#SaveSheikhJarrah

Middle East Eye, May 2, 2021

‘If I don’t steal it, someone else is going to steal it.’

An Israeli settler’s attempt to justify a forcible takeover of a Palestinian home in Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem has sparked anger online after it was caught on camera.

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American Muslims for Palestine — Milwaukee Rally

American Muslims for Palestine — Milwaukee Rally to Defend Jerusalem and Palestine, May 12, 2021

“Over 1,000 people showed up for Wednesday’s AMP-Milwaukee Rally. Milwaukeeans sent a loud message they will not stand for the continued violent occupation of Palestinian lands by Israeli forces.”

All photos: Joe Brusky. More information: AMP-Milwaukee


Emergency Aid Appeal


First of all, thanks to those who turned out for yesterday’s banner drop and today’s demonstration at the Capitol covered by Channel 27 News. Demonstrations were held all over the world yesterday and today, even in France where they were prohibited by the Macron government at the last minute.

As I write this, live media coverage out of Gaza by Arabic channels is showing the constant bombardment of Gaza that takes place every night. As you may have heard, Israel destroyed yet another high rise building in Gaza, this time the one that also houses many press agencies including AP. Here is a video of the building owner pleading for just 10 extra minutes.

This was preceded by the destruction of 17 media offices and the wounding of 3 journalists in Gaza. Clearly Israel does not want anyone to know what is really going on.

Israel also destroyed a house in Shati (Beach) Camp and killed 10 members of one family.

And there were many injuries as Palestinians protested across the West Bank. Yesterday, 11 were killed by Israel.

The U.S. media is barely reporting and certainly not showing the extent of the damage and casualties. If you want know the reality including pictures please go to Al Jazeera English and Middle East Eye.

Also, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza issues daily reports documenting in excruciating detail the damage, deaths and injuries, including what is happening in the West Bank and to Israel’s Palestinian population.

And for direct, personal experiences and perspectives on life in Gaza be sure to regularly check out We Are Not Numbers.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Emergency Relief: At this time the Middle East Children’s Alliance recommends donations to the Paliroots Food Project.

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Update: May 15, 2021
Palestine Can’t Breathe Demonstration

And a Facebook video

Reshaping Madison Together

Occupation is a CRIME!

Right now, near the 73rd anniversary of the Nakba and during Ramadan (Muslims’ most sacred time of the year), the Palestinian village of Sheikh Jarrah is being forcefully “evicted” by Israel as settlers try to STEAL the Palestinian homes. The government-sanctioned theft-in-progress sparked a Palestinian uprising against their brutal oppressors. Since then, at least an estimated 70 Palestinians, including dozens of children, have been murdered by Israel’s death squad, otherwise known as the IDF.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Our struggles are all connected and none of us are truly liberated until the oppressed are liberated worldwide.

We can’t breathe in part because Palestine can’t breathe. Did you know that American police are trained to use the very same disgusting, inhumane tactics that IDF (Israeli soldiers) uses to terrorize Palestinians on a daily basis? Police brutality in America is directly linked to our government’s unwavering military, financial, and political support of Israel’s fascist regime — and we can stand for it no longer.

Join us as we stand with our comrades in Palestine fighting for their right simply to exist and to live free from Israeli tyranny. Bring your Palestinian flags, signs, and banners. Don’t forget to wear your keffiyahs!

#SaveSheikhJarrah
#FreePalestine
#EndTheOccupation
#Nakba73

Hosted by Reshaping Madison Together

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 14, 2021
A Public Affair on WORT

On A Public Affair Friday, May 14 at 12:30 pm, Esty Dinur will be speaking with Mazin Qumsiyeh about conditions in Palestine and Israel.

Qumsiyeh is a Professor and Director of the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity & Sustainability and the Palestine Museum of Natural History at Bethlehem University. He previously served on the faculties of the University of Tennessee, Duke, and Yale Universities. He and his wife returned to Palestine in 2008.

May 14, 2021
Madison-Rafah Banner Drop

In support of Palestinians under attack from the Israeli military and right-wing Jewish extremists. There are now more than 100 dead and 600 injured in Gaza. See In Pictures: Ruins and devastation as Israeli attacks pummel Gaza, Al Jazeera, 13 May 2021.

Campus Drive Pedestrian Overpass
(Parking Lot 41 at University & N. Prospect Ave.)
Friday, May 14
3:30 pm to 5:30 pm

You are invited to join the MRSCP Overpass Brigade.


A Nightmare of Terror Across the Landscape of Palestine

As Israeli lynch mobs roam the streets attacking Palestinians, and as Israeli war planes drop bombs on Gaza, it’s essential to understand how we arrived at this moment.


Israeli forces respond to a Palestinian man protesting in Jerusalem by placing him in a choke hold. (Photo by Menahem Kahana / AFP via Getty Images)

Yousef Munayyer, The Nation, 5/13/21

I have been trying to think of a moment since 1948 when so broad a range of Palestinians have been exposed to as great a level of Israeli violence as they have been these last few days—and I don’t think I can.

In towns throughout Israel, Palestinians have been beaten and terrorized by rampaging mobs; one man was dragged from his car and brutalized in what many are describing as a lynching. In the West Bank, Palestinians have been shot and killed in raids by the Israeli military. In Jerusalem, Palestinian families, facing the ongoing threat of expulsion, have been harassed by settlers and military alike. And across Gaza, Israeli war planes have dropped bomb after bomb, destroying entire apartment buildings. Many have died, many more have been injured. If they manage to survive, they will witness their society shattered when the smoke clears.

The origins of this moment are as obvious as they are painful, but they bear explaining and re-explaining for a world that too often fails—in fact, refuses—to see the true terms of Palestinian suffering.

