Palestinian Rights Organizations Raided & Shut Down


American Friends Service Committee, August 18, 2022

Stand with Palestinian human rights defenders

Early this morning, Israeli soldiers raided the offices of Palestinian human rights and civil society groups in Ramallah — shutting them down. The targeted organizations are Defense for Children International – Palestine, Al-Haq, Addameer, Bisan, the Union of Agricultural Working Committees, and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.

AFSC stands with human rights defenders and Palestinian civil society in condemning these attacks. Contact Congress today and urge your representative to stand in solidarity with Palestinian rights organizations!

These six groups are among the most respected Palestinian human rights organizations in the world. They work closely with the United Nations, international nongovernmental organization partners, and activist communities. They also advocate to and work with European and U.S. government officials. And they provide services to Palestinians whose human rights have been violated. AFSC partners with Defense for Children International – Palestine on the No Way to Treat a Child campaign, which has led to the first congressional bill on Palestinian children’s human rights in the U.S.

Today’s events are an outrageous attempt to silence organizations that have exposed the Israeli government’s human rights abuses. They follow decades of repression of human rights activism, including detentions and raids on offices. And the U.S. must speak out now.

Take action: Urge Congress to demand the protection of Palestinian civil society and human rights defenders!

Thank you for speaking out and for supporting our ongoing advocacy for Palestinian rights.

In peace,

Jennifer Bing
Palestine Activism Program Director

Breaking: Six Palestinian NGOs raided & closed


Just Vision, August 18, 2022

Early this morning, Israeli army forces raided the offices of six leading Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations in Ramallah. Soldiers confiscated files and equipment, welded doors shut and posted military orders declaring the offices closed. These raids are a dangerous escalation in the government’s campaign against the civil society groups falsely labeled as “terrorist organizations” last year.

A quick look at the activities of the targeted groups and you’ll see that these organizations are among the top Palestinian civic institutions that document human rights violations, provide crucial social and legal services and protect the rights of women, children, farmers, prisoners and other at-risk groups in Palestinian society.

Last October, the Israeli government designated them as “terrorist organizations” without providing any concrete proof of the claims. A series of investigative reports by our team at Local Call, in partnership with +972 Magazine and The Intercept, debunked the allegations and revealed that no meaningful evidence existed to justify the designation. Just last month, nine European governments agreed, officially rejecting the allegations against the groups after a months-long investigation concluded that “no substantial information was received from Israel that would justify reviewing our policy” toward the organizations.

You can learn more and hear directly from one of the organizations affected here. We know today’s raids are just the latest brazen step by the Israeli government to crush Palestinian civil society and silence any group — Palestinian, Israeli or international — attempting to hold it to account for its human rights violations. The six organizations will not be deterred — this is a crucial time for the international community to demand accountability and insist that Palestinian civil society be allowed to do its vital work.

In determination,

Rula Salameh
Education and Outreach Director in Palestine

If Not Now Says “#DropAIPAC”


Join the Movement of Jews, Orgs, and Politicians Pledging to #DropAIPAC

AIPAC endorsed 109 insurrectionist Republicans and spent $25 million to defeat candidates supporting Palestinian rights and progressive causes. Their actions this year aid the right-wing movement threatening our planet and democracy, and should have no place in our community or our politics.

AIPAC claims to speak on behalf of the Jewish community but embraces right-wing antisemites, Islamophobes, and white nationalists such as Donald Trump, Christian Zionist John Hagee, Rep. Jim Jordan, and Muslim Ban lawyer Frank Gaffney.

AIPAC endorsed 109 Republican candidates who supported Trump’s “Big Lie” to overturn the 2020 election. And AIPAC’s Super PAC — funded primarily by Republican billionaires — spent 25 million dollars on misleading advertisements to defeat seven progressive candidates, including targeting women of color and a former synagogue president fighting for health care, climate solutions, and responsible foreign policy.

So long as donors, U.S. politicians, and Jewish orgs like youth groups and synagogues work with AIPAC — and so long as those watching stay silent — AIPAC will have the credibility and funding to continue working against Palestinian rights and against democracy.

By pledging to #DropAIPAC, I or my organization pledges to drop:

  • AIPAC’s annual policy conference
  • Donating to AIPAC
  • Meeting with AIPAC lobbyists
  • Hosting or participating in AIPAC events
  • Traveling on AIPAC trips to Israel

The majority of American Jews disagree with AIPAC’s anti-Palestinian racism and recognize that Jewish and Palestinian safety is intertwined. We stand committed to fighting for equality, justice, and a thriving future for all Jews, Israelis, and Palestinians.

Join the Movement

ADC Welcomes Decision by Montgomery County Council

The Montgomery County Council was initially scheduled to consider a harmful and overly expansive definition of anti-Semitism on July 26.

Hundreds of community members made their voices heard.

“This is a great decision by the Montgomery County Council, and a victory for free speech.”

