Alison Weir: Israel’s New Travel Ban

I want to go to Palestine – a country recognized by 136 countries around the world. But your law, astoundingly, prevents me from visiting that country. You control entry and exit to the places I want to visit, even though they’re not part of your territory, or included in your exclusive democracy.

Palestinian women, overseen by Israeli guards, crowd around the Qalandia checkpoint in the West Bank as they try to enter Jerusalem to attend Friday prayers at the Al Aqsa mosque. (BBC News Image 8 of 10, Sept 22, 2009.)

Alison Weir, Dissident Voice, March 20, 2017

Dear Israeli Government:

You’ve recently banned foreigners who support boycotts against Israel or Israeli settlements from being allowed to enter Israel – even Jewish foreigners, a first for the self-proclaimed Jewish state. After all, your “Law of Return” has allowed (and encouraged) Jewish foreigners to freely immigrate to Israel, even as multitudes of Palestinians have been banned from returning to their homes.

People throughout the Western world have objected in outrage to your new law, particularly Jewish Westerners who have family and connections in Israel from whom they’ll be cut off in retaliation for their political positions.

Critics, even some who oppose boycotting Israel and who have had no problem with excluding Palestinians, have called out the law for diverse reasons: its quashing of free debate and political expression, its anti-democratic nature, how it will affect them and others personally.

I support these objections.

But I’m not trying to visit Israel.

I want to go to Bethlehem and Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron, Jenin and Tulkarem. I hope to return to Khan Yunis, Rafah, Gaza City, and numerous other towns and villages in the West Bank and Gaza.

In other words, I want to go to Palestine – a country recognized by 136 countries around the world. But your law, astoundingly, prevents me from visiting that country. You control entry and exit to the places I want to visit, even though they’re not part of your territory, or included in your exclusive democracy.

When I was born, Palestine referred to the whole of the land that your founders then ethnically cleansed and renamed. Now, it officially refers to a few segments of land, surrounded and trapped.

Unlike the residents of every other country on earth, Palestinians are not free to travel to and from their own country unless a foreign country gives them permission – a normally universal right that you routinely deny: to young and old, Muslims and Christians, professors and paupers, men and women.

Visitors are similarly obstructed. You decide whether they can get in, and whether they can get out.

When I try to visit Bethlehem, for example, I must face your armed soldiers manning the Kafkaesque, towering concrete wall you have erected on Palestinian land. These gun-toting youngsters will decree whether or not I and others – including Palestinian descendants of Bethlehem’s ancient shepherds – can pass through.

In other words, Israel is essentially imprisoning over 4 million men, women, and children (with some help from Egypt, its proxy to the south). Israeli jailers, euphemistically “border guards,” determine who may even visit this incarcerated population, and what supplies may reach them.

Over the years I’ve seen you prevent numerous individuals and groups, many bringing medicines and life-saving supplies, from visiting this captive population. You’ve blocked sons from visiting dying mothers, suffering children from receiving critical medical care, malnourished toddlers from receiving help.

It is a profound shame upon the world that this cruel and unconscionable condition has been permitted to persist year after year. There should have been massive and irresistible objections long before your recent legislation.

I remember when the United States opposed the Iron Curtain. Today, the U.S. gives the perpetrator of this current captivity $10 million per day.

Israel already denied me entry once 15 years ago, locking me up for 28 hours in a detention cell in Ben Gurion Airport before expelling me. I remember Israeli officials telling me I was not “allowed into Israel.” They didn’t even supply a reason.

Next time, they may say it’s because I endorse BDS, which I wholeheartedly do.

But I’m not trying to go to Israel. I want to go to Palestine.

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BDS Ban: Interfaith Leaders Denied Entry to Israel

American Muslims for Palestine, July 24, 2017

Interfaith delegation, including AMP board member Shakeel Syed, (second from right).Four members of the group of interfaith delegates banned from entering Israel pose. AMP national board member Shakeel Syed is second from right.

Airline employee tells group it received orders from “Israeli immigration authorities” to refuse boarding to the five interfaith travelers.

