WASHINGTON—In a controversial 6-3 decision regarding religious freedom, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that public school teachers were allowed to lead students on Crusades to win back the Holy Land for Christians.
“Because the First Amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion, all school employees have the right to conscript students into a fighting force and undertake a military expedition to ransack and reclaim Jerusalem in the name of Jesus Christ,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court’s majority, concluding that Colorado’s Bremerton School District had erred in firing football coach Joseph Kennedy for arming his players and marching them across Europe to conquer the idolaters and pagans who must be forcibly converted to Christianity.
“As far back as 1212, we see legal and cultural precedents for community leaders assembling a gang of youths to wage a holy war in defense of Christendom. Not only should Coach Kennedy have his job back, but he should also be permitted to express his religious freedom by burning at the stake any parent who refuses to sign their child’s permission slip for the treacherous voyage across the Mediterranean.”
In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that participation in the indiscriminate slaughter of Muslims and Jews should be required to receive a high school diploma.
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.
Creative Director, Just Vision
Rosa Parks sitting on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, 1956. (Encyclopedia Britannica)
The boycott was organized by local ministers, including Martin Luther King, Jr. (PBS)
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute
Sparked by the arrest of Rosa Parks on 1 December 1955, the Montgomery bus boycott was a 13-month mass protest that ended with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that segregation on public buses is unconstitutional.
Please join the #nowaytotreatachild campaign co-leaders from Defense for Children International – Palestine and American Friends Service Committee for a webinar on June 14 at 8 p.m. Eastern / 5 p.m. Pacific time.
The webinar will share updates on Palestinian children’s human rights, including updates on Palestinian children who have been detained, killed, used as human shields, and had their homes demolished by Israeli authorities. We’ll also discuss how to approach our advocacy work in the long term to ensure it is sustainable while keeping grassroots supporters and elected officials engaged.
Approximately 2.9 million Palestinians live in the occupied West Bank, of which around 45 percent are children under the age of 18.
Palestinian children in the West Bank, like adults, face arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment under an Israeli military detention system that denies them basic rights.
Since 1967, Israel has operated two separate legal systems in the same territory. In the occupied West Bank, Israeli settlers are subject to the civilian and criminal legal system whereas Palestinians live under military law.
Israel applies civilian criminal law to Palestinian children in East Jerusalem. No Israeli child comes into contact with the military courts.
Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that automatically and systematically prosecutes children in military courts that lack fundamental fair trial rights and protections. Israel prosecutes between 500 and 700 Palestinian children in military courts each year.
Ill-treatment in the Israeli military detention system remains “widespread, systematic, and institutionalized throughout the process,” according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report Children in Israeli Military Detention Observations and Recommendations.
Children typically arrive to interrogation bound, blindfolded, frightened, and sleep deprived.
Children often give confessions after verbal abuse, threats, physical and psychological violence that in some cases amounts to torture.
Israeli military law provides no right to legal counsel during interrogation, and Israeli military court judges seldom exclude confessions obtained by coercion or torture.
June 14, 2022 at 8:00pm – 9pm
Online via Zoom
Brad Parker · firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Demand the Reinstatement of the Wall + Response Exhibit Now!
After four months of planning, the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) decided to cancel a mural exhibition because of its inclusion of the local Clarion Alley Arab Liberation Mural.
SF Public Library informed the Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP) that it would not allow the exhibition Wall + Response to open without censoring an image of the project’s Arab Liberation Mural. In partnership with the Arab Resource & Organizing Center’s (AROC) Arab Youth Organizing, the mural was created by a diverse team of community organizations, artists and allies to honor Arab, Muslim and migrant histories and struggles against racism and xenophobia, as well as the experiences of resilience and resistance in the Bay Area. This Mural has been a landmark for the community for over four years.
Recently, the SF Library decided to censor the Wall + Response exhibition because the Mural included the phrase “Zionism is Racism”. Zionism is the official ideology of Israeli apartheid. This phrase captures the experiences of Palestinians and others struggling against apartheid and Israel’s settler-colonial violence. Human rights organizations Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Yesh Din, and B’Tselem, as well as the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia and Harvard Law School have all determined Israel is an apartheid state. It is the height of irony that an art project designed to highlight and resist repression being faced by racial justice movements would be the subject of racist censorship. All the artists, poets, and community-based organizations who were part of the planned Wall + Response exhibition responded with a letter expressing their concerns of structural racism and asking the library to reinstate the exhibition in its entirety.
We are calling on communities to email the SFPL Commission and administration using our one-click tool to demand that the Wall + Response exhibition moves forward, free of censorship.
