April 27, 2017
One Book, Many Communities: “Returning to Haifa”

Thursday, April 27
Alicia Ashman Library [Map]
733 N. High Point Road, Madison
7:00 – 9:00 pm

“Returning to Haifa” by Ghassan Kanafani
(in the collection Palestine’s Children)

“Returning to Haifa” tells the story of a Palestinian couple forced to flee Haifa in 1948 without their infant son. Returning to Haifa for a visit for the first time in 20 years, they discover that the boy has survived and been raised as a patriotic Israeli by the Jewish couple who moved into their house. Kanafani’s story was made into an Arab-language movie with subtitles, and served as the inspiration for an Iranian-made movie The Survivor and Susan Abulhawa’s novel Mornings in Jenin. More recently, it was made into an Israeli play called Return to Haifa: The Other’s Story.

If you don’t already have Palestine’s Children, contact us by Friday, April 14 to order one from A Room of One’s Own for $16. It is also available from Amazon. You can order a copy of the “Returning to Haifa” story only for $2. Please RSVP for either book or story to Donna Wallbaum at dwallbaum [at] gmail.com by Friday, April 14.

April 9 is the 69th anniversary of the Deir Yassin Massacre. 2017 also marks 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, 70 years since the beginning of the Nakba, and 50 years since the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza by Israel. We think “Returning to Haifa” is a very appropriate choice for this year’s discussion and we hope that you can join us.


Librarians and Archivists with Palestine invites you to join our annual international reading campaign, One Book, Many Communities held in April 2017, in concurrence with the national Reading Week in Palestine.

This project draws inspiration from the “one book, one town” idea, where people in local communities come together to read and discuss a common book. This campaign is designed to introduce readers to the richness of Palestinian literature, and create a broader awareness and understanding of Palestinian history and the struggle for self-determination.

Librarians and Archivists with Palestine is a network of self-defined librarians, archivists, and information workers in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. The hashtag for the campaign is: #lap1book.

Israel sunk in ‘incremental tyranny’, say former Shin Bet chiefs

“You live in a democracy, and suddenly you understand it is not a democracy any more”

Peter Beaumont, The Guardian, 6 April 2017

Ami Ayalon, ex-head of the Shin Bet intelligence services, suggests Israel has a dynamic ‘of ongoing war’ and ‘like 1984, there’s always an enemy’. (Photograph: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Two former heads of Israel’s powerful domestic intelligence service, the Shin Bet, have made an impassioned and powerful intervention ahead of events to mark the 50th anniversary of the country’s occupation of the Palestinian territories in June.

One of the pair warned that the country’s political system was sunk in the process of “incremental tyranny”.

Ami Ayalon and Carmi Gillon were speaking ahead of a public meeting at a Jerusalem gallery which is threatened with closure for hosting a meeting organised by the military whistleblowing group Breaking the Silence, one of the main targets of the rightwing government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

During his recent visit to the UK, Netanyahu also asked Theresa May to cut UK government funding to the group – a request that baffled diplomats as no direct UK funding exists.

“Incremental tyranny [is a process] which means you live in a democracy and suddenly you understand it is not a democracy any more,” Ayalon told a small group of journalists, including the Guardian, ahead of the event. “This is what we are seeing in Israel. The tragedy of this process is that you only know it when it is too late.”

Ayalon cited recent moves by ministers in the Netanyahu government to change the laws to hit groups such as Breaking the Silence by banning them from events in schools and targeting their funding, while also taking aim at the country’s supreme court and independence of the media.

Issues of freedom of speech and expression have become one of the key faultlines in Israeli society – in everything from the arts to journalism – under the most rightwing government in the country’s history.

The Babur gallery is under threat of closure after being censured by the country’s culture minister, Miri Regev, for holding an event with Breaking the Silence on publicly owned property – a group which Regev claimed “hurts Israel’s image”.

Gillon was equally bleak in his analysis of Israel’s trajectory, saying that the country was being “driven by this occupation towards disaster”.