To understand how we’ve arrived at this moment, it is essential to start with the story of Sheikh Jarrah. That small Jerusalem enclave, from which several Palestinian families have been under threat of expulsion, is perhaps, the most immediate proximate cause of this latest crisis. It is also just the latest targeted dispossession of Palestinians by Israel, which has been part of a more than 70–year process.

Since occupying the West Bank in 1967, the Israeli government has pursued various policies aimed at demographically engineering the city of Jerusalem—again, all with an eye toward ensuring its perpetual dominance over the city. Among such policies are the building of illegal settlements around the city to cut it off from the rest of the Palestinian population in the West Bank; the restriction of movement to deny Palestinians access to and within the municipality itself; the revocation of Palestinian residency status, which is tantamount to expulsion; and the demolition of Palestinian homes. The Israelis also expel Palestinians from their homes, as we are witnessing in Sheikh Jarrah, so that they can be handed to Israeli settlers.

Such policies have created a uniquely potent set of threats, humiliations, and injustices targeting Palestinians in Jerusalem. Yet what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah is not just about Jerusalem but is also reflective of the entire Palestinian experience. Since the start of Zionist settler colonialism in Palestine, the aim has been to slowly and steadily expand control over the territory, pushing the indigenous population out in a continual process of replacement. The single biggest episode of this was the Nakba of 1948, during which Jewish militias and then the state of Israel depopulated hundreds of towns and villages, made nearly two-thirds of the Palestinian Arab population refugees, and subsequently denied their return, first by military force and then by force of law. But the process did not stop there. In the decades since, the settler colonial process has moved forward in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza through the building of settlements, land theft, and brute military force.

All of this would be tinder enough for this moment, but it also happens to be taking place in a broader immediate context, one in which the vise grip of accelerating right-wing, theocratic nationalism is tightening across Israel. Recent Israeli elections brought outright Kahanists – Jewish theocratic extremists who seek to deny any rights to Palestinians and embrace ethnic cleansing—into the parliament in their most significant numbers ever. Right-wing ideologues have long dominated the Knesset, but as Israeli politics shifts ever right-ward, enabled by internationally ensured impunity, there is now increasing political space for the most open and direct racism we have seen. (It should therefore come as no surprise that it has burst out into the streets in the shape of lynch mobs.)

These new depths of depravity have coincided with the possibility that the Likud party, whose leader Benjamin Netanyahu has dominated Israeli politics longer than any other, risks losing power. This is not due to a challenge by those to his left, but those to his right who seek to replace him.

What makes the threat to Netanyahu’s grip on power particularly dangerous is that he is perhaps the most seasoned Israeli politician when it comes to riling up violence by his followers in moments of political turmoil. It is a tactic he has often deployed, perhaps most famously just before of the assassination of his political rival Yitzhak Rabin by a right-wing Israeli in 1995. Since the election in March, these violent extremists have escalated their attacks on Palestinians throughout the West Bank and have rampaged in Jerusalem, shouting “Death to Arabs” as they marched through the Old City. These attacks, fully tolerated if not outright supported by the state, further escalated during the holy month of Ramadan, culminating first with efforts by the Israeli government to shut down the Damascus Gate and then, ultimately, with the brutal raids we have seen this week by the Israeli military inside Al-Aqsa mosque.

Once again, these events, on their own, would have been enough to bring the region to this volatile and fast-shifting moment. Yet there have also been other events, and other shifts—most notably, perhaps, the rupture of an experiment in the politics of Palestinian citizens of Israel. The Joint List, which brought together several smaller parties, once reached 15 seats in the Israeli Knesset, but it broke apart this time as some parties indicated a willingness to back a Netanyahu government for the right price. The failure of this experiment was the failure of the very idea that Palestinian citizens of Israel could have their grievances addressed by participating in the Israeli government. As even these limited mechanisms of representation faltered, people were primed to take to the streets. Just as the election was taking place, thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel rallied in the city of Umm al-Fahem, carrying Palestinian flags, and singing of their beloved homeland, foreshadowing many of the events in recent days.

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Update: May 10, 2021
Banner Drop for Sheikh Jarrah

Note: The start time has changed to 3:30 pm.

In light of the recent events in Jerusalem and the escalating fight to stop the forced expulsions of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, MRSCP will be holding a banner drop tomorrow, Monday May 10, beginning at 3:30 on the Campus Drive pedestrian overpass. We plan to be finished no later than 5:30 pm.

We have a minimum number of volunteers, but could use more so if you would like to join us, we invite you to do so for any amount of that time.

Parking is available in UW Lot 41, north off of old University Avenue, with the entrance near 1800 University Ave. between the Enzyme Institute and the UW Foundation Buildings.

We will have large banners and flags, and will take pictures to be posted and circulated online afterwards. If you come, dress warmly as it is expected to be cool (in the 50s) and probably windy on the overpass.

Tomorrow the UN Security Council is meeting in closed session to discuss Sheikh Jarrah. There have been many demonstrations around the world in the past couple of days, and there have even been a few items in the US mainstream news. The Israeli court decision about the Sheikh Jarrah evictions scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed. Meanwhile, extremist Israelis are planning a provocative anti-Arab march that will bring them into Palestinian areas tomorrow.

If you are looking for good background on Sheikh Jarrah and Jerusalem including periodic live broadcasts, we suggest visiting Middle East Eye.

Finally, you can also take these two actions:

  1. Thank Rep. Mark Pocan for being among those who have spoken out on Sheikh Jarrah.
  2. Sign the Save Sheikh Jarrah Petition.

As always, thanks for your support.

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