Monday, January 30, 2012

Call for World Social Forum Free Palestine, Nov. 2012 in Brazil

Last week, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) issued an international call for the World Social Forum Free Palestine, scheduled to take place in November 2012 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. In an email message to solidarity groups publicizing the call, the BNC wrote:

This is a unique opportunity, challenge and responsibility for all of us. This potentially game changing forum will bring together the entirety of the international solidarity movement and allow us to show our strength, celebrate our successes and plan for more. We're very excited about the opportunities it presents for the solidarity movement in general and for the BDS movement in particular.

The BNC's call can be read in full below. Please share widely!!!

Call for the World Social Forum Free Palestine, Nov. 2012 in Brazil

Posted on January 19, 2012 by StopTheWall Campaign

Occupied Palestine is part of every free heartbeat in this world and her cause continues to inspire solidarity across the globe.  The World Social Forum Free Palestine is an expression of the human instinct to unite for justice and freedom and an echo of the World Social Forum’s opposition to neo-liberal hegemony, colonialism, and racism through struggles for social, political and economic alternatives to promote justice, equality, and the sovereignty of peoples.
The WSF Free Palestine will be a global encounter of broad-based popular and civil society mobilizations from around the world. It aims to:
1. Show the strength of solidarity with the calls of the Palestinian people and the diversity of initiatives and actions aimed at promoting justice and peace in the region.
2. Create effective actions to ensure Palestinian self-determination, the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and the fulfillment of human rights and international law, by:
a)      Ending Israeli occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
b)     Ensuring the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
c)      Implementing, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
3. Be a space for discussion, exchange of ideas, strategizing, and planning in order to improve the structure of solidarity.
Exactly sixty-five years after Brazil presided over the UN General Assembly session that agreed upon the partition of Palestine, Brazil will host a different type of global forum: an historic opportunity for people from all over the world to stand up where governments have failed. The world’s people will come together to discuss new visions and effective actions to contribute to justice and peace in the region.
We call on all organizations, movements, networks, and unions across the globe to join the WSF Free Palestine in November 2012 in Porto Alegre. We ask you to join the International Committee for the WSF Free Palestine, we will establish as soon as possible. Participation in this forum will structurally strengthen solidarity with Palestine, promote action to implement Palestinian’s legitimate rights, and hold Israel and its allies accountable to international law.
Together we can raise global solidarity with Palestine to a new level.
Palestinian Preparatory Committee for the WSF Free Palestine 2012
Secretariat members:
· PNGO - Palestinian NGO Network
· Stop the Wall - Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign,
· OPGAI - Occupied Palestinian Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative
· Alternatives represented by:
     Alternative Information Center,
     Teacher Creativity Center
· Ittijah
· General Union of Palestinian women
Coordination office:
PNGO - Palestinian NGO Network
Tel: +970 2 2975320/1
Fax: +970 2 2950704
E mail:


Take Action: Pro-BDS Op-Ed Needs Letters to Editor

US Campaign member group WRITE! for Justice, Human Rights, and International Law in Palestine issued the following action alert yesterday. Please respond by writing a letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer in support of Ali Abunimah's op-ed promoting boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS).


Today, The Philadelphia Inquirer has courageously published a pro-BDS piece by Ali Abunimah 'Aim to promote human rights of the Palestinians' (1/29) in the Sunday newspaper opposite a piece by R. James Woolsey and Jonathan Schanzer 'Anti-Israeli agenda expected at Penn conference.'  In his op-ed Abunimah lays out a principled case for BDS and the upcoming conference at the University of Pennsylvania (February 3-5), "we are coming together to push forward an inclusive movement that supports nonviolent action to promote the human rights of the Palestinian people, because only full respect for these rights can lead to peace."  Abunimah continues, "Modeled explicitly on the tactics used to help end apartheid in South Africa, Palestinians urge that Israel be sanctioned until it respects Palestinian rights and international law in three specific ways: an end to the occupation of all Palestinian lands seized by Israel in 1967; full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and full respect for the rights of Palestinian refugees."

In contrast, the Woolsey (former CIA director) and Schanzer op-ed contains the standard misdirection, spin, and propaganda talking points that is so typical of the 'Foundation for Defense of Democracies.'

Please WRITE! your letter of support to the Philadelphia Inquirer  The point and counter-point op-eds, along with the upcoming BDS conference, provide a unique opportunity to put the issue of the principled BDS campaign before the American public.  Your help is crucial in thoughtful online responses and letters to the editor.  Letters should be kept under 200 words and be sure to include your name, address, and phone number for verification purposes.

For further information

R. James Woolsey and Jonathan Schanzer -- Anti-Israeli agenda expected at Penn conference

Human Rights Watch: World Report 2012 -- Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories

OCHA: Monthly Humanitarian Monitor - December 2011

ICAHD Report: The Judaization of Palestine -- 2011 Displacement Trends

Aim to promote human rights of the Palestinians

By Ali Abunimah

I am coming to the University of Pennsylvania this week to incite violence against the State of Israel - pro-Israel groups and commentators have contended - and, along with hundreds of students and other speakers who will attend the 2012 National Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Conference, to engage in an "act of warfare."

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, we are coming together to push forward an inclusive movement that supports nonviolent action to promote the human rights of the Palestinian people, because only full respect for these rights can lead to peace. Today, millions of Palestinians live without basic rights under Israeli rule. This intolerable situation is at the root of problems that affect the whole world.

People everywhere, whether they consider themselves "pro-Israel" or "pro-Palestinian" or both, want to see justice and peace. Yet, in recent years, the U.S.-brokered peace process has seen failure after failure.

Amid election-year politics, President Obama and his Republican rivals are pledging ever more unconditional support for Israel, even as Israel openly flouts U.N. resolutions and U.S. policy by building Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land and depriving Palestinians of their rights, including hundreds of children who languish in Israeli military prisons.

There's no chance that the United States will use the billions of dollars it gives Israel in aid as leverage to compel an end to these practices and respect for Palestinian rights. So should we just give up?

The answer from Palestinian civil society is a clear "no." All of us can play a role in ending this terrible situation and securing equal rights for Palestinians rather than superior rights for Jewish Israelis.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice in the Hague, Netherlands, ruled that the wall Israel built across Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank was illegal and was aimed at confiscating more land. Frustrated by the inaction of governments, 170 Palestinian civil society organizations, including labor unions, student groups, and cultural and social organizations, came together to issue the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) on Israel in 2005.

