Final 2019 Appeal — Clean Water for Kids


Best Photos of 2019 from MECA

We are now more than halfway to providing another water filter system to a school in Rafah, Palestine.

If you have contributed to this project, thank you.

If you have not yet contributed, please consider an end-of-year donation to help us raise the balance of the $16,000 needed to provide clean, safe water for 2,200 students at the the Al-Shuka Preparatory School.

This is the fifth Maia water filter project funded by MRSCP and other citizens of Madison.

At least 95 percent of the groundwater in Gaza is unfit for drinking, cooking, washing, or bathing. Read about the causes and consequences of the Gaza water crisis.

You can donate in three ways:

  1. Contribute online through MECA. A small service fee is taken from the donation.
  2. Mail a check to MRSCP with the note “water” to:
      MRSCP
      P.O. Box 5214
      Madison, WI 53705

    100 percent of the donation goes to the project.

  3. Purchase Holy Land Olive Oil from MRSCP. $3 of every bottle sold goes to the project. The oil comes in two sizes: 750 ml for $25 and 500 ml for $20. Six-packs are also available at a discount. Contact veena.brekke at gmail.com.

As always, many thanks for your help in providing clean, safe water to kids in Gaza. All contributions are tax deductible, and MRSCP or MECA will send you a receipt.

BDS impact in 2019

Mahmoud Nawajaa, BDSMovement.net

The anti-Palestinian Trump Administration and Boris Johnson government are more than ever directly engaged in Israel’s desperate war of repression on advocacy for Palestinian rights and the BDS movement in particular. Thanks to your support, our BDS movement for freedom, justice and equality continued to grow in scale and impact in 2019.

Here are just a few highlights of BDS impact in 2019:

    South Africa, whose citizens brought apartheid to an end through protests and boycotts, officially downgraded its relations with Israel.

    Leading European trade unions – the European Federation of Public Services Unions, representing eight million people, and the UK’s Trades Union Congress, representing six million people – called for suspending the EU-Israel free trade agreement or ending arms sales to Israel.

    Major international companies – Australia’s Macquarie, Canada’s Bombardier, France’s Alstom, and Germany’s Siemens – withdrew from bidding to build Israel’s illegal settlement railway on stolen Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem.

    Support grew among US progressives and liberals for BDS and the right to boycott. Polls show 44% of Democratic voters supporting BDS. 80% of Democrats oppose laws penalizing people boycotting Israel, and 72% of all Americans oppose such laws. Democratic lawmakers introduced a historic House resolution affirming the right to boycott, and the Democratic Socialists of America committed to national BDS organizing.

    More artists – authors, actors, musicians and visual artists– cancelled performances and/or stated their support for the cultural boycott of apartheid Israel. More than 150,000 people, hundreds of artists and over 100 LGBT+ organizations joined our calls to boycott Eurovision 2019 in Tel Aviv. Only 10% of the expected tourists showed up.

    Campaigns for a military embargo against Israel grew and won victories. The French insurance giant AXA partially divested from Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. 200 organizations and individuals representing the Global South united in a call for a military embargo against Israel.

    2019’s annual Israeli Apartheid Week featured more than 200 events, across 30 countries, on five continents.

    In Europe, more progress was made towards banning goods and services produced in Israel’s illegal settlements. Oslo’s City Council banned procurement of settlement products. The European Court of Justice ruled that settlement goods must be accurately labeled. Ireland’s Parliament passed a bill to ban settlement goods, moving the ban closer to becoming law.

    Support grew for the academic boycott of Israel and for campus divestment. An NYU department and the Pitzer College Council in the US, New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University and The British Society for Middle Eastern Studies all adopted boycott measures. A Brown University corporate responsibility advisory committee recommended the university divest from companies complicit in Israel’s oppression.

    The US Episcopal Church, with 1.7 million members, voted to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Israel Discount Bank over involvement in Israel’s human rights violations.

    Trade unions took the lead in growing the campaign to Boycott HP, including the Netherland’s FNV, with 1.2 million members; Unite, with 1.1 million UK members; and the Maritime Union of Australia – Sydney Branch.

    • BDS supporters won four significant court victories in the US and Germany, countries where parliaments and governments have pushed hardest to repress the right to boycott.

While far-right forces made gains in Israel and other parts of the world in 2019, the growth of our anti-racist BDS movement, with support from principled allies worldwide, provides a ray of hope that another world is possible for Palestinians, just as it is for people enduring injustice worldwide.

Donate to help us win!

‘Blinding the truth’: Israeli snipers target Gaza protesters in the eyes


Twelve-year-old Mohammed Al-Najar was shot in his eye by Israeli soldiers [Getty]

Tareq Hajjaj and Pam Bailey, The New Arab — Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, 20 December, 2019

    To date, Gaza's Ministry of Health reports that 50 protesters have been shot in the eye by Israeli soldiers since the demonstrations began last March leaving them permanently blind.

