Showing posts with label apartheid. Show all posts
Showing posts with label apartheid. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Josh Ruebner's "Shattered Hopes" Book Tour Comes to Kansas and Missouri, Feb. 27- Mar. 2

Last fall, Josh Ruebner, our National Advocacy Director, shared the exciting news of the publication of his first book, Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace.

We are excited to announce that he will be visiting Kansas and Missouri from February 27-March 2. We hope that you can join him at one or more of the four events he'll be doing in Kansas and Missouri -- at University of Kansas, Watermark Books in Wichita, Keystone United Methodist Church in Kansas City, and an event in private home in Fairway, Kansas.

Below is a flyer for the events. Click here for the PDF version.

RSVP and invite your friends on Facebook to the events at University of Kansas here, Watermark Books here, and Keystone United Methodist Church here. To RSVP for the private home event, email whitmoreandy@hotmail.comAnd for additional information on Josh's spring book tour, see his website here. We look forward to seeing you there!

--Ntebo Mokuena, U.S. Campaign Intern

Monday, June 17, 2013

Occupied Palestine, an Interview with David Koff

On June 5th 2013, at the Jerusalem Fund, I had the luck to watch the documentary by David Koff “Occupied Palestine”. This documentary was one of the best I watched about the colonization of Palestine.

Koff’s documentary offers an analysis of the Israeli occupation that is still today rare to find. The documentary is interesting to watch because it gives a visual representation to what the Palestinian scholars Walid Khalidi and Rosmary Sayigh have written in the 1970s. Koff in his documentary presents the Zionist project of the conquest of Palestine. It is close to Walid Khalidi’s work because it debunks the Zionist myth stating that Palestinians chose to leave. The documentary shows that they were forced to because of the extreme violence used by the Haganah. It is close to the work of Rosemary Sayigh because it shows how Palestinian peasants, deprived from their land, decided to resist. It explains therefore how the resistance in Palestine started from the bottom up.
The documentary does not leave out any aspect of the Israeli occupation. It shows how Israel steals water from the Palestinians, how villages and houses were and are destroyed by the Israeli and how Palestinians are imprisoned arbitrarily. It also mentions the tortures in prison, for instance, how some prisoners are force-fed
The documentary was first shown in 1981 at the San Francisco festival. A few minutes into the documentary, the building where the film was shown received a bomb threat and had to be evacuated. This documentary could have been the call of conscience for many individuals sympathetic to Israel. The rampant occupation of Palestine might have been stopped if individuals around the world saw images of the Zionist colonial project at the end of the 1970s. Koff’s documentary is still relevant today because it shows that contrary to what leaders and medias are asserting and have asserted, Israel never had any good attention, and that from the beginning, it was a vast colonial project. 

US Campaign: Why was your documentary not shown in other festivals across the United States after the San Francisco festival of 1981? What were the justifications that were given to you to justify it?

David Koff (DK): At the time the film was released, in the early 1980s, there was little public knowledge in the U.S. of the Palestinian movement and the resistance of Palestinians to colonization and occupation. Because the film doesn’t shrink from the realities of the confrontation between Zionism and the Palestinian resistance it was considered “controversial” and beyond the limits of reasonable discourse.  So, for example, when the film had its U.S. premiere at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 1981, the screening was interrupted for more than an hour by a bomb threat. The consequences of that were immediately manifest when a theater-owner in San Francisco who had shown my previous films, and who came to the premiere with the intention of doing the same with Occupied Palestine, told me afterwards he would not show it.  I had a similar experience in London, where another theater owner, who compared the film to The Battle of Algiers, also refused to program it. Both these reactions were driven, in my opinion, by fear of audience reactions and public opinion.

US Campaign: Why did you not try to show your documentary after a certain amount of time? Was your documentary censored in the United States? 

DK: The film was not formally “censored” in the US because there was no “official” attempt to suppress it by the state or state agencies. It was effectively censored, however, by the unwillingness of distributors to represent or show it. One major distributor of films in the US refused to represent the film on the basis of the title alone - “I don’t have to see it,” he said, “to know we don’t want to have it in our catalog.” 

The film has been shown over the years on a limited basis in the U.S., mostly on college campuses where it has been used by instructors and more often by student organizations active in Middle East political issues. A shorter version of the film was shown on some public television stations in the U.S. in 1986 but the major stations in New York and Washington DC refused to air it. Depriving the audiences in those cities of a chance to see the film was definitely a form of censorship.

US Campaign: Why did you decide to make this documentary about Palestine?

