with Dr. Sunaina Maira, Professor of Asian American Studies, University of California – Davis
The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) has expanded rapidly though controversially in the United States in the last five years. The academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions is a key component of this movement. What is this boycott? Why does it make sense? And why is this an American Studies issue? In this short essential book, Sunaina Maira addresses these key questions. Boycott! situates the academic boycott in the broader history of boycotts in the United States as well as in Palestine and shows how it has evolved into a transnational social movement that has spurred profound intellectual and political shifts. It explores the movement’s implications for antiracist, feminist, queer, and academic labor organizing and examines the boycott in the context of debates about Palestine, Zionism, race, rights-based politics, academic freedom, decolonization, and neoliberal capitalism.
Sunaina Maira is Professor of Asian American Studies and was Co-Director of the Mellon Research Initiative in Comparative Border Studies at UC Davis from 2015-2018. In addition to Boycott! The Academy and Justice for Palestine, she is the author of several books on Muslim, Arab, and South Asian youth culture and activism including Jil Oslo: Palestinian Hip Hop, Youth Culture, and the Youth Movement and The 9/11 Generation: Youth, Rights, and Solidarity in the War on Terror. She co-edited Contours of the Heart: South Asians Map North America, which won the American Book Award, and The Imperial University: Academic Repression and Scholarly Dissent. Her current research is a community-engaged project on sanctuary activism and migrant solidarity movements in the US and Europe. Maira has also been involved with various community organizations and Palestine solidarity campaigns in the Bay Area and nationally.
On Wisconsin Public Television’s Women, War & Peace
Tuesday, March 26 8:00 pm on WPT 26-1
Wednesday, March 27 2:00 am on WPT 26-1
Sunday, April 14 9:00 pm on The Wisconsin Channel 26-2
Discover the story of a courageous, non-violent women’s movement that formed the heart of the Palestinian struggle for freedom during the 1987 uprising, known as the first Intifada. One woman must make a choice between love, family and freedom. Undaunted, she embraces all three.
During the Intifada, women weren’t just following orders, we were instrumental in making decisions alongside men.
We want our home land!
We want to live free.
Women’s resistance went hand-in-hand with national resistance.
There is a discussion guide available to help you learn more about women’s leadership, unarmed civil resistance and grassroots organizing in Israel-Palestine.
Two Palestinian children have been killed in a blaze at their home in occupied Hebron after the Israeli authorities prevented the fire brigade from reaching them in time.
The two children – one of whom is believed to have been just 18-months old – were burned to death in a fire at their home in the Al-Salaymeh neighbourhood of Hebron’s Old City in the occupied West Bank. One was reported dead late last night, while the second succumbed to the burns received this morning after receiving emergency treatment at the nearby Hebron government hospital. A third child, thought to be the dead children’s brother, also suffered severe burns in the incident and remains in intensive care, according to hospital Director Dr Walid Zalloum.
The names of the three children have not been released formally, but Palestinian news site Palestine Today named the two who were killed as four-year-old Wael Al-Rajabi and his 18-month-old sister Malik. The local police spokesman, Colonel Loai Arziqat, confirmed in a press statement that two children had died, but did not offer further information.
Though the emergency services were called, the fire brigade was prevented from reaching the scene by Israeli soldiers. In a video filmed last night at 21:50 local time (19:50 GMT), the fire engine can be seen trying to drive down a narrow street. The truck comes to a stop at a road block obstructing the way, while local residents implore the Israeli soldiers stationed there to “open the gate quickly, for the children.”
The Israeli soldiers, however, did not yield to the onlookers’ pleas, delaying the emergency services’ response and preventing them from reaching the property. The cause of the fire remains unknown.
Israel is no stranger to restricting emergency services’ access to Palestinians in need. According to Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), citing the Palestine Red Crescent Society, since 2015 Israel has prevented ambulances from crossing checkpoints on 123 occasions. In addition, there were 386 attacks against Red Crescent teams across the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) during the same period, as well as 105 ambulances damaged.
In December, Israeli soldiers shot a Palestinian child then prevented him from receiving potentially life-saving medical treatment; he died soon thereafter. Seventeen-year-old Mahmoud Nakhle was shot as Israeli forces suppressed protests around Al-Jalazun refugee camp near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. A few minutes later, the soldiers chased off a Palestinian ambulance, threatening the driver with their rifles and not giving Nakhle first aid themselves. Only after a quarter of an hour did the soldiers allow an ambulance to be summoned, but Nakhle died en route to hospital.
