Growing up, I was told over and over: “You need to take responsibility for Israel. It’s your responsibility as a Jew.”
Now, I would say: “It’s unconscionable what’s happening in my name in Israel/Palestine, and as an American Jew, I am uniquely positioned to do something about it.”
That’s why I’ve spent the past week in the West Bank, meeting and working with Palestinians who are persevering to stay on their land and in their homes. I’m on a delegation with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence, an organization building networks of solidarity and co-resistance with Palestinians.
We’ve been working with community leaders in Masafer Yatta, a region south of Hebron where more than 1,500 Palestinians are facing expulsion from their homes. This would be the largest mass expulsion of Palestinians in sixty years.
As I’ve traveled from community to community, alongside our Palestinian partners, I’ve heard two things over and over again:
One: Work with us. A young Palestinian organizer, Tariq, told me this:
“The fact that Palestinians and Jews are working together – that scares them. It threatens the forces that maintain occupation.”
Two: Share our stories. As one community leader put it:
“We need you to come here to hear our stories, and we need you to go home to share them.”
Today, I saw firsthand how Jews and Palestinians working together threatens this violent system.
But before I tell you what happened today, I need you to take one step to help Palestinians struggling to stay on their land. If enough of us are paying attention and speaking out, 1,500 people could remain in their homes.
If you have Instagram, follow the fight to #SaveMasaferYatta here via Instagram, or here via email.
This morning, I joined a Palestinian led-protest of over 200 Palestinians, Israelis, and diaspora Jews – including IfNotNow members – working together to re-open a road illegally blocked by settlers. The plan was to roll aside the massive boulders that settlers had put in place, which had cut Palestinians off from vital travel.
When settlers harassed us, the soldiers stood by and watched. They even detained Israeli activists and released them next to the settlers, who threw stones at them, broke their car window, and injured the activists inside.
When our group of nonviolent protesters tried to clear the road, the army responded with tear gas & stun grenades.
On Sunday, we saw Jewish supremacists march through the streets of Jerusalem, shouting racist chants like “Death to the Arabs” and “May your village burn.” We saw protesters spit on and pepper spray an elderly Palestinian woman. We saw violence against journalists – by marchers and police alike. From Jerusalem to the West Bank to Gaza, Palestinians face the endless, dehumanizing violence of occupation and apartheid.
It is our moral obligation to condemn this violent system, and to stand in its way wherever we can.
In a few days, I’ll be joining other IfNotNow members on a delegation of 50 diaspora Jews will arrive in the West Bank – to join with Palestinians who are working to save their homes from being demolished.
Masafer Yatta, a region in the West Bank that’s home to thousands of Palestinians, is facing an imminent threat to its existence, as the Israeli government prepares to enact the largest mass expulsion of Palestinians in six decades. Now is the time to get in the way – through co-resistance and disruptive action with Palestinians leading this effort to #SaveMasaferYatta.
Al Haj Suleiman al-Hathaleen was a shepherd in the West Bank and a well-known anti-occupation activist. Suleiman was a small man with no weapons. He resisted the occupation through civil disobedience. While Israeli bulldozers destroyed the homes in his neighborhood, he stood in peaceful defiance with a Palestinian flag and his shepherd’s staff. Ali Velshi met Haj Suleiman on his last trip to Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank at the end of 2019.
Two weeks ago, Israeli forces entered Haj Suleiman’s village of Umm Al-Khair and began confiscating unregistered Palestinian cars. Haj Suleiman did what he had done for decades: he peacefully resisted. Then he was run over by a tow truck, under contract to the Israeli police. Witnesses say the tow truck driver and their police escort simply fled the rural village. They did not render aid to Haj Suleiman. They did not even call for an ambulance. Al Haj Suleiman al-Hathaleen never emerged from his coma, and died of his injuries this week.
Suleiman was a man with little to his name, except for his land, his village, and his ability to stand up to an illegal occupation. This small man with just his words and his staff, was a thorn in the side of the Israeli occupation, because he had become a symbol of the resistance, and an emblem of the Israeli occupation.