Modeled explicitly on the tactics used to help end apartheid in South Africa, Palestinians urge that Israel be sanctioned until it respects Palestinian rights and international law in three specific ways: an end to the occupation of all Palestinian lands seized by Israel in 1967; full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and full respect for the rights of Palestinian refugees.

This call doesn't prescribe a specific political solution - for example, a single democratic state, or a two-state solution - but it recognizes that full rights have to be at the core of any resolution. And implementing these rights does not threaten any legitimate rights of Israelis, unless one considers discrimination against Palestinians simply because they are not Jews to be a "right." In just the same way, granting full legal and political rights to African Americans in the United States did not threaten any legitimate rights of white citizens.

The all-too-frequent claim that the BDS goal is to "destroy Israel" or "incite violence" - rather than win rights - or that it is motivated by "anti-Semitism," is just as offensive and simplistic as saying that participants in the Montgomery bus boycott wanted to "destroy Alabama" and simply "hated white people."

And just like that celebrated bus boycott, BDS is not an end in itself; it is a tactic designed to bring about change. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote in support of a divestment effort on behalf of Palestinian rights, "We could not have won our freedom in South Africa without the solidarity of people around the world who adopted nonviolent methods to pressure governments and corporations to end their support for the apartheid regime. Faith-based groups, unions, students, and consumers organized on a grassroots level and catalyzed a global wave of divestment, ultimately contributing to the collapse of apartheid."

But let us remember that in the 1980s, not everyone supported sanctions on South Africa. President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher were strongly opposed to sanctions and insisted on "constructive dialogue" that went nowhere, just like the U.S.-brokered Middle East peace process. What helped turn the tide in the United States was a young member of Congress who broke ranks with Reagan to support boycott and sanctions on the apartheid regime. His name was Newt Gingrich.

Tragically, Gingrich today notoriously contends that the Palestinians are an "invented people" - a way of suggesting they have no rights, and certainly no claim to the land they've tended since long before Israel existed.

As the growth of such extremist rhetoric diminishes the chances for a constructive U.S. role, it is all the more important that we as citizens take action. That's what our conference is about, and everyone who shares a belief in human equality is welcome to attend.

Ali Abunimah is the author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. The BDS conference is scheduled for Friday to Sunday at the University of Pennsylvania. To attend Ali Abunimah's keynote address at 7 p.m. Saturday, visit Admission is free to members of the Penn community; $5 for others.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Gingrich's Extremist Anti-Palestinian Stance Follows Millions From Top Donor Sheldon Adelson
January 27, 2012

As Newt Gingrich catapults to the forefront of the GOP race, many are questioning how exactly his resurgence occurred. Many analysts have noted that his meteoric rise would have been impossible without the backing of one man: multi-billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. Adelson and his wife have donated $10 million to the pro-Gingrich super PAC. Gingrich has admitted Adelson's support came down to a single issue: Israel. Unsurprisingly, Newt's platform on the issue is one of the most reactionary within the GOP field. For more we speak with Linda Sansour of the Arab American Association of New York as well as Gal Beckerman of the Jewish Daily Forward.


Friday, January 27, 2012

State Department Right on Cue with "Peace Process" Happy Talk

In a follow-up to yesterday's blog post on hope springing eternal for the "peace process" managers as yet another negotiating deadline was blown, here is State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland's spin on Israeli-Palestinian pre-talk talks breaking down at yesterday's press briefing:

"It’s not surprising that the sides need some time to pause and to reflect. Our hope is that this will only be a little short period and that they will be able to get back to the table relatively quickly, and that’s what we are urging them to do."

One intrepid or cynical reporter then dared to ask the obvious: "But - I’m sorry. I mean, this hope, what is it based on? I mean, the conditions have not changed."

Nuland responded vaguely: "I think our sense is that this process was helpful to both sides. They’ve clarified some issues, there are some things that they need to work on at home on both sides, and that perhaps a small pause and then to come back with some fresh ideas will be helpful."

Yes, perhaps, indeed.  Although it seems highly unlikely when Palestinians are negotiating for a sovereign and geographically contiguous state and the Israeli government is doing everything it can to prevent the establishment of such a state in favor of maintaining its colonization, military occupation, and apartheid rule over the territory that is supposed to be the future Palestinian state.

There's simply no way to jam that square peg into the round hole no matter how much misplaced hope one has.  Onward with the "peace process" charade.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

No One Is Buying Tickets for this Quartet Symphony of Speechifying

January 26, 2012.  One more date in a long string of blown deadlines for the pathetic Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" overseen by that bizarre hybrid of fading or faded superpowers and multilateral organizations known as the Quartet.  No wonder the Obama Administration has washed its hands of the effort and happily delegated this futile exercise to Jordanian auspices.  For the last several weeks in Amman, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators have held sporadic preliminary talks about holding talks to talk about "permanent status" issues. Heady and inspiring stuff.  

In case you're interested in keeping track of these faux negotiations, here's how we got to this point.  After the United States scotched the effort of Palestine to become a member of the UN at this fall's General Assembly with its oh-so-subtle threats and blandishments, the Quartet once again dusted off its defibrillator to shock the moribund Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" back to life.  On September 23, the Quartet issued a statement confidently predicting that renewed negotiations should conclude successfully "not longer than the end of 2012." Toward that end, Quartet Envoy Tony Blair shuttled out to the region for prep work on October 26, thereby kicking off a three-month period ending today during which time the Quartet "expects the parties to come forward with comprehensive proposals within three months on territory and security."

Fat chance. Israel dragged its feet so badly it left scuff marks all over King Abdullah's nice marble palaces.  According to an article in yesterday's edition of Ha'aretz, Israel refused to present any detailed proposals on borders, instead sticking to vague principles and focusing on its security demands. Unsurprisingly the talks broken down.  Hmm...when have we heard this broken record before?

But isn't this, after all, the exact purpose of the so-called "peace process" from which Israel finds itself in a cushy situation?  From these endless talks, Israel gets the double benefit of getting the international community off of its back by seeming to want peace while at the same time buying precious additional time to colonize more Palestinian land that is supposed to be the basis for a fanciful future Palestinian state.

Yet, hope springs eternal for the "peace process" optimists.  EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton stated: "I still remain hopeful that with goodwill, they can continue to talk."  And, of course, the failed January 26 deadline was actually no deadline at all because it was not “written in stone, but was there to give a sense of dynamic or momentum." For sure, things are looking up for wrapping up the "peace process" in 2012!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

SOTU Silence

In a clear indication of just how far off the Obama Administration's radar screen Israeli-Palestinian peace has fallen, last night's State of the Union address contained just one perfunctory sentence designed yet again to convince the doubters that indeed Israel has never had it as good as it does under President Obama.