Palestinian children killed in a blaze at their home in Hebron, West Bank, after Israeli forces prevented the fire brigade from reaching them in time
Under international law, as the occupying power Israel is forbidden from preventing access to medical care and emergency services to the people living under its occupation. According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, “The occupying power must ensure sufficient hygiene and public health standards, as well as the provision of food and medical care to the population under occupation.” In addition, “Personnel of the International Red Crescent Movement must be allowed to carry out their humanitarian activities.” Israel, however, continues to breach this and other articles of international laws and conventions with impunity.
Today Israeli forces destroyed and confiscated underground pipes in the Palestinian villages of Jinba, Khallet Athaba, Ar Rakeez and Al-Mufaqarah. Soldiers detained the mayor of the Palestinian village of Tuwani and the head of the council of Masaffer Yatta. The confiscation has disrupted the water supply to villages and schools throughout Masafer Yatta.
The eight villages in Masafer Yatta lie within an area of Palestinian land claimed by Israel as Firing Zone 918, and used by the Israeli military as a practice area. Many of the villages within the zone have received Israeli demolition orders for homes, agricultural buildings and schools.
Two “honest, hard-working family men” from Gaza have helped bring the plight of the Palestinian people to the largest independent film festival in the United States but, in an ironic twist, they can’t get there themselves.
Fady Hanouna and Ali Aby Yaseen have tried for months to get the necessary documentation and visas approved to accompany the film they worked on for four years to its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.
But the duo can’t break free of the very thing they’ve been railing against in the new documentary; they can’t get out of Gaza to get to its premiere.
The border between Gaza and Egypt is closed, with no indication of when it will reopen.
Hanouna, 30, a production manager on the film, and Yaseen, who features in the film, were scheduled to travel to Cairo for their visa interviews on January 21. They were supposed to fly out for the US on January 24.
A week has now passed and there has been no change in Gaza. Alongside thousands of others desperate to cross the border, they wait.
“I don’t know why Israel closes the border from the north … Egypt is closing the border from the south, and from the west there is the sea. And from the east there are Israeli snipers,” a frustrated Hanouna told The National. “It is my right to travel and it is my right to get a job and it is my right to live a decent life. It is my right to feel safe with my children and my family.”
The US Embassy in Cairo has told the two men they could “be flexible” with their visa interviews if they arrived in the city soon, Hanouna says. However, the movie premieres at Sundance today and the border remains closed.
International travel is a foreign concept for Hanouna. He has never seen an airport in his life, let alone been on a plane – or even a train. “So I’m excited and afraid! But I want to try, I want to fly,” he says.
He has worked on several films in Gaza, as a production manager and cameraman, but has never seen any of his own work as the territory doesn’t have a cinema. So why is this time different? Why choose now to watch one of his movies from a seat in a cinema halfway across the world, in Park City, Utah?
“The film shows Gaza away from what you hear in the news every day – blood, wars and bombing,” he says. “The film is far from politics and close to human.”
And so, Hanouna and Yaseen are attempting to take matters into their own hands. They are documenting their efforts to get through the border on a vlog – The Long Road to Sundance – that can be found on YouTube.
But, so far, no amount of external aid has been able to get them through. Sundance has tried to help, to no avail.
“The [Sundance] Institute has been working tirelessly with government officials, individuals, and humanitarians to try to secure the safe passage of Fady and Ali out of Gaza,” Sundance Film Festival documentary programmer Hussain Currimbhoy said. “The support we have received from the filmmaking and international communities has been overwhelming.”
On 14 July 2018, around 6 P.M., the partially constructed al-Katibah Building in Gaza City was the target of an Israeli airstrike, consisting of four initial missiles, followed by four larger strikes. The first missile killed two Palestinian teenagers, Amir a-Nimrah and Luai Kahil, as they sat on the roof of the building. Twenty-three others were injured in the following strikes, which also damaged two neighboring buildings—a cultural center and a mosque.
The four initial missiles launched were part of what the Israeli military calls ‘roof knocking’, a policy by which ‘low-explosive munitions’ are used, supposedly to warn civilians of a larger impending strike and to allow time for them to evacuate the area. Israel claims that these warnings are legal and are meant to protect civilians. However, quite to the contrary, missiles launched as ‘roof knocking’ form part of an attack, for all intents and purposes. As such, they must follow the relevant rules under International Law. In this case a-Nimrah and Kahil were killed as a result of an attack that disregarded these rules completely.
