This Must End

A Letter from Gaza as Israel’s bombs fall


Gaza, 2018 Photo: AFSC

Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei, American Friends Service Committee, May 13, 2021

I am writing this letter looking at my terrified 6-year old son, who keeps putting his hands over his ears trying block the sounds of Israel’s bombardment, my two daughters, aged 13 and 10, and my wife. These faces show the anxiety of not knowing where they can be safe now. My two older sons, 16 and 15, sit stunned and silent and I know they are reliving the memories of the previous three offensives on Gaza Strip and the family members we lost. These are the feelings that every family in the Gaza strip are living through.

We Palestinians have lived decades of humiliation, injustices, and maltreatment. In 1948, we were expelled from our land; over 600 villages were fully destroyed; hundreds of thousands of us were killed or uprooted. Nearly eight hundred thousand ended up living as refugees in different places around the globe.

This happened under the eyes of the International Community, who have promised us, a sovereign State over about one fifth of our original homeland. That decision was only accepted in the 1990s by Palestinians believing in a two-state solution. 

Twenty-six years later, we look at the conditions in the promised State of Palestine and we see a West Bank divided and occupied by hundreds of thousands of settlers living in settlements built on the rubble of Palestinian homes, and who are making the lives of the Palestinian people living hell.

Protest in support of Palestine, Chicago, May 2021Protest in support of Palestine, Chicago, May 2021

We see the Gaza Strip under blockade for more than 14 years, leaving us deprived of basic living conditions. Not only that, but having suffered three large offensives in this small area which killed, destroyed and traumatized thousands of our people.

And we see East Jerusalem, with its holiest sites for Muslims and Christians alike continuing to be under constant threat as settlers take over Palestinian homes and neighborhoods.

A week ago, Israeli settlers started to attack Sheikh Jarrah trying to seize more homes of Palestinian families. Everyone saw it. No one intervened.

In one of the holiest Ramadan evenings, Israel decided to evict tens of thousands of worshipers who were just praying at Al-Aqsa. These were mostly Palestinians who live in Palestine ‘48 – now Israel. Everyone saw the brutal use of military power by Israel. No one intervened.

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Barbara Olson and Tsela Barr: Let’s stop funding Israel’s campaign of oppression


Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Thursday, May 13, 2021. Weary Palestinians are somberly marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as Hamas and Israel traded more rockets and airstrikes and Jewish-Arab violence raged across Israel. (AP Photo – Adel Hana)

TSELA BARR AND BARB OLSON, The Cap Times, May 15, 2021

For the past few weeks, Israel has intensified a provocative campaign of oppression and ethnic cleansing against Palestinians, focused largely but not exclusively on occupied East Jerusalem.

You can be forgiven if you are unfamiliar with the details, since most of the mainstream U.S. media has studiously ignored them.

Among the major provocations were: looming theft of more homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem long targeted by Jewish settlers for “demographic change;” bulldozing homes in adjoining Silwan; protecting a mob of far right Jews as they walked through East Jerusalem chanting “Death to Arabs”; and repeatedly, violently and for no good reason driving Palestinians out of public areas surrounding the Al Aqsa mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, several times even invading and damaging the mosque itself while beating and gassing those inside.

Things got so bad that the Palestinian citizens of Israel marched in the thousands past roadblocks into Jerusalem and rallied in their towns and villages, even launching running urban revolts that very much resemble anti-police violence protests here at home.

Eventually, the Israelis got the response that they foresaw and many probably wanted: rockets fired from Gaza. Now they can unleash their vastly superior, U.S. funded and supported military upon the citizens of Gaza, inflicting damage and casualties in the hugely disproportionate ratio that they are accustomed to. This practice of assaulting the Gaza inmates in their open-air, blockaded prison every few years is publicly referred to in Israel as “mowing the grass.”

As soon as the first rocket left Gaza, the mainstream press suddenly discovered that “tensions are increasing” and that the “conflict,” which by the way was just labeled by Human Rights Watch as an apartheid system, calls for “restraint on both sides.”

And then came the predictable pronouncements from the pundits and politicians of all stripes that Israel has “the right to defend itself.”

Do the Palestinians have a right to defend themselves? Do they have the right to declare, like Black Lives Matter protesters and all human beings the world over, that they have a right to freedom and dignity? That with no justice, there is no peace?

Underwriting this injustice is massive U.S. aid to Israel, currently $3.8 billion annually, which doesn’t include, for example, private tax exempt donations to Israeli “charities” that are funding and driving the expropriations from Palestinians like the residents of Sheikh Jarrah.

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May 19, 2021
Webinar with Richard Forer on Israel/Palestine


7 pm Central

Richard Forer will discuss his unique understanding of the hidden factors at the heart of the Israel-Palestine tragedy, especially the factors that lead people who ordinarily believe in decency and justice to support indecency and injustice. For readers who’d like to learn about these factors beforehand, Wake Up and Reclaim Your Humanity is available from Amazon and others.

Sponsored by Pilgrims of Ibillin. More information and registration.

Born Unequal Abroad

Understand how two people are treated differently by the Israeli government based solely on their identity. This is one visual in a four-part series Visualizing Palestine created in partnership with Human Rights Watch to communicate the report “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution.”

Visualizing Palestine

Source: Human Rights Watch (2021). A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution.

