Stop Palestinian Home Demolitions!

The morning of Monday, July 22, 2019, Palestinian families in the village of Sur Baher woke up to the sound of bulldozers accompanied by hundreds of Israeli troops that had been ordered to oversee the destruction of their homes. Israeli demolition crews are now in the process of destroying 16 Palestinian apartment buildings, totaling 100 home units in East Jerusalem, under the justification that the homes were too close to the Separation wall. Israel says the homes are a “security” risk. 

The demolitions are part of an ongoing policy where Israel is bent on controlling the demographics of East Jerusalem in order to maintain a Jewish majority. When Israel built its Separation wall, they built it to place the Palestinian Wadi al-Hummus neighborhood of Sur Baher inside Israel, even though legally it’s part of the West Bank. Israel denied the community building permits and then when the Palestinian Authority gave permits to the families, Israel declared they had the right to demolish the homes — most of the homes were built by hand, stone by stone. 

The displacement of people (via home demolitions) is a war crime and 2020 candidates should speak out against it.

Send a message to the 2020 candidates: speak out against Israel’s demolishing of Sur Baher. 

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US dollars for abuse of children: THIS. MUST. STOP.

In 2018, Americans were horrified to learn that migrant children were being cruelly separated from their families at the U.S. border and imprisoned in intolerable conditions.

Many U.S. lawmakers – on both sides of the aisle – joined the national outcry to say this is an UNACCEPTABLE practice for the United States.

Yet – under Israel’s military occupation that is generously subsidized by Congress with U.S. tax dollars abusing and imprisoning Palestinian children has been ACCEPTABLE and standard practice for many years. These children are subjected to abuse that has never even been considered in the United States.

 It is time for U.S. legislators to oppose the abuse of Palestinian children by the Israeli military.

These kids’ stories of abuse are terrifying and heartbreaking – often taken from their families in the middle of the night, put in choke holds, blindfolded and handcuffed, thrown into jeeps, traumatized and coerced into confessions during interrogations where no parent or advocate is present, strip searched, beaten, and tortured. They are tried in military courts that lack the basic standards for a fair trial and the conviction rate is over 99%.

Roughly 10,000 Palestinian children have suffered such abuse since the year 2000.

EVERY lawmaker should be appalled at this treatment of children by the Israeli military, which the U.S. gives $3.8 billion each year. The U.S. MUST STOP FUNDING these egregious violations of children’s essential human rights.

The historic bill H.R. 2407 seeks to ensure just that. The Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act can put a stop to U.S. tax dollars funding such abuse.

Also called the "McCollum Bill," it was recently brought to Congress by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN). Now H.R. 2407 needs co-sponsors!

TELL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE TO STOP U.S. FUNDING FOR MILITARY ABUSE OF CHILDREN!

Mark Harrison [far left], Director of Peace with Justice at the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society (GBCS), with Rep. Betty McCollum [center front row] and other supporters of H.R. 2407. Both GBCS and UMKR are ENDORSING ORGANIZATIONS of this bill.

We are witnessing a new thing emerging in the United States. A few years ago, no one in Congress would have stood up for Palestinians’ human rights. Last year, the first version of the McCollum Bill had 30 co-sponsors in Congress!

There is a growing conviction among the American public, and even starting in Congress, that U.S. policy on Israel/Palestine can and should hold Israel accountable for human rights violations.

THAT’S WHAT H.R. 2407 WILL DO:
The "Leahy Law" is part of the Foreign Assistance Act; it is supposed to ensure U.S. aid does not go to military units that violate human rights. It has not been applied to Israel. A good way to start is focusing now on the treatment of children.

So this new bill will amend the Leahy Law to prohibit U.S. military aid from funding the military detention or abuse of children in violation of international humanitarian law.

This bill would apply to children globally, wherever U.S. military aid is received; any person of conscience should be able to support it!

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Rise against Racism! #CounterCUFI

Friends of Sabeel – North America (FOSNA)

For too long, Palestinians have been calling for freedom, justice, and equality. As organizations that share these values, we urge you to join us in confronting Christians United for Israel (CUFI).