He added: “This country was established on the values of liberal democracy, values written in the only kind of constitution we have – which is our declaration of independence – values we don’t fulfil any more. You can analyse what happened to us in the last 50 years, but everything is under the shade of occupation. It has changed us a society. It has made us an unpleasant society.”

The comments by Ayalon and Gillon come amid a growing and heated debate between the right and opponents of the occupation over the historic meaning of the six-day war, in June 1967, which marked the beginning of the occupation. Rightwing ministers celebrated the occupation on Thursday as the “liberation” of the occupied territories.

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Free Issa Amro

We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, call on you to strongly oppose David Friedman’s nomination as US Ambassador to Israel.

    Dear United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein,

    Palestinian activist Issa Amro, who has been recognized as a Human Rights Defender by the European Union and the United Nations, is undergoing Israeli military trial1 on 18 charges dating all the way back to 2010.

    Mr. Amro’s case is an example of widespread targeting of human rights activists using old and exaggerated charges in a military court system whose conviction rate for Palestinians is over 99%2.

    As civil and human rights advocates and faith groups, we ask that you call on the Israeli government to drop the politically-motivated charges against Issa Amro and allow him to continue his important work of protecting human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Sign the petition here.

1 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/opinion/whos-afraid-of-nonviolence.html

2 https://972mag.com/conviction-rate-for-palestinians-in-israels-military-courts-99-74-percent/28579/

Sponsors

  • Jewish Voice for Peace
  • Center for Jewish Nonviolence
  • CODEPINK Women for Peace
  • Interfaith Peace Builders
  • National Lawyers Guild – International Committee
  • US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
  • US Palestinian Community Network
  • Youth Against Settlements

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U.N. Report: Israel Imposes ‘Apartheid Regime’ on Palestinians

Reuters, Newsweek, 3/15/17

A U.N. agency published a report on Wednesday accusing Israel of imposing an “apartheid regime” of racial discrimination on the Palestinian people, and said it was the first time a U.N. body had clearly made the charge.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman likened the report, which was published by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), to Der Sturmer—a Nazi propaganda publication that was strongly anti-Semitic.

The report concluded “Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.” The accusation – often directed at Israel by its critics – is fiercely rejected by Israel.

U.N. Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf said the report was the “first of its type” from a U.N. body that “clearly and frankly concludes that Israel is a racist state that has established an apartheid system that persecutes the Palestinian people”.

ESCWA comprises 18 Arab states in Western Asia and aims to support economic and social development in member states, according to its website. The report was prepared at the request of member states, Khalaf said.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York that the report was published without any prior consultation with the U.N. secretariat.

01_14_israeli_01Israeli Arab boys stand on the rubble of houses demolished by Israeli bulldozers in the northern Israeli city of Qalansuwa January 11. (Ammar Awad/Reuters)

“The report as it stands does not reflect the views of the secretary-general (Antonio Guterres),” said Dujarric, adding that the report itself notes that it reflects the views of the authors.

The United States, an ally of Israel, said it was outraged by the report.

“The United Nations secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether,” the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said in a statement.

The Israeli ministry spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon‏, commenting on Twitter, also noted the report had not been endorsed by the U.N. secretary-general.

“The attempt to smear and falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy is despicable and constitutes a blatant lie,” Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement.

The report said it had established on the “basis of scholarly inquiry and overwhelming evidence, that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid.”

“However, only a ruling by an international tribunal in that sense would make such an assessment truly authoritative,” it added.

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Unlearning apartheid apologism: A Jewish response to Israeli Apartheid Week

Stop conflating anti-Zionism and criticism of the State of Israel with anti-Semitism

Article ImageRya Inman / Spectator

Sophie Edelhart, Eliza Moss-Horwitz, Jack Snyder, Columbia Daily Spectator, March 5, 2017

Nearly two years ago, the three of us arrived on this campus as Jewish teens inoculated with an intense fear of the Israeli/Palestinian debate. We had been told for years in day school and summer camp that we would be provoked by anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric—presented to us as synonymous—and warned that we would be made to feel ashamed of our Jewish identities.

