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A Massacre Took Place in Jenin

January 26, 2023

This morning, Israeli forces murdered at least 9 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin. They bombed homes, tear-gassed a hospital children's ward, shot at residents, and prevented access to medical aid. This unhinged massacre is the most violent Israeli invasion of the Jenin Refugee camp since 2002.

This Sunday, Secretary Blinken is going to Palestine to meet with the new Israeli government. Rather than another photo op with empty political slogans, it’s incumbent upon him to use this trip to announce a shift in US policy toward Israel.

We demand President Biden and Secretary Blinken make a clear public statement that the actions of the Israeli government will not be tolerated or funded by our tax dollars. It’s time for the U.S. to stop its foreign aid to Israel. 

2022 was the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank in nearly 20 years, with the most deaths since the United Nations began recording fatalities in 2005. The new, far-right Israeli government and its forces remain adamant about continuing, if not increasing, their brutality. We're only 26 days into 2023, and Israel has already killed 30 Palestinians, including five children—setting a pace to double the murder of Palestinians in 2022.

While the brutal invasion of Jenin’s refugee camp is not an exception to the new Israeli Knesset, its outward, right-wing extremism, and determination to violence against Palestinians should be an immediate trigger for the United States to finally take a firm stand against the apartheid government. 

AMP unequivocally condemns the United States’ absurd and tone-deaf call to Palestinians to continue security coordination instead of condemning Israel’s crime and massacre. If the Israeli government expects this massacre to pave the way for annexations within the West Bank, they must rest assured that it will not be accepted by the Palestinian people, by Americans, and nor should it be accepted or enabled by the U.S. government. It’s overdue for the United States to stop enabling Israel's violence against the Palestinian people, and put an immediate end to Israel's settler-colonial, apartheid system.
 

Rights Advocates Alarmed Over Israel’s New ‘Fascist, Racist, and Settler’ Government

“The occupation and apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territories have made Jewish supremacy the de facto law of the land and the new government seeks to adopt this into their official policy”


Israelis carry banners and flags as they gather in front of the the Knesset to protest Israel’s new far-right government in Jerusalem on December 29, 2022.(Mostafa Alkharouf, Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

JESSICA CORBETT, Common Dreams, Dec 29, 2022

Global concerns about the new Israeli government—especially what it means for Palestinians—continued to grow Thursday as Benjamin Netanyahu took the oath of office to again serve as prime minister, this time leading the most far-right and religiously conservative coalition in the country’s history.

The embattled leader was sworn in following a 63-54 vote of confidence in his new government by the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. He has appointed 30 ministers and three deputy ministers from his Likud party as well as Noam, Otzma Yehudit (“Jewish Power”‘), Religious Zionism, Shas, and United Torah Judaism.

“It is already clear that the emerging coalition will be disastrous for human rights between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”

The coalition finalized Wednesday features “a mix of an ultra-Orthodox and right-wing bloc,” with some of the most “right-wing politicians we’ve seen,” Al Jazeera‘s Sara Khairat reported Thursday from West Jerusalem, as protesters gathered. “They were on the fringes of politics and now here they are on the main stage.”

Some ministry appointments were only possible because of a pair of laws passed by the Knesset on Tuesday—one enabling Aryeh Deri of Shas to serve as minister of the interior despite his recent tax fraud conviction and another allowing Religious Zionism’s Bezalel Smotrich to take on multiple posts.

“These laws… dovetail with Netanyahu’s own attempt to escape potential liability for his long-running corruption/bribery trial,” wroteMondoweiss‘ Jonathan Ofir. “If such exceptions can be made for Smotrich and Deri and cemented into law, this paves the way for the same being done for Netanyahu, when the need arises.”


Another controversial pick is Otzma Yehudit’s Itamar Ben-Gvir, the new national security minister, who in 2007 was convicted of incitement to racism against Arabs and supporting a terrorist organization. As Common Dreamsreported last week, the government reached a deal to lift the ban on parliamentary candidates who incite racism.