DK :Long before I began making films I was a student of colonialism and national resistance. I had lived and worked in Africa and had traveled around the world observing and writing about colonialism and independence movements. The first films I made were in Africa, focused on African resistance to colonial rule.  I had always had an interest in Israel, having grown up in a Jewish (but not Zionist) home, and by the late 1970s I wanted to learn more about what was actually happening on the ground in Israel and the occupied territories.  I realized that the Palestinian experience of Zionism was missing from much of what was written, and almost completely absent from what was shown on the cinema screen. When I set out to make the film in 1979 it was soon after the Camp David Accords. There was a lot of talk about ‘land for peace’ and the possibility of resolving the conflict. I wanted to make a film that went beyond the current events and paid attention to the deeper currents that drove the conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians.

When you went to Palestine in the late 1970s did you remember which American companies were present? Which ones were benefiting from the Israeli Occupation?

DK:In the film itself you see a Mack earth moving truck and a Caterpillar tractor.

US Campaign: According to the Guardian, you stated that you were surprised that your documentary was shown. Why were you surprised?

DK: I wasn’t so much surprised that the 2013 London Palestine Film Festival decided to show Occupied Palestine, but rather that the organizers of the festival chose to feature it for the opening night Gala. I had hoped the film would simply be selected to be shown during the festival. This was a courageous decision on the part of the festival directors, given that the film was made more than thirty years ago. However, I think their decision was validated by the excitement the film generated and by the audience response at two separate screenings. The festival program called the film “trailblazing,” a “tour de force” and “a singular work of engaged filmmaking.” There was a vigorous Q&A with the audiences after the screenings, and there was also a substantial amount of media coverage.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Israel's War on Christmas

Foreign Policy published a piece earlier this week about "The World War on Christmas" describing "five places where Santa really does have to watch his back." The countries highlighted were Uzbekistan, North Korea, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Cuba for their hostility towards various symbols of Christmas. 

One very obvious country missing from this list is Israel. In his Christmas message, PM Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed: "Today Christian communities around the Middle East are shrinking and in danger. This is of course not true in Israel. Here there’s a strong, growing Christian community that participates fully in the life of our country." 

Palestinian Christians living under under Israeli occupation and apartheid would choose to describe their plight differently. In his piece "Israel's colonial strangling of Bethlehem," Ben White highlights the many challenges this Palestinian city faces developing its tourist dependent economy due to the occupation, including more 30 physical barriers to Palestinian freedom of movement imposed by the Israeli military. In their 2012 Christmas message, members of Kairos Palestine wrote: 
Palestinian Christians are concentrated in an area referred to as the Christian triangle: Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and Beit Sahour. This area is being strangled - in terms of access to land, water, health services, education, general mobility, and all related rights -by the unabated wave of settlement construction. Moreover, the forcible isolation of the triangle with its center, Jerusalem, is damaging both to people in Jerusalem and in the Bethlehem area.
Palestinian Christians living within Israel are also victims. Students at Safad Academic College in the Galilee had their Christmas tree taken down because it may spark riots among Jewish students. The ban on Christmas trees from all public buildings in Upper Nazareth continues, and rabbis have issued reminders to hotels and halls: "It is a seriously forbidden to hold any event at the end of the calendar year that is connected with or displays anything from the non-Jewish festivals.”

Sorry Netanyahu, but Israel's "record of religious tolerance and pluralism" makes it more like the five countries waging war on Santa Claus than one that truly respects freedom of religion for all.   

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bibi, Where's the Red Line on Apartheid?

An alternative take on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the U.N. General Assembly. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Israel Accuses South Africa of Apartheid

South Africa has decided that it will label products made in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank as coming from "Israeli Occupied Territories" to ensure that consumers are provided with accurate information on the origins of the goods they buy. Such products, including Ahava Cosmetics and SodaStream that are made in settlements, have until now been labeled as "Made in Israel."

In response Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon accused South Africa of continuing to be an apartheid state
"Unfortunately it turns out the change that has begun in South Africa over the years has not brought about any basic change in the country, and it remains an apartheid state."  
"At the moment South Africa's apartheid is aimed at Israel," he added.
It makes sense Ayalon would be upset that other countries continue to insist Israel is illegally occupying the West Bank since an Israeli government-appointed commission of jurists concluded last moth that Israel’s presence in the West Bank was not occupation. But how does labeling settlement products as such mean South Africa is practicing apartheid against Israel? Is South Africa giving preferential treatment to another country exporting products that are produced illegally in occupied territories from stolen resources? 

