Watch My Neighbourhood, the story of Sheikh Jarrah

A remarkable, nonviolent struggle against settlement expansion in East Jerusalem

Mohammed El Kurd is a Palestinian boy growing up in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in the heart of East Jerusalem. When Mohammed turns 11, his family is forced to give up part of their home to Israeli settlers, who are leading a campaign of court-sanctioned evictions to guarantee Jewish control of the area.

Shortly after their displacement, Mohammed’s family and other residents begin holding unarmed protests against the evictions, determined not to lose their homes for good. In a surprising turn, they are quickly joined by scores of Israeli supporters who are horrified to see what is being done in their name. Among them is Jewish West Jerusalem resident Zvi Benninga and his sister Sara, who develop a strong relationship with Mohammed and his family as they take on a leading role in organizing the protests.

Through their personal stories, My Neighbourhood goes beyond the sensational headlines that normally dominate discussions of Jerusalem and captures voices rarely heard, of those striving for a future of equality and pluralism in the city.

My Neighbourhood follows Mohammed as he comes of age in the midst of unrelenting tension and remarkable cooperation in his backyard. Highlighting Mohammed’s own reactions to the highly volatile situation, reflections from family members and other evicted residents, accounts of Israeli protesters and interviews with Israeli settlers, the film chronicles the resolve of a neighbourhood and the support it receives from the most unexpected of places.

My Neighbourhood is directed and produced by Rebekah Wingert-Jabi, who documented Mohammed’s story over two years, and acclaimed filmmaker Julia Bacha. It is the latest production by Just Vision, an award-winning team of Palestinian, Israeli, North and South American filmmakers, journalists and human rights advocates dedicated to telling the stories of Israelis and Palestinians working nonviolently to achieve freedom, dignity, equality and human security in the region.

When anti-Black and anti-Palestinian racism converge


In his resignation letter Dr Cornel West warns of ‘an intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy’ in US academia [Getty]

Sahar F. Aziz, The New Arab, 23 Jul, 2021

It is no secret that Palestine is taboo in US academia. Harvard’s recent denial of tenure to renowned race scholar Cornel West is the most recent instance. 

For decades, Arab American faculty have faced tenure denial or termination; students have been reprimanded and some even criminally charged; and Middle East studies programmes are under constant threat of defunding.  All based on the fallacious claim that teaching, research, and activism that brings to light Israel’s rampant violations of Palestinian human rights is axiomatically anti-Semitic

Big donors, alumni, and well-funded legal advocacy groups unabashedly command university administrators to cancel classes and programmes aimed to provide students with the experiences and voices of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. Never mind that cowering to such demands undermines a university’s most fundamental tenet: academic freedom. 

“Cowering to such demands undermines a university’s most fundamental tenet: academic freedom”

As they become ever more dependent on private donations and external grants to cover operational expenses, university administrators often oblige

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Inside The Deadly Fight to Save a Palestinian Village from Illegal Israeli Settlements

YUMNA PATEL AND MARC STEINER, The Real News Network, JULY 29, 2021

In early May, a group of Israeli settlers arrived with caravans and set up an illegal outpost on the top of Jabal Sabih on the outskirts of Beita, which is located in the northern occupied West Bank. Since then, every single day for more than two months, Palestinian protests against the settlements in the village have been nonstop—and the Israeli response to these protests has been severe and deadly.

Yumna Patel, the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss, went to Beita to cover this important story, producing a powerful short documentary, ‘Beita Is Undefeatable’, that details the on-the-ground struggle of Palestinians fighting against the violence of occupation. As part of TRNN’s partnership with Mondoweiss, we are publishing this documentary on our channel, along with an exclusive interview with Yumna Patel conducted by Marc Steiner, host of The Marc Steiner Show, which premieres every Tuesday on TRNN.

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Israeli forces raid DCIP office, confiscate computers and client files


Israeli soldiers confiscated computer equipment and client files in a dawn raid on Defense for Children International – Palestine’s main office in Al-Bireh on July 29. (Source: DCIP)

Defense for Children Palestine, July 29, 2021

Ramallah, July 29, 2021—Israeli forces raided Defense for Children International – Palestine’s headquarters in the central occupied West Bank, confiscating computers and client files, early Thursday morning.