In a joint statement Thursday, several advocacy groups said that “it is already clear that the emerging coalition will be disastrous for human rights between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”


“Previous Israeli governments have already entrenched military control over millions of Palestinians, severely harmed their human rights, and made the possibility of a just future more difficult,” they continued. “The senior figures in this new government have made it clear that they intend to exacerbate this trend and advance dangerous measures.”

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January 3rd CODEPINK Capitol Calling Party

CODEPINK.ORG

You are invited to join our Tuesday CODEPINK CONGRESS Calling Party to talk with special guests about what’s happening in Palestine and efforts to end US complicity in Israeli crimes.

Chat with peacemakers and experts Tuesday, January 3rd at 5 pm PT/7 pm CT/8 pm ET:

None

 

Israeli settler violence against Palestinians escalated in 2022 with West Bank settlers on the rampage, defiling mosques, vandalizing shops and assaulting Palestinians in Hebron and other Palestinian cities. Instead of stopping the settlers, the Israeli military turned on Palestinians, adding to the year’s death toll: 150 Palestinians killed, 33 of them children. Meanwhile, the most racist Israeli government returns to power with former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu – under criminal indictment – set to serve his sixth term. This new ultra-nationalist government stands in explicit – no longer implicit – opposition to a Palestinian state and threatens to strip the courts of their power.

US Secretary of State Blinken insists the US commitment to apartheid Israel is ironclad, despite whispers last month that the Biden administration might refuse to meet with some of the most reactionary members of the new Israeli government. 

Join us as we detail the situation on the ground in Palestine and examine US congressional and grassroots efforts to end US complicity in Israeli crimes. 

Featuring

Mazin Qumsiyeh is an activist, environmentalist and author. He is founder and director of the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability (PIBS) at Bethlehem University. He served on the faculties of the University of Tennessee, Duke University and the Yale University, and now researches and teaches at Bethlehem university. He is the author of hundreds of articles and several books including Sharing the Land of Canaan and Popular Resistance in Palestine.

Anat Biletzki is a professor of philosophy at Quinnipiac and past professor at Tel Aviv University. She is a steering committee member of FISP – The International Federation of Philosophical Societies. She also serves as Vice-Chair of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University, and is co-founder and co-director of the Program for Human Rights and Technology at MIT. Born in Jerusalem, she was Chair of the Board of B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights NGO, from 2001 to 2006, having served as a B’Tselem Board member for several years before. Her most recent book is Philosophy of Human Rights: A Systematic Introduction (2019).

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How the Israeli government will turn its Jewish critics into dissidents

The transformation of Israeli leftists into dissidents is a reminder that no one is safe from the attempts to turn the ‘wrong kind’ of Jews into enemies.

Edo Konrad, +972 Magazine, December 16, 2022

Israeli activists hold a protest in Tel Aviv against Israeli military rule over Palestinians in the West Bank, September 23, 2021. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)
Israeli activists hold a protest in Tel Aviv against Israeli military rule over Palestinians in the West Bank, September 23, 2021. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Most left-wing Israeli Jews do not generally think of themselves as political dissidents, and have likely never aspired to such a status. Despite the lavish praise they receive for their bravery, Israeli-Jewish leftists have the ability to speak out without suffering the consequences faced by Palestinians, not to mention activists in other undemocratic states. Leftist Jews have very often been afforded the privilege of being opponents of the right, rather than its enemies.

But all that seems like it may change, and far quicker than even the biggest pessimists in my camp anticipated. In just the last month, since Itamar Ben Gvir was appointed as presumptive national security minister, Bezalel Smotrich given the power to lord over the day-to-day lives of millions of Palestinians in the occupied territories, and Avi Maoz granted the power to implement his homophobic agenda in school curriculums, the shifts have been palpable for Jewish critics of the state and its occupation. The government has not yet been formed, but it is clear to everybody which way the wind is blowing.

