Women’s Boat to Gaza

Women’s Boat to Gaza, July 20, 2016

Gaza has been under Israeli blockade for the past decade during which Israel has also launched countless attacks against the besieged population, turning their life into a nightmare and a continuous struggle. Through Freedom Flotillas and other naval missions we have brought international attention to their suffering and their resistance. The Women’s Boat to Gaza is an initiative of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) and is composed of civil society organizations and campaigns from many countries. We have been challenging the illegal and inhuman Israeli blockade of Gaza for years and are committed to continue the struggle until the blockade is unconditionally lifted and the Palestinian people everywhere regain their full rights.

The Women’s Boat to Gaza (WBG) seeks not only to challenge the Israeli blockade but to also show solidarity and bring a message of hope to the Palestinian people. With the support of women, men, non-governmental organizations, civil society groups and from women’s collectives and events around the world, we will make this happen.

womens_boat_log.png Help Us Sail to Gaza to Break the Israeli Blockade!

GOALS

The Women’s Boat to Gaza (WBG) seeks not only to challenge the Israeli blockade but to also show solidarity and bring a message of hope to the Palestinian people. With the support of women, men, non-governmental organizations, civil society groups and from women’s collectives and events around the world, we will make this happen.

Funds will be used to purchase a boat and have an all-woman crew and women passengers from around the world. We intend to sail in summer or fall of 2016 the date depending on fundraising to purchase the boat. Our U.S. goal is $30,000.

Our fiscal sponsor is Nonviolence International, 501(c)(3), tax ID 52-164578. Donations by check can be mailed to:

Women’s Boat to Gaza
c/o Nonviolence International
4000 Albemarle Street, NW, Suite 401
Washington, DC 20016


It is 5,900 miles between Washington, DC and Gaza.

Every $5 brings us one mile closer to reaching the families in Gaza.

Be a part of the journey. Contribute today!

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Contributions are tax deductible.

Ben Ehrenreich Writes a Love Letter to Palestine

Next we meet Hani Amer, whose farm lay on the route of the infamous wall. After a long struggle, Amer won the right to have his house and some of his land preserved . . . The Israeli Army built a gate that they opened for 15 minutes every 24 hours. . . Most disturbing is “planet Hebron,” where the list of abuses considered normal includes soldiers firing tear gas at schoolchildren to mark the beginning and end of each day of school.

BEN RAWLENCE, The New York Times, July 14, 2016

Children playing in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City in 2007 (Ruth Fremson/The New Yorkr Times)

An intimate, vivid look at daily life in Palestine

THE WAY TO THE SPRING
Life and Death in Palestine
By Ben Ehrenreich
Illustrated. 428 pp. Penguin Press. $28.

“It is perhaps unavoidable and surely unfortunate that any book about the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea requires introduction, and some small degree of defensiveness on the part of the author.” So writes Ben Ehrenreich, a journalist and novelist, in the (avoidable) introduction to his love letter to Palestine, “The Way to the Spring.”

I say avoidable because, as Ehren­reich acknowledges on the same page, the current debate about Israel-Palestine is virulently partisan. His exposition of the politics of storytelling (“choosing certain stories and not others means taking a side”) and the task of the writer (“to battle untruth”) is eloquent, though I fear more likely to deter than move those who have already made up their minds on the issue. His cause would be better served by letting his stories do the talking, for they are both heartbreaking and eye-opening.

The book begins with Bassem Tamimi, whom Ehrenreich met in 2011. Bassem is a resident of the village of Nabi Saleh in the West Bank, which had been holding weekly demonstrations against the Israeli occupation — protesting the grabbing of the village spring (its water supply) and the arrest and detention of villagers, as well as the death of one of them, a 13-year-old boy. The intimacy of Ehrenreich’s reporting domesticates the violence and injustice, thus rendering it more shocking: A fragment of a tear gas grenade and broken lawn furniture mingle beneath a fruiting mulberry tree in the garden. Children proudly show where an Israeli bullet scarred one of the rooms. Bassem’s wife, Nariman, reads Dan Brown in Arabic translation outside, at night, watching the brake lights of cars at the checkpoint down the hill.

The people of Nabi Saleh are among the few who still regularly protest and resist the occupation, and Ehrenreich accompanies them on marches, getting tear-gassed more times than I can count. But this is not the story he has come for, not the only one he is interested in. He spends enough time among the family of Bassem and others to realize that “the people of Nabi Saleh were crafting a narrative of their own struggle.” They needed “to see themselves a certain way.” And this is the heart of the book: the stories people tell themselves to survive.