Israeli paramilitary border police forces raided DCIP’s headquarters located in Al-Bireh’s Sateh Marhaba neighborhood, located just south of Ramallah around 5:15 a.m. on July 29. More than a dozen Israeli soldiers forced open the office’s locked front door and confiscated six desktop computers, two laptops, hard drives, and client files related to Palestinian child detainees represented by DCIP’s lawyers in Israel’s military courts. No documents were left in the office to give any indication of the reason for the raid, and they did not leave behind any receipt of materials seized.

“This latest act by Israeli authorities pushes forward an ongoing campaign to silence and eliminate Palestinian civil society and human rights organizations like DCIP,” said Khaled Quzmar, general director at DCIP. “Israeli authorities must immediately end efforts aimed at delegitimizing and criminalizing Palestinian human rights defenders and civil society organizations, and the international community must hold Israeli authorities accountable.”

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Channel 12 News report: Settler violence in the South Hebron Hills

Breaking the Silence, Jul 26, 2021

Last Friday night, 15 minutes of the main evening news broadcast on Channel 12 – one of the programs with the highest viewer ratings in Israel – were dedicated to journalist Yigal Mosko’s report on the unbelievable reality of the South Hebron hills. The report covered several of the main issues we have been campaigning on for years: Palestinian children who need military protection in order to get to and from school every day because of the very real threat of being attacked by settlers; military training exercises taking place inside Palestinian villages; frequent demolitions of Palestinian homes and confiscation of their property; settler violence against Palestinians, while soldiers protect the attackers; and the presence and constant construction of more and more settler outposts – illegal even under Israeli law but connected to Israel’s water and electricity infrastructure.

None of this would be possible if it weren’t for the State of Israel’s complicity, and sometimes even its active encouragement. Children wouldn’t need to be accompanied to school by soldiers every day for the past 17 years if the law were enforced on their settler attackers in the first place. Homes wouldn’t have to be demolished if Israel’s Civil Administration weren’t to reject 97% of requests for permits by Palestinians. And of course, none of this would be the case if Israel weren’t to maintain a military regime in the territories for all of these years.

It’s been far too long since any of this was given the proper, prime-time attention it deserves, exposing the Israeli mainstream to some of the ugliest aspects of the occupation. But people outside of Israel need to be aware of this reality too.

At the start of this post we called this reality ‘unbelievable’ – because it’s so far away from any of the most basic norms that any of us would take for granted in a democratic country. You really need to see it to believe it. Take 15 minutes to watch the report, and once you’ve done so, download our new collection of soldiers’ testimonies on settler violence, many of which describe the exact same reality as shown in the report.

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Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran soldiers who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories. We endeavor to stimulate public debate about the price paid for a reality in which young soldiers face a civilian population on a daily basis, and are engaged in the control of that population’s everyday life. Our work aims to bring an end to the occupation.

Ben & Jerry’s vows to stop sales in Israeli West Bank settlements

‘This BDS win is because of our people power’

On Monday Ben & Jerry’s announced that it would stop selling ice cream in Israeli settlements. Israel has promised to fight the move “with all our might,” while activists say it is yet another sign of how BDS is entering the mainstream.


Boycott Ben & Jerry’s promotion by Vermonters for a Just Peace

MICHAEL ARRIA, Mondoweiss, JULY 19, 2021

On Monday Ben & Jerry’s announced that it would stop selling ice cream in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. The move comes after years of pressure from activists in the company’s home state of Vermont.

“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT),” reads a statement on the company’s website. “We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.”

“We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region,” it continues. “We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year.”

The company also indicated that it would stay in Israel under a different arrangement and share details connected to that move soon. However, a statement put out by Ben & Jerry’s Independent Board of Directors claims that disclosure was made by its CEO Matthew McCarthy  and parent company Unilever without first consulting the board.

“The statement released by Ben & Jerry’s regarding its operation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (the OPT) does not reflect the position of the Independent Board, nor was it approved by the Independent Board,” reads a press release put out by board chair Anuradha Mittal. “By taking a position and publishing a statement without the approval of the Independent Board on an issue directly related to Ben & Jerry’s social mission and brand integrity, Unilever and its CEO at Ben & Jerry’s are in violation of the spirit and the letter of the Acquisition Agreement.”

