Upcoming Events: August 29 — October 16, 2023

Tuesday, August 29, 7 pm CT
Reparations and the Palestinian Right of Return as Teshuvah (Repentence) for the Nakba: An online talk by Peter Beinart

Organizers suggest you may want to read this article by Beinart in Jewish Currents before the talk.

Details and registration here. Part of a series sponsored by Reconstructionists Expanding the Conversation on Israel-Palestine.

Saturday, September 16, 7 pm CT
Sep 16: Bright Stars of Bethlehem’s Virtual Fundraising Gala

Monday, October 16, 12 noon – 1:05 pm
Arab Women’s Revolutionary Art: Between Singularities and Multitudes
Ingraham 206, UW-Madison

Profesor Nevine El Nossery will discuss her latest book in which she explores the ways women in the contemporary Middle East and North Africa have re-imagined revolutionary discourses through creativity and collective action as a means of resistance. More information here.

Will this band play on the ruins of a Palestinian village?

May be a doodle of poster and text
Art by @/majdalrafie on Instagram
On August 29, Imagine Dragons is scheduled to perform in apartheid Israel. The venue the band is set to play at stands on the ethnically cleansed Palestinian village of Jarisha. Jarisha was once a vibrant Palestinian community. After over 200 residents of Jarisha were forced from their homes by Jewish militia in 1948, the land is now a concert hall.
Thousands of artists have refused complicity in Israeli colonialism by canceling their concerts in occupied Palestine. Tell Imagine Dragons to join them in taking a stand by refusing to play on stolen Palestinian land!
Imagine Dragons has used its music to support human rights in the past, advocating for refugees and the LGBTQIA+ community. Right now, the band has the opportunity to stand on the right side of history by supporting Palestinian human rights.
Palestinian civil society has long been calling on artists to skip performing in apartheid Israel, just as conscientious artists refused to perform in apartheid South Africa. The Israeli government uses such concerts to cover up its human rights violations, making artists complicit in their apartheid regime.
Take action now! Ask Imagine Dragons to #ImagineEndingApartheid and advocate for a world where Palestinians are free.

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Leading liberal Zionist voices call for ending U.S. aid to Israel

A New York Times Op-Ed featuring liberal Zionist leaders calls to end military aid to Israel as the country passes a law gutting its judiciary. This is the moment people working to end U.S. aid to Israel have been waiting for.

Israel does not have a right to self-defense for its occupation

Israel’s “right to defend itself” is invoked constantly by its supporters, but international law says Israel cannot simultaneously occupy Palestinian land and attack it as a “foreign” threat, or treat those resisting as enemy combatants.



As Israel was invading and bombing Jenin this week, AIPAC was pumping out a simple message: “Israel is right to protect its citizens from terrorism.” Others echoed the same line, often including the false theory that Iran—which supports and backs Palestinian armed militant groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad—actually controls the Palestinian resistance, implying, ridiculously, that but for Iranian malfeasance, Palestinians wouldn’t be fighting against Israel’s occupation. 

Israel’s message from its own leaders makes the same case, with slightly different language. Opposition leader Yair Lapid, for example, put it this way: “”Our children are being slaughtered, and Israel has every right on earth to defend itself, and we from the opposition support the Israeli defense forces and the Israeli government on this matter.” Lapid made that statement in English, meaning it was the version of Israel’s message that was meant for foreign audiences, particularly Americans.

Members of Congress were also sure not to miss an opportunity to support the killing of Palestinians. There was Josh Gottheimer, the New Jersey Democrat: “Israel has every right to defend itself, especially as the PA loses control of Jenin, which has become a hub of Iranian-backed terrorist activity in the West Bank.”