The President stated for the umpteenth time: "Our ironclad commitment -- and I mean ironclad -- to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history."

For anyone who's still unsure, let's repeat the mantra one more time: ironclad commitment.

Mr. President, when will you express your ironclad commitment to ensuring Palestinian human rights, systematically denied by Israeli apartheid?

What a good question to ask of Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting, who will be doing "office hours" at 11am Eastern on Friday.

Here's how to join the conversation on Twitter:

Let us know if he answers your Tweet.  If so, then you'll have better access to the Obama Administration than us.

Join William Parry in Columbia, Maryland!

“Against the Wall: The Art of Resistance in Palestine”
with William Parry

Sat., March 3, 2:00 p.m. 
Howard County Central Library 
Columbia, Maryland

William Parry, a London-based photojournalist & author who contributes regularly to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA), is launching his new book, “Against the Wall: The Art of Resistance in Palestine,” with a U.S. book tour.

His stunning book of photos captures the graffiti and street art that has transformed Israel’s apartheid wall in the occupied West Bank into a living canvas of resistance and solidarity. Featuring the work of international street artists including Banksy, Ron English, Swoon, Faile and Blu, as well as Palestinian artists and international grassroots activists, these photos express outrage, compassion, solidarity, peaceful resistance and touching humor. They mirror the wall’s toll on lives and livelihoods and are coupled with interviews that show the hardship it has brought to tens of thousands of Palestinians, preventing their access to work, education, families, vital medical care and places of worship.

“Against the Wall” has received excellent reviews and publicity in a range of media, including Electronic Intifada, Publishers Weekly, and the New York Review of Books.

Parry will show slides of his photos and tell the stories behind them on Sat., March 3, at 2 p.m, at:

Howard County Central Library 

10375 Little Patuxent Pkwy 
Columbia, MD  21044

Copies of his book will be available to buy.

His presentation is free of charge and open to the public. Free parking is available at the library.

The event is sponsored by the Howard County-based Committee for Palestinian Rights. For more information:

Monday, January 23, 2012

No Comment Warranted on Commentary Blog

The neo-con rag Commentary had an especially tendentious post on its blog Contentions on Friday proving for themselves beyond a shadow of doubt that there exists a grand conspiracy between Marxism, anti-Semitism, the Occupy movement, and the US Campaign to "sabotage or at least overshadow the AIPAC event," by organizing Occupy AIPAC.

Let's leave aside for the moment the hypocrisy of a magazine formerly dominated by Communists (who then found the light in shucking for American imperialism) engaging in McCarthyite red baiting. Um, dudes, the 1950s was like so last century.

I can't figure out if this blog post is the result of sloppy journalism, or a hatchet job, or most likely a combination of the two. First off, they give us credit for organizing Occupy AIPAC. Thanks for the publicity, but we're actually just one of more than 100 organizations endorsing the event and promoting it. (As we mentioned in our email last week, we'll also be doing workshops and organizing a Congressional Hill briefing for it.)

Then they have the nerve to call us the "so-called" US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. According to Collins Thesaurus, so-called is most definitely a pejorative, meaning "alleged, supposed, professed, pretended, self-styled, ostensible," and so forth. Hey, Commentary, take a step outside of your Israel-is-the-best-thing-since-sliced-bread bubble and start getting used to the fact that growing numbers of people in the United States are simply sick and tired of the United States bending over backwards to protect Israeli occupation and apartheid against Palestinians. Yeah, Commentary, we're not "so-called"; we're part of the political landscape. Hide your head in the sand all you want.

Thanks, though, for your back-handed compliment of us having "neatly appropriated the slogans and the spirit" of the Occupy movement. We're not though "appropriating" the Occupy movement--we are part of it. We're a part of a growing national movement to get special interest money out of our corrupt political system, to stop gaming our economy to promote militarism and never-ending warfare, and to make government work for the people and not the elites like casino poobah Sheldon Adelson who dumped millions of dollars into Newt Gingrich's super PAC to get him to say outrageously dumb things like the Palestinians are an "invented people" and that he would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

Damn right, Commentary, we'll be Occupying AIPAC come March. AIPAC's number one lobbying item is always to advocate for more U.S. taxpayer-funded weapons transfers to Israel, weapons which will be misused in violation of U.S. law to commit human rights abuses against Palestinians like Mustafa Tamimi who died in December after he was shot in the face by an Israeli soldier with a high-velocity tear gas canister likely manufactured by Combined Systems, Inc. of Jamestown, PA and paid for with U.S. taxpayer money.

We've got so many better things to spend our money on than killing Palestinian protesters like Mustafa Tamimi who want nothing more, nothing less, than their inherent and fundamental human rights to a life of freedom, justice,and equality, rather than brutal military occupation and apartheid. So, yeah, Commentary, we'll be there protesting AIPAC's agenda and all of your silly accusations about who we are and what we stand for won't stop us.

Friday, January 20, 2012

London's Natural History Museum Blasted for Collaborating with Ahava

In the summer of 2009, US Campaign coalition member group CODEPINK launched the Stolen Beauty Campaign against Israeli cosmetics manufacturer Ahava Dead Sea Labaratories. Since then, the boycott campaign against Ahava has grown into an international campaign that continues to raise awareness about Ahava's deceitful business practices, which include labeling products manufactured in the occupied West Bank as 'Made in Israel', in violation of international law.

This past Tuesday, prominent intellectuals in Great Britain demanded that the Natural History Museum in London pull out of a research project which involves Ahava. In an open letter to the British newspaper, The Independent, top British filmmakers Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, along with other leading cultural and academic figures in Great Britain, condemned the museum for "coordinating an activity that breaks international law."

The museum is coordinating a European Union-funded project studying the environmental and health risks of nanoparticles. Avaha is one of several companies and institutions collaborating on the project, however, it is the only one operating in an illegal settlement in occupied territory. In their letter, the 21 signatories conveyed their outrage over the museum's collaboration with Ahava:

Ahava/DSL is based on occupied territory. It extracts, processes and exports Palestinian resources to generate profits that fund an illegal settlement. Israel's settlement project has been held by the International Court of Justice to break international law. Organisations which aid and abet this process may well themselves be found to be in violation. We find it almost inconceivable that a national institution of the status of the Natural History Museum should have put itself in this position.

