ero, president of Crisis Group—with whom my organization the U.S./Middle East Project cooperates extensively—noted to this Council recently— “the structural power imbalance between an occupying state and an occupied people must be acknowledged.” A focus on relations of power rather than both sides-ism offers a path to clarity of thinking and policy.

As an example, attempts at economic confidence building measures are consistently too little, too late, and too ephemeral when attempted under conditions of a permanent, relentless and expanding matrix of occupation. This defies principles of harmony and reciprocity.

Especially with global resources stretched thin, the Palestinian economic predicament must be understood primarily as a function of politically imposed obstacles—on movement, borders, access to land, confiscations, demolitions and ever-expanding settlements—rather than an absence of charity. Economic palliatives under occupation deepen dependence and enmity.

We have heard the briefing of UNRWA Commissioner General Lazzarini. There must be an
economic commitment to a predictably resourced UNRWA capable of delivering services, not only a security necessity but also a political commitment to the Palestinian refugees who continue to be denied a solution.

Third, Accountability: I have previously highlighted to this Council two core problems; a legitimacy deficit in Palestinian politics and an accountability deficit viz Israel’s policies. It is Israel’s actions as the powerful occupying party that pre-eminently determine the direction of travel of this conflict.

Profound shifts are occurring as a result of the unwillingness to hold Israel to account not least on settlements.

Recent months have witnessed a disturbing intensification of that trend as Israel has targeted those least able to protect themselves and those most in the frontline bearing witness to violations of international law.

Following the shock expressed by Secretary General Guterres over the number of Palestinian children killed and maimed by Israeli forces last year, we have continued to see the same trend and suffering among the very young in Gaza this month.

We have witnessed the killing of those who report on and expose these crimes, Shireen Abu Akleh, being the latest journalist to pay with her life. And now the assault on those who document abuses and defend human rights, as well as community service providers, with Israel’s actions against six prominent Palestinian civil society organizations.

Following a terror designation having been made against the six NGOs by the Israeli authorities, a number of countries went on record that compelling evidence had not been forthcoming. Now in the past week, the offices of these organizations have been raided and shuttered and their workers interrogated.

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Watch now: United for Justice Across Palestine

United for Justice Across Palestine:
Defund Israel’s Bombs, Blockade, and Bulldozers

Featuring Walaa Sabah from We Are Not Numbers, Sahar Francis from Addameer, and Palestinian journalist Mariam Barghouti. Moderated by Palestinian scholar Nour Joudah.

“At a bare minimum, reclaim your tax dollars in the U.S. You
have a homelessness epidemic going on; invest in housing.”

—Mariam Barghouti, Palestinian journalist

Watch on Instagram

Winning Lawsuit Against Major Israeli Newspaper

We just won a defamation case against a major Israeli newspaper!
We made Israel Hayom retract its lies!

This is a rare success of holding Israeli tabloids accountable for their publications of lies about Palestinians.

The newspaper had published obvious lies against Palestinian Human Rights Defender Issa Amro after his play “How To Make A Revolution” opened in Tel Aviv. The play was centered around his trial in military court and was directed by Israeli playwright Einat Weizman in coordination with Issa himself.

Israel Hayom (“Israel Today” in English) is a right-wing Israeli tabloid owned by the family of Sheldon Adelson and is a publication friendly of ex-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In 2016, it formally endorsed the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. It has a circulation of around 250,000 readers.

The civil lawsuit forced the newspaper to retract their claims and issue a formal correction, seen below in Hebrew. The newspaper had published lies that Issa was charged or convicted of security offenses, had spent time in prison and that his cousin was the murderer of an Israeli baby. All of this is false and Israel Hayom withdrew these lies after losing the lawsuit and issued a correction that Issa is recognized as a Hebron activist committed to nonviolence and opposed to the occupation.

Justice is usually absent for Palestinians in the Israeli legal system, especially in the separate military court system.

Israel Hayom’s lies were the same lies about Issa that have often been perpetrated by the Israeli settlers in Hebron who terrorize the local Palestinian population on a daily basis in the city. These lies show that the newspaper had gotten used to publishing slander promoted by settler populations about Palestinians without any consequences, promoting these narratives without any actual journalistic standards or investigation.

Few Palestinians have the ability to mobilize a lawsuit, leaving no consequences for lies.

How many more direct lies have gone unnoticed?

Meanwhile the violations in Hebron continue. On August 9th, Israeli soldiers shot two 16-year-old Palestinian boys, wounding one and killing the other.

The soldiers dragged away the boy who survived after they shot him and left him to cry and scream behind the checkpoint without any medical care for more than half and hour.

Five days ago, soldiers were also seen conducting military drills inside inhabited Palestinian neighborhoods.

Friends of Hebron has a U.S.-registered IRS 501(c)3 charity status. Donations are tax-deductible.

With peace,

Friends of Hebron
Working for Peace and Justice

During these tense times, please consider supporting our work on the ground in Hebron by donating. Friends of Hebron is a U.S.-registered IRS 501(c)3 charity. Donations are tax-deductible.