CUFI has quietly become the largest organization in the United States driving support for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people. With over five million members, CUFI uses its political leverage to ensure ongoing U.S. support for Israel’s colonization and military occupation of Palestine, including imprisoning Palestinian children; bombing homes, schools, and hospitals in Gaza; massacring peaceful protestors; and confiscating Palestinian land.

By its own admission, CUFI “led the charge to have the U.S. recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” and it continues to push for unconstitutional anti-BDS legislation and illegal settlement expansion.

CUFI is a Christian Zionist organization: Its ideology and politics are deeply entrenched in white nationalism, anti-Muslim racism, anti-Semitism, and other systems of oppression. In spite of its strong political influence on the Hill, CUFI has operated largely under the radar and received little attention in comparison with groups like AIPAC.

Until now. This is the moment to act: This July, many of your Congressional representatives will be attending CUFI’s annual summit as invited guests. We cannot allow CUFI’s influence to go unchallenged. Come to Washington, D.C. on July 7 and 8 to tell the world to #CounterCUFI!

It will take each and every one of us to rise against racism, to reclaim and protect our communities, and to uphold the liberation of all people in the vision of justice, equality, and freedom.

Signed,
Friends of Sabeel North America
Jewish Voice for Peace
American Muslims for Palestine
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

We will be congregating in Washington, D.C. on July 7 and 8 to challenge Christian Zionism and express our solidarity for the Palestinian people. Join us in person in D.C. by registering here and help make the action possible by donating here.

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Call NOW to stop resolution targeting Rep. Omar Ilhan

#StandWithllhan

Please consider calling or emailing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and your own Representative:

    Speaker Pelosi: 202-225-0100, press “1” to leave a message, or email form
    Rep. Mark Pocan: 202-225-2906 in DC, or email form

The vote is now scheduled for Thursday, 3/7/19.

The Democratic Party Attacks on Ilhan Omar Are a Travesty

I’m Jewish and have worked against anti-Semitism for decades. I was sitting a few feet from Omar at Busboys & Poets and I heard nothing—nothing—that smacked of anti-Semitism, overt or coded or otherwise.

Phyllis Bennis, The Nation, March 5, 2019

Ilhan OmarRepresentative Ilhan Omar at a news conference in the Capitol on January 10, 2019. (Tom Williams/AP Images)

Attacks on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar are rising. One of the first Muslim women elected, Omar is also black, an African immigrant, a former refugee from Somalia, and wears her hijab in the halls of Congress. She is under attack from the leaders of her own party for anti-Semitic statements she never made, for anti-Jewish prejudice she never expressed, for hatred of Jews she doesn’t hold. And the Democratic Party leadership is considering a resolution whose early text, at least, while not mentioning Omar by name, is clearly aimed at accusing her of precisely those things, despite the fact—ignored by the Speaker of the House and other top officials—that she never said or believed any of those words.

The most recent attacks on Representative Omar are based on her answer to a broad question about anti-Semitism during a recent town hall meeting at Busboys & Poets in Washington, DC. I was there, sitting just a few feet from Omar, asking a question during the Q&A. She never said that Jews have dual loyalty. She never expressed “prejudicial attitudes” or supported “discriminatory acts” against Jews or anyone else. And yet that is the language being proposed for a Democratic Party–sponsored resolution aimed at undermining Omar’s credibility, and likely that of Rashida Tlaib, the other Muslim woman just elected to Congress. Like Omar, Tlaib, who is Palestinian, stands forthrightly in support of Palestinian rights, against the power of the pro-Israel lobby and other lobbies that use money to influence Congress to support guns, environmental destruction, and Israeli violations of human rights—and she stands against racism and anti-Semitism.

These members of Congress understand that real anti-Semitism in the United States has been rooted in white supremacy since the Ku Klux Klan reemerged in 1915 and added Jews to the African Americans who had long been their primary target. That’s the real anti-Semitism we’re seeing—the violence of the Charlottesville march by Nazis and the Klan, the Pittsburgh synagogue murders, all of it rooted in white supremacy. Criticism of Israel, and of its human-rights and international-law violations and its lobbies, is simply not anti-Semitism.