Israeli police have since summoned Israel Frey, a left-wing Haredi journalist, for interrogation over a tweet praising a Palestinian who sought security forces, rather than civilians, for a planned attack (Frey has thus far refused to appear before the police). Israeli soldiers attacked and threatened leftists, some of them journalists, during a tour in occupied Hebron (a routine event for Palestinians in the city). Right-wing activists managed to pressure the Pardes Hanna-Karkur Local Council to cancel a screening of my colleague Noam Sheizaf’s new film on the occupation due to his politics. And on Thursday, during a hearing by the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, Likud MK Hanoch Milwidsky interrupted Breaking the Silence Executive Director Avner Gvaryahu to call him a “traitor” and an “informant” who should “be imprisoned.”

The path to this moment was paved long ago. While loud and unabashed, there have been relatively few Jewish left-wing dissidents in Israeli history who have challenged the Israeli regime — from conscientious objectors, to nuclear whistleblowers, to groups such as the Israeli Black Panthers and the smattering of other independent left-wing groups — while most have focused on reforming specific policies. Meanwhile, Israel has an increasingly right-wing public that has become accustomed to managing an endless military dictatorship over the West Bank and a lethal siege on Gaza, and has little patience for anyone who criticizes it, or even speaks about it openly. The political right, from former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett — the hero of the “government of change” — to Smotrich and Ben Gvir, believe in forcing Palestinians to kneel before Israel (lest we forget that Bennett’s government dissolved over his coalition’s failure to re-authorize separate West Bank legal systems for Palestinians and Israeli Jews).

(From right) Members of Knesset Bezalel Smotrich, Itamar Ben Gvir, Dudi Amsalem, and Ofir Sofer seen during a vote for the new Knesset speaker, Jerusalem, December 13, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

(From right) Members of Knesset Bezalel Smotrich, Itamar Ben Gvir, Dudi Amsalem, and Ofir Sofer seen during a vote for the new Knesset speaker, Jerusalem, December 13, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Meanwhile, much of the Zionist left no longer has anything of value to say about the occupation, and very often closes ranks with its opponents on the right in attacking Palestinians and the radical left. In Jewish-Israeli society, this has left behind a shrinking cadre of left-wing Jewish activists who recognize that dismantling apartheid and colonialism is the only way to move toward a more just future for Palestinians and Israelis.

Into that vacuum left by the Zionist left swept far-right groups with connections to the Israeli government that have made it their duty to seek out those Jewish Israelis who refuse to toe the party line. A little less than a decade ago, these organizations were behind a chillingly concerted bottom-up effort to delegitimize anti-occupation groups such as Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Ta’ayush, and others because they refused to remain silent in the face of Israel’s human rights abuses. What seemed like a novel phenomenon in 2015 is now part of the playbook for every single aspiring right-wing politician. In this sense, the attacks of the last month are not new, but they carry a great deal of weight given the makeup of the new government.

Over the last few weeks, we have witnessed how, time and time again, it is Palestinians who are repeatedly on the front lines of Israel’s repression, most prominently in the story of Dr. Ahmad Mahajna, who is still fighting for his job after he was falsely accused of handing sweets to a 16-year-old Palestinian who carried out a stabbing attack and who was in his care at Hadassah Medical Center. For over a month, Mahajna was ceaselessly attacked by the media and far-right activists for his so-called support for “terrorism,” until enough people came forward to put an end to the witch hunt. If left-wing Israeli Jews are being transformed into dissidents, Palestinians are always one false move from being labeled enemies of the state, simply by their very existence.

Yet this transformation of Israeli leftists into dissidents is a reminder that no one is safe from Ben Gvir, Smotrich, and Maoz’s attempts to suss out the “wrong kind of Jews.” After they come for Palestinians — particularly in Area C of the West Bank, so-called mixed cities, and the Naqab/Negev — they will come for the anti-apartheid activists. After that, it could be anyone who resists the religious coercion of the agents of Jewish theocracy.

Jewish dissidents-to-be need to know the path will be fraught and often dangerous. Some of us will inevitably leave (plenty already have), while others, particularly those without anywhere to go, will either stay and fight alongside Palestinians, asylum seekers, the LGBTQ community, and any other group this government comes after, or step away from activism altogether. Those looking from the outside at what is transpiring on the ground at lightning speed need to know that we are only at the very beginning.