Tags: Gaza, Gazans, Great Return March, Israel, snipers, rubber bullets, eyes, injuries

Media coverage and social media posts went wild when Palestinian photojournalist Muath Amarneh was blinded in his left eye after he was hit by a rubber bullet while covering a protest in the West Bank. 

However, Amarneh was far from unique; Israeli snipers targeting participants in Gaza’s weekly Great Return March protests have aimed for the legs – and eyes. To date, Gaza’s Ministry of Health reports that 50 protesters have been shot in the eye since the demonstrations began March 30, 2018 – leaving them permanently blind.

“Some of these protesters and journalists were hit in the eye with teargas canisters, but most were targeted directly with what is commonly called a ‘rubber bullet,’ giving the impression they are somehow benign,” says Ashraf Alqedra, MD, a treating physician at Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital and spokesperson for the Ministry of Health.

“But there is still steel at the core, and although these bullets don’t usually kill, they do grave damage. It is impossible to save an eye hit directly by a rubber-coated steel bullet.”

However, he adds, due to the Israeli blockade, there are no artificial, glass eyes in Gaza – only a cosmetic improvement, but one that can be a significant psychological aid. These are available only by travelling out of Gaza for treatment and permits for such journeys are often not granted.

According to data released by the World Health Organization, Gaza residents submitted 25,897 applications to travel via Erez Crossing to receive medical treatment in the West Bank or Israel; an average of 2,158 were submitted each month. However, the Israeli government only approved 61 percent.

Mai Abu Rwedah: the most recent victim

Mai Abu Rwedah, 20, grew up in north Gaza’s al-Bureij Refugee Camp in a family of nine children supported by a father who works as a janitor for a UN school. She just graduated from university, hoping to start her professional life as a medical secretary and contribute her income.

But that dream was dealt a severe blow December 6, when she became the most recent Gazan to lose an eye to an Israeli bullet.

Abu Rwedah believes in using peaceful, but active, resistance to reclaim Palestinians’ right to return to their ancestral homeland. So, she has joined participants in the Great Return March protest since its launch on March 30, 2018.

On September 21 of that year, she was shot by a rubber-coated bullet in one of her legs, but that didn’t stop her from participating; she kept on going.

Doctors had to extract Mai’s right eye and the bullet damaged her jaw as well
A sit-in protest takes place in Gaza in solidarity with Mai 

Earlier this month, stood with a few friends about 100 metres from the fence that marks the border between Gaza and Israel. She glimpsed an Israeli soldier waving and pointing his finger to his eye.

“He was trying to intimidate me, but I was not afraid because I was doing nothing wrong. I wasn’t even throwing stones,” Abu Rwedeh recalls.

The soldiers fired tear gas then, and Mai and her friends ran away, but still were in sight of the young man who had threatened her.

“He was watching me; wherever I moved he kept watching. Then, suddenly, he raised his gun and pointed it at me. I was about to flee but he was too fast. He shot me in my eye.”

The bullet damaged her jaw as well. Doctors had to extract her right eye, since it was destroyed, Her determination, however, is intact. Abu Rwedeh continues to protest.

He was watching me; wherever I moved he kept watching. Then, suddenly, he raised his gun and pointed it at me. I was about to flee but he was too fast. He shot me in my eye

The youngest victim

Mohammed Al-Najar, 12, is the second-oldest son among four children, supported by a father who works in a wedding hall in Khan Younis.

In January, during the mid-year vacation from school, Mohammed begged his parents to allow him to watch the Friday protest with his cousins and other relatives, thinking it would give him an exciting story to share with classmates. 

He was given permission to ride one of the government buses that collected people from the various neighbourhoods, taking them to the protest sites. When he disembarked, teargas bombs were flying, and he shouted to warn those around him. Then next one hit him directly in his right eye.

When Mohammad learned later that his eye could not be saved, he locked himself in his room and stopped going to school. When he did go back, he struggled.

“At first his marks at school dropped and he isolated himself. He tried to hide his missing eye,” says his mother, Um Edress.

She took to him an organisation that provided psychotherapy, but he refused to speak. Today, he is socialising, but goes quiet when asked about his injury.

When Mohammad learned later that his eye could not be saved,
he locked himself in his room and stopped going to school [Getty]

The journalist

According to Dr Alqedra, most people with eye injuries from the Great Return March are journalists or photographers.

One of them is Sami Musran 35, a photographer who works for Al-Aqsa TV. On July 19, he was shot several times – first in his hand, the next two times in his shoulders and the fourth time in the chest. (Fortunately, he was wearing a bulletproof vest, so it did not harm him.) The last time cost him his left eye.

Sami says he had received several calls from Israeli officers warning him not to take photos at the Great Return March. His mother also received calls, saying her son might be killed.

Forty times, my Facebook account was hacked or deleted for me, and I received death threats as well

“Forty times, my Facebook account was hacked or deleted for me, and I received death threats as well,” he says. “But I decided to keep on with my work to reveal the Israeli crimes against unarmed Palestinians who participate in the march.”

The night before Musran was shot, his wife tried to insist he stay home, but he refused.

“Minutes before I was hit, my mother called me twice, saying she was very worried about me. But I said that nothing happens that isn’t God’s plan,” he recalls.