And there was Florida Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz: “Israel has the unequivocal right to defend itself against perpetrators of violence and terrorist attacks.” And of course, several Republicans chimed in with similar support

The so-called “progressive Democrat” Ritchie Torres of New York would never let such an opportunity to pay back AIPAC and similar groups for their largesse. He tweeted, “The Palestinian Authority has all but abandoned Jenin, leaving behind a power vacuum that has been filled by terrorists. In the past six months, those terrorists made Jenin a launching pad for more than 50 shooting attacks against Israelis. Israel is responding with a counterterrorism operation aimed at surgically removing these terrorists and their terror infrastructure. There’s a word for this: self-defense, which is the right of every sovereign country, including Israel.”

The mantra of Israel’s “right to defend itself” is repeated incessantly and rarely questioned. Even Palestinians and Palestine advocates are often reluctant to debate the “right to self defense.” From the beginning of Israel’s existence as a state, this justification has been used to deny Palestinians the right to their property, to their homes, and to their freedom. It was used to justify the theft of Palestinian property in the wake of both the 1948 and 1967 wars, and to excuse the imposition of martial law on Palestinians in side the new state for nearly two full decades. 

The mantra of Israel’s “right to defend itself” is invoked at virtually every turn not only by Israel and its supporters, but also by friendly governments in the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, and other places. 

So here’s a news flash: Israel actually does not have the right to defend itself in terms of the West Bank and Gaza. It has the right to protect its citizens, but it does not have the right to use overwhelming military force against people under its occupation. 

Israel may take measures to protect its citizens—one of the most obvious would be to desist from putting them in harm’s way by planting settlements in the middle of occupied territory.  It may also protect them using the police powers an occupier must have, powers which, it must be emphasized, are primarily in place to maintain law and order and protect the safety of those under occupation for whom Israel is ultimately responsible. It cannot sign an agreement like the Oslo Accords and thereby remove that responsibility for the welfare of people under occupation from itself. Palestinian Authority or no, the occupier remains responsible for the welfare of the people under occupation. 

It can feel counterintuitive to confront this reality of international law and norms. When it was first pointed out to me, I was shocked, and in fact, pushed back against the notion. Yet international law is clear on this point. For the full explanation, I refer you to this remarkable article by Palestinian legal expert and scholar Prof. Noura Erakat, which lays out the case in clear, meticulous language. It is an indispensable read for anyone advocating for Palestinian rights. 

The short of it, though is that Israel treats Jenin, indeed the entire West Bank and Gaza, as enemy territory. In Gaza, Israel actually formalized that label in 2007, designating the Strip “enemy territory.” It can’t do the same in the West Bank because of the settlements dotted throughout that territory, and the attack this week on Jenin shows it doesn’t need to. The designation of Gaza was part of Israel’s attempt to convince the world that, despite controlling Gaza’s eastern and northern land border, coordinating control of its southern border with Egypt, controlling the sea on Gaza’s west, and controlling Gaza’s airspace, Israel’s decision to withdraw its troops and settler from inside the Strip and turn it into the world’s biggest open air prison meant that Gaza was no longer occupied. 

But Israel found that it didn’t matter. They could fire missiles at Gaza, murder children on its beaches, and gun down people protesting on their side of the border with absolute impunity, just as it would in time of war, and could do all of that whether or not anyone accepted the argument that Gaza was no longer occupied, an argument most of the world rejected. Israel is now demonstrating that same, elevated level of impunity in the West Bank, further diminishing the already meager restraint there has been on Israel’s use of overwhelming force. 

As Prof. Erakat explained, “A state cannot simultaneously exercise control over territory it occupies and militarily attack that territory on the claim that it is ‘foreign’ and poses an exogenous national security threat. In doing precisely that, Israel is asserting rights that may be consistent with colonial domination but simply do not exist under international law.”

Israel’s defenders elide this point by creating an alternative reality. One piece of that reality is that there is a Palestinian government that was created by the Oslo Accords and which governs parts of the West Bank to varying degrees. In the designated Area A, which includes Jenin, that governance is argued to be the same as any government. 

