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Annual Fair Trade Holiday Festival
8 am – 3 pm
This year more than ever we ask you to help Palestinians to remain and thrive on their land by buying the great variety of beautiful and useful products that our three groups are able to bring to you.
In spite of the situation, we do have a good supply of embroidery, ceramics, olive wood products, earrings, Hirbawi keffiyehs, olive oil, olive oil soap, zaatar, and more.
We will also be promoting awareness of the crisis in Palestine, and raising funds for Gaza relief and the Madison-Masafer Yatta Olive Grove.
On November 9, Israeli police arrested Jerusalem history and civics teacher Meir Baruchin after he posted a message on Facebook about his opposition to the killing of innocent Palestinian civilians. Police seized his phone and two laptops before interrogating him on suspicion of committing an act of treason and intending to disrupt public order. After being in jail for four days, Baruchin was freed but lost his job as a teacher and is still facing charges. “These days Israeli citizens who are showing the slightest sentiment for the people of Gaza, opposing killing of innocent civilians, they are being politically persecuted, they go through public shaming, they lose their jobs, they are being put in jail,” says Baruchin, who says if he had been Palestinian, he would have faced more violence.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.
We turn now to look at how the Israeli government is cracking down on Israeli citizens who criticize their government’s bombardment of Gaza. We’re joined now by Meir Baruchin, a history and civics teacher from Jerusalem who was recently jailed for four days in solitary confinement after he posted a message on Facebook about his opposition to the killing of innocent Palestinian civilians, especially women and children.
On November 9th, Israeli police ransacked his house and arrested him. They also seized his phone and two laptops. Police interrogated him on suspicion of committing an act of treason and intending to disrupt public order. He was then jailed for four days and labeled a high-risk detainee. Baruchin has since been freed, but he has lost his job as a teacher and is still facing charges. Despite this, Meir Baruchin has refused to stay silent and is joining us now from Jerusalem.
Meir, welcome to Democracy Now! It was hard for us to get in touch with you over the last few days because your electronic devices, like your phone, were taken. Can you talk about exactly what happened to you? What did you post? And then, how did the Israeli police come to ransack your house?
MEIR BARUCHIN: First of all, thanks for having me.
When I got to the first interrogation, the interrogators presented 14 posts, most of them before October 7th. There were posts from four years ago, from two years ago. Only one or two posts were after October 7th.
What I’m trying to do in my Facebook posts is this. For most Israelis, Palestinians are really vague images. They have no names, no faces, no family, no hope, no plans. And I’m trying to give them names and faces, introduce them to Israelis, so more Israelis would be able to see Palestinians as human beings. So, that’s what I do in my Facebook. The police didn’t like it, so they arrested me.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And when you were arrested, what was the substance of the interrogation against you during that time? And how were you treated?
MEIR BARUCHIN: On November 9th, I got a call from the police to come over for interrogation on sedition. I called my lawyer, and he said that in order to interrogate an Israeli citizen for sedition, they need an approval from the general attorney. The police did ask for approval but was rejected, so they decided to interrogate me for intention to commit an act of treason and disrupt public order.
The minute I walked into the police station, they shackled my hands and legs, and they showed me a warrant to search my house. Five detectives took me to my house and ransacked the place. Then I was taken back to the police station for the first interrogation, that lasted four hours. After that, I was taken to the jailhouse. Like you said, I was categorized high-risk detainee, separated from everyone. I wasn’t allowed to bring anything with me, a book or something. I spent there four days. In order not to go crazy, I exercised every hour and a half, two hours.
On Sunday evening, November 12th, they took me for a second interrogation. And their technique was — it wasn’t really asking questions. It was more of a rhetoric. When you install the answer inside the question, you don’t really let the other person choose his own answer. For example, they said something like, “As someone who justifies and legitimizes the rapes by Hamas people on October 7th, don’t you think that…” — you know, that was their technique. Also in my second interrogation, at a certain moment they said that my Facebook posts are just like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Now, I’m history teacher, so I asked them, “Did you ever read The Protocols of the Elders of Zion?” There was no comment.
I was taken back to the jailhouse. And on November 13th, I was released by the judge, and still they kept me in the jailhouse for another three-and-a-half hours.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what has been the response of fellow teachers in Israel and of the press to your arrest and detention?
MEIR BARUCHIN: Most of mainstream media embrace the statement of the police spokesman who accused me as justifying and legitimizing the rapes committed by Hamas people on October 7th.