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Rise of Israel’s far right puts focus back on the West Bank occupation

The Israeli-controlled checkpoint in Hebron (Bab al Zawiyah) divides Palestinians in their city. A new weapon placed on the side of checkpoint (upper right) was installed before recent Israeli elections. It can remotely shoot live ammunition as well as other special “crowd control” munitions. (Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR for The Washington Post)
The Israeli-controlled checkpoint in Hebron (Bab al Zawiyah) divides Palestinians in their city. (Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR for The Washington Post)


A new weapon on the right side of the checkpoint can remotely shoot live ammunition and special “crowd control” munitions. (Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR for The Washington Post)

Shira Rubin, The Washington Post, December 10, 2022

HEBRON, West Bank — Last month, as tens of thousands of right-wing Jewish pilgrims paraded through Hebron’s old city under the protection of the Israeli army, 18-year-old Aisha Alazza ventured onto her balcony to catch a glimpse. As she sipped coffee and watched the march spiral into violence, a gang of Israeli men approached from across the road, shouting “Whore!” at her in Arabic and throwing stones. She was struck in the face.

Since Palestinian cars are banned from this neighborhood, an ambulance was out of the question. Instead, Alazza’s four sisters took her inside, applied ice and oils to the swelling wound and waited for the men to go away.

Alazza knows she will see them again — after all, they are her neighbors. They are also directly linked to members of Religious Zionism, the once-fringe, far-right political bloc that has championed asserting Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank and will be the second largest force in the new Israeli government.


Aisha Alazza, 18, in her garden. (Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR for The Washington Post)

Even before Religious Zionism assumes office — taking on influential cabinet portfolios that will give them unprecedented control over this contested territory — their promises to set the stage for annexation are exacerbating the daily dangers and indignities of life in the occupied West Bank, residents say. Many warn that Hebron’s bloody, biblically tinged conflict, between its 800 hard line Israeli settlers and its 200,000 Palestinians, is a test case for the future of relations between the two peoples under the next government.

Some of the faces in incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new administration are familiar ones to Hebron. Both Itamar Ben Gvir and Orit Strook are residents of the nearby hard line settlement of Kiryat Arba and have harassed and assaulted Palestinians for decades.

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I’d like to you to meet Mahmoud and Emily, a Palestinian and foreigner couple who are thinking about taking the next big step in their relationship together.

Watch “Love Under Occupation,” a 2-minute short film by Mondoweiss.

WATCH THE FILM

No relationships were harmed in the making of this video. But they will be soon.

While Mahmoud and Emily are a fictional couple, they represent real couples who will now be required to report their relationship to Israel, in an extremely invasive, oppressive process.

Under new Israeli discriminatory restrictions that went into effect in October, foreigners romantically involved with Palestinian people must declare their relationship to the occupying Israeli government as part of their permit or permit renewal application to visit or stay in the West Bank.

These Israeli restrictions on foreign entry into the West Bank threaten to separate Palestinian families, and isolate Palestinian society from the outside world.

The same laws do not apply to foreign nationals who are in a relationship with Jewish Israelis. Another clear example of anti-Palestinian discrimination under Israel’s apartheid system.

Learn how these Israeli apartheid regulations impact Palestinian people, their partners, and their families on our “Love Under Occupation” educational resources page.

WATCH THE FILM

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The Mask Is Off

The newly elected Netanyahu government will include bigoted, intolerant, and violence-advocating ministers

Dr. James J. Zogby, Arab American Institute, December 5, 2022

Since its founding, Political Zionism has had two distinct and contradictory personas. One portrayed it as a national liberation movement that was liberal, democratic, tolerant, and inclusive. This was the face its adherents saw when they looked in the mirror, and it was the way they presented themselves to and wanted to be seen by the rest of the world. 

In reaction to antisemitism and the resultant ghettoization and pogroms that victimized European Jewry, Political Zionism promised an alternative for Jews in which they would be free to realize their full potential as a people while practicing the values and fruits of liberalism in a home of their own. 