That’s simply not true, as the repeated incursions, not to mention the regular closures and presence of soldiers and checkpoints around Jenin make clear. Israel, which has never declared its own borders, occupies the entire West Bank. It collects, and often withholds, taxes from the PA, while Palestinian security forces are focused primarily on coordinating with Israel to combat militants—in other words, Palestinian security is primarily set up to protect Israelis, and, secondarily, the increasingly illegitimate and authoritarian rule of the Vichy-like Palestinian Authority, not to protect ordinary Palestinians. 

Yet Israel then claims it has a right of “self-defense.” Of course, the fact that such a right does not exist does not mean it must sit idly while its citizens are attacked. But, again quoting Prof. Erakat, “As long as the occupation continues, Israel has the right to protect itself and its citizens from attacks by Palestinians who reside in the occupied territories. However, Israel also has a duty to maintain law and order, also known as ‘normal life,’ within territory it occupies. This obligation includes not only ensuring but prioritizing the security and well-being of the occupied population.”

There is a distinction between the right—indeed the responsibility—to protect the people under its authority, citizens and occupied people alike; and the right of self-defense in war or something akin to it. While Israel’s apologists like to characterize Israel-Palestine as a war, it is not. In the West Bank and Gaza it is an occupation. In an occupation, the occupied people have a right to resist, including armed resistance, although doing so via arms means those individuals participating are combatants and not protected civilians. 

Not only is Israel shunning its responsibility to protect those under occupation, it is willfully putting its own citizens in danger by using them as a means to enhance and solidify its occupation and by permitting civilians to take up arms and commit acts of violence against the occupied people. You can’t, on the one hand, maintain a draconian military occupation which, by definition, conveys the right of resistance to the occupied and then, on the other hand, claim that you have the right to use overwhelming military force against the occupied people and consider those people an extra-territorial enemy. You get to have your cake or to eat it, not both. 

Former UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories John Dugard explains the distinction between a state acting in self-defense and one using force to maintain a military occupation. In Israel’s case, its efforts to slowly annex the territories it occupies instead of working toward a withdrawal and ending of that occupation, as it is legally obliged to do, mean that the occupation itself is illegal. Nonetheless, it is still subject to the international laws of occupation. 

As Dugard puts it, “A state seeking to enforce its occupation, like a state acting in self-defense, must comply with international humanitarian law. This includes respect for the principle of proportionality, respect for civilians and the drawing of a distinction between military and civilian targets, and the prohibition of collective punishment. Both Israel and Palestinian militants are obliged to act within the confines of these rules.”

Both Israel and Palestinian militant groups violate the principle of distinction, but Israel has a much greater capacity to avoid this, and fails to do so, despite repeatedly claiming it makes every effort to comply. Israel also routinely violates the principle of proportionality and collective punishment which Palestinian groups, for the most part, are not capable of violating due to their vastly more limited military capabilities. 

The claim to self-defense sounds right. We feel like even if someone is in the wrong in a dispute, if that person is confronted by violence, they have the right to respond and defend themselves. But occupying states, or states engaged in armed conflict, are not the same as individuals. Occupying powers, in particular, have a responsibility to maintain law and order for all under their control and to work to end that occupation. These guidelines are meant to work to minimize the causes of violence, and, to the extent they fail, the occupier has police powers to address this. But it does not have right to treat those resisting an illegal and brutal occupation as enemy combatants. Nor does it have the right to treat the areas under occupation as enemy territory as if in a war. And it really doesn’t matter how many racist presidents, secretaries of state, or members of Congress say otherwise.  

  • Mitchell Plitnick

    Mitchell Plitnick is the president of ReThinking Foreign Policy. He is the co-author, with Marc Lamont Hill, of Except for Palestine: The Limits of Progressive Politics. Mitchell’s previous positions include vice president at the Foundation for Middle East Peace, Director of the US Office of B’Tselem, and Co-Director of Jewish Voice for Peace.

    You can find him on Twitter @MJPlitnick.

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Video of Apartheid-Free Webinar

Allison Tanner, American Friends Service Committee

I am happy to share with you the recording of our June 6 webinar and the press release for our campaign. I encourage you to keep sharing these with others! Also, check out our website apartheid-free.org to find the pledge, ways to take action, educational resources, our FAQ, downloadable posters, and more.