We call on the museum to take immediate steps to terminate its involvement in Nanoretox and to establish safeguards that protect against any comparable entanglement.

The letter has generated a fair amount of negative publicity for Ahava, including a separate article in The Independent, and featured articles in the Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, Rueters, YNet News and leading science websites like Nature and Science.

Check out CODEPINK's Stolen Beauty website for more information on how you can get involved in the boycott campaign against Ahava!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Now Is the Time to #OccupyAIPAC

Join Us in Washington, D.C., March 2-6, to #OccupyAIPAC

by Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director

January 19th, 2012

Ever since the Occupy movement burst on to our political landscape last fall and reinjected energy into the movement to make government serve the 99 percent instead of the elites, we've enthusiastically joined forces by doing teach-ins at Occupy protests across the country and sending hundreds of organizing packets to empower local activists to end military aid to Israel.

Now we're ready to Occupy AIPAC. We'll be joining with member group Code Pink and more than 100 other endorsing organizations for five days of film screenings, teach-ins, performing arts, direct actions, trainings and grassroots advocacy during AIPAC's annual policy conference.

Join us from March 2-6 in Washington, D.C. Register today to hold your place.

In our struggle to change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel to support human rights, international law and equality, perhaps no organization better epitomizes everything that is wrong with our political system and current policies of support for Israeli occupation and apartheid than AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

The time has come to #OccupyAIPAC!

Here are just a few of the many reasons to #OccupyAIPAC:

An AIPAC front group skirts Congressional ethics guidelines to send Members of Congress on lavish trips to Israel where they are lobbied intensively to provide more taxpayer-funded weapons to Israel.

Political action committees and individuals aligned with AIPAC's agenda dump millions of dollars into elections to ensure that politicians applaud Israel's human rights abuses of Palestinians.

And, AIPAC lobbies for ever-expanding sanctions and never-ending wars against other peoples and countries, with Iran now the focus of their efforts.

Who benefits
from the policies that AIPAC is pushing?  Certainly not Palestinians, who bear the brunt of U.S. weapons transfers to Israel and unconditional diplomatic support for Israel and live under brutal Israeli military occupation and apartheid. Certainly not the millions of ordinary Iraqis, Syrians and Iranians who have suffered harm as a result of AIPAC-backed sanctions and wars. And certainly not us, whose taxpayer dollars are diverted from funding unmet community needs to giving Israel--a country with greater per capita wealth than New Zealand and Saudi Arabia--$30 billion in military aid from 2009 to 2018.

It seems that the people benefiting from AIPAC policies are those in Israel and their supporters in the United States who work to ensure that Israel continues to subjugate Palestinians, to deny their fundamental human rights, and to try unsuccessfully to strip them of their humanity.  And, of course, also benefiting are the U.S. weapons manufacturers, who literally make a killing by joining with AIPAC to lobby for more taxpayer-funded weapons to Israel to injure and kill Palestinians by the thousands.

For these reasons and more, we strongly encourage you to join us in Washington, D.C., March 2-6, to #OccupyAIPAC.

Above: Click to see our interactive map of cities where people are organizing to end military aid to Israel -- and sign up!

The US Campaign will conduct a workshop there to end military aid to Israel, and organize a Capitol Hill briefing to launch our new policy paper documenting the devastating impact on Palestinians of U.S. weapons transfers to Israel and build our case for sanctions against Israel.

Learn more about #OccupyAIPAC and register today!

We've got a lot of work ahead to counter AIPAC's agenda--both here in Washington, D.C. in March and throughout the country all the time.  Help us do so by signing up to organize in your community to end U.S. military aid to Israel.  When you do, we will send you posters, stickers, postcards, flyers and more, to help educate and organize people in your city.  More than 2,000 organizers from 950 cities have already joined this ongoing campaign.  Sign up today to help us reach our goal of 1,000 cities with people organizing to end military aid to Israel in time for #OccupyAIPAC.

And don't forget about our exciting matching funds competition for community groups that want to organize campaigns to get their city councils to pass resolutions to end military aid to Israel and redirect the money to unmet community needs.  That's right, we're offering your community group money, resources, training and inspiration to do it! 

Thank you for helping us to #OccupyAIPAC and for changing our country's policies to support freedom, justice and equality for Palestinians.

Make your tax-deductible contribution to the US Campaign to support our ongoing efforts to counter AIPAC's agenda and end U.S. military aid to Israel.

Latest Hasbara Meme: BLACKWASHING

By Richard Silverstein
January 9, 2012

You’ve heard of pinkwashing, greenwashing-now “blackwashing” joins the cast of pro-Israel hasbara communities exploited in order to combat the major criticisms of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians.  Pinkwashing is the effort to promote Israel to the gay community in order to point out the homophobia of Arab culture and nations.  Greenwashing is the attempt by environmental groups like Jewish National Fund to point to Israel’s alleged sensitivity to environmental issues (excluding of course its heinous treatment of Negev Bedouins whose communities are being bulldozed by the Israeli government in collaboration with JNF).  Now blackwashing is the rage.

African American political leaders and
students on Aipac Israel junket
Israel lobby groups like Aipac have worked closely cultivating relationships on college campuses with African-American students.  They send these young leaders to Aipac conferences where they can be trotted out to the media as witnesses for the defense to combat the BDS campaign to label Israel as an apartheid state:
When Vincent Evans arrived as a bright-eyed first-year at Florida A&M, the country’s largest historically black university, he knew he wanted to get involved in politics. So when an older student leader approached him one afternoon after a student government meeting to ask if he wanted an all expenses paid trip to D.C., Evans jumped at the opportunity.
The trip, it turned out, was sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, the country’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying outfit. Israel is under growing attack from Palestinian and international activists who call the country a racist apartheid state. In response, its staunchest U.S. lobby is recruiting black students as moral shields to make the case for Israeli impunity. At historically black colleges and universities (known as HBCU’s) around the country, AIPAC is finding and developing a cadre of black allies to declare there’s no way Israel can be racist.
In his four years in college, Evans traveled to D.C. at least 10 times on AIPAC’s dime. He and a small group of other student leaders from his school joined hundreds of others from around the country, including other HBCU students, for AIPAC’s semi-annual Saban Leadership Seminar.
“Within the program,” says Evans, “they make a concerted effort to reach out to HBCU and majority Hispanic schools.”
Does the Israel lobby care about African-American students?  Does it care about the issues close to their heart?  Is it about to reach out to Blacks to create political coalitions to advance causes of mutual interest to each community?  Are you kiddin’?  These kids are fodder in the PR war.  They don’t mean anything other than having a black face to show the world that Israel isn’t an apartheid nation.  But how much do these kids really know about Israel?