As for my colleague teachers, hundreds of them are telling me, “Meir, I am fully behind you, but I have children to support,” “Meir, I’m with you, but I’m paying a mortgage,” “Meir, I’m with you, but my daughter is getting married,” “Meir, I’m with you, but we just started to redecorate the house.” They are afraid to speak up. They are afraid to lose their jobs. They see very clearly that these days Israeli citizens who are showing some — the slightest sentiment for the people of Gaza, opposing killing of innocent civilians, they are being politically persecuted, they go through public shaming, they lose their jobs, they are being put in jail. So they are afraid.
AMY GOODMAN: Last week, Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, published an editorialheadlined “Arresting Arabs and Left-wingers: How Israel Intends to Crack Down on Domestic Dissent Over Gaza War.” In it, Haaretz wrote about your case, saying, quote, “Make no mistake: Baruchin was used as a political tool to send a political message. The motive for his arrest was deterrence — silencing any criticism or any hint of protest against Israeli policy. Baruchin paid a personal price.” So, Meir, if you can talk about the fact that you were fired from your job? You have four children, right? And also, how unusual is your arrest and being put in solitary confinement, both for Israeli Jews and for Palestinians?
MEIR BARUCHIN: Well, first, I must admit that the fact that I’m Jewish played a key role in my arrest. Had I been Palestinian, it was completely different. There would have been much more violence from the police officers and also in the jailhouse by the wardens.
I think it’s a clear message for not only to the teachers, but to all Israeli citizens. One of the newspaper men from Yedioth Ahronoth, Ben-Dror Yemini, he called me a “soldier in the service of terrorist propaganda,” in those specific words. Other newspaper — other journalists also embraced the police statement without getting my response or without even trying to challenge the police statement.
AMY GOODMAN: They took your phone and also your computer?
MEIR BARUCHIN: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Have you gotten it back?
MEIR BARUCHIN: They took my phone. They took two laptops. No, no, not yet. My lawyer is working on it. But the case is still not closed. I’m still facing charges. Also, the Ministry of Education suspended my license, so I cannot go back and teach anywhere in the country.
AMY GOODMAN: And what do you tell your kids? We just have 30 seconds, Meir.
MEIR BARUCHIN: My kids are proud of me, and that’s the most important thing.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you so much for being with us. Meir Baruchin is an Israeli history and civics high school teacher who was jailed for four days, held in solitary confinement, after criticizing the killing of innocent Palestinian civilians. His case is still open. He could still go to trial. He’s speaking to us from Jerusalem.
Sources Cited in this Video
Hi. Our guest this Friday at noon EDT, our normal time, will be with Samuel Moyn. Our conversation will be with Samuel Moyn. Samuel is a professor of law and history at Yale. He’s written a really important new book, which has gotten a lot of attention, called Liberalism against Itself: Cold War Intellectuals and the Making of Our Times. It’s a portrait of a series of influential thinkers like Lionel Trilling and Isaiah Berlin, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Judith Shklar, whose discourse he argues has had really profound and negative effects on the way Americans think about politics and liberalism in particular today. But for our purposes, it’s also interesting because he talks about the way they thought about Zionism, and the relationship between Cold War liberalism and Zionism. And so, the book, I think, has a lot to say also about the way that period in the middle of the twentieth century has influenced, shaped discourse in the US about Zionism too. So, that’ll be Friday at noon for paid subscribers who also get access to our library of previous calls with people like Ilhan Omar, Bret Stephens, Thomas Friedman, Noam Chomsky, and others.
I wanted to say something about this literary festival that was held this weekend the University of Pennsylvania. It’s the only North American Palestinian Literary Festival. And it elicited this letter from alums of the University of Pennsylvania, basically calling on the university to denounce it, and not saying it should be shut down, but basically saying that Penn and other institutions like that should basically make it harder for these kinds of things to take place. And I looked at the names of those folks and I thought, you know, I bet I know some of these people, and if not, they’re only one degree of separation away from me. We’re probably roughly the same age, me and these alums. I’m obviously Jewish too, and I went to a similar kind of university. And I feel like I wish I could speak to the folks who wrote that letter, and so this is kind of my effort to do so. And if you are one of those people, thank you for listening. And if you know some of those people, maybe consider passing this on to them.