If you are interested in organizing a consumer boycott campaign in your community targeting Ahava or SodaStream, make sure to register for our National Organizers' Conference September 21-23 at St. Louis University. There will be a workshop to give activists a chance to strategize and coordinate efforts.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Kittens Against Apartheid

Two cuddly kittens go searching for the right hummus and learn a valuable lesson about human rights! Join the kittens in supporting justice in Israel-Palestine! Boycott Sabra and Tribe hummus! From our member group Philly BDS.

You too can support justice in Israel-Palestine. Get involved in a BDS campaign, sign this letter supporting the divestment recommendation of the Presbyterian Committee on Mission Responsibility through Investment and join us for our National Organizers' Conference September 21-23 at St. Louis University. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Peaceful Protest Against Segregation in Hebron Ends in Arrests

Too often, Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation is portrayed in the media as violent.  It is said that the Palestinian cause would be well served through nonviolence, if only some "Palestinian Gandhi" would emerge. Indeed, according to Joe Klein of Time Magazine, "Ever since Israel won control of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, the Palestinian national movement has been defined by terrorism, intransigence and, until recently in the West Bank, corruption. It has never been known for dramatic acts of nonviolence."  Meanwhile, the daily nonviolent resistance of Palestinians and their allies from around the globe is commonly all but ignored.

One recent and striking example of this non-violence occurred in the West Bank city of Hebron.  This traditional hub of Palestinian life and commerce, which currently plays host to a growing population of over 500 Jewish Israeli settlers, has experienced significant segregation in recent years.  One glaring example is Shuhada Street, from which Palestinian pedestrians have been banned since 2001.

In an effort to resist this racist prohibition, a group of Palestinian, Israeli, and international women on Wednesday organized a march on Shahuda street in direct challenge to occupation policy.  Dressed in traditional Palestinian garb, they were met with harsh resistance as they peacefully walked the street.  Assaulted by settlers who attempted to block their path, Israeli activists were cursed as "Traitors... worse than those Arabs."   Such attacks were soon followed by the arrival of heavily armed Israeli soldiers who "pushed a few of the women to the ground and started hitting them," then proceeded to arrest seven Israeli and international activists as punishment for their peaceful challenge to segregation.

Nonviolent protests such as these as well as the violence with which they are met should serve as a wake up call to the international community.  Where is the "Palestinian Gandhi"? There are in fact many of them, tirelessly resisting the Israeli occupation and standing up for justice. Their peaceful struggle can no longer be ignored.

Friday, June 15 2012|+972blog

Women challenge segregation of Hebron street in direct action; seven arrested

Palestinian, Israeli and international women activists dressed in traditional Palestinian garb attempted to walk down Shuhada street, Hebron’s main commercial thoroughfare. After only a few minutes, they were stopped by soldiers, and seven people were arrested in total.

By Noa Shaindlinger

A group of Israeli and international female activists joined Palestinian women on Wednesday in a direct action in Hebron to protest the ongoing ban on Palestinian freedom of movement on Shuhada street. The street, which was once the lively commercial centre of Hebron, was closed off to Palestinian vehicular traffic after the 1994 massacre of 29 Muslims in the Ibrahimi Mosque by Baruch Goldstein. Since 2001, Palestinian pedestrians were barred from the street, turning it into a Jewish-only zone...

Read more here

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Home Evictions in Sheikh Jarah

Below is an excerpt from the third trip report of the Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB) delegation to Palestine/Israel. It was written by Marianne Torres.

"They came for us at 5:00 in the morning when everybody was asleep. It was August 2, 2009 when the soldiers came after 10 families with 38 family members. They came, more than 100 soldiers and Special Forces, police on horses and water cannons filled with sewage water.”

This is the beginning of a story we heard today from Mariam Alrawi in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.  She continued:

“I heard the heavy steps of soldiers outside. I awoke and moved to the door. Before I got there the door was blasted open. Children had come out of their beds to see what the noise was and the soldiers grabbed them and threw them into the street in their pajamas. The women were still in bedclothes, and they were forced or thrown out into the street, too. A police was sitting on top of one of my children.”

“I ran out to [the neighbor] Nabil’s house and cried ‘the army is in our house and I want to put the kids in your house.’ Soldiers were in front of all the other houses on the street and didn't allow anybody out.”

“By half an hour, all of us were in the street. In one hour, settlers were at our home and moving into it. We had 12 kids altogether, outside, crying, screaming, asking ‘what is going on? Why are they doing that? Why are we in the street?"’