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Intern with the US Campaign!

The US Campaign is currently seeking interns for the 2012 spring semester!  Interns are an integral part of the US Campaign. Internship positions offer substantive work experiences and hands-on opportunities for professional and personal development.

Interns work 10-30 hours per week under supervision of the US Campaign staff in its Washington, DC office. Interns are needed to help in our following programmatic areas:

Challenging U.S. Policy

The US Campaign works to end U.S. support for Israel’s illegal 44-year occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip. We work to change U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine to support human rights, international law, and equality by:

  • challenging military aid to Israel;
  • researching policy and legislative developments;
  • organizing a national Congressional District Coordinators network of grassroots advocates;
  • utilizing social networking technologies to spread information;
  • attending and reporting on Congressional and policy briefings; 
  • holding advocacy training and lobbying days to demand accountability for Israel’s human rights abuses;
  • building upon these efforts through public education campaigns.
Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Campaigns

Boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign impose economic and political costs to Israeli apartheid and occupation, and to US support for those policies. We work to support member-group-led BDS campaigns by:
  • providing strategic support and BDS trainings for congregations, campuses, and community groups nationwide towards implementing BDS campaigns at the local level;
  • utilizing social networking technologies to publicize member-group-led BDS campaigns and action alerts;
  • promoting and mobilizing for global BDS days and weeks of action
  • producing fact sheets, merchandise, and other materials promoting BDS; 
  • creating and maintaining new pages on the BDS section of our website;
  • providing organizing and campaigning tool-kits for volunteers across the country.
All interns are also responsible for a reasonable amount of administrative work, including data entry, filing, tabling, letter-writing, etc.

The ideal candidates for these positions will have:

  • Experience with and/or interest in social activism
  • Experience with and/or interest in U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East in general and toward Palestine/Israel in particular
  • Strong interpersonal communication and writing skills
  • Strong motivation and the ability to be a self-starter
  • Able to juggle multiple projects at the same time
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office and Open Office Applications
  • Web design, work with promotional materials, and general tech skills are also a plus
The US Campaign is only able to consider currently enrolled college students or recent college graduates for internship positions, but all individuals are welcome to inquire about volunteer opportunities. The US Campaign will work with colleges and universities for class credit for the internship.

Please note that this is an unpaid internship.

TO APPLY: Please send a resume and a one-page statement outlining:

a) Your goals and motivations for working with the US Campaign.
b) The above area(s) of work you are most interested in.
c) What makes you an ideal candidate for the intern position?
d) You may also include a short writing sample and/or an a/v clip showcasing your communication/public speaking skills.

Send your resume and statement to Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

*The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to a diversified workplace. Women, LGBTQ and people of color are strongly encouraged to apply.

The Non-Violent Way to Justice

Cindy & Craig Corrie
Cindy Corrie is president of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, which is a member of the US Campaign's nationwide coalition of more than 380 groups.

Emel, a monthly print publication with 100,000 subscribers in more than 60 countries, describes itself as: "The Muslim lifestyle magazine. Emel is for the reader who wishes to combine an ethical outlook to life with evolving ideas and modern lifestyle."

The mother of a U.S. citizen crushed by an Israeli bulldozer recollects her daughter’s passion for justice. 

By Cindy Corrie
Emel Magazine, December 2011 issue

My daughter Rachel Corrie brought me to the Palestinian/Israeli issue. Ours was a family and community that generally thought about the world and its inhabitants in a loving, curious way. We connected, as comfortable Americans do, through following and discussing the news, attending events, and making donations to support those in third world countries—but there was never any intention of sacrifice. In 2003, Rachel travelled to Gaza to join the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a group of Palestinian and international activists who use non-violent, direct-action methods to confront the Israeli occupation. Why did she go? Rachel was motivated by her family and community experiences, by her questions about US foreign policy that arose after 9/11 shattering our nation’s sense of security and self-satisfaction, and simply by whom she was as a human being.

Once in Gaza, Rachel documented when the Israeli military destroyed Palestinian olive orchards, gardens, and greenhouses and harassed Palestinians at checkpoints. She worked with women and children and planned for a sister-city project to connect people in Rafah with those in Olympia, her hometown. Through phone calls and e-mails, she introduced family and friends to life in Occupied Palestine: “I don’t know if many of the children here have ever existed without tank shell holes in their walls, and the towers of an occupying army surveying them constantly from the near horizons. I think, although I’m not entirely sure, that even the smallest of these children understand that life is not like this everywhere. An eight-year-old was shot and killed by an Israeli tank two days before I got here, and many of the children murmur his name to me —Ali—or point at the posters of him on the walls.”

Rachel stayed with civilian Gazan families whose homes were threatened by widespread military clearing demolitions. On 16th March 2003, while working with seven international activists, she was crushed by a military Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer as she stood to protect a threatened Palestinian home.  The family who owned it watched from inside their garden wall, as the bulldozer approached.

The horror of learning what happened that day is etched in my memory—a searing pain like nothing I had experienced before, and hope never to experience again. The loss is encompassing and forever—and from a parent’s perspective, the price too dear. But there is another cost too much to bear—that of discouraging a child from being all they can be. We are sometimes asked why we did not stop Rachel from going to Gaza. Her father’s response is, “Why weren’t we all there?”

I have connected with families of others lost to the non-violent struggle in Palestine, and to those injured—Palestinians, Israelis and others. Despite the pain, I am struck by their continued conviction about the rightness of the cause, and the methods of resisting. In 2005, Gene Sharp, an expert on non-violent resistance, stated at a Bethlehem conference, “None of this is safe. None of this is easy. But these are the tools for those struggling for liberation and for those of us who work with them.”

With her writings from Gaza, Rachel charted our path: “This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don’t think it’s an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benetar, and have boyfriends and make comics for my co-workers. But I also want this to stop.” In the eight years since Rachel was killed, I have witnessed the injustice in the West Bank and Gaza but, also, the imagination and determination of Palestinian activists—and the resilience of all Palestinians who, despite occupation, act with dignity, and with determination not to be silenced. They continue to ask us to visit, and to stand in solidarity with them in Palestine and back home. Israeli Jewish and Palestinian activists challenge their country’s policies and actions, but tell me they cannot succeed alone. They need the rest of us.