He was about 250 metres away from of the Israeli fence when two women and a child were shot. Musran was taking photos of them and went in close. That’s when a rubber-coated bullet hit his eye and he lost consciousness. Two days later, he woke up in the intensive care unit to find out he had a skull fracture and an injured eye. The bullet had damaged the iris, retina and cornea and his vision was gone.

Today, it is hard for him to continue with his job; his depth perception is off, he gets headaches and the sight in his remaining eye “fades” at night. But he will keep trying.

“Israel wants to blind the eyes of the truth by sending messages to photographers saying we will hit your eyes to make you stop taking photos,” he says. “But we do not surrender.”

Why We Sail, Sail, and Sail Again: Freedom Flotilla 2020

Canadian Boat to Gaza, December 20, 2019

Freedom Flotilla sailors and participants are sometimes asked: Why do you keep sailing toward Gaza only to be captured? Why not give the funds you raise directly to the Palestinians of Gaza as aid? Our rationale for sailing and our experiences in 2018 provide some answers. Our Palestinian partners in Gaza are asking us to challenge the illegal blockade. In May 2018 the Norwegian fishing trawler Al Awda (The Return) and the Swedish sailing ship Freedom sailed from Scandinavia. Over two months, we called on ports in Denmark, Germany, Holland, England, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy spreading the message of freedom for Palestinians. Israel has extended its reach, pressuring governments in Cyprus,Turkey, and Greece to prevent our ships sailing from their ports.

Canadians Karen DeVito and John Turnbull joined the sailing ship Freedom in Denmark and crewed her from Copenhagen to Palermo where John then captained the ship on the final leg toward Gaza. Other Canadians, including Heather Milton-Lightening, Ron Rousseau, Majed Khraishi, Kathy Wazana, and Larry Commodore of the Stó:lo Nation, were on board Al Awda at different points in her voyage, and Canadian journalist Dimitri Lascaris reported for The Real News Network from Flotilla boats and from several ports.

The arrival of the ships at each European port occasioned special events, marches, music, speaking opportunities, as well as visits with municipal and provincial politicians. In some places cities and regions had passed motions to support the Flotilla and recognize Palestine. In Amsterdam, activists organized a small-boat Flotilla through the canals with music, banners and flags. Supporters followed along the canals and bridges handing out hundreds of flyers. Brighton, England gave a rousing welcome on the pier, held an information event in a local park, and a packed house speaking event in the town. Gijón, Spain held a march through the city with about 800 people with music, dancing, singing and a Palestinian flag that required 40 people to parade it through the streets. The City Council of Cádiz, Spain voted the Flotilla “Illustrious Visitor.” Two smaller Swedish sailboats crossed Netherland, Belgium and France by river and canal, catching public interest when authorities prevented them from mooring in Paris, and visited a number of other waterside communities.

Energizing local solidarity groups, providing outreach and diplomacy are all aspects of the Flotilla’s work. The voyage around Europe is so valuable in these respects. We also discovered that refugees would visit our ships at each port. The mayors of three Italian ports met our ships at the piers and declared refugees welcome to their cities, regardless of their then-Prime Minister’s negative attitude. Our crew met with local and provincial politicians, ambassadors– they attended regional parliamentary sessions, municipal meetings and gave presentations to the public as well as tours of the boats. All these activities are part of why we sail.

Palestinians in Gaza are now more than ever connected with the rest of the world by the internet. They know when the Freedom Flotilla is coming; they go to the seashore and wait. We are answering a civil society call when we sail–when we ask our partner organizations in Gaza if they would prefer a donations over a Flotilla, they always respond saying we should to sail and raise international awareness about the blockade. They prefer we expand awareness of the longest running occupation in modern history. They also tell us that our sailing gives Palestinians hope and the knowledge that they are not alone.

The Flotilla movement has launched successful legal challenges to Israel for improper confiscation of our ships. One recent court victory by Ship to Gaza Sweden provided the funds for purchase of the Freedom and two smaller sailboats that travelled through France to the Mediterranean. And so Captain John, when interrogated on the way to an Israeli prison, was pleased to answer this question: “Did a terrorist organization provide your funding?” with a solid “Yes”. Then to “Which one?” , John replied: “The Israeli government.”

The Freedom, aside from its main cargo of hope, also carried some medical aid that Israel is required to deliver. To date our 114 boxes remain in Israel, awaiting delivery to Gaza. While these medical supplies were not a significant quantity, they provide another opportunity for ongoing legal action in Israeli courts against the blockade.

The Flotilla will sail again in 2020, at the request of Palestinians of Gaza. This is the year the UN report declared that Gaza will be unliveable. Right now, most of its drinking water is contaminated. Every child shows symptoms of psychological distress. Each Friday Palestinians stand on their own land near the fence asking for their human rights as Israeli snipers shoot them. In 2018 the IDF has killed 254 people in Gaza, 47 of them children. Thousands have been injured; many amputations have resulted.