Here are some helpful links that were shared in the chat during the webinar:

If you’d like to support the work of the Apartheid-Free Communities campaign, you can do so on our website.

Thank you again for helping us launch this urgent work in support of Palestinian freedom, justice, and equality.

In solidarity,
Allison Tanner and the Apartheid-Free leadership team

Israel’s protest leaders give the anti-occupation bloc the cold shoulder

A protest marking the occupation’s 56th year was rejected by mainstream organizers, showing how messages about Palestinians are still being silenced.

​Demonstration by the anti-occupation​ bloc of Israel's anti-government protests, marking 56 years since the start of the military occupation, on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, June 3, 2023. (Oren Ziv)
Demonstration by the anti-occupation​ bloc of Israel’s anti-government protests, marking 56 years since the start of the military occupation, on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, June 3, 2023. (Oren Ziv)

Oren Ziv, +972 Magazine, June 6, 2023

In partnership with

The anti-occupation bloc of Israel’s anti-government protests, which have consumed the country for nearly half a year, has been a small but dedicated and growing part of the movement against the far-right coalition ruling the country. But as the most recent demonstration on Saturday showed, the bloc still faces stubborn rejection by the leadership of the mainstream protests, which actively works to silence and distance those they deem a distraction.

The latest rejection occurred when the organizers of the anti-occupation bloc notified the Israeli police of their intention to demonstrate at Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv, to mark 56 years since the start of the military occupation, before joining the main demonstration on Kaplan Street. The police, in turn, notified the organizers of the mainstream protest, who then refused to allow the anti-occupation bloc to participate as a collective in the main event.

The stated reason for the refusal was that the anti-occupation march was sponsored by the Arab-Jewish communist party, Hadash, supposedly making it a politically-affiliated rather than non-partisan event. But it was immediately clear that the real reason was the focus of the protest — and the hundreds of Palestinian flags that would inevitably be flown. Dozens of organizations took part in the march in addition to Hadash and its youth movement, among them Breaking the Silence, Standing Together, Combatants for Peace, Peace Now, and more. Dozens of Palestinian citizens attended as well, most of them from Hadash, with Palestinian flags in tow.

After being largely sidelined and attacked by the mainstream protesters in the early stages of the movement in January, the anti-occupation bloc gradually became more accepted and integrated into the demonstrations, and even grew. However, in recent weeks, the bloc has once again been treated as a pariah by the mainstream leaders. One participant in the main demonstration a few weeks ago, who was standing off to the side watching people waving Palestinian flags and chanting Arabic slogans, told +972 that he believed the anti-occupation bloc was “ruining [the demonstration] for everyone else.”

Israeli authorities appear to have picked up on this renewed friction. In the lead-up to last week’s demonstration, as it became clear the mainstream organizers had no interest in the anti-occupation bloc’s message or inclusion, a policeman identifying himself as an intelligence officer called the Secretary General of Hadash, Amjad Shbeita, and told him, “You know the other protesters don’t want you there.”

​Demonstration by the anti-occupation​ bloc of Israel's anti-government protests, marking 56 years since the start of the military occupation, on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, June 3, 2023. (Oren Ziv)

​Demonstration by the anti-occupation​ bloc of Israel’s anti-government protests, marking 56 years since the start of the military occupation, on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, June 3, 2023. (Oren Ziv)

“We came to challenge the protest, not to sabotage it,” Shbeita declared at Saturday’s anti-occupation protest in Dizengoff Square. “We will persist until the protest leadership gives in. The problem is not that we insist on bringing the occupation to Tel Aviv, but that the occupation brought the hilltop youth to power in Jerusalem. The solution is not only to bring down this government and to send the ministers back to the hills, but to return the hills to their rightful owners: the Palestinians.”