And the question I would ask the folks who signed the letter is: how many novels by Palestinians have you read? How many books in general about Palestinians have you read? How many lectures have you heard Palestinians give? How much time have you spent talking to Palestinians about their experience, seeing their experience in the West Bank or even inside Israel proper? Now, there may be some folks on that letter for whom the answer is they’ve done that a lot. Good for them. But my assumption is going to be that for the vast majority, the answer is very little or not at all. Because that’s the norm in the organized American Jewish community is that listening to Palestinians is very unusual. Jewish organizations in general don’t expose their communities to Palestinian perspectives. And so, it seems to me, if that’s the case, there is a really sad, even tragic, irony in this, right? Because a group of people who have not exposed themselves to Palestinian cultural and literary production are basically going out to try to make it hard for Palestinians to speak publicly about Palestinian art, culture in the public square. And I really believe that if more of those folks who signed the letter actually had had the very experience that the Palestinian Rights Literary Festival is trying to create, they would not be trying to demonize it and trying to get the University of Pennsylvania to make it harder for it to operate.
And the reason is this. The discourse in this letter, which is typical of American Jewish discourse, is that the speakers in this literary festival, or at least some of them, are antisemitic and hateful because of what they say about Israel and Zionism. And generally, what they say about Israel and Zionism that people claim to be antisemitic and hateful is that a Jewish state is inherently immoral, and unjust, and it’s settler colonial, and it practices apartheid. These various kinds of things, right? These very hostile and fundamental critiques of the very notion of Israel and Zionism, and even some speakers have said that they support armed resistance against Israel. So, this is interpreted as antisemitism.
But if you listen to Palestinians talk about their own experience, then you have a fundamentally different context from which to understand these kinds of comments, right. Because Palestinians suffer brutal oppression at the hands of the Israeli state. And that’s not new, right? They have for a very, very long time. And so, if you understand that context, then these statements of hostility towards Israel and Zionism don’t necessarily seem antisemitic and pathological, they seem like a response to the Palestinian experience. But what happens in American Jewish discourse is the question of what has actually happened to Palestinians—what happened to Palestinians when most Palestinians were expelled in the Nakba in 1948, what it’s like for Palestinians to live today in the West Bank without the most basic rights, the right to be a citizen of the country in which you live—all of that is pushed to the side, not discussed at all. Or if it’s discussed, it’s discussed in a way that basically suggests that Palestinians are to blame for their own dispossession. And once that’s shunted to the side, there’s this claim that these statements of hostility to Israel and Zionism are antisemitic and endanger Jews.
But if we were to think about another group of people who experience oppression and the way they talk about their oppressors, we would immediately understand that this interpretation doesn’t make sense, right? So, if you were thinking about a Ukrainian literary festival, and the way they would talk about Russians, or a Uighur literary festival and the way they would talk about the Chinese state, right, and you saw that those literary festivals had speakers who had said, these states are fundamentally unjust. They’re fundamentally discriminatory. They are committing horrific acts of violence, right? And they use terms like colonial, or settler colonial, or apartheid, or racist, or whatever, or even a Nazi analogy, right? We might not agree with every particular statement, right? But we would recognize that it doesn’t come from pathological hatred. It comes from the experience of oppression. We would understand that that experience of oppression is central, right, to the hostility that you would see among Uighurs towards the Chinese state or Ukrainians towards the Russian state. And if somebody Ukrainian said they supported armed resistance against the Russian state, we would say we understand the reasons for that. And if they supported armed resistance against Russian civilians, I would say I oppose it just like I oppose armed resistance against Israeli civilians. But I would also understand that it comes out of a context in which these people are themselves the subject of tremendous violence. All of this would be kind of obvious, right? Because in American public discourse and Jewish public discourse too, it’s taken for granted, it’s accepted that Uighurs and Ukrainians are being denied basic rights. But when it comes to Palestinians, that central fundamental, foundational fact, right, is basically treated as irrelevant, or denied all together.
And so, I think that we have in this situation a kind of an effort by people inside the Jewish community to essentially reproduce our own ignorance. Because it is the ignorance of the Palestinian experience that I think leads people to not understand that there are very good reasons for Palestinians to have hostility to Zionism and Israel. Doesn’t mean that you have to agree with every particular statement that any particular person has made, but that you have to understand that that’s the foundational context, right? Just as you would understand that if you’re dealing with essentially discourse of Black Americans vis-à-vis white Americans, or any group of people that’s oppressed—or, you know, the way Jews thought about Polish or Ukrainian people a hundred years ago—that a context comes out of that. That there’s a context of oppression that you have to have to understand this discourse.
And so, instead what you see from this letter is this idea that Jewish students are endangered by this discourse, which I think is really nonsense. In fact, if you look at the best data that we have—and I’ve said this time and time again about antisemitism United States, antisemitism defined the old-fashioned way like statements about Jews as Jews, you know, are they disloyal? Are they dishonest, etc., etc.? It’s vastly, vastly higher on the right. In fact, I think there’s pretty compelling evidence that anti-Zionists in the United States have lower levels of antisemitism than do Zionists. And I’ll link to some of the stuff I’ve written about this. But instead, what we have is this fervent effort always to connect Palestinian critiques of Israel and Zionism with assaults on Jews, right, even though the data shows that in fact—and I’m quoting Hersch and Royden’s paper here, which is the best thing we have on the subject, that ‘antisemitic attitudes are rare on the ideological left but common on the ideological right.’