May 16-20, 2021
Virtual Delegation to Lifta: Commemorate the Nakba

With your guide Umar al-Ghubari

Eyewitness Palestine

To commemorate Nakba Day this year, we will be traveling virtually to Lifta to discuss the wider historical context of the Nakba. The story of Lifta is one example of about 600 Palestinian localities that were captured, and their indigenous residents expelled, during the Nakba (the Catastrophe) in 1948. Lifta was one of the biggest villages in al-Quds (Jerusalem) district until its occupation in 1948. All of its 3000 residents were forcibly displaced and, even until today, their ability to return to their houses and lands to live has been prevented by Israel. In this Virtual Delegation we will learn about the the life in Lifta before 1948, its occupation during 1948 and Israel’s restrictive policies afterward. We will start by the Palestinian school, which was “converted” to a Jewish orthodox one, and then walk among the ruins in the center of the village around the famous water spring of Lifta.

Umar al-Ghubari is a Palestinian group facilitator, a political educator and lecturer on Palestinian history, identity, the Nakba and return. He coordinates and guides “Nakba & Return Tours” at various destroyed Palestinian localities inside Israel and produce booklets on their history and current situation.

Umar works with Zochrot, an NGO based in Tel Aviv that formed in 2002 to promote acknowledgement and accountability for the ongoing injustices of the Nakba and the reconceptualization of the Return as the imperative redress of the Nakba.

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May 11, 2021
Virtual Delegation to Mesarvot: Israeli Military Refusers

With your guide Yuval Gal Cohen and our co-sponsors: Refuser Solidarity Network and OBJECTOR Impact Project

Eyewitness Palestine

Mesarvot is a network of Israeli activists that supports conscientious objectors in their refusal to become soldiers and take part in the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people. Our goal is to promote a platform for political discussions about Israeli society in general and the military occupation in particular, while providing young refusers with legal, media and personal support. Join us to hear about our activities and our struggle for a just society for everyone between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

On our tour you will get to know some of the strong young leaders in the movement and hear them tell their story. You will hang out with the Shministim, a group of high school students who declare out loud their intention to refuse military service. The tour will also accompany refusers on their enlistment day and join a support protest by the network – standing strong against backlash from Israeli public – and much more!

Yuval Gal Cohen is 25 and refused to join the Israeli military in 2014 but didn’t serve time in Military prison. She has been a part of Mesarvot more or less since the beginning. Yuval is a human rights and climate justice activist in different movements, a singer and an artist.

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National Lawyers Guild Urges Biden to Align US Israel-Palestine Policy With International Law

“The United States cannot turn its back on the atrocities, including war crimes, enabled by U.S. policies, particularly its decades long policy of shielding Israel from accountability.”

“It has long been obvious to anyone paying attention that U.S. policy on Palestine and Israel does not match its rhetoric nor the ideals that it claims to stand for—freedom, human rights, and democracy.”

Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams, May 03, 2021


An Israeli soldier points a rifle at a Palestinian man protesting then-President Donald Trump's so-called Middle East peace plan in the illegally occupied West Bank city of Hebron on February 28, 2020. (Photo: Hazem Bader/AFP via Getty Images)

Less than a week after Human Rights Watch published a scathing report accusing the Israeli government of the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution for its treatment of Palestinians, a leading U.S. legal advocacy group on Monday submitted a memorandum to the Biden administration outlining the legal basis for reversing Trump-era pro-Israel policies that violate human rights and international law. 

The memo (pdf), authored by the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) International Committee’s Palestine Subcommittee, notes that after four years of “bullish and detrimental” U.S. policy on Palestine and Israel under the Trump administration, “the health, human rights, and humanitarian situation for Palestinians—both in Palestine and in the refugee camps of surrounding countries—is dire.”

“From withdrawing vital funding from humanitarian organizations that provide basic needs to Palestinian refugees and moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, to targeting human rights advocates in the United States, the Trump administration enacted a number of policies that have harmed both Palestinians and U.S. citizens, and continue to do so today,” the memo states.

“Further, in enacting the aforementioned policies, the Trump administration ignored many of the international commitments that the United States is charged to abide by, including core principles of international law,” it continues. “The Biden administration must not only correct course; it needs to go beyond Obama-era policies to affirm and demonstrate its commitment to civil and human rights and international law, both at home and abroad.”

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Human Rights Watch Documents Israeli Apartheid

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), April 27, 2021

For the past week, the world watched as Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians living in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Over 1500 Palestinians, mostly children, are facing threats of forced displacement and home demolitions by Israeli authorities. For nearly 75 years, this has been the devastating reality for many Palestinians – exile, intimidation, occupation, and apartheid. The human rights abuses that Palestinians have faced at the hands of Israel are finally attracting more attention. While. the United Nations has repeatedly pointed out violations of international law by Israel, While the United Nations has repeatedly pointed out violations of international law by Israel, the international consensus has always been to ignore the violations– but the world can no longer ignore what is happening.

Yesterday, in a historic move, Human Rights Watch came out with a 213-page report that documents the human rights abuses Israel inflicts on Palestinians and recognizes their actions as crimes of apartheid. While Palestinians and many others who support them have known this for years, this is a bold move that pushes the plight of the Palestinian people into the spotlight with the hope that Israel will be held accountable for these crimes.

The report states: “Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians. Laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy. In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain areas, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”

Palestinians have suffered under occupation and crimes of apartheid for over half a century. Recognizing the human rights abuses inflicted by Israel such as checkpoints; annexation; lack of medical care, access to clean water; and the deliberate, imposing apartheid wall, is essential in the pursuit for justice.

In recent months, mounting pressure from the American people and international community has pushed US lawmakers into action. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) recently introduced H.R.2590, the Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act. This historic bill would hold Israel accountable for its human rights abuses of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation and withhold sending our tax dollars to fund these atrocities. Over a dozen members of Congress co-sponsored this resolution, and ADC- along with dozens of Palestinian and human rights organizations – is proud to have signed on as an endorsing organization.

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