Orly Noy, the chair of B’Tselem (and an editor at Local Call, +972’s Hebrew-language partner site), said at the event: “I want to thank all of you on behalf of those who owe you profound gratitude, but who don’t understand it because of their ignorance and arrogance. Those who are not interested in being reminded of occupation and apartheid, that this week marks 56 years since 1967, and that in the last month alone 50 Palestinians were killed — all this might disturb their celebration of ‘democracy.’”

Noy, who is Iranian-born, continued: “Today, people warn us again and again that if we don’t stop the judicial overhaul now, our country will turn into Iran. I want to remind them: when Iranian forces killed a young Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, Iranian protesters didn’t say, “Kurdish citizens are of no interest to us, they aren’t part of our people.” No — millions of Iranians flooded the streets under the Kurdish slogan, “Woman, life, freedom,” because the Iranian protesters understand what protesters in Israel still refuse to accept: justice for some is no justice at all, and democracy for some is no democracy at all.”

Artificial separation

After the speeches, the anti-occupation protesters marched on Dizengoff Street toward the King George intersection, where the police blocked the road to prevent them from continuing on. The organizers announced over the loudspeakers that the demonstration “was officially over,” and that now people could continue on their own toward Kaplan Street, where the mainstream demonstration was taking place. Most of the protesters continued as a unified bloc, however, with the same flags and slogans, bypassing the police barricade via Ben Zion Boulevard.

​Demonstration by the anti-occupation​ bloc of Israel's anti-government protests, marking 56 years since the start of the military occupation, on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, June 3, 2023. (Oren Ziv)

​Demonstration by the anti-occupation​ bloc of Israel’s anti-government protests, marking 56 years since the start of the military occupation, on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, June 3, 2023. (Oren Ziv)

This week, the police were smarter than the mainstream protest organizers and didn’t insist on blocking the anti-occupation marchers, realizing that the officers couldn’t stop them from marching forward as tens of thousands of others were moving towards the area at the same time. And unlike the protests in Jerusalem and Haifa, this time the police didn’t confiscate Palestinian flags.

The Kaplan organizers’ sudden rejection of the anti-occupation bloc is absurd. For more than 20 weeks, the bloc has stood at the intersection of Kaplan and Da Vinci and has grown steadily. Many others look on, intrigued, and a few others get angry; but only a tiny minority actually confronts them or acts violently. The Kaplan organizers have thus proven that they are less open and accepting than the regular protesters, many of whom come to the weekly protests draped in giant Israel flags.

But this rejection is not surprising. The speeches hosted at the Kaplan demonstrations are more conservative, militaristic, and nationalistic than those at any other protest in Israel. While in some other cities Palestinians are regular speakers and mention the words “occupation” and “Palestinian,” the Kaplan organizers have yet to orchestrate anything remotely similar. The next time they wonder “Why aren’t Arabs joining the protest?” they should remember that you can’t ask someone to participate in something that effectively erases their identity.

Once the protesters arrived at the designated spot by Kaplan and Da Vinci on Saturday, Shikma Bressler, an Israeli physicist and prominent social activist, could be heard over the loudspeakers. “Today marks 56 years…” she said, her voice instantly recognizable to everyone present. For a moment, there was hope among the bloc that she would mention the occupation. But Bressler’s speech moved in a different — and more predictable ­­— direction: “… since the liberation of the Western Wall. The soldiers who took part in it are this week protesting against its takeover by extremists.”

One issue preoccupied Saturday’s mainstream demonstration above all else: the night before, 17 of Israeli protesters were violently arrested and injured by police in Caesarea and Hadera while protesting outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s private home. The detainees were transferred to police stations in the Arab towns of Umm al-Fahem and Jisr az-Zarqa, in the hope that other protesters would not show up there in solidarity. Many protesters were shocked by the image of one of the people arrested, whose eyes were covered by a bandana, an image reminiscent of the way Israeli security forces treat Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

​Demonstration by the anti-occupation​ bloc of Israel's anti-government protests, marking 56 years since the start of the military occupation, on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, June 3, 2023. (Oren Ziv)

​Demonstration by the anti-occupation​ bloc of Israel’s anti-government protests, marking 56 years since the start of the military occupation, on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, June 3, 2023. (Oren Ziv)

Yehudah Pollak, who is part of a group of former Shin Bet employees opposed to the government’s judicial overhaul plans, was arrested in Hadera the night before the protest. He wrote about his experience under arrest: “Even though I didn’t resist, the officer was violent, and as I was getting arrested, they handcuffed me extremely tightly (maybe [the intellectual Yeshayahu] Leibowitz was right that in the end it [the occupation] will come back to haunt us).”