(WASHINGTON DC — July 24, 2017) – Five members of an interfaith delegation were prevented from boarding their flight to Israel because of their public criticism of the Israeli government’s policies towards Palestinians. The group of Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders were apparently singled out for their public support of the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel. Upon arrival at the Lufthansa check-in counter at Dulles International Airport, an airline employee informed the group that the Israeli government had told the airline not to let them board.

The five people prohibited from flying are Rabbi Alissa Wise, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) deputy director, Philadelphia, PA; Alana Krivo-Kaufman, Brooklyn, NY and Noah Habeeb, Virginia, both also of JVP; Rick Ufford Chase, of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Rockland County, NY; and Shakeel Syed, a national board member with American Muslims for Palestine, Los Angeles, CA.

“As a person of faith, Israel’s denial of my right to visit the Holy Land doesn’t dampen, but rather, emboldens my pursuit of justice and peace for Palestinians and long overdue freedom for Palestine,” Syed said. “Despite that I had my boarding pass to Tel Aviv in hand, the Lufthansa representative informed me that they had a direct order from ‘Israeli immigration authorities’ to not allow us to board the plane. Furthermore, they refused to even show us the Israeli order.”

The Israeli Knesset (parliament) passed a bill in March banning entry to those who support boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel until Palestinians have full equal rights. Israel’s BDS ban includes those who have endorsed boycotts of products from Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law and longstanding official U.S. policy. It is believed that this is the first time that the policy has been enforced before people even board their flight. It is also the first time that Israel has denied entry to Jews, including a rabbi, for their political positions. This new political litmus test for entry into the country is an extension of the longstanding practices of racial, religious and ethnic profiling of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim visitors to Israel.

“Israel denied me the ability to travel there because of my work for justice for Palestinians, even though I’m Jewish and a rabbi,” said Rabbi Alissa Wise. ”I’m heartbroken and outraged. This is yet another demonstration that democracy and tolerance in Israel only extends to those who fall in line with its increasingly repressive policies against Palestinians.”

The BDS travel ban is part of a broader crackdown on support for these nonviolent tactics to hold Israel accountable to international law. The United States Congress is currently considering the draconian Israel Anti-Boycott Bill that would penalize people and companies that boycott business with Israel or Israeli settlements with penalties of up to 20 years in jail and $1 million in fines.

That Israel barred members of an interfaith delegation at a time when it is also threatening the internationally recognized status quo of Al Aqsa mosque compound proves Israel is not a democratic state and is intolerant of other faith traditions.

“I am part of a Jewish, Muslim and Christian delegation of committed, nonviolent peacemakers whose plan is to meet with those in both Israel and Palestine who are working every day for a Just Peace in the Holy Lands,” Rick Ufford-Chase, Moderator of the 216th General Assembly, PC(USA) and member of the Activist Council of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. The other 18 participants on the Interfaith Network for Justice in Palestine (INJIP)* delegation arrived in Israel this morning, and were allowed to enter after several hours of detention and questioning that particularly focused on Muslim members of the delegation. The delegation plans to meet with dozens of faith-based organizations, grassroots activists and human rights groups in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Now the remaining delegates will continue this work, without five of their members, with the intention to learn, witness and co-resist Israeli occupation, displacement and siege with Palestinian and Israeli partners on the ground.

Demand the Release of Khalida Jarrar and Khitam Saafin

A Petition to Rex Tillerson, US Secretary of State; the European Union, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Khitam Saafin (left) and Khalida Jarrar (right)


Addameer Prisoner Support & Human Rights Association

Addameer calls for the immediate release of Khalida Jarrar and Khitam Saafin, who were arrested in pre-dawn raids by Israeli occupation forces on 2 July 2017.

On 9 July 2017, Saafin was issued a three-month administrative detention order, without charge or trial. On 12 July 2017, Jarrar was issued a six-month administrative order. Saafin and Jarrar’s trials are both based on secret evidence; therefore, their legal representatives are unable to fully address the prosecution’s argument, which asserts that Jarrar and Saafin pose a security threat.