The problem was that the European liberalism on which Political Zionism was modeled was, itself, based on a contradiction in that the benefits and progress it provided for Europeans were based on the colonial subjugation of Asians and Africans and exploitation of their conquered lands. As the early Zionists were immersed in that same European culture and worldview, it was without any hesitation or embarrassment that they saw themselves as an extension of the European colonial enterprise. That was why Theodore Herzl sought guidance on how to secure support for his proposed colony from Cecil Rhodes; or why he would write in the Jewish State that the enterprise he wished to establish would serve as “a rampart of Europe against Asia…and outpost of civilization against barbarism”; or why he proposed using the natives that his followers might find in their new colony to clear the land and engage in menial labor and then evacuate these natives to other lands. 

Political Zionism was the dream of Jewish liberation, but its implementation was to be the nightmare of Palestinian dispossession. These two sides of the same ideology coexisted, with the upside acknowledged and celebrated, and its reverse ignored and/or denied. This was true not only for the founders of Zionism but also for its most recognized “liberal” champions: Chaim Weizmann, David Ben Gurion, and Golda Meir. Even Benjamin Netanyahu made his name in political circles as a proponent of the cause of “liberal Western democracy” versus the authoritarian, savage, terrorist Arab World. 

Because such a worldview was so ingrained into Europe’s dominant sense of itself, the two faces of Zionism (the liberal and the racist) never raised an eyebrow. It was, if anything, understood and embraced by the British and French (and later by the US) who saw the need for, as Herzl had envisioned it, a civilized outpost to protect Western values and interests from the barbarians.

Maybe this is what is meant when Israeli and US leaders speak of our “shared values”—the fact that we both have been able to mask the “dark side” of our behaviors with the outward facing veneer of our “claimed values,” values that apply to “us” not to “others.” And we’ve both gotten away with this game, until recently.     

For the US, it was the Iraq War and its attendant horrors, the epidemic of mass killings, systemic racism, and the emergence of the anti-democratic, racist, and xenophobic Trump movement that began to unravel the mask of our claim to be the bastion of “liberal ideals.” Despite Israel’s record of abominable behaviors toward Palestinians, it has taken much longer to peel away the veneer of liberalism from Israel’s image. One reason is that their propaganda machinery has been quite effective, and another has been the fear that pointing out the obvious (i.e., that Israel is engaged in oppressive and racist subjugation and dispossession of Palestinians) will result in the accusation of antisemitism. 

In this context, it may be considered ironic that it was Israel’s own democracy that has finally exposed for all to see its underbelly of intolerance and racist violence. By electing a far-right coalition led by Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline Likud party and including fanatic nationalists and intolerant ultra-religious parties, the most recent Israeli election served as a clarifying moment for the Political Zionist movement. 

The newly elected Netanyahu government will include bigoted, intolerant, and violence-advocating ministers and deputy ministers who will oversee police, settlements, administration of the occupied territories, finance, and “Jewish Identity.” They include ideologues who advocate expulsion of Arabs from Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories; support rapid settlement expansion and annexation of the West Bank; back settler violence against Palestinians to demonstrate who’s boss; adhere to a theology that maintains that while Jews are full human beings with souls, Arabs are not; claims that human rights organizations pose an “existential threat” to Israel and therefore want them banned; maintain that only their rigid interpretation of Orthodox Judaism is true religion, and deny other Jews their rights; and insist on altering the status quo at the Haram Al Sharif, turning Jerusalem into another Hebron. 

With ministers and policies such as these, the mask is off.

This is Political Zionism, without the frills. It is intolerance, bigotry, repression, and aggression without the accompanying rhetoric of “liberalism” to smooth things over or put on a pretty face for the world. 

It’s been fascinating to watch how the major pro-Israel US groups have responded (or failed to respond) to this challenging situation. There were immediate protests over the ultra-Orthodox push to change conversion law, to outlaw LGBTQ rights, to restrict which “legitimate” Jews could immigrate to Israel, and to require the segregation of Jewish women at prayer. But these same leaders have been silent in reaction to the bigoted anti-Arab beliefs being espoused by key members of Netanyahu’s governing coalition and the policies they seek to implement that will further dispossess Palestinians.  