There are shortages of medicine in Gaza. Children go to school in shifts. Many are orphaned. Israeli drones fly overhead day and night. Hospitals are overwhelmed, especially on Fridays. Last summer we met young Jamil from Gaza in an Italian port; his mother had applied to Israel for permission to take him there for medical treatment. During the years of waiting he had survived on blood transfusions from his grandfather. He must return once his rare blood condition is treated. We saw the worry in his mother’s eyes. Gaza is hazardous even for a healthy child.

And so the flotilla will sail again in 2020, even more mindful this year of the children of Gaza and the tenth anniversary of the attacks on the Mavi Marmara and other Flotilla vessels in 2010.

A critical way to help this campaign is to contribute financially. There are different ways you can make a donation. Click here to donate. We ask you to consider a monthly donation. We are pleased to accept e-transfers from Canadian bank accounts (Interac) or online using a major credit card or PayPal account. You can also donate by cheque or money order and mailing to Canadian Boat to Gaza, PO Box 1950, London Stn. B, London, Ontario N6A 5J4, CANADA. In other countries, please consider donating through one of our Freedom Flotilla coalition partner campaigns : https://jfp.freedomflotilla.org/donate

Please help us spread the word about our campaigns:

Together, we can help end the blockade!

Israel Social TV

Israel Social TV is an independent media organization working to promote social change, human rights and equality.

“We use the unique power of visual documentation, where intellectual arguments alone might fail to change the hearts and minds of people, promoting human rights and bringing about social change in Israel.”


Hiba al-Labadi, a Palestinian with Jordanian citizenship, was detained in August 2019. No charges have been lodged against her and she is in administrative detention.

Gaza 2020: How easy it is for the world to delete Palestinian pain


A man holds the hand of Maria al-Gazali, a 14-month-old Palestinian baby, as her body lies on a stretcher at a hospital in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza on 5 May 2019. She died during an Israeli air strike (AFP)

David Hearst, Middle East Eye, 13 December 2019

I would like you to try an exercise. Google the words  “family of eight killed” and you will be given several options – one in Sonora, Mexico, another in Pike, Ohio, yet another in Mendocino County, California.

But Google’s massive memory seems to have suffered amnesia over what took place just one month ago in Deir al-Baba, Gaza.

To recap, because you, too, may have forgotten: on 14 November, an Israeli pilot dropped a one-tonne JDAM bomb on a building where eight members of one family were sleeping. Five of them were children. Two of them were infants.

"

The bodies of five children from the same family killed in an Israeli air strike on 14 November lie in a hospital ward in Gaza (MEE/Atiyya Darwish)

At first, the Israeli army tried to lie its way out of responsibility for the killing of al-Sawarka family (one other family member has since died of injuries, taking the total to nine). Its Arabic-language spokesman claimed that the building was a command post for an Islamic Jihad rocket-launching unit in the central Gaza Strip.

However, as Haaretz revealed, the target was at least a year old. The intelligence was based on rumours, and no one had bothered to check who was living inside that building: they just dropped the bomb anyway.

The Israeli army need not have bothered lying. No one took any notice

Military intelligence capable of identifying and hitting moving targets like Bahaa Abu al-Atta, the Islamic Jihad’s commander in the northern Gaza Strip – or attempting to kill Akram al-Ajouri, a member of its political bureau in Damascus – is simultaneously incapable of updating its target bank from one year ago.

The Israeli army need not have bothered lying. No one took any notice. Neither the exchange of rocket fire nor the killing of the Sawarka family made the front pages of the Guardian, New York Times or Washington Post.

Israel’s diet plan for Gaza

This is Gaza now: a brutal siege of a forgotten people subsisting in conditions predicted to be unlivable by the UN in 2020, a year that is just a few weeks away.

It is inaccurate to say that the deaths of the Sawarka family were met with indifference in Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s sole rival for the leadership is Benny Gantz. Anyone in western capitals mistaking Gantz for a peacenik, merely because he is challenging Netanyahu, should look at a series of campaign videos the former Israeli army chief published recently about Gaza.

One of them starts with the sort of footage that a Russian drone could have taken after its bombardment of East Aleppo. The devastation is like Dresden or Nagasaki. It takes a disturbing few seconds to realise that this horrendous drone footage is a celebration of destruction, not an indictment of it.

Its message in Hebrew is unambiguous for what is considered in international law a war crime. “Parts of Gaza were returned to the stone ages… 6,231 targets destroyed… 1,364 terrorists killed… 3.5 years of quiet… Only the strong win.”

Indifference is not the right word. It is more like jubilation.

Israel’s suffocation of Gaza predates the siege that started when Hamas took over in 2007. As Israeli writer Meron Rapoport has said, Israel’s leaders have long harboured genocidal thoughts about what to do with the enclave that they chased all those refugees into after 1948.

‘The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger’

– Dov Weisglass, Israeli government adviser

In 1967, former Israeli prime minister Levi Eshkol set up a unit to encourage Palestinians to emigrate.