Despite that, we had this constant discourse of keeping Jewish students safe, which really, actually mirrors the kind of worst, most caricatured version of ‘woke’ safe space discourse. Jewish students at Penn are not threatened by Palestinian speakers talking about their experience. And the language of safety in this case is actually an effort to try to keep them ignorant of the Palestinian experience, right, and to try to get the university to make it less likely that they will actually listen to Palestinians. Which is fundamentally antithetical to the purpose of a university. What we should be doing is encouraging these Jewish students to go outside of their comfort zone and listen to Palestinians even though it’s going to be difficult, and produce cognitive dissonance for them, and be painful in some ways for them to hear that the state that they have been raised to love has actually done these terrible things to Palestinians. That’s not violence. That’s not a threat to someone’s safety. It’s education. This is what we should want all students to be experiencing while they’re at university. And it drives me crazy that many of the people who understand that point the most clearly and make it so often when it comes to the safe spaces of Black students or LGBT students or whatever. When it comes to Jewish students, they actually want to prevent that process of education because they describe the process of education vis-à-vis the Palestinian experience, as an experience of threat to the safety of Jewish students. It’s not. It’s actually an experience of education that we should welcome. So, again our call on Friday is going to be with Samuel Moyn at noon. I hope many of you will join us.
A conversation about American foreign policy, Palestinian freedom and the Jewish people. Thousands of paid subscribers.
Join us on Saturday, September 16th at 7 P.M. CDT for Bright Stars of Bethlehem’s Be The Hope 4th Annual Virtual Fundraising Gala! We’ll take you on a virtual trip to Palestine by sharing student stories, hearing from special guests, and getting Dar al-Kalima University updates from Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb.
MRSCP has decided to join in an emergency campaign sponsored by Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) and Stop the Wall Coalition to provide emergency shelter and schools for the families of Masafer Yatta in the South Hebron hills area.
You will hear more from us in the coming week about our portion of the campaign, and about the experiences of MRSCP member Cassandra Dixon who is currently in the area.
MECA has a deadline of March 31 to raise $25,000 to begin the work and we want to encourage all our supporters to give what you can now.
As always, we thank you for your support.
They can demolish our houses, schools, and clinics but they can’t destroy these caves nor our determination to keep steadfast until we have achieved justice and freedom.
— Abu Mahmoud of Masafer Yatta
I’m sure, like all of us at MECA, you have watched in horror these last few months as Israeli settler and military violence gets more severe and more widespread every day.
Meanwhile, the people in the villages of Masafer Yatta of have suffered some of the worst abuses of Israeli Apartheid. The Israeli government designated Masafer Yatta as a “military zone.” The government and illegal settlers are intent on expelling the Palestinian families who have lived there for hundreds of years.
Last year, after an Israeli court order, bulldozers entered several of the small, rural communities in Masafer Yatta, smashing homes, clinics, and schools to rubble.
While Israeli leaders and US politicians alike watch—even encourage and support—Israeli violence there IS something you can do now to support the people of Masafer Yatta who are steadfast in defending their land and fierce in their commitment to the education of their children.
Masfer Yatta has two very significant resources. They have natural caves which, with your support now, will be turned into homes and schools. They also have the solidarity of people like you who stand against the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
Your contribution to MECA now for our joint campaign with Stop the Wall will help to renovate 36 caves to create homes and schools in Masafer Yatta and provide 10 tents and 10 electricity generators as temporary shelter in case of demolition.
This is part of the Defend Masafer Yatta Campaign, and the goal is to raise an initial $25,000 by March 31 to begin the work. Please give the most you can afford today.
Shukran (Thank you),
Zeiad Abbas Shamrouch
P.S. The Defend Masafer Yatta Campaign must eventually raise a total of $70,000 to complete the renovation of caves for homes and schools. Please make the most generous contribution you can now to start this work immediately and support the steadfastness of the people of Masafer Yatta. Many thanks.
Middle East Children’s Alliance
1101 8th Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project is partnering with the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) to provide back-to-school backpacks to 2000 poor children in Gaza, including Rafah and Rafah camp which suffered significant damage and casualties in the latest Israeli assault.