Following the attack, the Israeli military published footage of the strikes via its Twitter account, @idfspokesperson, supposedly showing four different strikes.
The attack was documented by a number of different sources. In addition to the Israeli military’s aerial footage, the attack was captured by nearby CCTV cameras. B’Tselem’s field researchers gathered further video material on the ground, as well as from social media and other open sources.
Forensic Architecture (FA) used this material to establish a definitive timeline of the sequence of strikes.
Our investigation found that the sequence of videos published through the @idfspokesperson Twitter account edited out the first, fatal strike. The published footage did show four strikes in sequence, but that sequence did not reflect reality: the first strike featured in the published sequence was in fact the third warning strike, from a different angle.
FA and B’Tselem also consulted multiple weapons experts, each of whom independently concluded that the fragmentation pattern caused by the fatal strike indicates the presence of shrapnel—indicating that the munitions used was specifically designed as an anti-personnel weapon. This contradicts the military’s claims.
It is unknown if the two teenagers were visible to the military before the first strike. If they were, they should not have been targeted. But if not, it follows that the Israeli military cannot justifiably rely on its aerial surveillance technologies to avoid civilian casualties.
Hagai El-Ad, Executive Director of B’Tselem, said: ‘Airstrikes in Gaza are marketed to the public by the Israeli military as surgical actions, designed to protect civilians, based on precision intelligence, accurate munitions, state-of-the-art surveillance, and close attention to international law.
‘In reality, that is often nothing more than propaganda. The truth, instead, is devastating civilian casualties, surveillance that is incapable of distinguishing combatants from teenagers, inept intelligence, and the reduction of legal principles that are intended to protect civilians into a perfunctory checklist, which is later used to whitewash human rights violations, and to establish impunity.’
Nicholas Masterton, a researcher with FA and coordinator for this project, said: ‘This investigation demonstrates how a deep reading of the imagery provided by the IDF, which was ostensibly intended to legitimise the “warning strikes” on the al-Katibah building, can be unravelled to reveal a different story.
‘The wealth of images and videos in this case allowed us to conduct a rigorous independent investigation, and to challenge the Israeli military’s claims. We could not only show that Kahil and a-Nimrah were killed by a deadly missile, but also expose the underhanded way in which the Israeli military presented details of such strikes to the public.’
Eyal Weizman, Forensic Architecture’s Director, said: ‘We decided to spend time investigating this case because warning strikes are an essential part of the Israeli military’s claims to high ethical standards. But such warnings are sometimes delivered with the same missiles that are used elsewhere to kill.
‘As a result, it’s no surprise that these warning strikes can kill the very civilians they are purportedly meant to warn, or that the message they are meant to deliver is often misunderstood.
‘Further, these so-called ‘warnings’ give the IDF a licence, as they perceive it, to subsequently commence heavy bombardment of buildings in dense urban areas. They can as such have the result of causing more civilian casualties, rather than preventing them.’
Today is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Over 7 million Palestinians are refugees – scattered around the globe. In the face of incredible hardship and oppression, Palestinians continue to demand the implementation of their rights – including the right to return to their homes from which they were forcibly displaced 70 years ago.
As the US government’s cuts to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) have put millions of Palestinians at risk, it is crucial now more than ever to learn about and campaign for the rights of refugees. On this day of solidarity, please watch and share this video, which explains what we mean when we talk about the Palestinian right of return.
This year, when Palestinian refugee rights had all but disappeared from public consciousness in the West, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip came together in a groundswell of collective action through the Great Return March. Tens of thousands of Palestinians living under an illegal and devastating military blockade showed the world that they have not given up on their struggle for freedom and justice. Return is a core demand of these demonstrations that continue every week, even after they have faced unprecedented militarised repression at the hands of Israel’s military.
Please share this video to help raise the voices of Palestinians struggling for justice.
Senior Campaigns Officer – Militarism and Security
War on Want
“Scars of Freedom” describes the Palestinian experience of arrest, interrogation, and life in captivity that carries great political, economic, and social impact.
From the beginning of the occupation to the present day the arrest and incarceration of Palestinians has been used continuously to suppress their aspirations for independence and freedom, to oppress Palestinian prisoners, and to inflict collective punishment on their families.
The Addameer 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. Established in 1992 by a group of activists interested in human rights, the center offers free legal aid to political prisoners, advocates their rights at the national and international level, and works to end torture and other violations of prisoners’ rights through monitoring, legal procedures and solidarity campaigns. Addameer is Arabic for conscience.