“Precisely because of the suffocation and imprisonment there, maybe the Arabs will move from the Gaza Strip… Perhaps if we don’t give them enough water they won’t have a choice, because the orchards will yellow and wither,” he suggested, according to declassified minutes of cabinet meetings released in 2017.

In 2006, Dov Weisglass, a government adviser, said: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”

The Rafah crossing as relief valve

The passage of time has not dulled nor modified these sentiments.

The difference today is that Israeli leaders no longer feel the need to disguise their thoughts about Gaza. As Gantz did, they say out loud what previously they had said or thought in private.

In private, Israeli prime ministers have never stopped communicating with Hamas through intermediaries, mainly about prisoner exchanges.

"

Palestinian protesters run from tear gas fired by Israeli forces east of Bureij in the central Gaza Strip in December 2019 (AFP).

Tony Blair, the former Middle East envoy for the Quartet, engaged in his own diplomacy by offering Hamas a sea port and airport in exchange for an end to the conflict with Israel. It did not get anywhere.

Hamas has independently offered a long-term hudna or ceasefire and changed its charter to reflect a settlement based on the June 1967 borders of Palestine. But it has refused to decommission or hand over its armed forces. Fatah and the PLO ended up on a path to decay and political irrelevance since they each recognised Israel’s existence. That does not provide much of an incentive for Hamas and the other resistance groups in Gaza.

Throughout, the oscillation between jaw-jaw and war-war, and the interests of other parties to the siege of Gaza, have also become apparent. At times, these parties have been more Catholic than the pope in wishing to see Gaza and Hamas brought to heal.

One of them is Egypt under the military-led rule of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The Gaza crossing is a tap. Close it and you put political pressure on Hamas

In 2012, under president Mohamed Morsi’s rule, an average of 34,000 people passed through the Rafah crossing every month. In 2014, after Sisi came to power, the border with Egypt remained closed for 241 days. In 2015 it was shut for 346 days – and open for only 19 days. Sisi has operated the border crossing at Rafah very much in the manner of Israel itself.

The crossing is a tap. Close it and you put political pressure on Hamas by denying the dying access to proper medical care. Open it and you relieve the pressure on the inmates of this giant prison.

A third collaborator to the siege is the Palestinian Authority itself. According to Hamas, since April 2007, the PA has cut the salaries of its employees in Gaza, forced 30,000 of its public servants into early retirement, reduced the number of medical permits to receive treatment abroad, cut medicines and medical supplies. The salary cuts are largely undisputed .

An inhuman experiment

The cumulative effect of the siege on the enclave is devastating, as MEE has reported this week.

Imagine how the international community would react if in Hong Kong or New York, two other similarly crowded territories, unemployment was 47 per cent, the poverty rate 53 per cent, the average class size was 39 and the infant mortality rate at 10.5 per 1,000 live births.


    Gaza 2020: How does Palestinian territory compare globally?

    Read More »


The international community has grown used to absolving Israel of any accountability for collective punishment and gross human rights abuses.

But surely the point now is that Gaza must be considered a human stain on the conscience of the world.

By neglect, or default, all western governments have actively contributed to its misery. All are deeply complicit in an inhuman experiment: how to keep more than 2 million people on a level of subsistence considered intolerable and unlivable by the UN, without tipping them over into mass death.

What has to happen for this to change? For how much longer will we delete, as Google apparently does, Gaza, its refugees, its daily suffering from the collective consciousness of the world?

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

David Hearst is the editor in chief of Middle East Eye. He left The Guardian as its chief foreign leader writer. In a career spanning 29 years, he covered the Brighton bomb, the miner's strike, the loyalist backlash in the wake of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in Northern Ireland, the first conflicts in the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in Slovenia and Croatia, the end of the Soviet Union, Chechnya, and the bushfire wars that accompanied it. He charted Boris Yeltsin's moral and physical decline and the conditions which created the rise of Putin. After Ireland, he was appointed Europe correspondent for Guardian Europe, then joined the Moscow bureau in 1992, before becoming bureau chief in 1994. He left Russia in 1997 to join the foreign desk, became European editor and then associate foreign editor. He joined The Guardian from The Scotsman, where he worked as education correspondent.

Trump strategy to stifle campus organizing for Palestinian rights


UNC-Chapel Hill Students for Justice in Palestine, December 24, 2012. (Photo: Facebook)

Josh Ruebner, Mondoweiss, December 12, 2019

President Trump signed yesterday an Executive Order empowering the federal government to crack down on campus organizing for Palestinian rights under the guise of combating antisemitism. 

“This is our message to universities: If you want to accept the tremendous amount of federal dollars that you get every year, you must reject antisemitism,” Trump stated during a White House Hanukkah reception which doubled as a signing ceremony.

But Trump’s Executive Order has nothing to do with combating the scourge of antisemitism, the revival of which he is greatly responsible for by stoking white supremacy. Instead, it is primarily designed to pressure universities to disallow students to boycott for Palestinian rights. 