International solidarity can take many forms. We can make the journey to Israel/Palestine in person, through the internet, or by connecting to efforts in our own communities. Whatever the path, we must follow the news, share the stories, be visible, and strategically challenge policies that allow the injustice to continue. Rachel was compelled to live meaningfully. She made the journey to Palestine because (as an American) she felt implicated in Israel’s actions and felt a responsibility to challenge them.

Books of Mahatma Gandhi were on Rachel’s shelves. She knew that suffering and sacrifice in some form is one element of non-violent resistance. She also knew from Gandhi that “a small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” Our actions are cumulative; our numbers are increasing; and our struggle is for our own universal human rights. To achieve and maintain those for everyone, we must continue to stand with the Palestinians.

Cindy Corrie, guest comment writer, is the President of the Rachel Corrie Foundation.


Weapons maker target of area protest

Below a newspaper in Meadville, PA, covers Monday's protest against Combined Systems, Inc., which manufactures the tear gas projectiles illegally used by the Israeli military to injure and kill Palestinian demonstrators. As we posted yesterday, US Campaign member group Adalah-NY discovered important details on shipments of U.S. tear gas to Israel linked to the injury and killing of both Palestinians and U.S. citizens in this article. To organize with us to end military aid to Israel, sign up here!

By Keith Gushard
January 16, 2012
Meadville Tribune

JAMESTOWN, PA — “Silence is betrayal,” “End chemical warfare,” “Democracy for all” and “Honor Dr. King and the right to protest oppression” were just some of the signs carried by protesters.

Why about two dozen people chose to march two miles on a cold Monday morning from downtown Jamestown into rural Mercer County was straight-forward, according to Werner Lange of the Coalition for Peace in the Middle East.

 “We’re here to try to put an end to one of the major weapons manufacturers whose products have killed countless people,” said Lange, who also is a professor of sociology at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. “It’s time to put a spotlight on it.”

The protesters picketed peacefully Monday in front of Combined Systems Inc. of Jamestown, a maker of tear gas, smoke munitions, other non-lethal and lethal munitions and crowd-control devices. The company’s production complex is located two miles west of the borough on Route 58.

The company’s security director said Monday that company officials were out of town and would have no comment on the protest. Messages left for company officials by the Tribune on Friday and Monday did not get a response.


ICAHD News: Displacement Report Released, Summer Rebuilding Camp Announced

ICAHD-USA, a coalition member of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, is the U.S. affiliate of the Jerusalem-based Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

ICAHD-USA The Judaization of Palestine: 2011 Displacement Trends

This publication provides a political analysis of the root causes and consequences of Israel’s house demolition policy, focusing on the demolition of Palestinian homes and other structures in the Occupied West Bank.

House demolitions and forced evictions are among Israel’s most heinous practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). In 2011, a record year of displacement, a total of 622 Palestinian structures were demolished by Israeli authorities, of which 36% (or 222) were family homes; the remainder were livelihood-related (including water storage and agricultural structures), resulting in 1,094 people displaced, almost double the number for 2010. The Jordan Valley sustained the largest number of demolitions (32% of total structures demolished, 40% of residential structures demolished, 37% of people displaced), with 199 structures demolished and 401 people displaced.

Israel now controls 40% of the West Bank through 149 settlements and 102 outposts, housing more than 500,000 Jewish Israelis, as well as through closed military zones and declared nature reserves. In addition, house demolitions, forced evictions, and land expropriation, exacerbated by settler violence and the economic effects of movement restrictions, have left Palestinian communities struggling to make a living. Palestinians live in constant fear of displacement and dispersion, while Israel secures its domination and control.

The demolition of Palestinian homes is politically motivated and strategically informed. The goal is to confine the 4 million residents of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza to small enclaves, thus effectively foreclosing any viable Palestinian state and ensuring Israeli control, and to allow for the expropriation of land, the ethnic displacement of Palestinians, and the Judaization of the Occupied West Bank.


Alternative Tours of Israel and Palestine

Having provided thousands of people from around the world with top-quality critical tours for over 15 years, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) is widely known for its knowledgeable tour guides and its grounded approach to the politics of Occupation and the difficulties of Palestinian life. On our tours you will see how Israel’s settlement project has created irreversibl e “facts on the ground.” You will better appreciate what a truly just and lasting peace would entail. If you wish, you can meet Palestinian families suffering under Israeli policies of separation and home demolitions. ICAHD believes that first-hand learning is the only way to grasp the social, cultural, political, and historical issues that underlie the Isr aeli-Palestinian conflict.

We look forward to seeing you on one of our East Jerusalem, "Greater Jerusalem", and Jordan Valley tours.


Every year hundreds of Palestinians are forced from their homes, homes built on land they own. Since 1967 Israel has demolished more than 26,000 Palestinian homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In 2011 Israel demolished more than 500 structures, displacing hundreds of Palestinians. ICAHD rebuilds homes as acts of political resistance, creating alternative facts on the ground.

Every summer ICAHD organizes a rebuilding camp in the West Bank town of Anata in which dozens of volunteers from around the world join with Palestinians and Israeli activists to rebuild demolished homes. Within two weeks we rebuild an entire home from foundation to roof, and in the process send a message of solidarity to the besieged Palestinian people. We also send a message to the world: We refuse to be enemies; together we resist the Occupation. At the end of the camp international participants return home prepared to act as advocates for a just peace, carrying ICAHD’s vision of what a just and sustainable resolution might look like.

ICAHD invites you and all who support our efforts to participate in a very special rebuilding camp which aims to attract professionals - architects and others involved with housing and planning, lawyers with interest in international law, clinicians who focus on psycho-social issues and educators, activists, and university student leaders. It is expected that rebuilding will take place in East Jerusalem and in the Bedouin Jerusalem periphery. In addition to rebuilding Palestinian homes, the 2012 programme includes a number of field trips that allow participants to witness the reality on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and within Israel. The educational aspect of our programme includes films, meetings with Palestinian and Israeli activists and expert political analysis on house demolitions, displacement and Israel’s Apartheid policies over both the Palestinians of the OPT, and within Israel.