Like for many involved in the 2020-2021 Balfour protest movement against Netanyahu, this is the first time many Jewish Israelis are facing the brunt of their state’s police violence, which, until recently, was reserved for others — Ethiopians, Haredim, and most of all, Palestinians. Some of the protesters, including some teenagers, are finally making the connection between the political oppression they are facing with the silencing and violence imposed on Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line. Most Israelis, however, remain oblivious, and like the leaders of the protest movement, are still adamantly trying to maintain the artificial separation between “here” and “there.”

Oren Ziv


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Actions for May 15: Marking 75 years of Nakba

MPower Change

As salaamu alaykum —

On this Faith & Action Friday, my heart is heavy as we approach Nakba Day. 

The Nakba, or “catastrophe” in Arabic, is what Palestinians call the violent displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their land. May 15 marks 75 years of loss.

But the Nakba isn’t just a past tragedy. It’s happening now, as millions of Palestinians live under apartheid amid constant attacks on their freedom, safety, and dignity. This very week, over 20 Palestinians were killed by Israel’s bombing of Gaza.1

The Nakba continues.

We grieve the weight of 75 years of ongoing Nakba and will never give up on our quest for Palestinian freedom.

This year, as the UN commemorates Nakba Day for the first time,2 and new members of Congress join the call for the US to recognize it as well,3 we must all do our part to center Palestinian narratives and struggles. This week, we want to share five things with you:

Action #1: Protest and Take Action: #Nakba75

The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights have put together an extremely helpful page of #Nakba75 Take Action resources.

Attend a protest or event, including art exhibits and community gatherings organized by Palestinian-led groups — their page has actions you can take, resources, and even posters you can print to take to the streets. Find an action near you and RSVP at uscpr.org/nakba-75.

Action #2: Tell PayPal: Stop Punishing Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza

Part of the Nakba is the ongoing dehumanization of Palestinians living under occupation. One everyday example: PayPal openly discriminates against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Israelis living in illegal settlements have access to this global banking platform — but Palestinians do not. That’s why we’re so proud to share this: 

On May 24th, PayPal shareholders at their Annual General Meeting will be called to vote on a resolution to ensure Palestinians, so often shut out of basic banking tools under apartheid, will finally be granted access to PayPal.4

This is only possible because of your support of the MPower campaign and the work of our partners at Ekō and 7amleh. As we approach the big day, let’s remind PayPal that we’re watching. It’s past time that tech corporations like PayPal stop their collusion with Israel’s discrimination against Palestinians. Tell PayPal to stop discriminating against Palestinians.

Action #3: Demand No Tech for Apartheid 

This month also marks two years since Google and Amazon signed the $1.2 billion Project Nimbus contract with the Israeli government and military — a contract that helps power the ongoing Nakba.

Israel’s apartheid system began with the Nakba—it’s a root cause of the injustices Palestinians face today. By doing business with the Israeli government, Google and Amazon are enabling and powering the expansion and entrenchment of that same apartheid system and expanding illegal settlements that force Palestinians off their lands.

Tech workers, students, and community members have been organizing to demand Amazon and Google be on the right side of history and stop doing business with Israeli apartheid.