Rev. Mitri Raheb from Bethlehem speaks about his new book The Politics of Persecution: Middle Eastern Christians in an Age of Empire.
Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb served as pastor of Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, Palestine and is now the president of Bethlehem’s Dar al-Kalima University. Rev. Raheb’s newest book presents a less-familiar narrative about the situation of Christians in the Middle East.
Register online in advance or in person at the door.
Sponsored by Bright Stars of Bethlehem.
Update: Israel’s High Court of Justice dismissed all the petitions against the forcible transfer of up to 1,200 Palestinians in a large part of Masafer Yatta that Israel has declared a closed military zone.
Masafer Yatta is an area in the South Hebron Hills of the West Bank, which is home to twelve Palestinian villages totaling about 1,300 residents. The area is spread out over about 35,000 dunam of land, where agricultural communities have lived for generations.
In opposition to international law, which prohibits the expulsion of a population from its land and the use of occupied land for military training, in the early 1980s, the Israeli army declared the area Firing Zone 918, in order to dispossess Palestinians from their homes and strengthen Israeli settlements in the area.
Since this declaration, residents have lived under the daily threat of demolitions, evictions, and dispossession. Families in Masafer Yatta are denied access to their land, roads, sources of water, schools, medical services, and hospitals. This is in addition to nearly daily violence from settlers in the region.
The legal outcome for the area remains a question, as residents await a court ruling which will determine their futures. On March 15, 2022, the Israeli Supreme Court held a hearing to discuss the fate of the communities of Masafer Yatta. In the coming months, the court is likely to make a final decision in the case and determine whether hundreds of families will be forcibly expelled from their lands and homes. If the Supreme Court decides to permit the expulsion of residents, it will be one of the largest expulsions carried out by the State of Israel in recent decades, an alarming precedent that could lead to further expulsions across the West Bank, and a further escalation of Israel’s policies of annexation and Apartheid.
We must not stand by quietly as Israel evicts entire communities. We cannot allow Apartheid to go unchallenged.
Please join our Facebook group to receive updates on the situation.
Here we go again! Super PACs are trying to buy Democratic elections and taint the process with misinformation.
In particular, AIPAC and its affiliates are spending millions of dollars to defeat progressives in blue districts. They are trying to buy primaries, targeting the candidates voters are most excited about — primarily women of color — and attempting to undermine and discredit them with blatant lies.
All because these candidates don’t waiver on human rights for all, including ensuring that Palestinians live with human dignity.
For example, Summer Lee, who we endorsed for Congress, had a 25-point lead just weeks before Election Day, before AIPAC’s dark money campaign spent millions of dollars on attack ads, spreading misinformation, to confuse voters. By Election Day, the race was close, but Summer did end up winning thanks to incredible grassroots people-centered organizing. However, it was still painful to see the attacks on Summer.
The aggressive attacks by AIPAC and its affiliates are just increasing. They have already spent an unprecedented $18+ million in Democratic primaries.
In response to this flood of dark money in at least 7 Democratic primaries across the country, Senator Bernie Sanders called on the DNC to make it clear that super PAC money is not welcome in Democratic primaries.
As he said: “This is a war for the future of the Democratic Party.” It’s also a fight for our very democracy itself.
Please sign the petition to Speaker Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders: Take a stand on corporate dark-money misinformation ads, including from AIPAC and its affiliated PACs. Denounce this onslaught of spending that’s targeting progressive women of color.
AIPAC claims to care about the safety of the Jewish people—but they endorsed over 100 Republicans who voted to undermine our democracy and overturn 2020’s election results.
These same anti-democratic right-wingers spew antisemitic and white supremacist hate. They support the January 6th insurrectionists, many of whom wore and flew Nazi symbols. These ideologies endanger all of us, particularly marginalized people such as Jewish Americans.
AIPAC’s support for right-wing extremists is out of step with the majority of Jewish Americans, most of whom are concerned about antisemitism from the right-wing.
As Summer Lee’s campaign said, voters deserve leaders “who know that our struggles and our safety are interwoven.” We are safest in solidarity with one another.
Because of AIPAC’s anti-democratic stances, the Young Democrats of Michigan have called on Democratic candidates to stop taking money or endorsements from AIPAC.
We’ve got to defend our democracy, including the multiracial pluralism upon which our democracy rests. And we’ve got to support bold progressives who are connected to their communities and willing to fight.
The Democratic Party is going to lose in 2022 and beyond if corporate interests keep throttling popular, progressive young leaders by dumping millions into Democratic races—while propping up candidates who oppose our popular agenda.
Please sign the petition now to call on House Democratic leadership to denounce AIPAC’s dark money misinformation campaigns.