Jarrar is a Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member and a member of the Board of Directors of Addameer. She has been the head of the Prisoners Commission of the PLC since 2006, and was appointed to the Palestinian National Committee for the follow-up to the International Criminal Court. Jarrar has been targeted by Israeli forces in recent years. She was released from prison in June 2016 after serving over a year, including one-month under administrative detention.

Saafin, president of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, has spoken internationally and participated in many worldwide events, including the World Social Forum, linking women’s struggles internationally with the struggle of Palestinian women for national and social liberation.

This practice of arbitrary detention is a grave violation of international laws and human rights standards, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention. Both women are prominent civil society leaders and additionally, their work meets the United Nations definition of a human rights defender. It is our belief that Jarrar and Saafin are being illegitimately targeted and punished by Israeli military authorities as a result of their significant human rights work.

Addameer reiterates its call for Jarrar and Saafin’s immediate release, as their detention constitutes an attack on Palestinian civil society leaders. Please take action and sign the petition now!

On Facebook Live: A Conversation With Roger Waters!

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), July 7, 2017

On Saturday, July 15, tune in on Facebook and join us for a live, hour-long conversation on the cultural boycott of Israel with one of today’s leading musicians!

Live on Facebook: A Conversation with Roger Waters

Saturday, July 15, 2017
8pm Palestine / 5pm GMT / 12pm CDT
Live on the BDS National Committee’s Facebook page

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) is excited to host a conversation with Roger Waters on his support for the cultural boycott of Israel and Palestinians’ rights.

Roger Waters is an English rock musician, singer-songwriter, and composer. He is best known as the bass player, co-lead vocalist, lyricist and the principal songwriter in the rock band Pink Floyd.

The conversation will be facilitated by Noura Erakat, a Palestinian human rights attorney and activist.

We are honoured to host Roger Waters for this conversation, and hope you can join us!

We will broadcast live from the Palestinian BDS National Committee’s Facebook page. Tune in on Saturday, July 15 at 5pm GMT / 12pm CDT for an hour-long conversation with one of today’s leading musicians.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was initiated in 2004 to contribute to the struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality. PACBI advocates for the boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, given their deep and persistent complicity in Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights as stipulated in international law. Visit PACBI’s website and follow us on Twitter @PACBI

Mennonite Church (USA) Says No Investing in Occupation!


, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, 06 Jul 2017

Big news! Minutes ago, the Mennonite Church (USA) voted to create an investment screen for the purpose of “withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation.” The resolution was approved near unanimously, with approximately 98% of the 548 voters supporting it. Click here to say thank you to the Mennonites!

The comprehensive resolution lifts up the rights of Palestinian refugees, citizens of Israel, and those living under occupation, calling for an end to U.S. military aid; urging church agencies and members to review their own investments; and encouraging individuals and congregations boycott products associated with violence or military occupation; among other things.

This is the largest margin yet by which such a vote has passed in a U.S. denominational assembly. Congratulations to
US Campaign member group Mennonite Palestine Israel Network (MennoPIN), who led this extraordinary initiative!

With this vote, the Mennonite Church (USA) joins the fast-growing list of denominations that have engaged in economic acts of conscience in recent years to support justice for Palestinians, including the Quakers, United Methodists, Presbyterians, United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalists, Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the Alliance of Baptists, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The US Campaign was proud to support this crucial effort alongside several Palestinian friends, leaders, and organizations; and member groups Friends of Sabeel – North America, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the American Friends Service Committee.

I have been on the ground at the Mennonite Church USA convention here in Orlando, Florida with MennoPIN, working around the clock supporting their preparations, talking with delegates, providing strategic support, bringing lessons learned from the many church votes that came before this one, and speaking at delegate receptions.

But I couldn’t have been here without people like you investing in the US Campaign’s critical role in connecting, strengthening, resourcing, and lifting up amazing member group-led initiatives and successes like this.

Today, please be a part of these extraordinary victoriesand invest in many more to come — with a donation to the US Campaign.