Amazon and Google’s shareholder meetings are taking place in just a few weeks, and it’s an immense opportunity to challenge them on the human rights violations in their contracts. Email Amazon CEO Andy Jassy and Google CEO Sundar Pichai to demand they cut the contract and stop powering the ongoing Nakba

Action #4: Learn about the Nakba by watching Farha on Netflix

Set in the early days of Israel’s occupation of Palestine, the film Farha depicts the upheaval of Palestinian society from a 14-year-old girl’s perspective — and the historical reality of the Nakba. Maybe that’s why “the film — and the attention it is now getting on a major platform like Netflix — has angered Israeli officials, who have denounced [it] and even threatened consequences for its airing.”5

You can read more about the impact Farha is having here — and watch the trailer here.

Action #5: One Important Read 

From renowned Palestinian-American historian Rashid Khalidi, an important read on just what Nakba Day means to so many people:

“Perhaps, 75 years after the Nakba, we are seeing the beginning of the end of pernicious illusions about Israel, and the beginning of an understanding of the cruel realities of Palestine in the US,…Maybe this understanding will one day help Palestinians and Israelis to find true peace, so that it will not take another 75 years before they can live with supremacy and absolute power for none, and equal rights and justice for all.”
“Israel Is Throwing a 75th Birthday Party. Palestinians Have Little to Celebrate,” Rashid Khalidi, The Nation, APRIL 26, 2023

“By the passage of time!
Surely humanity is in grave loss,
except those who have faith, do good, and urge each other to the truth, and urge each other to perseverance. Quran 103:1-3” 

Wishing you a restful, restorative, and meaningful weekend.
Linda and the MPower Change team

P.S. Want to support our work towards justice for all people and against white supremacy and Islamophobia? Sign up here to become a recurring MPower Change donor today.

1.”Israel’s Gaza offensive kills 21 Palestinians, prompting rocket fire at Tel Aviv,” Middle East Eye, May 10, 2023.
2. “Will a UN resolution to commemorate the expulsion of Palestinians from their lands change the narrative?” The Conversation, May 4, 2023.
3. “Rep. Rashida Tlaib Asks Congress to Condemn “Israel’s Ongoing Nakba” Against Palestine,” The Intercept, May 10, 2023.
4. “Provision of services in conflict zones at PayPal Holdings, Inc,” Principles for Responsible Investment.
5. “Netflix’s ‘Farha’ and the Palestinian Right to Process Pain Through Art,” The Intercept, Dec. 3, 2022.

Jewish doctor denied payment for refusing Israel pledge

Dr. Steve Feldman, pictured on a trip to the West Bank. Feldman was denied payment from the state of Arkansas for refusing to sign a pledge promising not to boycott Israel. (Courtesy of Steve Feldman)


Dr. Steve Feldman, a dermatologist, delivered a Zoom lecture to University of Arkansas at Little Rock medical students in February, for which he was entitled to a $500 honorarium from the state. But Feldman said that the state is withholding payment because he refused to sign a pledge, required for public contractors under Arkansas law since 2017, to commit to not boycotting Israel.

“They have a law in place that makes contracts with Arkansas dependent on your agreement not to boycott Israel, which I think is wrong,” Feldman, who is a professor at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “To me, growing up Jewish, the very strong lesson of the Holocaust that I learned is it’s wrong to mistreat other people.”

Arkansas is one of dozens of states that have passed laws aiming to combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel. The laws either bar the state from investing in companies that boycott Israel or, as in Arkansas’ case, mandate that state contractors promise not to boycott the country. Most of those laws have been struck down by courts, but Feldman’s lecture took place the same month the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to Arkansas’ law. His case is the latest example of how such laws are affecting what would otherwise be ordinary state business transactions.

Feldman has close relatives who live in Israel. But he said the pledge conflicted with his religious and moral views. In addition to his medical work, he is a pro-Palestinian activist who created the online-only Jewish Museum of the Palestinian Experience. The website says that the Jewish commitment to fighting injustice should lead Jews to stand up for Palestinian rights. Feldman said he does support boycotting Israel. 

“I think the only thing that will lead to Israel allowing Palestinian families to return to their homes, so that everybody can live together peacefully, will be some kind of boycott,” he said.

