Below, please find the Palestine update prepared by Howie and presented at our August, 2016 chapter meeting:
Over 400 Palestinians have been arrested in the past year alone for posting on social media, and other artists and cultural workers have been targeted too. A clown who teaches children with learning disabilities has been imprisoned without charge for over 6 months. In October of last year, Dareen Tatour, a Palestinian poet, was arrested, imprisoned, and then placed under house arrest. Why? For posting a poem called “Resist, my people, resist them” on YouTube. She’s facing trial, and potentially a long prison term — for writing and sharing a poem. Over 7,000 Jews and allies signed the JVP petition, calling for Dareen to be released. Among those 7,000 people are Dave Eggers, Naomi Klein, Claudia Rankine, and Alice Walker. Not long after JVP released the letter, Dareen won the right to return to her village of Reineh. But Dareen remains under extremely strict house arrest — imprisoned and on trial — for her poetry.
3,000 families in Gaza are still displaced two years after Israel’s 2014 assault. See http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-gaza-reconstruction-adv-snap-story.html.
Palestinians in Area C — part of the West Bank that is fully controlled by the Israeli government–are more vulnerable now than ever before.
Israel’s army has demolished more Palestinian structures in Area C in the first half of 2016 than in any single year in the last decade, with the exception of 2013.
A total of 168 buildings were demolished in the first six months of this year, making 740 people homeless. Several structures, including some donated by the EU, were demolished by Israel on August 9 in the village of Umm al Kheir in the South Hebron hills. A local settler leader told Haaretz: “I hope this is the beginning of a new trend.” This month France condemned Israel’s demolition of buildings in Nabi Samuel village funded by French humanitarian aid. Israel has destroyed or confiscated French-funded structures, including a school, three times in the village so far this year. In the past, these large stickers bearing the EU logo offered a modicum of protection from demolitions. But this year, Israeli bulldozers demolished at least 150 European-funded structures in the West Bank in the first three months of 2016. See also http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/08/oslo-accords-area-c-annexation-economic-development-settlers.html.
Susiya is in Area C. Susiya leaders submitted a professionally developed master plan to the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) but it was rejected with a response that captures Israel’s approach to all Palestinians: “the villagers would be better off living somewhere else.”
Israeli officials have admitted that pressure from settlers sped up the demolition orders, in order to get around Susiya’s upcoming day in court, scheduled for August 3rd. Now Israeli officials are saying they plan to demolish the village soon after Ramadan ends tonight.
Israel’s high court placed the fate of the Palestinian village Susiya and its 340 residents in the hands of defense minister Avigdor Lieberman on, leaving it to him to decide whether the army will demolish nearly half its structures, mostly ramshackle dwellings.
On August 12, the court punted a petition the village had submitted with Rabbis for Human Rights requesting that it compel Israel’s occupation administration to recognize the legality of structures that Palestinians had built without permits from the army.
US consulate officials visited the village of Susiya this week. Elizabeth Trudeau, the State Department deputy spokeswoman told reporters during a August 10 press briefing: “If the Israeli government proceeds with demolitions in Susiya, it would be very troubling and have a very damaging impact on lives of the Palestinians living there, who have already been displaced on other occasions.” See https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/susiya-village-brink-destruction-israel and http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Jewish-activists-lead-global-protest-in-Palestinian-village-of-Sussiya-464056.
New financial regulations will make it more difficult for Palestinians who work in Israel to sue Israeli employers for labor violations. The regulations will require anyone who is not an Israeli citizen or who does not have assets in Israel to submit a financial guarantee to the court, which will be forfeited if the court rules against the complaint. See http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.732153.
The Knesset passed a highly controversial law on July 20 that would allow it to suspend or oust sitting members of parliament who have been of accused of racial incitement or of supporting armed struggle against Israel. A member of the Joint List called the law “apartheid legislation” and other members of the party said they would appeal it before the Supreme Court. The law is widely perceived to be targeting Arab lawmakers, and Hanin Zoabi in particular. The spokesperson for the Joint List said that, “Inside Knesset sometimes people call it the ‘Hanin law.’” See http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/20/world/middleeast/israel-knesset-zoabi-ngos-parliament-ouster-arab-palestinian.html?_r=0.
The hidden history of the Israeli state disappearing & relocating hundreds of children of Yemenite families is now in the news. See http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/08/shocking-story-israel-disappeared-babies-160803081117881.html . Haaretz published an exclusive about dozens of Ashkenazi children of Holocaust survivors who were similarly disappeared. See http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.736574 .