Washington, D.C. | www.adc.org | July 24, 2022 – Over the past few days the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has been in dialogue with members and officials from the Montgomery County Council pertaining to a proposed agenda item at the next Council meeting which would redefine anti-Semitism. Montgomery County is the most most populous county in Maryland, located just outside of Washington, D.C. ADC has been informed that the Council decided to remove the item from the agenda. We welcome this decision by the Council and are committed to continued dialogue with Montgomery County officials as we work to tackle all forms of hate and bigotry.

The proposed resolution, which was set to be discussed at the next Council meeting on Tuesday July 26 would have the County adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) re-definition of anti-Semitism. The proposed definition institutionalizes a re-definition that conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, making it difficult to fight against real hate and bigotry.

ADC Legislative and Policy Coordinator Chris Habiby states, “This is a great decision by the Montgomery County Council, and a victory for free speech. Throughout the weekend the Council heard from hundreds of our community members in the County, and this decision was done in the best interest of the county and all its residents.”

By expanding the definition of anti-Semitism to encompass political speech, the resolution chills constitutionally protected speech. Already, the IHRA definition has been used to target several civil society and university organizations including Amnesty International, Black Lives Matter, the American Friends Services Committee, Doctors without Borders, and Harvard’s Crimson newspaper. It has also been used towards human rights activists including Cornel West, CNN Commentator Marc Lamont Hill and the late Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

If similar action is being considered by your local city or county council, please contact ADC for assistance in addressing the issue – send an email to adc@adc.org for support.

ACLU Challenges Cancellation of Palestine Mural


A mural that was conceived and painted by the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) and Art Forces. The mural was censored by the SFPL and the ACLU claims there are First Amendment concerns with the censorship. Courtesy Megan Wilson/Clarion Alley Mural Project

Sarah Wright, The San Francisco Standard, July 14, 2022

A new letter from the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California raises First Amendment concerns after the San Francisco Public Library decided to omit a line it called antisemitic from a Palestine-focused mural in an exhibit that was supposed to appear this summer. 

The exhibition, which was canceled in March as a result of the controversy, was focused on racism and xenophobia against marginalized groups, including Palestinians. The mural in question featured a sign with the phrase “Zionism is racism.”

The library raised concerns about the phrase and discussed removing it with the curators, according to an SFPL statement sent to The Standard. The group declined to make changes to the exhibition, said Christopher Statton, co-director of Clarion Alley Mural Project, the Mission District-based group that organized the mural exhibition. 

“It may create discussions that are difficult and messy, but it’s harmful not to have these discussions,” Statton said. 

In her letter, ACLU Staff Attorney Hannah Kieschnick agrees, arguing that the library, as a public space that often promotes and displays speech that doesn’t represent its views, cannot discriminate that speech by its viewpoint or concerns it is controversial. 

“Instead of cancelling what the library perceives to be a controversial exhibition, I urge you to use the exhibition as an opportunity, consistent with the library’s role as a center for information and learning, to welcome diverse perspectives and foster open dialogue about the viewpoint expressed in the Arab Liberation Mural,” Kieschnick wrote in the letter.

The SFPL declined to comment on the ACLU letter specifically, but its statement to The Standard reaffirms its decision to ask the artists to edit their work before its presentation in service to their mission to “provide a safe and welcoming space for our entire community.

“Presenting expressions, such as ‘Zionism is Racism,’ which are widely viewed as antisemitic are counter to that mission and would set a precedent that would justify the exhibition of other viewpoints harming minority communities and identities based on race, gender, national origin, sexuality, or religion,” the library’s statement reads. “The Library presents a panoply of viewpoints on a wide range of topics, but we draw the line at a public display of speech that negatively targets any specific race, ethnic or religious community.”

According to Statton, several alternative venues that he declined to name have reached out to the group offering to display the exhibition in its entirety.

“The library’s decision to censor our mural without connecting with the community—it was disrespectful,” said Sharif Zakout, an organizer at the Arab Resource and Organizing Center. “Our community was left out of it completely.”

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No evidence from Israel that Palestinian NGOs are ‘terrorist organizations’

“In the absence of such evidence, we will continue our cooperation and strong support for the civil society in the occupied Palestinian Territories”


17 years of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions

Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), July 8, 2022

Today our movement celebrates 17 years.

On this anniversary of the 2005 call from the largest Palestinian coalition to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel’s regime of military occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid, we want to celebrate this growing anti-apartheid movement. 

Join us in celebrating the most significant moments in the growth of the anti-apartheid movement, its globalization, its impact, and indispensable role in bringing about an unprecedented narrative shift around Palestine and the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights.

Watch and share the video marking the 17 years of the BDS movement
    

Thanks to you, we were able to collectively globalize the struggle. Our BDS movement has played a central and leading role in shifting the narrative and continues that crucial role today in shining the path forward: boycotts, divestment, and lawful, targeted sanctions as the most effective forms of international solidarity with the struggle of Indigenous Palestinians for liberation.