Next we meet Hani Amer, whose farm lay on the route of the infamous wall. After a long struggle, Amer won the right to have his house and some of his land preserved but enclosed like a bubble with the wall divided into two loops. The Israeli Army built a gate that they opened for 15 minutes every 24 hours. Nonetheless, within the space, he has planted olive, fig, apple, peach and plum trees, vegetables of all kinds. “Instead of seeing the wall,” he says, “I try to see the garden.”

The narrative doesn’t linger for long with any one character. Like an over­eager tour guide, Ehrenreich has too much to show us and too much to say. He pulls us back to Ramallah to see the incremental theft that is the process of a new settlement going up. Then to the refurbished muqata’a, the official residence of the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, to illustrate how the building works as a “palimpsest of 80 years of colonial and now neocolonial rule,” designed to create the impression of a state without the substance. Most disturbing is “planet Hebron,” where the list of abuses considered normal includes soldiers firing tear gas at schoolchildren to mark the beginning and end of each day of school.

We meet a new cast of characters in Hebron, and another in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Kheir, including the unforgettable vegetarian pastoralist Eid Suleiman ­al-­Hathalin, who makes model bulldozers out of scrap and whose ambition is to have one of them exhibited at the Caterpillar company’s museum in Peoria, Ill. In between are set-piece “interludes” examining the mechanics of the occupation — the “humiliation machine” of the checkpoint at Qalandia, the apartment blocks of Rawabi, near Ramallah, not, as the promotional materials and newspaper reports would have you believe, a “city of hope,” but in fact a tangle of financial interests tying Palestinian elites to Israeli developers and Qatari ­financiers.

Ehrenreich’s vivid, lyrical, sometimes snarling prose overwhelms the attempt at formal structure, however. The reportage motors forward, propelled by Ehrenreich’s wonder at the outrageous curiosities of the occupation. In Umm al-Kheir the Israeli Army dispatches a platoon to confiscate a portable toilet and demolish a bread oven. In Hebron, a settler scales a wall and snares himself in barbed wire to request that his Palestinian neighbor remove a Palestinian flag. “The citizens of each city are trained from infancy to unsee the other city and its residents,” Ehren­reich writes, citing a work of science fiction.

The book is not a polemic, Ehrenreich says in the introduction. This is argument by way of anecdote. The French writer Jean Genet also wrote a passionate homage to Palestine (“Prisoner of Love”) and also pondered the question of how the battle for truth is waged: “It’s not enough just to write a few anecdotes,” he warned. “What one has to do is create and develop an image or a profusion of images.” In those terms, Ehrenreich’s haunting, poignant and memorable stories add up to a weighty contribution to the Palestinian side of the scales of history.

Ben Rawlence is the author of “Radio Congo” and “City of Thorns.”

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Eleven signs that BDS continues to grow despite Israel’s war of repression

Palestinian BDS National Committee, July 7, 2016

33333Palestinian campaigners have launched popular boycott campaigns across the West Bank in recent months

The Palestinian-led, global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was launched eleven years ago as a nonviolent and effective means for progressive people and organisations across the world to support the struggle of the Palestinian people for our rights under international law.

Inspired by the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and the US Civil Rights movement, BDS today is widely recognized as having a strategic impact in challenging international support for Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid over the Palestinian people.

Having failed to stop the inspiring spread of mainstream support for the BDS movement across the world, Israel has launched a desperate and dangerous war of repression and demonization against the movement that reminds us of the darkest moments of McCarthyism in the US.

Nevertheless, support for BDS has not only continued to grow – it has accelerated. Western governments, leading political parties and the world’s largest human rights organizations have recently recognized BDS as a legitimate means of nonviolently advocating and campaigning for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality.

What follows is a snapshot of developments in the BDS movement so far during 2016. We’ve also published round-ups of major BDS successes during 2014 and during 2015.

1. Our campaign for the #RightToBoycott is winning mainstream and government support

At Israel’s request, governments in the US, UK, France, Canada and elsewhere are seeking to repress BDS. Israel has banned BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti from travelling and says it may revoke his residency status.

Mainstream organisations and even governments recognise Israel’s repressive war against BDS as a dangerous challenge to fundamental freedoms.

Representatives of the Swedish, Irish and Dutch governments have publicly defended the right to advocate and campaign for Palestinian rights under international law through BDS, as have organisations including Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the American Civil Liberties Union.

More than 23,000 people signed our appeal to the UN regarding #RightToBoycott, and a related testimony was presented at the recent UN Human Rights Council.