Defense minister Lieberman was forced to retract the comparison he made August 5 between U.S. President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s Munich Agreement with Adolf Hitler in 1938, because it threatened the military aid negotiations. See http://forward.com/opinion/347134/avigdor-lieberman-is-sorry-not-sorry-for-comparing-iran-deal-to-hitler-deal/.
BDS & ‘Anti-Semitism’
Canada’s Green Party has adopted BDS into its platform, despite objections from the party’s leader and only parliament member.
US Green Party nominee has already endorsed BDS. See http://mondoweiss.net/2016/06/candidate-president-endorses/ and http://mondoweiss.net/2016/08/stein-defends-hall/ .
The Movement for Black Lives Matter (MBLM) position paper supports BDS. See http://imemc.org/article/black-lives-matter-endorses-bds-israel-is-an-apartheid-state/ . MBLM condemns Israel as an apartheid state that subjects Palestinians to an ongoing act of genocide.
Rachel Gilmer, a 28-year-old African American who was raised Jewish (born to an African-American father and a white Jewish mother), participated as a teen in Young Judaea, the Zionist youth group.), has long been involved in black-Palestinian solidarity work. Gilmer is associated with the activist group Dream Defenders. See http://forward.com/news/347142/how-did-genocide-charge-against-israel-end-up-in-black-lives-matter-groups/?utm_content=daily_Newsletter_MainList_Title_Position-1&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=New%20Daily%202016-08-11&utm_term=The%20Forward%20Today%20Monday-Friday.
The JVP-affiliated Jews of Color Caucus wrote, “We are appalled at the actions of the white US institutional Jewish community in detracting and distracting from such a vital platform at a time when Black lives are on the line.” The caucus then listed a series of demands directed at the American Jewish community, such as cutting off support to police exchange programs between Israel and the U.S. and for a broad retraction of statements by Jewish groups that have come out against the M4BL.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America approved a resolution calling on the U.S. government to end all aid to Israel if Israel does not stop building settlements and “enable an independent Palestinian state.” Voting at its triennial assembly in New Orleans that ended Saturday, August 13; the church also adopted a human rights-based investment screen for its social responsibility funds to ensure the church is not profiting from human rights abuses, and mentioned the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by name. It also called for the church to “increase positive investment in Palestine.” and called on the president of the United States to recognize the State of Palestine. See http://www.jta.org/2016/08/14/news-opinion/united-states/evangelical-lutheran-church-in-america-stop-us-aid-to-israel-if-settlements-allowed-to-stay.
World Jewish Congress condemns BDS as anti-Semitism. See http://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/news/world-jewish-congress-assembly-condemns-bds-movement-as-a-manifestation-of-anti-semitism-3-3-2016.
False claim that NYU SJP targeted Jewish students with “eviction” notices (Forward story by Laura Adkins) ;(also Connecticut College); collecting data on where Jews live. http://mondoweiss.net/2016/08/forward-anti-semitism-hoax/.
Clinton and her representatives in the Democratic platform committee defeated a measure calling for an end of Israel’s occupation and illegal settlements. Indeed, the platform pegs challenges to the occupation and settlements by the United Nations and others as efforts to “delegitimize Israel.” This is particularly problematic language since, under Clinton’s leadership, the State Department formally listed efforts to “delegitimize” Israel as part of its definition of anti-Semitism. And rather than saying Israel should have a strong enough military to defend itself from potential adversaries, it instead insists that Israel be provided a “qualitatively military edge.”
And even though the Obama administration—like all previous administrations—refuses to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved, the platform states that Jerusalem “should remain the capital of Israel.” It says nothing about Palestinian aspirations that it serve as the capital of their country as well.
In addition, stating that Jerusalem remain “accessible to people of all faiths” ignores the fact that Israeli occupation authorities have made it is extremely difficult for Muslim and Christian Palestinians in the West Bank to have access to the holy sites in the Old City and impossible for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
The platform praises Israel’s supposed “democracy, equality, tolerance, and pluralism”—which would be news for the country’s Palestinian minority and those Palestinians living under direct military occupation or in forced exile. It calls on the Palestinians to negotiate an agreement that “guarantees Israel’s future” as a “Jewish state,” making it the world’s first peace treaty in which one party is obliged to recognize another country’s ethnic or religious identity over that of others.
Whatever the problems with the Democrat’s foreign policy planks, the Republican platform is far worse. To give but a few examples: the Republicans call for dramatic increases in the already-bloated military budget; insist on abrogating the Iran nuclear deal; make no mention of Palestinian rights; and declare “We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier.”