It’s true that many of these ugly attitudes and policies have shaped the Palestinian reality for decades, but they were always covered by the pretty words and the outward face of Zionist liberalism. But now the mask is off and those who, for decades, have been covering for Israel have the responsibility to acknowledge the ugly reality their silence has allowed to fester.

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.

Love Football. Hate Apartheid.

Score a goal for Palestinian rights

The men’s World Cup starts in just a few days. 
The world will turn its attention to the largest sporting event on the planet. 
Major sporting events, organized by corrupt sports governing bodies and fed with dirty sponsorship money, are often used in an attempt to mask human rights abuses or push through unpopular policies.

Let’s turn that on its head.

As social movements across the world take advantage of the visibility of the men’s World Cup to call for justice for all, let’s shine a spotlight on Palestinian rights and on companies complicit in Israeli apartheid.

Score a #Goal4Palestine!
Score a #Goal4PalestineScore a Goal for Palestinian rights on InstagramShine a light on Palestinian rights on Facebook

Throughout the men’s World Cup, let’s keep the attention on Palestinian rights and call out the complicity of sporting bodies and companies like FIFA and PUMA in Israeli apartheid. Make sure the Palestinian flag is flying high. Hang it alongside the flags of teams you support and share it on social media.

Remind fans to #BoycottPUMA over its sponsorship of the Israel Football Association, which governs over and advocates to maintain teams in illegal Israeli settlements on stolen Palestinian land.

Take action: Love Football. Hate Apartheid.

Stay tuned for more actions throughout the men’s 2022 World Cup. 

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The nonviolent BDS movement for freedom, justice and equality is supported by the absolute majority in Palestinian society. BDS rejects all forms of racism and racial discrimination.

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Tell Marvel Studios: No Israeli Apartheid Superheroes

MPower Change

As salaamu alaykum, 

Marvel Studios is out of touch. They’ve announced a new film featuring an Israeli Mossad agent named Sabra.

Mossad agents are notorious for carrying out targeted assassinations of Palestinian leaders. They should not be held up as heroes — even in the fantasy world of Marvel.¹

Tell Marvel Studios to do the right thing: No pro-Israeli apartheid superheroes in the next “Captain America” movie.

The cultural impact of Marvel Studios films can’t be overstated. Marvel movies are seen in huge numbers — over 100 million people worldwide saw Avengers: Endgame.

If Marvel goes ahead with its plan to feature a murderous, pro-apartheid “superhero” named Sabra in its next Captain America movie, over 100 million viewers stand poised to see Palestinians dehumanized and vilified on screen.

The character Sabra has a long, disturbing history in Marvel Comics.² As written in the comics, the character Sabra is an agent of the real-world Israeli spy agency Mossad, who have an infamous track record of assassinations, torture, and numerous other egregious human rights violations.

The land theft and violent suppression of multiple popular Palestinian uprisings against Israel’s occupation have led to real tipping points in U.S. discourse. According to recent Gallup polling, progressives have now “fully crossed the threshold and now sympathize more with Palestinians” than with Israelis.³

The backlash against Marvel has already begun. But we need your help to ramp up the pressure.

Take 15 seconds now to tell Marvel: No Israeli apartheid superheroes.

A growing chorus of international human rights groups, from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to Israel’s B’tselem are finally echoing what Palestinians have said for decades: Israel is an apartheid regime.

Join us in telling Marvel Studios: Don’t endorse Israel’s apartheid regime with a pro-apartheid superhero.

We have the power to win this. 

In solidarity,
Granate, Linda, Lau, and the team at MPower Change


Sources:
1. ”A Secret History of Israeli Assassinations”, Newsweek, February 2, 2018
2. “Disney’s new Israeli superhero film hits a raw nerve with Arabs”, CNN, September 16, 2022
3. “Key Trends in U.S. Views on Israel and the Palestinians”, Gallup, May 28, 2021

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