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If Not Now Says “#DropAIPAC”


Join the Movement of Jews, Orgs, and Politicians Pledging to #DropAIPAC

AIPAC endorsed 109 insurrectionist Republicans and spent $25 million to defeat candidates supporting Palestinian rights and progressive causes. Their actions this year aid the right-wing movement threatening our planet and democracy, and should have no place in our community or our politics.

AIPAC claims to speak on behalf of the Jewish community but embraces right-wing antisemites, Islamophobes, and white nationalists such as Donald Trump, Christian Zionist John Hagee, Rep. Jim Jordan, and Muslim Ban lawyer Frank Gaffney.

AIPAC endorsed 109 Republican candidates who supported Trump’s “Big Lie” to overturn the 2020 election. And AIPAC’s Super PAC — funded primarily by Republican billionaires — spent 25 million dollars on misleading advertisements to defeat seven progressive candidates, including targeting women of color and a former synagogue president fighting for health care, climate solutions, and responsible foreign policy.

So long as donors, U.S. politicians, and Jewish orgs like youth groups and synagogues work with AIPAC — and so long as those watching stay silent — AIPAC will have the credibility and funding to continue working against Palestinian rights and against democracy.

By pledging to #DropAIPAC, I or my organization pledges to drop:

  • AIPAC’s annual policy conference
  • Donating to AIPAC
  • Meeting with AIPAC lobbyists
  • Hosting or participating in AIPAC events
  • Traveling on AIPAC trips to Israel

The majority of American Jews disagree with AIPAC’s anti-Palestinian racism and recognize that Jewish and Palestinian safety is intertwined. We stand committed to fighting for equality, justice, and a thriving future for all Jews, Israelis, and Palestinians.

Join the Movement

🔥 Israel is bombing Gaza

Americans for Justice in Palestine Action (AJP Action) condemns Israel’s raids on civilian areas in Gaza City today which have killed several Palestinians already, including a 5-year-old girl, and injured dozens more. Israel has a long history of committing war crimes against Palestinians in Gaza, including bombing residential areas indiscriminately, and killing thousands of Palestinian civilians since Israel imposed its illegal siege on Gaza 15+ years ago.

This latest unprovoked aggression comes on the heels of weeks of Israeli escalation in the occupied West Bank and after four days of tightening the illegal and suffocating siege on the Gaza Strip, imprisoning Gaza’s population, and preventing the entry of basic goods. It also comes on the heels of President Biden’s visit to Israel last month, in which he reaffirmed U.S. complicity in Israel’s occupation by describing the U.S. commitment to maintaining Israel’s “qualitative military edge” over its victims as “unshakable.” This commitment takes the form of nearly $4 billion in funding for the Israeli military, even as this military continues its pattern of crimes against humanity and war crimes targeting the Palestinian people. If this is not enablement of Israel’s atrocities, what is?

We call on the Biden administration to end its egregious policy of impunity for Israeli crimes and to immediately demand an end to Israel’s military assault on Gaza. We also call on the administration to pressure Israel to end its illegal siege on the Gaza Strip, which is in its 16th year and has brought misery and death to its besieged population for far too long.

Palestinians deserve to live in freedom, without worrying about whether their children will have a future or whether they will be killed by an Israeli military strike at any moment. As Americans, we cannot remain silent while these crimes are being committed with our tax money, which Israel’s apartheid government receives more of in military funding than any other country on the planet.

Change comes through action! For this reason, we invite you to participate in our Virtual Palestine Advocacy Days (VPAD2022) in September to lobby our elected officials on behalf of the oppressed Palestinian people. We must continue placing pressure on our government to do the right thing by firmly standing against Israel’s serious crimes and egregious human rights violations.

Gaza Is Palestine

As salaamu alaykum.

The Gaza Is Palestine campaign, led by us and Adalah Justice Project, is an effort to build upon the historic global movement that took on new life in spring 2021 — and we want you to take part.

Massive global demonstrations in solidarity with Palestinians are changing the tides — and we can build on that momentum together.

This summer marks 15 long years of the blockade and siege on Gaza.

We’re proud to join Adalah Justice Project in launching a new 3-minute video, narrated by Palestinian artist Malak Mattar, imploring those in the U.S. to take action to stop the congressional funding that makes the siege of Gaza possible.

Watch the video:

Share it on Twitter.

The goal is not perpetual resilience, perpetual rebuilding after violence. The goal is freedom.

Palestinians in Gaza must be free to travel, to study, to work, to dream, to live, to start a family without the fear they will be taken.

Earlier this month, the 2023 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill was released.

This funding bill represents the United States’ global priorities for health, infrastructure, and security. As expected, the draft budget contains $3.3 billion for Israel (with an additional $500 million for weapons expected in the defense appropriations bill). That’s $3.8 billion for apartheid Israel.

In contrast, all funding for addressing climate change and other environmental issues globally is set at $3.6 billion.

Last year, we saw unprecedented support for Palestinian life swept the mainstream media, our progressive movements, and even the halls of Congress.

It’s up to us to make sure that we don’t move backwards. Share the video now.

Thank you for being in the struggle with us.