While the Arkansas law, passed in 2017, applies only to contractors earning more than $1,000 from the state, Feldman said he was still refused his $500 payment. The justification, he said, was that being added to the state’s vendor system would make him eligible for future assignments that could add up to more than $1,000.

Feldman told JTA he is exploring his legal options and wouldn’t rule out a lawsuit against the state as a means of advocating for Palestinian rights and challenging last year’s federal Eighth Circuit Court ruling that the law was constitutionally protected. “I would love to sue and have the Circuit Court either retract what they said, or go to the Supreme Court in order for people to see things that they didn’t know,” he said.

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin, a Republican, has said the law combats discrimination on the basis of nationality. Following the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case, he told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that he works to “ensure that taxpayers aren’t required to pay for anti-Israel and anti-Israeli discrimination.”

Feldman’s story was first reported by the Arkansas Times, a publication that has itself become entangled in the state’s anti-boycott law. The paper’s publisher, Alan Leveritt, challenged the law in court after he was asked to sign the anti-boycott pledge so that the paper could run advertising from a state university. The suit, which is the one that reached the Supreme Court, argued that the law was a violation of the publication’s First Amendment rights and attracted support from progressive Jewish groups, as well as opposition from some pro-Israel groups. Leveritt argued that he doesn’t have strong feelings about Israel boycotts but that his paper does not take political positions in exchange for advertising. 

Since the inception of state-level laws prohibiting Israel boycotts, some state lawmakers have used them as a template for legislation barring other types of divestment campaigns, such as those targeting fossil fuels or the firearms industry. 

Feldman mused that he could have signed the pledge, taken the money and then engaged in an Israel boycott to see how the state would react, but concluded, “I can’t lie on a form. That also goes against my Jewish moral character.”

Khader Adnan’s Death

A Wake-Up Call for the World’s Conscience

May 2, 2023

This morning, Palestinian leader Khader Adnan died in an Israeli dungeon after 86 days of hunger strike, protesting his unjust detention by the Israeli government without charge or trial. He left behind a wife and nine children. A medic from Physicians for Human Rights Israel had warned Israeli authorities that Adnan was facing “imminent death,” but that did not dissuade the Israeli government from keeping him in shackles and denying his freedom.

Adnan is a renowned symbol of the Palestinian prisoners’ struggle for freedom, having been arrested 12 times and spending nearly eight years in Israeli prisons, mostly in “administrative detention,” an obscene Israeli practice of holding Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial. Currently, more than 1000 Palestinians are held in Israeli prisons under this practice.

Israel’s regime of mass arrests and imprisonment of Palestinians is a systematic effort to entrench its illegal occupation and apartheid over Palestinian life. This regime doesn’t even spare children, who are systematically abused and brutalized in Israeli military detention. Israel is the only country that processes children through a military court system, where thousands of Palestinian children have experienced this abuse. Some, like Adnan, would rather find freedom in death than be imprisoned in life by the shackles of Israel’s brutal occupation.

Adnan has died, but his life of resistance will not be forgotten. His death should serve as a wake-up call for those that remain silent as  Israel destroys Palestinian lives and continues denying them freedom as they have for decades, not just in the dungeons of indefinite detention but in the far bigger prison of military occupation and apartheid. On April 25th, President Biden said in a statement celebrating 75 years of the apartheid state, “As a life-long friend and supporter of the State of Israel, I have worked my entire career to deepen and strengthen our partnership.” This partnership has done nothing but enable a full-fledged ethnic cleansing campaign against the Palestinian people. It is well past time for the world, and the U.S. government in particular as the biggest supporter of Israel’s apartheid government, to raise its voice and demand an end to Israel’s ongoing crimes against Palestinians via viable action and accountability.

We at AMP will continue to fight for a fundamental change in U.S. policy toward Palestine and Israel. We do so in solidarity with all the Palestinian prisoners held in the occupation’s prisons, and we will continue this fight until every last Palestinian is free.