EDITORIAL NOTE: Subsequent to their initial statement about the incident, Israeli Police released a second statement that counters what eyewitnesses reported. Here is the second statement in full:
“During enforcement activity against mashtuba (unregistered) vehicles, carried out by police forces together with a tow truck in the service of the police, near the village of Umm Daraj, a violent disturbance by rioters who are local residents broke out against the forces.
The movement of the tow truck and of the police vehicle was blocked, and stones were thrown at the police officer and at the tow truck driver in a way that endangered the force.
In response, an IDF fighter who was posted in the police vehicle fired into the air. As the forces moved to leave while stones were being thrown at them, one of the rioters jumped on the tow truck, fell to the ground and was hurt. In the situation that was created, in which a militant mob concretely tried to harm the force in question, it was impossible to stop and assist the injured person.
The Israel Police and the IDF take a very grave view of this attempt to harm the security forces and hamper routine activity, and will act with determination to impose governance.”
Black and Palestinian Perspectives on
the Power of Education and Action
Who: Dr. Ronda Taylor Bullock, Co-Founder and Executive Director of we are (working to extend anti-racist education), and Dr. Iymen Chehade, History professor at Columbia College, Chicago, and human rights activist
When: December 6, 7:00 PM (Eastern Time Zone)
Dr. Chehade and Dr. Bullock, each from their distinctive perspectives, will share insights from their work in educating for a future of liberation and equity. They will explore the critical value of a structural analysis of oppression, whether that be systemic racism in the American context or systematic oppression in Palestine/Israel. In addition to naming what creates injustice, destruction, and death, they also dream and envision creative possibilities of the life that can be. Join us for an enlightening and inspiring conversation!
Mohammed El Kurd is a Palestinian boy growing up in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in the heart of East Jerusalem. When Mohammed turns 11, his family is forced to give up part of their home to Israeli settlers, who are leading a campaign of court-sanctioned evictions to guarantee Jewish control of the area.
Shortly after their displacement, Mohammed’s family and other residents begin holding unarmed protests against the evictions, determined not to lose their homes for good. In a surprising turn, they are quickly joined by scores of Israeli supporters who are horrified to see what is being done in their name. Among them is Jewish West Jerusalem resident Zvi Benninga and his sister Sara, who develop a strong relationship with Mohammed and his family as they take on a leading role in organizing the protests.
Through their personal stories, My Neighbourhood goes beyond the sensational headlines that normally dominate discussions of Jerusalem and captures voices rarely heard, of those striving for a future of equality and pluralism in the city.
My Neighbourhood follows Mohammed as he comes of age in the midst of unrelenting tension and remarkable cooperation in his backyard. Highlighting Mohammed’s own reactions to the highly volatile situation, reflections from family members and other evicted residents, accounts of Israeli protesters and interviews with Israeli settlers, the film chronicles the resolve of a neighbourhood and the support it receives from the most unexpected of places.
My Neighbourhood is directed and produced by Rebekah Wingert-Jabi, who documented Mohammed’s story over two years, and acclaimed filmmaker Julia Bacha. It is the latest production by Just Vision, an award-winning team of Palestinian, Israeli, North and South American filmmakers, journalists and human rights advocates dedicated to telling the stories of Israelis and Palestinians working nonviolently to achieve freedom, dignity, equality and human security in the region.
On 12 July 2021, following several communications submitted to the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) for the temporary humanitarian release of Palestinian political prisoner Khalida Jarrar to attend her recently deceased daughter’s funeral, the Israeli Prison Service denied Khalida’s release on political grounds, citing the alleged “security threat” she poses due to her “[negative] leadership role” inside and out of prison. The denial of Khalida Jarrar’s release to mourn the sudden death of her daughter and participate in burial rights stands in stark violation of protected recognition of human dignity and family rights under international law.