“They put all of our furniture on a truck and we don't know where it went. Soldiers were playing in the street with some of my children's toys. Our youngest family member was born on the day we were evicted. We put up a tent outside on the sidewalk and stayed in that tent for 6 months. We got mattresses and chairs, and we ate there, lived there. It rained, it was cold, the children had nowhere to study and the settlers harassed us. But we refused to leave. This is OUR home. But the army came and destroyed our tent and all that we had 17 times.”

“I have two young children who are always scared to go to sleep now, want to sleep in her bed and be with her all the time. They wake in the night crying. It has been 2 years and 7 months, but we will remain steadfast. We will not give up."

Mariam is a refugee from the Nakba in 1948. The Israeli government has been evicting Palestinian families who settled in Sheikh Jarah for years, as they are in the process of building a Jewish-only corridor from West Jerusalem to Hebrew University, right through the middle of Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem that are not in the state of Israel.

We also heard from members of the Hanoun family, and several others whose names went by too fast for me to capture, and I apologize for any names I did not get correctly. Mr Hanoun told us how they had acquired the home in 1956 when they bought the land from the government of Jordan and UNRWA helped them build the house. After living there for decades, the Israeli soldiers came for his family at 4:00 a.m. and he also explained that they slept under the trees for 6 months "to show what happened". He said "they have transferred our family again and again, and it is not fair." 

He said "we need support from all the volunteers who come to us, to help us stop more evictions." He said we must pressure the Israeli government and the American government. He said we had to "stop giving money to Israel for building settlements on top of our houses."

We heard from others that these families celebrated Ramadan (a serious challenge) and Eid while living under the trees through the winter. All the time they were there, Israeli settlers attacked the children. When they called the police about it, the police arrested the Palestinians and did nothing at all to the settlers. (We hear this constantly, everywhere we go). They arrested women as easily as men, and every arrest resulted in a heavy fine.

One time the harassment and bullying was so bad that Mr. Nabil called the police, who told him to go to the Police Station to make a complaint. He did that, and was arrested and held for 3 days. Nothing was done about the settlers' behavior.

Another young woman, a college student, spoke passionately about the experience. She told the same story Miriam had told, but with her own pain, her own passion. One of our group filmed it and I am eager to share it.

Part of Myrta's response was "who on earth sat to think about all the ways these people are tormented? How did they come up with the plans that make every Palestinian's life miserable?" As we spoke about it later, we both realized that we cannot find ways to describe this Master Plan for Ethnic Cleansing - the closest we got was Myrta's description of "evil genius", but that really doesn't touch it.

I'm so very sorry that we did not have that whole visit with the family on film. The power of hearing from the people themselves what they experienced, to hear their anguish and their anger was nearly overwhelming. Several of us (including me) spoke later of the deep sense of shame we felt, listening to them. I really have no vocabulary, or perhaps not the emotional bottle right now to speak more of this day.

Read more on IFPB's website.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Not All Israeli Citizens Are Equal

Yousef Munayyer is executive director of The Jerusalem Fund and its educational program, The Palestine Center, which is a member group of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. This piece was published in The New York Times on May 23, 2012. 

I'm a Palestinian who was born in the Israeli town of Lod, and thus I am an Israeli citizen. My wife is not; she is a Palestinian from Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Despite our towns being just 30 miles apart, we met almost 6,000 miles away in Massachusetts, where we attended neighboring colleges. 

A series of walls, checkpoints, settlements and soldiers fill the 30-mile gap between our hometowns, making it more likely for us to have met on the other side of the planet than in our own backyard. 

Never is this reality more profound than on our trips home from our current residence outside Washington.

Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport is on the outskirts of Lod (Lydda in Arabic), but because my wife has a Palestinian ID, she cannot fly there; she is relegated to flying to Amman, Jordan. If we plan a trip together — an enjoyable task for most couples — we must prepare for a logistical nightmare that reminds us of our profound inequality before the law at every turn.

Continue reading at The New York Times

Last week marked the 64th a
nniversary of the Nakba, a day when Palestinians commemorate the dispossession and ethnic cleansing of Palestine that resulted in more than 800,000 Palestinians becoming refugees. Yousef's story resonates with Palestinians across the world and exposes the apartheid policies of Israel towards Palestinians. 

After you read, send a letter to the editor ( about this piece. Letters should be 150 words or less. 

with your Facebook friends and tweet to your followers.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Should Be Used to Target Israeli Apartheid

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a member of the US Campaign Steering Committee, a senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies and the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum.

