More Withdraw from the Miss Universe Pageant in Israel

Miss Universe Greece is not the only contestant who will be a no-show at the pageant which takes place in Eilat, Israel on 12 December. Contestants from Malaysia, Indonesia, and Laos have all bowed out of visiting the controversial venue. Barbados has also withdrawn, but cited COVID as the official reason…

Also, South Africa has withdrawn its support for Miss South Africa to attend, although so far she is refusing to withdraw. Nelson Mandela’s grandson has been prominently among those publicly urging a boycott, saying “nothing about Apartheid is beautiful”.

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.

Continue reading

Join hundreds of Google and Amazon workers demanding #NoTechForApartheid

As salaamu alaykum —

This is the best time to join in:

The number of workers at Amazon and Google who are teaming up to push both companies towards #NoTechForApartheid has doubled since we last emailed you.

There are now over 1,000 Amazon and Google workers organizing to demand their employers cut ties with Israeli apartheid, and end Project Nimbus—a $1.2 billion contract to provide cloud technology for the Israeli military and government.

We *need* to seize this moment and build on this momentum:

Click here to send an email to Amazon and Google execs & tell them: Cut Project Nimbus and all tech projects that power apartheid.

These courageous workers at every level of Amazon and Google are making it very clear that technology should be used to bring people together, not enable ethnic cleansing. They deserve our support.

I’ve forwarded our last email on this below, to provide more information if you’d like it, but I can’t emphasize it enough: this is the time to take action.

Right now, Amazon and Google are seeing the ranks of workers willing to speak out for #NoTechForApartheid swell — and they know that if their own workers are increasingly going on the record, there’s reason to believe consumers who don’t want to support apartheid aren’t far behind.

As we get closer to the most profitable days of the year for Amazon and Google—Black Friday and Cyber Monday—let’s make sure we keep up the momentum.

Join over 23,000 everyday people to say: #NoTechForApartheid.

Continue reading

Israel can monitor every telephone call in West Bank and Gaza, says intelligence source

‘Harsh invasion of privacy’ provides Israeli Security Agency with a system of control over the Palestinians


A woman uses her phone in a courtroom in Nablus, occupied West Bank in February 2021 (AFP)

Lubna Masarwa, Middle East Eye, 15 November 2021

Israel can listen to every telephone conversation taking place in the West Bank and Gaza, a former member of the Israeli Army’s elite signals intelligence unit 8200 has told Middle East Eye.

Every mobile or phone imported into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing – in Gaza’s south – is implanted with an Israeli bug, and anyone using the only two mobile networks serving the occupied territories – Jawwal and Wataniya – is being monitored as well, the former signals intelligence member said.

‘Sometimes these are private conversations, maybe even intimate conversations… Soldiers save the conversations and send them to their friends’

Former member of the Israeli Army’s elite signals intelligence unit 8200

Continue reading

Escalating surveillance calls for escalated action: #StandWiththe6

News broke today that NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware has been detected on phones of six Palestinian rights defenders, three of whom work for Al-Haq, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, and the Bisan Center for Research and Development, organizations that Israel recently criminalized.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post has uncovered a massive Israeli military facial recognition program threatening the safety of the Palestinian people, with Israeli military units photographing thousands of Palestinians to track and criminalize everyone from the children to the elderly. Read more in this policy memo.

These developments are part of the Israeli regime’s calculated, systematic acts of repression and violence against the Palestinian people.

Pegasus is a tool of repression, weaponized by authoritarian governmentswhich can gain access to essentially everything on a phone, from activating the microphone to tracking the location. An investigative report released by Front Line Defenders, an international human rights organization, reveals the pattern of Israel’s repressive violence while calling for “an immediate global moratorium on the export, sale, transfer and use of surveillance technology until an adequate human rights regulatory framework is in place.” 

Surveillance tech is a threat against all our communitiesThe Israeli regime exports its weapons and surveillance tech, field-tested on Palestinian people, to oppressive regimes around the worldthreatening everyone’s safety while systematically targeting Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities.

In the words of USCPR’s Executive Director, Ahmad Abuznaid, “We know what repression looks like. The Israeli regime is a separate-and-unequal apartheid state employing every last authoritarian tactic at its disposal, but we know the truth: that liberation is coming and Palestine will be free.

Continue reading

November 20, 2021
Palestinian Children in Israel’s Military Detention System

Israeli soldiers knelt on top of 16-year-old Osama while holding him at gunpoint, arrested 17-year-old Qusai in his home at three in the morning, and forced 17-year-old Islam to sleep outside in the cold overnight.