Incorporated as an independent non-profit in 2004, ICAHD-USA was founded by a diverse group of U.S. activists working to bring about a just and sustainable peace in Israel/Palestine while advocating for an end to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. We draw from and supplement the educational work of ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions). ICAHD is an independent non-violent, activist organization originally established to oppose the Israeli demolition of Palestinian houses in the Occupied Territories. We also work cooperatively with ICAHD-UK and other peace and human rights groups working for a just peace in the Middle East.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hands Not Bombs: From the cave of your invented neighbors

The following was written by former US Campaign intern Tamara Masri. It appeared yesterday (Martin Luther King, Jr., Day) on

“Dare to look for the handprints, dare to acknowledge the humanity of an invented people.” A Palestinian-American student, writer and activist takes a journey of discovery, in an essay inspired by the culture and literature of liberation, an ancient symbol, and a prehistoric cranium.
The author against a mural she painted on the separation wall.
"Do not take the sun out of my palm," it reads.
By Tamara Masri
January 16, 2012
+972 Blog

Skulls of early man flashed across the screen. Dr. Bailey looked at no notes as he described the anatomical features of the ancient cranium. “Female Neanderthal found in Mt. Taboun, Israel”.. For the first time in my Biological Anthropology class, I felt a small jolt in my gut. Until that moment, the babble and jargon revolving around some chick named Lucy had flooded my head with a kind of collegiate wonder. Like the unfamiliar New England snow, the names given to the various early stages of man wafted around and settled within me. The exact location of the Garden of Eden no longer seemed to matter. Though every concept Dr. Bailey spoke was completely foreign to me, it was not the word Neanderthal that had gotten my attention. It was the fact that I had never heard of a place called Mt. Taboun. For Dr. Bailey, the name of the site might have been as dry as the bones unearthed there. But for me the word hung in the air like a piece of ripe fruit, forbidden fruit, and the Mitochondrial Eve within me was reaching for it. Forbidden, that is, for a Palestinian.

Dr. Bailey continued, now speaking of cave paintings found around the world. He was explaining how early man pressed their palms against cave walls; blowing red ochre around the outline of their hands. He raised his own hand slowly, revealing an open palm. “Hands. Why have we always been so fascinated by them?” Long after class ended the question lingered in my mind, a feather floating on a red ochre breeze.

Now I see hands everywhere. On bathroom stalls, imprinted in cement, worn as amulets, the once unnoticed shape now follows me. And I wonder, why hands, indeed? The figurative hands of past literary greats are imprinted on my memory as well. Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish once wrote, “Don’t leave the palm of my hand without the sun.” During elementary school, those elusive Arabic words rolled on my tongue, heavy with syllables but lost in meaning. Other symbols I knew well: keys, the sea, Jaffa oranges. Those are the symbols that are etched into every psyche identified as Palestinian. While the land dwindles with each passing year, those are nostalgic symbols of loss that have never failed to be passed down to the next generation—our negative inheritance.

But for hands, the connotation has never been clear. The symbols of loss we carry around with us, sometimes emerging in the midst of controlled and intellectual New England conversation. Those symbols introduce an uncomfortable tide that shifts the once placid conversation into the uncharted waters of “politics”. Friends at school come back from their Birthright trips; conversation is pleasant when they speak of the deep blue of the Mediterranean. I think of how in Palestine, my friends call it the “white sea”. And for the life of me, I don’t know why. Perhaps because when you stand on a rooftop, balance on your tiptoes, and the haze has cleared… you can see a white glimmer. That’s the only way they’ve ever seen that water. But in Birthright pictures, the sea is a deep blue. I begin to speak of our white mirage of a sea, and I see the straining tide tugging at the corners of their bright faces. Politics. I give a tight smile and swallow the symbols. Can I blame them? The Palestinians are just one uncomfortable paradox that doesn’t fit into their newly discovered Jewish “Narnia”.

The next picture: An innocuous camel ride, a boy helps them climb on to the spitting beast’s back. Their bright faces are the dots of exclamation points. How exciting, foreign, authentic! But my friends don’t even know the best of it: it is all already theirs. Their paradox now pulls at the fringes of my smile: an exotic welcome home in a land in which that boy helping them has no place. He wears the familiar tight smile, a chapped crescent moon carved into dark skies of his skin. The silent smile of submission.

This camel, this ride, this land…it’s their birthright, their Manifest Destiny, not his. I’ve seen him and those rides times before. The stage is set: American teenager and camel in center, the boy edging to the picture’s frame. Another photograph snapped, another album of legitimacy complete. Later it will be posted on Facebook, or perhaps even developed, anything to build the sentimental bedrock of the newfound homeland. My friends move onto the next room of this new house of a country, we awkwardly stand between their frames. Place a golden Israeli coin into our dirt-caked palms, and we stand a little further. The faux sun that has pacified the oppressed, unprivileged, and unwanted—my people— for 63 years. No different than the colonized the revolutionary writer Frantz Fanon once described; we are the wretched of the earth.

When arriving in Israel last week, I handed the soldier my American passport. The passport is the only reason I can use that airport. The soldier is a girl my age, a gun strapped around her shoulder; I smile tightly as I hand her the booklet. Every time I do this I hope she doesn’t open it. It is because of my American passport that I know that the Mediterranean Sea isn’t white, but blue. I want her to see the rolling blue waves of my star-spangled passport. I want her to see the white of my colonial skin. But she does not look at me as she opens the booklet, and suddenly she sees something in the fine print: the red that flows in my veins. “The middle name. Eman. It’s Arabic for what?” She doesn’t believe the lie that my parents would name me after David Bowie’s wife. I scramble trying to explain that I carry only an American passport. I am red, white and blue. She only raises her hand, “Stop talking. A Palestinian is a Palestinian.” And I am sent into a room for interrogation. With every question, the image of her hand - that primitive outline of what makes us all human - kept flashing. Driving home I hand over my passport at each military checkpoint for inspection, now freshly scarred with yet another short-term visa. Being the persistent visitor who can’t seem to get enough of the Israeli State is my only fragile connection to home.

Hands continue to emerge in places where I least expect them. I walk through the streets of Jerusalem, and only now do I notice the hand talisman hanging on the walls of old Palestinians homes in Jerusalem. An Israeli girl walks by, a hand amulet glitters on her neck. Hamseh in Hebrew, Khamsah in Arabic - the hand signifies protection. The irony is blatant. A sole symbol of semblance amongst the two peoples, adorned as protection against the wrath of the other.

The hand itself is such a versatile appendage, completely at the will of the mind’s great machinery. The symbolism of the hand appears to be just as boundless and malleable. Perhaps those hands did not emerge cosmically, but rather I finally chose to see them. I read a poet’s verse and adopt the universal symbol of the human hand as our own. It’s a vain and naïve attempt of just another kid trying to find “meaning.” But that’s what a forgotten people do. We collect the detritus of our ancestors; mold them into ornaments to adorn the colorful, crumbling inner cathedrals of our intricate and fragile identities. And so I hunt—in search of that symbol that can’t be taken.