In solidarity,
Ishraq, Lau, Granate and the MPower Change team

P.S. You can send an email to your member of Congress right now if you haven’t before, making it clear to them: Congress needs to stop funding the blockade and attacks on Gaza. Thank you.

Mid-August Virtual Advocacy Summit: Accountability Matters

Dear Friend,

We hope you are making plans to join us in mid-August at our virtual Advocacy Summit: Accountability Matters. This summit is in three parts and during the first on August 9th you’ll have the opportunity to hear from Ali Awad, an activist and journalist from the village of Tuba in Masafer Yatta:



Ali has been at the forefront of monitoring and reporting evictions in his village and others in Masafer Yatta. He is a key leader in his village’s efforts to raise international pressure to stop forced displacement and unjust demolitions. Awad is the co-founder of the new media project Humans of Masafer Yatta.

We are grateful to advocate with you!

ADC Welcomes Decision by Montgomery County Council

The Montgomery County Council was initially scheduled to consider a harmful and overly expansive definition of anti-Semitism on July 26.

Hundreds of community members made their voices heard.

“This is a great decision by the Montgomery County Council, and a victory for free speech.”

Washington, D.C. | www.adc.org | July 24, 2022 – Over the past few days the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has been in dialogue with members and officials from the Montgomery County Council pertaining to a proposed agenda item at the next Council meeting which would redefine anti-Semitism. Montgomery County is the most most populous county in Maryland, located just outside of Washington, D.C. ADC has been informed that the Council decided to remove the item from the agenda. We welcome this decision by the Council and are committed to continued dialogue with Montgomery County officials as we work to tackle all forms of hate and bigotry.

The proposed resolution, which was set to be discussed at the next Council meeting on Tuesday July 26 would have the County adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) re-definition of anti-Semitism. The proposed definition institutionalizes a re-definition that conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, making it difficult to fight against real hate and bigotry.

ADC Legislative and Policy Coordinator Chris Habiby states, “This is a great decision by the Montgomery County Council, and a victory for free speech. Throughout the weekend the Council heard from hundreds of our community members in the County, and this decision was done in the best interest of the county and all its residents.”

By expanding the definition of anti-Semitism to encompass political speech, the resolution chills constitutionally protected speech. Already, the IHRA definition has been used to target several civil society and university organizations including Amnesty International, Black Lives Matter, the American Friends Services Committee, Doctors without Borders, and Harvard’s Crimson newspaper. It has also been used towards human rights activists including Cornel West, CNN Commentator Marc Lamont Hill and the late Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

If similar action is being considered by your local city or county council, please contact ADC for assistance in addressing the issue – send an email to adc@adc.org for support.

ACLU Challenges Cancellation of Palestine Mural


A mural that was conceived and painted by the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) and Art Forces. The mural was censored by the SFPL and the ACLU claims there are First Amendment concerns with the censorship. Courtesy Megan Wilson/Clarion Alley Mural Project

Sarah Wright, The San Francisco Standard, July 14, 2022

A new letter from the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California raises First Amendment concerns after the San Francisco Public Library decided to omit a line it called antisemitic from a Palestine-focused mural in an exhibit that was supposed to appear this summer. 

The exhibition, which was canceled in March as a result of the controversy, was focused on racism and xenophobia against marginalized groups, including Palestinians. The mural in question featured a sign with the phrase “Zionism is racism.”

The library raised concerns about the phrase and discussed removing it with the curators, according to an SFPL statement sent to The Standard. The group declined to make changes to the exhibition, said Christopher Statton, co-director of Clarion Alley Mural Project, the Mission District-based group that organized the mural exhibition. 

“It may create discussions that are difficult and messy, but it’s harmful not to have these discussions,” Statton said. 

In her letter, ACLU Staff Attorney Hannah Kieschnick agrees, arguing that the library, as a public space that often promotes and displays speech that doesn’t represent its views, cannot discriminate that speech by its viewpoint or concerns it is controversial. 

“Instead of cancelling what the library perceives to be a controversial exhibition, I urge you to use the exhibition as an opportunity, consistent with the library’s role as a center for information and learning, to welcome diverse perspectives and foster open dialogue about the viewpoint expressed in the Arab Liberation Mural,” Kieschnick wrote in the letter.

The SFPL declined to comment on the ACLU letter specifically, but its statement to The Standard reaffirms its decision to ask the artists to edit their work before its presentation in service to their mission to “provide a safe and welcoming space for our entire community.

“Presenting expressions, such as ‘Zionism is Racism,’ which are widely viewed as antisemitic are counter to that mission and would set a precedent that would justify the exhibition of other viewpoints harming minority communities and identities based on race, gender, national origin, sexuality, or religion,” the library’s statement reads. “The Library presents a panoply of viewpoints on a wide range of topics, but we draw the line at a public display of speech that negatively targets any specific race, ethnic or religious community.”

According to Statton, several alternative venues that he declined to name have reached out to the group offering to display the exhibition in its entirety.

“The library’s decision to censor our mural without connecting with the community—it was disrespectful,” said Sharif Zakout, an organizer at the Arab Resource and Organizing Center. “Our community was left out of it completely.”

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