This aim, however, is not self-evident in the text of the Executive Order, which omits any reference to Israel, Palestinians, or BDS. The true intent of Trump’s action is obfuscated in a brief mention that government agencies “shall consider” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism and its associated contemporary examples of antisemitism in determining whether Jewish people have had their civil rights violated under Title VI of Civil Rights Act.

To be clear, the federal government should ensure that the civil rights of all religious minorities are upheld. And, also to be clear, what the IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism describes, along with many of its contemporary examples, are unambiguously and unimpeachably anti-Jewish bigotry.

However, some of the IHRA’s examples of antisemitism touching upon criticism of Israel are problematic. These include “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor,” and “applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

These vague and subjective examples are designed to be flexible enough to cover large swaths of First Amendment-protected free speech. For example, campus Zionist groups could argue that Jewish students’ civil rights are being violated if a Students for Justice in Palestine chapter advocates for a single, democratic state in which indigenous Palestinians would have equal rights to Jewish Israelis; hosts an academic panel deconstructing Israel’s foundational racist policies and laws; or organizes a campus boycott of Israeli goods to protest Israeli governmental policies without simultaneously and with equal vigor organizing boycotts against every other single country in the world with a parliament.

While the text of the Executive Order requires this background knowledge to understand its real impact, the Trump administration’s dubiously entitled “fact sheet” accompanying the order necessitates no such digging. 

Immediately under a bullet point noting “horrific acts of violence against Jewish Americans and synagogues in the United States,” the Trump administration oh-so-subtly pivots to a smear campaign against “18 Democrat [sic] Members of Congress [who] cosponsored legislation in support of the anti-Semitic ‘Boycott, Divest, Sanctions’ (BDS) movement,” claiming they “shockingly compared support for Israel to support for Nazi Germany.”

In fact, the resolution in question, H.Res.496, introduced by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), reaffirms in general terms the First Amendment right of people to engage in boycotts and maintains that “Americans of conscience have a proud history of participating in boycotts to advocate for human rights abroad,” including “boycotting Nazi Germany from March 1933 to October 1941 in response to the dehumanization of the Jewish people in the lead-up to the Holocaust.” 

These aptly-named bullet points are the quintessence of the Trump administration’s weaponization of antisemitism and its concomitant Islamophobia.

It is worth noting that the president resorted to this Executive Order only because a similar legislative effort has stalled in Congress due to First Amendment concerns. The order mirrors the misleadingly-named Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which is currently languishing in committee and has failed to pass previous congressional sessions.

It is also important to acknowledge that Trump’s Executive Order was not issued on a whim but as the culmination of a deliberate strategy to stifle campus organizing for Palestinian rights. On the campaign trail, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman menacingly pledged that “the Trump administration will ask the Justice Department to investigate coordinated attempts on college campuses to intimidate students who support Israel.” And the FBI has dutifully responded by siccing its agents on students who would threaten the supply of Sabra hummus in cafeterias. 

The Trump administration stepped up its attack on students organizing for Palestinian rights by nominating Kenneth Marcus to be the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education. Marcus has spent the better part of his career filing baseless Title VI discrimination claims against student organizers for Palestinian rights, trying to defund Middle East Studies programs demonstrating insufficient fealty to Israel, and advocating for the IHRA antisemitism definition.

Last year, Marcus wrote a letter to the Zionist Organization of America announcing that the Office of Civil Rights was now unilaterally employing the controversial IHRA definition and examples of antisemitism in its investigations. This move was made absent regular interagency coordination or a public comment period. 

Trump’s Executive Order provides Marcus with the post-facto regulatory justification he needs to bolster his hasty fiat. 

The stage is now set for an even more unprecedented governmental crack down against student organizers for Palestinian rights.

Josh Ruebner is Senior Principal at Progress Up Consulting and author of Israel: Democracy or Apartheid State? and Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace (Verso Books).

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Tell Donald Trump to Stop Using Jews to Shut Down Free Speech

After a week of antisemitic speech, today Donald Trump is signing an executive order to withhold money from college campuses that tolerate “anti-Israel” movements

As a Jewish college student, I know that Trump’s order isn’t meant to keep me safe – it’s meant to silence human rights advocates and, in particular, Palestinian and Muslim students.

Students who speak out against the occupation on college campuses are already targeted and censored. At the University of Michigan, where I go to school, Palestinian students know that sharing their stories publicly might mean being added to shady online blacklists or labelled antisemites.

Now Trump wants to crack down even further on campus free speech, and he’s doing it under the pretense of protecting us.

Trump’s executive order is meant to create a culture of fear for people who fight for Palestinian rights and freedom. The more who speak out against him today, the harder it will be for him to succeed. Will you add your name to our petition condemning Trump’s attacks on free speech in our name?

Criticizing Israel’s military occupation is not antisemitic. In a time of rising and deadly antisemitism, Jews need to be loud and clear eyed about what fighting for our safety means.

Trump cannot be trusted to define antisemitism for us. He incites deadly white nationalist violence against our community. He calls us disloyal. When speaking to American Jews, he refers to Israel as “your country” because he believes we do not really belong here. This Executive Order will not protect our community from Trump’s white nationalism or the violent threats we face.