On November 20, Universal Children’s Day, join us for the global premiere of Caging Childhood: Palestinian Children in Israel’s Military Detention System, a new short documentary produced by Defense for Children International – Palestine.

Israeli NSO’s Pegasus spyware used to hack Palestinian activists’ phones

 A man walks past the logo of Israeli cyber firm NSO Group at one of its branches in the Arava Desert, southern Israel July 22, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
A man walks past the logo of Israeli cyber firm NSO Group at one of its branches in the Arava Desert, southern Israel July 22, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

Yonah Jeremy Bob And Reuters, The Jerusalem Post, November 8, 2021

The mobile phones of six Palestinian rights activists connected to a recent Israeli declaration of six Palestinian NGOs as terror groups were hacked by NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, Front Line Defenders, Amnesty International and internet security watchdog Citizen Lab said on Monday.

The new findings followed NSO’s blacklisting last week by the US Commerce Department amid allegations its spyware targeted journalists, rights activists and government officials in several countries.

In addition, the announcement comes as there is a continued public relations fight over whether the six Palestinian NGOs are human rights groups or have been operating through a mix of human rights activities and terror in conjunction with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group.

There was a clear move by Front Line Defenders, Amnesty and Citizen Lab collectively to build off the connection to NSO to try to further undermine Israel’s campaign against the Palestinian NGOs.

Continue reading

Human Rights Groups: ‘Israel targeted us for one reason’

‘We’re succeeding in changing the paradigm’

After being outlawed as ‘terrorist organizations’ overnight, Palestinian human rights groups talk to +972 about why Israel’s allegations are not just unfounded, but amount to an act of political persecution.

Sahar Francis, Director of Addameer, seen at the organization’s offices in Ramallah, the West Bank on February 19, 2019. (Photo: Mohannad Darabee for +972 Magazine)
Sahar Francis, Director of Addameer, seen at the organization’s offices in Ramallah, the West Bank on February 19, 2019. (Photo: Mohannad Darabee for +972 Magazine)

Yuval Abraham, +972 Magazine, October 25, 2021

When Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed an executive order last week declaring six Palestinian human rights groups as “terrorist organizations,” the government did not even bother with putting on a facade of due process. With the swift stroke of a pen, the NGOs — Al-Haq, Addameer, Bisan Center, Defense for Children International-Palestine, the Union for Agricultural Work Committees, and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees — were instantly outlawed with neither a trial nor the opportunity to respond to the accusations against them.

Yet rather than question the dubious nature of this move, the vast majority of Israeli media outlets simply cribbed the Defense Ministry’s official statement on the matter, which accused the six organizations of serving as “arms” of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) — a secular, Marxist-Leninist party and movement deemed a terrorist group by Israel.

The government claimed that the NGOs whitewashed funds intended for humanitarian reasons and transferred them for military purposes instead, further accusing the organizations’ employees of belonging, either in the past or present, to the PFLP. Right-wing Israeli groups, too, have for years tried to draw connections between these organizations and the PFLP in an effort to cut off their funding abroad.

The Defense Ministry’s decision was based on intelligence gathered by the Shin Bet, which it has not revealed to the public. But according to sources with knowledge of the legal case, the agency’s evidence is reportedly based on the testimony of a sole employee who was terminated from one of the organizations for corruption.

Continue reading

#StandWithThe6 and Call Out Biden

Register for & share the Wednesday Power Half-Hour #StandWithThe6 Call-In to Call Out Biden

Join us for the Power Half-Hour #StandWithThe6 Call-In to Call Out Biden. Join us for 30 minutes on Wednesday, November 3, 2pm ET / 1pm CT / 12pm MT / 11am PT to be part of a wave of people power flooding the White House’s reactivated comments line (202-456-1111) to #StandWithThe6. We’ll take action together and also hear analysis to shape our grassroots advocacy strategy in this moment, in order to advance an end to U.S. military funding to Israel, uplifting effective human rights advocacy work that Israel is working so hard to silence.

Drive Emails for H.Res. 751 #StandWithThe6 Resolution

Just a reminder that we have an email action tool and accompanying social media toolkit for the letter launch. 300 organizations have signed and individual signers are still welcome!

9 progressives joined as original cosponsors on H.Res.751 – Condemning the repressive designation by the Government of Israel of six prominent Palestinian human rights and civil society groups as terrorist organizations. Rep. Holmes Norton has since joined. We’re disturbed by silence from high profile ‘Progressive Except Palestine’ Representatives who claim to care about human rights.