Khalida Jarrar’s daughter, Suha Jarrar, was unexpectedly found dead in her apartment in Ramallah on 11 July 2021. Suha, a 30-year-old human rights defender, served as a Research and Advocacy officer for Al-Haq, working with United Nations treaty bodies and the Human Rights Council, specializing in gender, environment, and climate change. In response to Suha’s sudden and tragic death, regional human rights organizations began mobilizing international instruments and advocacy, calling for Khalida’s immediate and unconditional release, on humanitarian grounds, to attend her daughter’s funeral, scheduled for 13 June 2021, and mourn in human dignity. Addameer’s lawyers, representing Khalida, sent forth legal communications with the relevant local occupation authorities appealing for her temporary release. Nevertheless, the Israeli Prison Service responded to the communication, firmly denying the request and any possibility of further entreaty with an index of justifications that allegedly mark Khalida as a “security threat” ineligible for humanitarian considerations.
On 31 October 2019, Khalida Jarrar was detained once again by IOF and held in detention for months before her sentence on 1 March 2021 to 24 months in prison and a fine of 4,000 NIS. During the hearing session, the military prosecutor amended Khalida’s indictment, limiting it solely to her political role and work with the Palestinian Authority, thus establishing no charges against her in affiliation with any military, financial nor organizational activities. Despite the sentence relating to her political activities, the IPS characterized Khalida Jarrar as a “security inmate,” thus falling under a category prohibited from temporary humanitarian release under the Israeli Prison Ordinance No. 03.02.00. In establishing her as a “security inmate”—constituting a “security threat” to the region, the IPS explicitly notes Khalida’s leadership role as a Palestinian Legislative Council member and former director of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. Her classification as a “security inmate” automatically sets her under more stringent rules and allows for greater violations and restrictions on her basic rights. Moreover, the IPS notes Khalida Jarrar’s “negative influence” inside and outside of prison, coupled with her previous arrests and administrative detention, further confirming the “security threat” she poses if temporarily released. In a base “humanitarian” gesture, the IPS allowed for one short phone call between Khalida Jarrar and her bereaved family.
In listing the purported grounds for the denial of the request for Khalida Jarrar’s humanitarian release to bury her daughter, the Israeli occupation regime explicitly relies on criminalizing Khalida’s political work and human rights activism as a means of establishing her “security threat,” thus depriving her of any inherent human dignity and humanitarian considerations. Furthermore, Israeli occupation authorities cement their determinations by citing her previous arrests and administrative detention, her systematic harassment and targeting by the Israeli occupation regime, never minding the lack of evidentiary grounds for her administrative detention or her most recent sentencing solely addressing her political activities.
Throughout Khalida’s work as a Palestinian civil society leader, former General Director of Addameer, Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member, and role in the formulation of Palestine’s application to the ICC, she has been systematically harassed and targeted by the Israeli occupation regime. These efforts come as part of an ongoing Israeli effort to suppress Palestinians’ exercise of political sovereignty and self-determination. Khalida has been detained by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) three times between 2015 and 2019 for an accumulated period of 59 months. Furthermore, Khalida was issued a travel ban in 1998, which was only lifted once in 2010 to receive medical treatment.
The denial of the humanitarian request by the Israeli occupation regime violates the essence of human dignity and family rights protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Fourth Geneva Conventions mandated upon Israel as the Occupying Power. The act confirms the retaliatory and punitive nature of the occupation regime, which denies the most basic humanity to Palestinians and where political activities, affiliation, and leadership are prohibitively taken against their rights and dignity.
Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association mourns the sudden death of Suha Jarrar and the tragic reality of Israeli military occupation that denies a mother the chance to mourn her daughter and participate in her burial. Notwithstanding, Addameer will continue to call for the immediate release of Khalida Jarrar and is committed to advocating for the actualization of the dignity and rights of Palestinian prisoners.
ADDAMEER (Arabic for conscience) Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association is a Palestinian non-governmental, civil institution that works to support Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli and Palestinian prisons.
Palestine Partners started this petition to United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’.