I’m Jewish. I’ve worked against anti-Semitism, in the context of working against white supremacy, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and beyond, for decades. And I heard nothing—nothing—that smacked of anti-Semitism, overt or coded or otherwise. Ilhan Omar simply didn’t say it.

Here’s some of what she did say.

I know what intolerance looks like and I’m sensitive when someone says, “the words you use Ilhan, are resemblance of intolerance.” And I am cautious of that and I feel pained by that. But it’s almost as if every single time we say something, regardless of what it is we say, that it’s supposed to be about foreign policy or engagement, our advocacy about ending oppression, or the freeing of every human life and wanting dignity, we get to be labeled in something, and that ends the discussion, because we end up defending that, and nobody ever gets to have the broader debate of “what is happening with Palestine?” So for me, I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. I want to ask, why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the NRA, of fossil-fuel industries, or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobby that is influencing policy.

I mean, most of us are new, but many members of Congress have been there forever. Some of them have been there before we were born. So I know many of them, many of them, were fighting for people to be free, for people to live in dignity in South Africa. I know many of them fight for people around the world to have dignity, to have self-determination. So I know, I know that they care about these things. But now that you have two Muslims who are saying, “here is a group of people that we want to make sure they have the dignity that you want everyone else to have!”…we get to be called names, we get to be labeled as hateful.

No, we know what hate looks like. We experience it every single day. We have to deal with death threats. I have colleagues who talk about death threats. And sometimes…there are cities in my state where the gas stations have written on their bathrooms “assassinate Ilhan Omar.” I have people driving around my district looking for my home, for my office, causing me harm. I have people every single day on Fox News and everywhere, posting that I am a threat to this country. So I know what fear looks like. The masjid I pray in in Minnesota got bombed by two domestic white terrorists. So I know what it feels to be someone who is of faith that is vilified. I know what it means to be someone whose ethnicity is vilified. I know what it feels to be of a race—like I am an immigrant, so I don’t have the historical drama that some of my black sisters and brothers have in this country, but I know what it means for people to just see me as a black person, and to treat me as less than a human. And so, when people say, “you are bringing hate,” I know what their intention is. Their intention is to make sure that our lights are dimmed. That we walk around with our heads bowed. That we lower our face and our voice.

But we have news for people.… what people are afraid of is not that there are two Muslims in Congress. What people are afraid of is that there are two Muslims in Congress that have their eyes wide open, that have their feet to the ground, that know what they’re talking about, that are fearless, and that understand that they have the same election certificate as everyone else in Congress.

For the Democratic Party leadership to launch these false claims of anti-Semitism is a travesty. Ilhan Omar’s words were powerful, passionate, principled, and based on a deep truth. No lights were dimmed that night. Fearless voices, and hundreds of their supporters, from every community, every race, everyone, were all that we heard. And all we needed to hear.

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Tell CNN to Reinstate Marc Lamont Hill

On Thursday, November 29, 2018, CNN announced that it had severed ties with Temple University Professor and CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill over a speech he gave in support of Palestinian human rights at the United Nations a day earlier.

Professor Hill addressed the UN on International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, drawing attention to the continued human rights violations perpetrated against the Palestinian people. Professor Hill has been vilified, defamed, and falsely accused of harboring hateful views. His words were distorted by pro-Israel groups seeking to undermine his call for one state with equal rights for all.

Marc Lamont Hill

In his defense of the Palestinian people, Professor Hill did not call anyone to violence, nor did he call for the destruction of Israel. His legitimate criticism of Israeli apartheid policies, which include rights and privileges afforded only to Jewish citizens of Israel, has been unfairly conflated with anti-Semitism, which is a well-worn tactic used by pro-Israel activists to smear their opponents.