 What we actually found ourselves confronting when we arrived at Columbia, however, was the way our education and socialization in the mainstream Jewish world hadn’t prepared us for the conversations about Israel/Palestine happening on college campuses. We had been lied to and deceived by our teachers, parents, camp counselors, role models, and community leaders. We came to realize just how much the Jewish community has yet to reckon with the violence and dispossession that American Jews are complicit in perpetuating.

 When we first came to this campus, we felt that Israeli Apartheid Week was an affront to our very existence as Jewish students, because we had been taught to conflate criticism towards Israeli apartheid—the practices of systemic discrimination and state violence against Palestinians—with criticisms of Jewish identity. What we hadn’t learned from our combined 26 years of Jewish day school, countless hours spent in Hebrew school and synagogue, and years of Jewish summer camp, was that Judaism could flourish without the need for ethnonationalism—the supremacy of Jewish ethnic identity in the State of Israel—or racist apartheid policies. We hadn’t learned that that those policies were being enacted in our name and in the name of all Jewish people. 

We had been lied to, but more than that, we had been raised in a community that failed to face the anti-democratic reality of the State of Israel. Rather than being taught to pursue justice for all—Palestinians and Israelis, Jews and non-Jews—we had been told to defend Israel at all costs. Some of us who grew up in liberal Zionist communities had been taught a watered-down version of this: that we should care for others, for the Palestinians, and that we could criticize Israel’s racist policies so long as that criticism didn’t threaten the ethnoracial makeup of our Jewish-majority state. 

Retrospectively, it’s hard to justify why we fell for this narrative—how we could somehow stand against racism while defending a state’s ideology that privileged us as Jews above all others. It makes sense, though, because, to quote a recent monologue from the Israeli television show “Good Night with Assaf Hare,” “It doesn’t take much to sedate the satiated side of the apartheid.”

What we really needed as we were growing up was a community that confronted Israeli occupation, dispossession, and violence. We needed a community that could shout with their loudest voices against apartheid policies, racist immigration laws, and human rights violations. We needed a community that taught its children that particularistic ethnonationalism and Jewish exceptionalism have no place in Judaism, a religion that acknowledges its own liberation as inherently linked to the liberation of others. 

We needed our community to stop conflating anti-Zionism and criticism of the State of Israel with anti-Semitism and to recognize that one can criticize Israel as a geopolitical player without criticizing the Jewish people at large. This conflation only served to drive us further into our chauvinistic shells of violent nationalism and obscured the very real and increasing threat of genuine anti-Semitism on the rise.

We deserved an upbringing that didn’t hide from its complicity in Israeli apartheid, that didn’t rely on ethnonationalism as the answer to Jewish communal suffering, and that didn’t tie our very existence as Jews to a political ideology rooted in ideas of national exclusivity. But we can’t change our childhoods and our years of socialization in Jewish communities, so we must look to our campus as a place to learn, unlearn, and grow. 

Because of this, when we came to campus, we cringed at the word “apartheid” when it was used to describe Israel; we shied away from political debates surrounding Israel and Palestine. This year during Israeli Apartheid Week, we saw our fellow Jewish students do the same. We heard countless excuses for why students don’t engage, for why they don’t support Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, and for why they disagree with the rhetoric of Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, causing them to turn their backs on campus discourse surrounding Palestinian liberation. 

We, as Jewish students of Columbia, Barnard, and Jewish Theological Seminary, must be better than this. Our history is one that is rooted in dispossession, fear, loss, and diaspora. We are Jews with lasting generational trauma. We must confront this and reckon with it; we must work with those facing similar traumas of dispossession, similar fears, similar losses, and similar diaspora today.