Palestinian human rights activist Sami Huraini was arrested by Israeli forces during a pre-dawn raid on his home in the West Bank village of At-Tuwani on January 9. The arrest occurred just hours after Sami’s participation in a nonviolent demonstration in the neighboring village of Al Rakeez, where Israeli soldiers shot and paralyzed an unarmed Palestinian man on New Year’s day. Despite a complete lack of evidence and the peaceful nature of the protests, Mr Huraini has been charged with obstructing the peace and assaulting an Israeli soldier.
Mr Huraini is a leading human rights activist in the Masafer Yatta (South Hebron Hills) area. Residents of At Tuwani believe that his arrest is part of an effort to target him for his effectiveness as a community organizer and leadership of the nonviolent protests that have followed the January 1 shooting in nearby Al Rakeez. His arrest is an example of the widespread targeting of activists by the Israeli military courts. The Israeli practice of trying Palestinians in Israeli military courts results a conviction rate of over 99 percent and cannot be defended as just or democratic.
We ask that you call on the Israeli government to drop the politically-motivated charges against Sami Huraini so that he can continue his work to protect human rights.
Tubas, Jordan Valley — Today in response to the “Deal of the Century” Palestinians gathered for an action in the Jordan Valley during which they plowed the land in an area declared a closed military zone for training.
Israeli soldiers responded to this action by firing sound grenades and tear gas into the crowd. Israeli soldiers also closed roads and established checkpoints in order to prevent Palestinians from reaching the spot.
Invest in justice by building genuine connections between US and Palestinian cities, towns, villages, or refugee camps through a sister city relationship. Sister Cities promote ties between community members in both places to learn about each other’s lives and work together on projects to support one another.
Sister Cities have transformed US city officials’ and other residents’ understanding of what is happening in Palestine through personal and official connections with Palestinians living under Israeli apartheid. Sister Cities also open the door to delegations to Palestine, including by city officials.
Current official and unofficial sister cities between the US and Palestine include:
Establish a sister city relationship between your city and a city, town, village, or refugee camp in Palestine. Maintain and grow that relationship in the years to come.
In Muscatine, IA, residents with relationships in Ramallah, including Palestinians, led a sister city campaign. Despite being met with tremendous opposition, the campaign succeeded in 2011 thanks to long-term relationship building with city council members and the mayor. The sister city project has focused on projects connecting Muscatine and Ramallah middle school students through art and social media, and has allowed Muscatine residents to gain awareness of what life is like for Palestinians in occupied Ramallah. There have been multiple Muscatine to Ramallah delegations, and there is an delegation being planned for city officials.
The Boulder-Nablus Sister City Project began as a campaign led by Boulder residents inspired by personal relationships with Nablus residents. Their first attempt in 2013 was so controversial that Palestine dominated local news headlines for weeks, capturing the attention of the entire city – the city’s livestream of the hearing was so widely watched that it crashed! The campaign was massively effective at reaching folks who don’t consider themselves political but care about people-to-people connections and cultural exchange. An official sister city relationship was passed in 2016.
A Palestinian activist sticks a sign bearing the Palestinian name of Ein Albeida spring over an Israeli street sign with the name Avigail Spring, south of the village of Yatta near Hebron in the occupied West Bank on January 3, 2020. (Hazem Bader-AFP via Getty Images)
Recently, nonviolent Palestinian activist Kifah Adara drew water from the Ein Albeida spring near her West Bank village of Al-Tuwani for the first time in 15 years. The spring is a natural water source that was used by Palestinian communities in the region for generations, but a decade and a half ago, nearby Israeli settlers started swimming in the spring, which dirtied the water and made it unsuitable for drinking. For years, due to settler violence and intimidation tactics, Palestinians couldn’t access the spring at all.