Professor Hill has been a tireless champion of human rights and justice for all people, and has always denounced all forms of hate and racism. On Thursday, he reiterated his position in a series of tweets, writing, “I do not support anti-Semitism, killing Jewish people, or any of the other things attributed to my speech. I have spent my life fighting these things.”

CNN’s decision to dismiss one of its most popular commentators based on his principled stance against the oppression of Palestinians is blatant censorship. It’s hypocritical considering that one of its contributors is Rick Santorum whose hateful speech against Palestinians includes the denial of their existence. Another regular contributor, Alan Dershowitz, has a history of demonizing Palestinians and supported Israel’s use of torture against them. And yet, CNN chose to fire one of its few contributors of color.

The silencing of voices conducive to the free exchange of ideas is dangerous. It is not befitting a media outlet that prides itself on objectivity to stifle a critical viewpoint—much less one that is becoming increasingly mainstream.

CNN, you should not have caved into pressure. Reinstate Marc Lamont Hill immediately!

[ACTION ITEMS]

[1] Write to CNN President Jeff Zucker at Jeff.Zucker@turner.com and demand that CNN reinstates Marc Lamont Hill! Sample email included in this action.

[2] Tweet or write on social media in support of Marc Lamont Hill using the #IStandWithMLH. Sample tweets are below:

    During a time when media is under attack from those in power in our government, how can @CNN pretend to peddle objective journalism after making such a blatantly biased decision? #IStandWithMLH

    Media outlets like @CNN should defend free speech at a time when honest journalism is under attack. Firing a commentator for speaking facts is hypocritical. #IStandWithMLH

    Standing for Palestinian human rights is not a fireable offense @CNN. #IStandwithMLH

[3] Call or write to CNN to protest its cowardly decision and demand they reinstate Professor Marc Lamont Hill and respect the free exchange of ideas!

Tell CNN: Advocating for Palestinian Rights is not Antisemitic


On Wednesday, Marc Lamont Hill, a political commentator on CNN, delivered a speech to the United Nations in support of the Palestinian people. He advocated for their human rights, outlined how Israel denies Palestinians their basic liberties, and asked the international community to ‘commit to political action’.

The next day — under pressure from right-wing leaders and the Jewish establishment — CNN fired him.

This news is appalling. We are demanding that CNN reinstate Marc Lamont Hill because advocating for Palestinian rights should NOT be a fireable offense. In supporting Palestinian freedom, Marc Lamont-Hill was in no way being anti-semitic.

Marc Lamont Hill has spent much of his life fighting against racism and oppression in America. In a tweet responding to accusations against him, he said “I support Palestinian freedom. I support Palestinian self-determination. I am deeply critical of Israeli policy and practice. I do not support anti-Semitism, killing Jewish people, or any of the other things attributed to my speech. I have spent my life fighting these things”.

Especially in the Trump Era, it is dangerous to link advocating for Palestinian rights to anti-semitism. It distracts from real threats to Jewish community — the rise of white nationalism.

Unfortunately, the ADL already vilified Marc Lamont Hill for his criticism of Israeli policy. Once again we are seeing the American Jewish establishment censor conversations about Palestinian rights by falsely claiming antisemitism, and it is setting a terrifying precedent.

Meanwhile, CNN has not cut ties with many other frequent contributors who have expressed beliefs that are actually bigoted. For example, Rick Santorum, currently a senior political commentator at CNN, has such reactionary views on Israel that he has called Palestinians an “invented people.”

Just imagine being fired because you gave a speech that criticized Israel’s policy of Occupation and declared that Palestinian deserve basic human rights. That is why we as Jews are saying it is not antisemitic to demand freedom for the Palestinian people, and advocating for Palestinian human rights should not be a fireable offense.

We need a future where no one lives in fear of being fired for talking about Palestinian human rights and liberation. Demanding freedom and dignity for all Palestinians can also include demanding an end to antisemitism and white nationalism.

CNN, we call on you to reinstate Marc Lamont Hill immediately.

Sign the petition here.

If Not Now is a movement within the American Jewish community, across generations and organizational affiliations. It is open to any who seek to shift the American Jewish public away from the status quo that upholds the occupation.