Our goal is to provide at least 100 Gaza-produced backpacks that MECA will distribute at schools and kindergartens in Rafah. The backpacks cost $17.50 each for a total of $1,750. MRSCP will match half the cost of the first 100 backpacks before the end of August, when school resumes in Gaza. 100 percent of your donation will go to this project.
The people of Gaza suffered terribly from the recent Israeli bombardment, which was just the latest in a series of what Israeli officials callously refer to as “mowing the grass” — periodic military assaults on the two million people (one million of them children) with no safe place to hide in what has been called the world’s largest open-air prison.
But even when bombs are not falling, Gazans struggle to survive under the Israeli land, air and sea blockade that deprives them of safe drinking water, medical care, employment, and fuel, and which kills and traumatizes them day in and day out through this cruel policy of deliberate deprivation.
Your tax dollars are paying for this outrage. Please consider partially offsetting them by contributing to the backpack campaign.
AND…Here at Home:
Urban Triage will be distributing shoes and coats to families on Saturday, September 24th, for their Back to School Give Back event!
“Help us in keeping kids warm during this upcoming Wisconsin winter season, where weather conditions can change rapidly and temperatures can reach to -20, with wind chills down to -40! Adequate shoes and coats can prevent hypothermia and frostbite. With your donations, Urban Triage will distribute shoes and coats to up to 75 families at Penn Park on Saturday, September 24th, from 2:30 to 4:30 PM.
We are now accepting donations. Donate Gift Cards and Cash to support vulnerable families this fall.
To make financial donations online, please fill out the donation form!
Drop off checks and gift cards (and NEW coats & shoes) at 147 S Butler St, Monday thru Thursday from 12 to 5 PM.
For more information, please contact Charnice: canderson at urbantriage.org.
Thank you for donating and keeping kids warm this winter!”
Please read this letter to North Carolina’s US Congressional Representatives from VJP leadership urging them to co-sign.
May 23, 2022
We are Voices for Justice in Palestine, a North Carolina-based nonprofit working for a just and lasting peace in Israel-Palestine. We are a nonpartisan 501c3 working with interfaith and diverse social justice partners. Our membership consists of citizen-activists, scholars, scientists, pastors, theologians, and professionals who have studied this issue extensively and traveled widely in the region. We focus on education, legislative advocacy, and media presence in order to raise awareness of issues and perspectives largely absent from the public conversation in American society.
We are writing to you to ask you to co-sponsor Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan)’s historic resolution recognizing “The Nakba” (“catastrophe” in Arabic), commemorating the 750,000 Palestinian men, women, and children who were driven from their homes and their land in 1947-1949.
The resolution calls for:
We strongly support this resolution because it has significant educational value. Our research indicates that a great many North Carolinians are poorly informed about Palestinian history. They know little or nothing about the catastrophe that befell the Palestinian people in the Nakba. Those who have heard of it have been misled by myths and disinformation that obscure the truth. We view Rep. Tlaib’s resolution as an important public service that will lead to better understanding of this tragedy. The more knowledgeable our citizens are about this history, the more likely we are to progress toward a just and lasting peace in Israel-Palestine.
It would also establish a stronger basis for Congress to support humanitarian assistance programs for Palestinian refugees, which are desperately needed.
We are sending this letter to all of your colleagues in the North Carolina congressional delegation, both Republicans and Democrats. This is not a partisan issue. A just and lasting peace in this conflicted land that three major religions call holy transcends politics and demands our most compassionate and well-informed response.
Thank you for your consideration.
The Governing Board of Voices for Justice in Palestine
Palestine Partners will have beautifully hand-embroidered tote bags, pouches, purses, scarves, and pillow covers, and handmade earrings, necklaces and other crafts from the Women in Hebron Fair Trade Cooperative, all celebrating Palestine.
Playgrounds for Palestine will have Kufiyas, the beautiful traditional scarves of Palestine made by Palestine’s last surviving factory in Al Khalil, Hebron; Fair Trade Olive Oil from small farms in Palestine, Olive Oil Soap, and Zataar spice.
Plus Madison’s Knitting for Peace will offer beautifully hand-knit hats and other treasures made by women from Iraq and Syria who have resettled in Madison.
Stand with Palestine Yard Signs will also be available for purchase.
Hosted by Palestine Partners and Playgrounds for Palestine, with special guests from Knitting for Peace.
Celebrate Summertime! Please come out and support Palestinian artisans, farmers, and their communities as they continue to struggle against the health and economic impacts of COVID and increasing settler aggression throughout the West Bank.
Our friends at Palestine Partners, a Madison-based organization that supports Women in Hebron and Youth of Samud, will be selling Palestinian crafts.