That all changed after a massive nonviolent direct action in which a group of over 150 Palestinian, Israeli, and diaspora Jewish activists reclaimed and rehabilitated Ein Albeida, thereby enabling Adara to walk from her village to fill water buckets for the first time since her youth. “I remember coming to this spring with women from my village to collect water for our families,” Adara said after the action. “We would travel 1.5 kilometers on our donkeys, just like we did today. Once Israeli settlers began swimming in this spring, it was no longer safe for us to drink. For many years, we could not access the spring at all. I am so happy to be back at this spring. I hope that, through the work we started today, the people of this region can use this water again.”
Kifah Adara and her donkey carry water from Ein Albeida spring to nearby olive trees. (Emily Glick)
Ein Albeida, which means “White Spring” in Arabic, is the only natural water source for people living in Al-Tuwani and other nearby villages. The spring is also near Avigayil, an illegal Israeli outpost established in 2001. Settlers living in Avigayil have access to electricity and running water provided by the Israeli government, despite the outpost being considered illegal under Israeli law, while the Palestinian village of Al-Tuwani lacks these services. This is representative of one of the many structural inequalities of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank, where services are systematically denied to Palestinians while brazenly given to Israeli Jewish settlers.
The coalition of activists who participated in the action with Adara joined her to show their solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against occupation and to assert their commitment to justice in the region. Adara invited the Israeli and diaspora Jewish members of this coalition to demonstrate their commitment to Palestinian solidarity by leveraging their privilege, as Jews, to protect her and other Palestinian activists from settler and state violence.
I participated in the action through a delegation with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence, a group that brings Jews from around the world to engage in nonviolent direct action and co-resistance projects alongside Palestinian and Israeli partners. My participation is central to my academic research investigating Jewish anti-occupation activism and the politics of Jewish identity.
Members of All That’s Left: Anti-Occupation Collective gathering water at Ein Albeida spring. (Emily Glick)
My research points to two important things with regard to this delegation and the action to rehabilitate and reclaim Ein Albeida. First, whereas previous research claimed that Jews engage critically with Israeli policies of occupation out of love for Israel and a desire to make it better, many of the activists with whom I am working are instead motivated by a deep commitment to justice, especially for Palestinians. Second, though there are many methods and tactics used to end the occupation, the co-resistance model is one of the most impactful in showing tangible results to improve the lives of Palestinians on the ground. The nature of this organizing model also builds a vibrant, intersectional, and powerful anti-occupation social movement by building trust and relationships through embodied actions.
Co-resistance means that Palestinians, Israelis, Jews from the diaspora and international activists resist policies and structures of occupation in collaboration with one another. In the co-resistance model, Palestinians set the conditions for action and invite partners to join them based on the shared commitments to bring a just and equitable end to the Israeli occupation. Only those truly committed to dismantling the connected systems of oppression that harm communities in Palestine and Israel are invited to participate in co-resistance actions.
Through co-resistance, Palestinians, Israelis and international Jews build alliances across their differences that enables them to resist in relationship to each other. Building relationships structured on resistance is rooted in the tacit understanding that the liberation of one is deeply intertwined with the liberation of another. The co-resistance model demonstrates, in practice and on the ground, the words of Paulo Freire, who wrote in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “[W]e cannot say that in the process of revolution someone liberates someone else, nor yet that someone liberates himself, but rather that human beings in communion liberate each other.”
A Center for Jewish Nonviolence leader planting olive trees next to Ein Albeida spring as the Israeli Army surveys in the background. (Emily Glick)
As exemplified by the direct action that allowed Adara to return to Ein Albeida, co-resistance shows how the symbolic power of Palestinians, Israelis and international Jews coming together is a model for what a future of liberation and equality for all people who live in Palestine and Israel could look like.
When Jewish activists join together in co-resistance and engage in projects to make life more livable for Palestinian communities, we refuse to enable the occupation. Co-resistance is therefore a rejection of the continued annexation of Palestinian land and resources, and the erasure of Palestinian life and culture. By engaging in co-resistance, we uplift Palestinian resilience and leadership and show by our physical presence that occupation is not our Judaism. This type of activism is a way of asserting a liberatory Jewish identity based in justice for all people while reclaiming Judaism from Israeli state violence.