It makes sense why Jewish students on this campus see Israeli Apartheid Week as an affront to their Jewish identities. However, it is not because JVP, SJP, or even the BDS movement wish to delegitimize Jewish existence or peoplehood. Rather, it is due to the fact that for years the Jewish community has chosen to cover its eyes and plug its ears, screaming “I can’t hear you” at any mention of human rights violations, apartheid, state violence, expulsion, or ethnic cleansing, and has chosen to label the people who do make those claims as anti-Semites and self-hating Jews. Not only is this wrong, it dangerously conflates the violent policies of the Zionist state with a meaningful Jewish existence in the diaspora. 

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Activists pull out of Chicago LGBTQ conference over Israel pinkwashing

Jimmy Johnson, THE ELECTRONIC INTIFADA, 22 January 2016

An image posted on A Wider Bridge’s Facebook page highlights the organization’s mission of promoting Israel.

Black Lives Matter Chicago has added its voice to protests over the National LGBTQ Task Force’s inclusion of an Israel lobby group in its Creating Change conference in Chicago this weekend.

Tarab-NYC, an LGBTQ and gender nonconforming group organizing in Middle Eastern and North African communities, launched the #cancelpinkwashing campaign in response to the inclusion of A Wider Bridge.

A Wider Bridge describes itself as a “pro-Israel organization that builds bridges between Israelis and LGBTQ North Americans and allies.”

Among its major donors is the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, which has taken a lead in efforts to combat the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

The #cancelpinkwashing campaign’s Facebook page notes that A Wider Bridge partners with the Israeli consulate and the right-wing Israel advocacy organization StandWithUs to put on pinkwashing events which aim to “normalize the occupation of Palestinian land by distracting from the violent, inhumane actions of the Israeli settler state.”

Pinkwashing is a public relations strategy that deploys Israel’s supposed enlightenment toward LGBTQ issues to deflect criticism from its human rights abuses and war crimes and as a means to build up support for Israel among Western liberals and progressives.

On Tuesday, Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, reversed an earlier decision to exclude A Wider Bridge, citing a need for “constructive dialogue.”

On Friday evening, Jewish Voice for Peace Chicago and the Coalition for a Just Peace in Israel-Palestine will host “a Queer, anti-Zionist Shabbat that resists the pinkwashing of Israeli oppression taking place at Creating Change.”

“Divest from violence”

In an online statement, Black Lives Matter Chicago says it endorses Tarab-NYC’s demand that the National LGBTQ Task Force “divest from the violence, ignorance and false ‘inclusion’ of settler-colonial pinkwashing in the name of a ‘wider’ bridge.”

“As They/We all struggle to achieve healing, safety and autonomy in our own lives, families and communities, let us commit to mobilize ourselves and honor the self-determined struggles of Palestine so as to divest from the violence of the occupation,” the statement concludes. “Black and Palestinian Lives depend on it.”

Shortly after that statement was released, the Chicago organization Brown People for Black Power cancelled its scheduled workshop at Creating Change.

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March 13, 2017
The impact of UN recognition on Palestinian public opinion

206 Ingraham Hall
UW-Madison [Map]
12:00 to 1:00 p.m.

UW Middle East Studies Program presents Nadav Shelef (Professor, department of Political Science, UW-Madison) speaking on “The impact of UN recognition on Palestinian public opinion.”

In the fall of 2012, the United Nations General Assembly recognized Palestine as a “nonmember observer state.” His talk will present research showing that the UNGA recognition shaped Palestinian mass attitudes towards both territorial compromise and the use of violence to achieve national aims. Specifically, international recognition simultaneously increased support for partition as a strategy of conflict resolution and decreased support for compromise on the territorial terms of partition. With respect to attitudes towards the use of violence, we find that international recognition significantly reduced popular support for violence, but only among Palestinians who did not identify with any of the existing Palestinian political parties.

For more info please contact: Névine El Nossery, Director of the Middle East Studies Program, elnossery at wisc.edu