IfNotNow is standing up for Jewish safety in solidarity with Palestinians, Muslims, and everyone targeted by white nationalist violence. Together, we will fight antisemitism and white nationalism, claim the right to speak for ourselves, and fight for the freedom and dignity of all Israelis and Palestinians.

Today that means condemning in the clearest possible terms Donald Trump’s dangerous Executive Order attacking free speech. Will you add your name to our petition rejecting Trump’s order now? The more people who speak out, the harder it will be for him to silence us, or our allies.

Let’s be loud.

Becca Lubow
IfNotNow Michigan

Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s Statement on House Resolution 326

US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, December 6, 2019



Today Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib took a principled stand against H. Res. 326, a resolution that will only help perpetuate the unjust status quo in Palestine/Israel and provide cover for Israel’s ongoing violations of Palestinian rights.

Share these social media links widely: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Thank Rep. Tlaib for consistently speaking out for Palestinian rights! We agree that bolder action is needed, and that a progressive US policy on Palestine/Israel should align with the values of justice and freedom for all. She was joined by Reps. Omar, Pressley, and Ocasio-Cortez in voting no, and Reps. McCollum and Garcia voting ‘present’ as a small way to choose the side of justice.

More
U.S. House Votes Against Israeli Annexation of West Bank, Haaretz, Dec 06, 2019
In rebuke to Trump and Netanyahu, US House passes resolution supporting 2 states, The Times of Israel, 6 December 2019

December 15, 2019
Laila Hassan from Women in Hebron


Madison, WI
1:00 — 3:00 pm
RSVP for directions

 

Please join us as we welcome Ms. Laila Hassan of the Women in Hebron crafts cooperative to Madison, where she will be displaying and selling some of the crafts made by the women of the Hebron area. Women in Hebron plays a vital role in supporting 150 women and their families.

Snacks and refreshments including Arabic coffee will be served. Palestinian extra virgin olive oil will also be available for tasting and sale.


This event will be held at a home in Madison. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to dwallbaum@gmail.com by 10 am on December 15.

Co-sponsored by MRSCP, Jewish Voice for Peace-Madison and Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison.

Laila will also be on WORT Radio’s A Public Affair with host Gil Halsted on Friday, December 13 from noon to 1, and Her Turn on Sunday, December 15 at 11:00 am.

Netanyahu’s Real Crimes

Dr. James J. Zogby, Arab American Institute, NOVEMBER 23, 2019

After years of investigation and months of delay, Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit formally indicted Benjamin Netanyahu for crimes ranging from his violation of public trust to bribery and fraud. Israel’s apologists will argue that the fact that a sitting Prime Minister has been charged with crimes against the state and people presents compelling evidence of the country’s democracy and commitment to the rule of law. This is the very point that Mandelblit made in announcing the indictments – “The public interest requires that we live in a country where no one is above the law.” However, this is only partially true since it appears that in Israel the principles of democracy or the rule of law only apply to Israeli Jews or the interests of the state, itself. In fact, Netanyahu’s entire sordid career is evidence of the selectiveness of Israelis’ sense of justice.

In the past the Netanyahu household has been charged with some of the pettiest forms of corruption imaginable. For example, his wife was found guilty of taking the empty bottles from beverages consumed at official state functions and keeping the money she received for turning them for recycling. The Netanyahus were also known to bring three weeks of dirty laundry on two-day official state trips and sending them to the hotel in which they were staying for a night so that the cleaning bill would be charged to the state’s budget. This is the sort of past petty thievery for which the Netanyahus were famous.

Looking at the recent indictments, it is clear that the Prime Minister has graduated to bigger and better forms of fraud and corruption. What’s striking, however, is that all of the crimes with which he is charged were focused on feeding his ego or his appetites. In some instances, they were favors done for a businessman in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts, in others they were the corrupt deals he made with various media tycoons in which he promised them benefits in exchange for their guaranteeing him positive coverage in their news outlets.

There is no doubt, that in all of these cases, Netanyahu’s behavior has been clearly criminal and reprehensible, and, as described by the Attorney General, a breach of the public’s trust. But what I find so striking and disturbing, is that these crimes pale in significance when compared to what Netanyahu has done to the Palestinian people and the prospect for Israeli-Palestinian peace – crimes for which he will not be called to account.

After Oslo, Netanyahu organized a back-door lobby to mobilize US Congressional opposition to the peace accords. This was the first time an Israeli lobby worked in the US to oppose their own government. He should have been charged with treason.

Back in Israel, during the same period, he organized with Ariel Sharon and a few others a smear campaign of incitement against Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The campaign was so virulent and threatening that many Israelis, including Rabin’s wife, held Netanyahu responsible for Rabin’s assassination. Netanyahu should have been charged with incitement.

In 1996, he was elected Prime Minister on a platform dedicated to ending the peace process and he did everything he could to slow down, distort, and ultimately sabotage the Oslo Peace Process. Even the agreement he signed with the Palestinians at Wye so encumbered the process that by the end of his first term in office, peace was on life support. He should have been charged with destroying the prospects for peace and putting at risk the lives of millions.