Following the lead of other mainstream US newspapers, the Los Angeles Times ran an editorial on Tuesday titled Boycotts of Israel are a protected form of free speech.

Far from slowing down support for our BDS movement, Israel’s anti-democratic war of repression against has provided the movement with further exposure and newer audiences.

2. The Stop G4S campaign is building power and spreading across the world

#StopG4S action for Palestinian prisoners day 2016 in Lebanon

#StopG4S action for Palestinian prisoners day 2016 in Lebanon

The international campaign to pressure G4S to end its role in Israel’s prison system, police, military, checkpoints and illegal settlements has made impressive new gains during 2016.

BDS campaigning has directly led to G4S losing contracts with 3 UN agencies in Jordan and a major retailer in Colombia and to a Kuwaiti government fund divesting from the company. This follows a series of campaign wins over the last two years that have seen companies, charities and investors across the world, from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the United Methodist Church, take similar steps.

Unions and campaign groups in the US, Egypt, Uruguay, Chile and Lebanon are stepping up their G4S campaigning, and the Stop G4S campaign is currently active in more than a dozen countries.

At its shareholder meeting in June, G4S repeated its March announcement that it intends to sell its Israeli subsidiary. However, the company has stopped short of guaranteeing it will end all aspects of its involvement in Israel’s prison systems or other human rights abuses.

3. Our campaigns against corporate complicity are more effective than ever

AIPAC Anti-BDS Legislation

AIPAC and their right-wing allies are coming for our right to boycott — and they’re trying to legitimize illegal settlements at the same time. Tell your Representative to stand for peace.

TAKE ACTION!

AIPAC is meeting this weekend in Washington DC, but we already know what’s at the top of their agenda: legislating away our right to organize.

Here’s how: they’re putting the full might of their organization behind a bill called “Combatting BDS.” It might sound like nothing, but this bill is a brazen attempt to silence and punish those of us who support boycotts as a way of fighting for human rights. We’re already taking on similar legislation, designed to throw a stumbling block in front of our movement, in dozens of state legislatures across the country — but now AIPAC is bringing the fight to Capitol Hill.

Click here to contact Rep. Mark Pocan and tell them you oppose AIPAC’s attacks on free speech.

AIPAC is bringing in activists from across the country, and next week they’ll be flooding DC with their foot soldiers, and delivering their message of fear and militarism to Congressional offices. They’ll be going door-to-door on Capitol Hill, pretending to speak for the whole Jewish community when they attack our movement for justice.

But I’m Jewish — I’m a Rabbi — and I support BDS. So do thousands of other Jews and allies across the U.S. and around the world. That’s why we’ve hired billboard trucks to take our message right to AIPAC here in DC, and to state capitols across the country where similar legislation is coming up.

And that’s why we need to make sure that our Representatives hear our message first.

Let’s beat AIPAC to it — click here to send a message to Rep. Mark Pocan and tell them to oppose the “Combating BDS” bill, and its attacks on free speech.

Boycotts are a time-honored component of justice movements throughout history, from the civil rights movement here in the U.S. to the global fight against South African apartheid. And the right to boycott is constitutionally protected — the U.S. Supreme Court called boycotts “the highest rung… of First Amendment values.”

So it’s no surprise that the movement to boycott Israel has been endorsed by labor unions, faith groups, students, and academics. But this legislation would punish those who speak out, and prevent them from doing business with the government, or receiving investment from state pension funds. Let me put it another way: this is a McCarthyist attack on our movement for justice.

Our opponents know that momentum is on our side. They know that the truth is on our side, too. So instead of fighting our ideas, they’re trying to silence our movement.

Join us now to protect our right to organize — email Rep. Mark Pocan today.

And that’s not all this bill would do. Hidden in the language are backdoors that could reverse decades of U.S. policy towards Israel. Our opponents are selling this bill as a way to oppose our movement — as if that wasn’t bad enough — but it also erases the distinction between Israel’s illegal settlements and Israel proper.

The facts are clear: settlements in Palestine are still illegal, and BDS is still protected political speech. That’s why we’ve partnered with our allies at the Arab American Institute to take on this federal bill. We need to take a strong stand against this legislation, and show that a broad coalition supports peace and justice and supports the right to boycott.

No to settlements. No to attacks on our right to boycott. Stand with JVP and the Arab American Institute, and make your voice heard today.
Click here to contact Rep. Mark Pocan, and tell them to oppose attacks on our free speech rights.

Thank you for taking action, and speaking up for our rights,
Rabbi Joseph

Rabbi Joseph Berman
Government Affairs Liaison

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