Now more than ever I have visions of running up to that girl in the cubicle, pressing my hand against the glass that separates us. I want her to look at that hand, at something she can’t take away from me. I want to tell her that we are just a people of hands—not carrying bombs but suns within our palms. It is not the red of blood she sees but the red of ancient ochre outlining my handprint. The symbol is a primal bond far older than our teenage selves, far older than this conflict and all the visceral bitterness that has set us so far apart. Though we may emphasize the unique intricacies of those scars in our palms, holistically our hands are the same. I want her to not only see, but to believe in our equality.

But I did none of that as I returned to the masses of the oppressed and tired prisoners. People were killed during the non-violent demonstrations commemorating Al-Nakba, referring to the Palestinian Diaspora. When I heard my cousin was injured, I sent him a message to which he replied, “Everything is fine.” He did not mention that he may be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. An Israeli asked me if he regretted his “mistake”.

After those words sank in, I spent the next month making mistakes in the village of Bil’in.

Every week for the past six years the people of Bil’in and many Israeli supporters protest the separation wall. I went, hoping that clouds of burning tear gas would fill the void of helplessness. Through the haze and chaos, I saw a man in a wheelchair heaving himself up a hill against a crowd of running protesters - toward the gas, bullets, soldiers, wall. I did not know how he could withstand the physical pain, all I could see was his relentless battle to photograph the injustice he was forced to swallow as the law of his life. When I spoke to Rani Burnat he replied in hushed, gentle whispers. A quiet disposition radically contrasts to the image of a man hurling himself and the mechanism that binds him towards the grey fumes of chemicals. Every week more images, more characters, more stories burn within me. A boy once ran between the recovering protesters, yelping with joy. He carried a strange electrical box wrapped in loose wires like a trophy. Someone told me that he had dissembled a security device from the wall itself. He ran ahead of the crowd, up the hill toward the soldiers. He moved swiftly through the smoke, eventually throwing the device over the fence. He ran down the hill cheering, weaving between the descending tear gas torpedoes, dodging and dancing. The celebration and the struggle, inseparable. You see, for the wretched of the earth, everything is a wedding.

I still can’t help but think Darwish was speaking of something distinctively meaningful. Suns in the palms of our hands. The image resonates with gravitas similar to that of the Israeli whistleblower Mordachai Vanunu’s first words when he was released from prison, “You tried, but you cannot break the human spirit!” In fact, it was the photograph of Vanunu’s palm pressed up against a car window inscribed with the details of his kidnapping that told the world of his own injustice. His hand served as a fleshy canvas of truth. Saying such words after 11 years of solitary confinement for “treason,” I wouldn’t have ever believed him. But after living in the urban prison that the Palestinian Territories prove to be, I know his words are true. Perhaps this is what Darwish meant. To take the sun, the spirit, out the palms of the innocent is impossible. Under the smoke and sun, there will always be jubilee.

I think back to Dr. Bailey’s statement: “The most intact Neanderthal remains were found in Taboun, a cave in Israel.” If that cave had to go through a checkpoint, surely it wouldn’t pass with a name like that. The cave itself, with its ethnic name, betrays the country that has adopted it. Taboun in Arabic means oven. And though I may be denied of ever seeing this relic, I can feel the temperature rising in this oven-cave I call my home. The fumes of third world traffic exhaust trace the tight circles of the confined motion of a buzzing people with too much energy - too much potential - and nowhere to go. These grey walls we’ve been placed in only incubate the heat of all these wasted suns.

It is no wonder the handprint was the first art form. Early man must have been so fascinated with hands because that print was proof of his own existence on this Earth. And that is in fact the only crime Palestinians are guilty of: sheer existence. But there is a consolation in knowing that other hands across the world have experienced the similar struggles. A man at Bil’in once told me, “Didn’t Martin Luther King have a dream? Why not us?” I smile at the wonderful naïveté of the cliché, but cannot help but think of the question Langston Hughes once posed, about what happens to a dream deferred.

Indeed, Dr. King’s words have never been more applicable than today, “I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the “do-nothingism” of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist.” The equivalent forces that have always polarized the Palestinian image have never been more unpopular. Like in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, they too have been busy projecting images on these cave walls. But it is far too hot now to keep watching the players take turns at shadow games between the flames of empty promises. Though this prison I write from may be larger than Dr. King’s cell in Birmingham, I am reminded of the fact people do overcome. I do believe that the wind of red ochre blows within Palestine. An age has come in which making handprints on these walls has never been so alluring. The walls may rob us of our freedom, but let them remind the outside and ourselves of our own humanity.

For us, Plato’s cave is no allegory but a 63-year old reality we have endured. Darwish, Vanunu, a boy with the camel, a girl with the gun. They are all just hands, some with prints, some without. Their existence within a conversation carries a certain tension, but they are not political. The hands I speak of, the hands I have held, are not about politics. Politicians have hands too, but as Stephan Walt of Foreign Policy noted a few months ago when referring to Congress; hands may also “applaud for apartheid.” The sound of those hands applauding is amplified with Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s sentiment, when he called the Palestinians an “invented people” in early December.

Mustafa Tamimi. Bassem Abu Rahma. Jawaher Abu Rahma. These are the “invented” names that chose to protest non-violently in the past few months. American-made “non-lethal” teargas torpedoes took their lives, human hands no longer.

Let it be known that the hands of the Palestinians are open, empty, and reaching. Whether you hold onto that extended hand now or wait to shake it after all is said and done, that is your choice. Our dream is no different from that of Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes, or any people who have been oppressed. Together we share the dream of justice “deferred.” Ours has been blooming in the form of non-violent resistance, and only now are you seeing the blossom. In this garden of a world that my generation will inherit, I know that I will struggle to protect that delicate bud from the weeding hands of the various gardeners we never asked for. And though I take solace in reading the literature of the oppressed, I am reminded that there are multiple fates for a dream deferred. Even blossoms are ephemeral, if they spend their lives fighting the violent heat insulated between these cave walls. Dare to look for our handprints, dare to acknowledge our humanity. For it is the only thing we have left, the only thing we really need.

Here’s to the wretched, the indigenous, the “invented” people who brought me into existence. Our emergence from this cave is inevitable. With fists unclenched, flickering suns illuminate the path to freedom.

Tamara Masri is a sophomore at Tufts Univeristy in Medford, Massachusetts. She lives in Ramallah.