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What the Ben & Jerry’s Decision Reveals About Israel

Backlash to the ice-cream maker’s decision to distinguish between Israel and the territories it occupies has shown that, for many Israelis, the distinction no longer exists.


Menahem Kahana / AFP / Getty

Yasmeen Serhan, The Atlantic, JULY 23, 2021

No company does progressive politics quite like Ben & Jerry’s. The Vermont-based ice-cream maker has a reputation for corporate activism, owing to its support for a wide array of left-wing causes, including marriage equality, Occupy Wall Street, and Black Lives Matter. But when the company announced this week that it will no longer sell its products in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, it faced an outcome that every ice-cream maker fears most: a meltdown.

The matter of Israel’s settlements, which the international community regards as illegal under international law but which the Trump administration said will need to be resolved through a political and not a judicial process, has long been a thorny issue in Israel. (The Biden administration has yet to articulate its own policy on this.) When it comes to ice cream, though, the country’s notoriously fractious political sphere is virtually unanimous. Israel’s right-wing prime minister, Naftali Bennett, said that Ben & Jerry’s has decided to brand itself as an “anti-Israel ice cream.” His centrist coalition partner, Yair Lapid, called the move a “shameful surrender to anti-Semitism.” Israeli President Isaac Herzog of the center-left, who once committed to removing Israeli settlements in the West Bank, called Ben & Jerry’s decision to shun them “a new kind of terrorism.” The newly minted opposition leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, suggested that Israelis should boycott the brand. One centrist cabinet minister dutifully posted a TikTok of herself chucking a pint of what looked like Dulce de Leche into the trash.

That an ice-cream maker could cause such an uproar at the highest levels of Israeli politics says a lot about how sensitive Israel is to the very notion of boycotts against it—even those that, like Ben & Jerry’s, are limited in scope. More fundamentally, the dustup reveals a growing divergence between how the world sees Israel and how the country sees itself. While the international community, including the United States, continues to distinguish between Israel and the territories it occupies, the reaction to the Ben & Jerry’s decision has shown that, as far as many Israeli politicians are concerned, that distinction no longer exists.

On its face, Ben & Jerry’s move to end its business in the occupied territories, which the company described as being inconsistent with its values, poses an arguably negligible problem for Israel from a practical standpoint—one that would affect, at most, the roughly 6 percent of the population living in one of the country’s sprawling settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, both of which have been under Israeli control since 1967. Ben & Jerry’s has said that it will continue to sell its products in Israel itself. Both Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company, Unilever, declined to comment further, but the implications of the move are clear: While Israeli citizens living in settlements such as Ariel and ​​Ma’ale Adumim may no longer be able to buy Chunky Monkey in their local supermarket, they can find it nearby. (The same cannot be said for Palestinians in the West Bank, who are not afforded the same right to freedom of movement.)

In other words, Ben & Jerry’s decision “has no material impact on Israel whatsoever,” Dahlia Scheindlin, an Israel-based pollster and political strategist, told me. But it does have a political one—and, to the Israelis who feel the need to defend their sovereignty, an existential one. By ending its business in the occupied territories, the company has effectively refused to profit from or legitimize the status quo in the region, a status quo that Israel is deeply invested in protecting. It has also made clear that it will recognize Israel only within its democratic borders. “It’s all symbolic,” Scheindlin said, “but symbolism is huge.”

Why does Israel care about what an American ice-cream brand thinks of its policies? When I put this question to Scheindlin, she told me that for many Israelis, criticism of Israeli policy is often conflated with an existential threat to Israel itself. To hear many Israeli politicians tell it, “criticism from abroad of our policies is anti-Israel, it’s anti-Zionist, and it’s anti-Jewish, or anti-Semitic,” Scheindlin said. “And that’s really the narrative that we’ve been hearing.” There is also the fear that what started with Ben & Jerry’s might not end there; once one company boycotts Israeli settlements, what’s to stop others from joining it?

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