During his last three terms in office, he incited violence and hatred against Palestinians, both those who are citizens of Israel and those living under occupation. This has fueled extremist settler movements that have engaged in daily acts of violence, destruction of property, and murder. He also encouraged soldiers in the Israeli army to murder defenseless Palestinians and supported them when they were charged with crimes. In addition, as he did with Rabin, he has falsely accused his Israeli opponents of being too close to the Arabs and accused the Palestinian citizens of Israel of being enemies of the state. He should have been charged with hate crimes.

During his time in office he has: expanded settlements on stolen Palestinian land and the demolition of Palestinian property; overseen a number of devastating assaults on Gaza resulting in the indiscriminate massacre of thousands of innocent civilians and the destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure; instituted and maintained a cruel blockade of Gaza’s population, as an act of collective punishment, in which, for long periods of time, food, medicine, and other essential items were restricted or severely regulated – resulting in death, disease, and impoverishment of millions of innocents. He should have been charged with war crimes.

The list could go on, but this should suffice.

The bottom line is that, to be sure, Netanyahu is a criminal. But in today’s Israel he can’t be found guilty of his most serious crimes – treason, incitement, destroying peace, hate crimes, and war crimes. Instead, he will be asked only to answer for his narcissistic appetites and corruption.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Arab American Institute. The Arab American Institute is a non-profit, nonpartisan national leadership organization that does not endorse candidates.

Dreams in the Crosshairs

We Are Not Numbers video being shown in Washington, DC

When Israeli snipers target people participating in or even located near Gaza’s Great Return March, it’s not just their bodies they kill or maim, it’s their dreams. This is the story of Alaa al-Dali. Thank you to the Freedom Flotilla Coalition for its support and funding.

Human Rights Activist to be Deported by Israel

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, November 25, 2019

Washington, D.C. | November 24, 2019 | adc.org — The targeting of human rights and peace activists by Israel continues to reflect the fact that it is indeed an apartheid state with complete disregard for international and human rights. Recently Israel has ramped up their denial of entry of peace activists and continues to move to deport human rights advocates. Within the next few hours Mr. Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch (HRW) is scheduled to be deported despite outcry from the international community. The deportation of Mr. Shakir, and other peace activists, signifies that the apartheid state of Israel will do everything it can to prevent the truth from being shown to the world.

Mr. Shakir serves as HRW’s Israel & Palestine Director – he is being removed by Israel for peaceful, human rights advocacy focusing on ending the illegal occupation and illegal settlements. ADC joins a global chorus of voices calling against the deportation of Mr. Shakir and other human rights activists. The work of human rights activists across the world is important to shedding the truth on many of the atrocities we see across the globe. By silencing these voices governments are shielding themselves from international law and continue to oppress millions.

In addition to the deportation, ADC continues to hear from Americans who are denied entry by Israeli authorities into Palestine via the unilaterally controlled international border crossings. The systemic denial of entry leads to a separation of families, extreme hardship, and loss of business or educational opportunities. The denial of entry also serves a clearer objective, just as the deportation of activists like Mr. Shakir – it prevents the international community from witnessing and reporting first-hand about the apartheid policies undertaken by Israel.

Mr. Shakir, along with the thousands of others who have been deported or denied entry, pose a threat to Israel because they will report the truth, and Israel is threatened by the truth. Despite being met with worldwide condemnation, Israel continues its occupation of Palestine, and has shown a complete disregard of international law. The deportation of Mr. Shakir signals that the apartheid state is doubling down on its oppressive policies and will do everything it can to stop the truth from being told.

Polluted Water is the Leading Cause of Child Mortality in Gaza

With 43 Olympic swimming pools of sewage flowing from Gaza daily, local epidemic is only a matter of time


A Palestinian boy drinks water from public taps at the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza city, March 7 2018. (Wissam Nassar/DPA)

Yaniv Kubovich, Haaretz, Oct 16, 2018

Illness caused by water pollution is a leading cause of child mortality in the Gaza Strip, says a study by the RAND Corporation, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz.

The study shows that water pollution accounts for more than a quarter of illnesses in Gaza and that more than 12 percent of child deaths up until four years ago was linked to gastrointestinal disorders due to water pollution. Since that time these numbers have continued to grow.




The collapse of water infrastructure has led to a sharp rise in germs and viruses such as rotavirus, cholera and salmonella, the report says.

The data appear in a study by Dr. Shira Efron, a special adviser on Israel and policy researcher at RAND’s Center for Middle East Public Policy; Dr. Jordan Fishbach, co-director of the Water and Climate Resilience Center at RAND; and Dr. Melinda Moore, a senior physician, policy researcher and associate director of the Population Health Program at RAND.

The researchers based their study on previous cases in the world in which wars and instability created a water crisis and hurt infrastructure, such as in Iraq and Yemen, where mortality has been on the rise and other health problems have surfaced. In the period studied, they collected material from various officials in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

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Help the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project provide another clean water filter system to a school in Rafah, Gaza!