So far, 2022 has been a very significant year in the history of our inclusive, anti-racist movement, which is rooted in a rich heritage of Palestinian popular resistance and inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement and U.S. Civil Rights struggle, among others. With reports from the UN and Amnesty International, adding to the body of work developed by Palestinian, South African and other groups and individuals, we now have an international human rights consensus condemning Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians and calling for accountability measures to dismantle it.   

As Palestinians continue to resist, our anti-apartheid movement is growing fast. The Unity Intifada of 2021 showed that Palestinians are one, across our fragments in colonized Palestine and across the world, in refugee camps and the diaspora, in standing against Israel’s regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid. 

As the Palestinian anti-apartheid movement grows larger and more impactful, Freedom, Justice, and Equality, come nearer.

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Ben & Jerry’s sues parent company over Israeli deal

Complaint says Unilever sale of Israeli business to a local licensee to sell its ice-cream in the occupied West Bank undermines its values


Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream delivery truck at factory in Be’er Tuvia, Israel. Photograph: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

Ben & Jerry’s has sued its parent Unilever plc to block the sale of its Israeli business to a local licensee, saying it was inconsistent with its values to sell its ice-cream in the occupied West Bank.

The complaint filed in the US district court in Manhattan said the sale announced on 29 June threatened to undermine the integrity of the Ben & Jerry’s brand, which Ben & Jerry’s board retained independence to protect when Unilever acquired the company in 2000.

An injunction against transferring the business and related trademarks to Avi Zinger, who runs American Quality Products Ltd, was essential to “protect the brand and social integrity Ben & Jerry’s has spent decades building”, the complaint said.

Ben & Jerry’s said its board voted 5-2 to sue, with the two Unilever appointees dissenting.

Unilever did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but has defended Ben & Jerry’s right to advance its socially conscious mission.

Lawyers for Zinger also did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Last week, Zinger settled his own lawsuit against Ben & Jerry’s for refusing to renew his license.

The dispute highlights challenges facing consumer brands taking a stand on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, which most countries consider illegal.

In April 2019, Airbnb reversed a five-month-old decision to stop listing properties in those settlements.

Last July, Ben & Jerry’s said it would end sales in the occupied West Bank and parts of East Jerusalem, and sever its three-decade relationship with Zinger.

Israel condemned the move, and some Jewish groups accused Ben & Jerry’s of antisemitism. Some investors, including at least seven US states, divested their Unilever holdings.

Unilever has more than 400 brands including Dove soap, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Knorr soup and Vaseline skin lotion.

Ben & Jerry’s was founded in a renovated gas station in 1978 by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.

No longer involved in Ben & Jerry’s operations, they wrote in the New York Times last July that they supported Israel but opposed its “illegal occupation” of the West Bank.

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The right to boycott is heading to the Supreme Court

I’m writing with breaking news. Today the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that boycotts are not protected by the First Amendment. The ACLU has confirmed they will take the case to the Supreme Court, with huge implications for free speech and the right to boycott in the US. Our team has been following this case closely as one of the key stories chronicled in our latest film, Boycott.

The case centers around an Arkansas law that requires public contractors to sign a pledge promising that they do not boycott Israel. Versions of this law have been passed in 33 states since 2016. In recent years, several Americans have challenged these laws, suing their respective states for violating their First Amendment rights. In almost every case — from Texas to Arizona to Kansas to Georgia — the plaintiffs won, with courts finding the anti-boycott laws unconstitutional.

The only exception has been Arkansas, where Alan Leveritt, publisher of the Arkansas Times, is the plaintiff. Alan originally lost in District Court but when he appealed to a three-judge panel at the Eighth Circuit, he won. The State of Arkansas was then granted a re-hearing. Today, the final ruling came out against Alan with the court deciding that boycotts, even when politically motivated, are strictly economic activity and not a form of expression. Brian Hauss, the ACLU’s chief litigator in the case has said that the decision “misreads Supreme Court precedent and departs from this nation’s long standing traditions.” He expressed hope that the Supreme Court “will set things right and reaffirm the nation’s historic commitment to providing robust protection to political boycotts.”

Alan believes that as a news publisher, he has a special duty to stand up for free speech rights. As he wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed: “We don’t take political positions in return for advertising. If we signed the pledge, I believe, we’d be signing away our right to freedom of conscience. And as journalists, we would be unworthy of the protections granted us under the First Amendment.”

When we started filming Boycott, we understood there was a risk that the anti-boycott legislation vis-a-vis Israel could be used as a template. By the time we finished the film, this was already becoming a reality. There are now copycat bills targeting boycotts of fossil fuels, firearms, and other industries. As Alan’s case heads to the Supreme Court, it is not only advocacy for Palestinian rights, the environment or gun safety that stands on the line — but our very right to protest, and to band together for collective political action.

With the stakes increasingly high, we remain committed to sounding the alarm on this story, and you can help us. Share the news on social media, ask your go-to news outlet to cover this story, and get in touch to organize a screening of Boycott in your community. These laws have been able to pass with such ease in large part due to the lack of public scrutiny around its origins and implications. The time to change that is now.

Onwards,
Julia Bacha
Creative Director, Just Vision
Director, Boycott