I read with great interest Peter Beinart’s recent New York Times
op-ed “To Save Israel, Boycott the Settlements.”  His thesis is straightforward: Beinart believes Israel is a democratic country being undone by the occupation of the Palestinian territories.  The settlements must be opposed while allegedly democratic Israel must be supported.  Efforts to support the Palestinian right of return (for refugees), he contends, undermine the possibility of a two-state solution and, thereby, end the possibility for Israel as a Jewish homeland.

It is critically important that Beinart identifies the undemocratic—indeed, colonial—nature of the settlements.  It’s insufficient, but an important start.  The Israeli settlements flout international law, utilizing distortions of Judeo-Christian theology and/or what are regarded as the ‘facts on the ground’ (in this case meaning that the Israelis hold the land so they are not going anywhere).  By controlling another people, the Israeli occupation renders impossible any real sense of democracy for Israel.

Yet it is within Israel itself that Beinart’s argument is fundamentally based upon a set of myths, repeatedly stated and often unquestioned, but myths nevertheless.  The central myth is that Israel, within the pre-1967 borders, is a democracy and that it is the Occupation perverting this otherwise just state.  This misrepresents reality.  For 20 percent of Israelis there is no genuine democracy.  Palestinian citizens of Israel exist as second-class citizens compared with Jewish Israelis.  Whether one is referencing a “racial” differential in public education, availability of land, marriage laws, employment, or discriminatory housing access, Israel within the pre-1967 borders - with some 35 discriminatory laws - comes up short on democracy. 

It's like calling the pre-Civil Rights United States of America a democracy.  With rampant legalized discrimination against African Americans and other people of color, and with voting skewed against the poor more generally, how could that have been a democracy?  It’s also reminiscent of those who speak of ancient Athenian democracy while ignoring the fact that this “democracy” was founded on slavery.  Either a system is democratic or it is not, a fact that many of us here in the USA understood in the period of Jim Crow segregation in the former Confederate states of our South.

Continue Reading at AlterNet

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Educate & Mobilize Your Community During Apartheid Week 2012!

By Anna Baltzer, National Organizer

Are you looking for opportunities to educate your community and advance a campaign for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel? Or are you gearing up to launch such a campaign? Israeli Apartheid Week 2012 is a fantastic opportunity to do so, and it's just three weeks away!

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an annual international series of events held in cities and on campuses across the globe. The aim of IAW is to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid state and to build BDS campaigns as part of a growing global BDS movement. Last year's IAW was incredibly successful with participants in 97 U.S. cities! The eighth annual IAW is February 26 - March 3, 2012.  

Click here to email the U.S. IAW coordinators now if you plan to participate in IAW 2012!

Local initiatives during Israeli Apartheid Week span a wide variety. You need not organize an entire week of events, and you can decide what kind of event best advances your work within your means. Here are some ideas for activities:

1.Organize a teach-in to educate the community about the definition and the reailty of Israeli apartheid, how U.S. aid to Israel scaffolds Israeli apartheid, and the importance of BDS as a strategy to end Israeli apartheid. The IAW and US Campaign websites have dozens of fact sheets illustrating Israel's apartheid policies in the occupied territories and Israel itself. One of the best resources illustrating the former is a booklet by US Campaign member group Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions - USA, entitled "Is Israel an Apartheid State?", based on a legal study coordinated by the government of South Africa. There are also films about Israeli apartheid that you can screen.

2.Pass a resolution to endorse BDS and the BDS National Committee's statement "Occupy Wall Street, Not Palestine!" at your nearest #Occupy General Assembly, as #Occupy Oakland did last week! Organizers compiled data from to show how many local tax-dollars are being spent on military aid to Israel, and how that money could otherwise be spent in the local community. You can also pass a resolution to call for an end to U.S. aid that supports Israeli apartheid. The apartheid framework is a great tool to coalition-build with allies at #Occupy who are working on other anti-racism struggles.

3.Be creative! Draw attention to Israeli apartheid and BDS with a Mock Apartheid Wall, a BDS flash mob, a concert or poetry reading, street theater, and anything else that energizes and builds your efforts. 2012.

Organizing for IAW comes on the heels of an exhilarating National BDS Conference at the University of Pennsylvania this past weekend. Kicking off with a video of support from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, hundreds of activists and academics gathered for two days of workshops, analysis, and entertainment, undeterred by a barrage of attacks by BDS opponents who attempted to smear organizers and speakers alike. Click here to hear a press briefing with keynote speaker Ali Abunimah and me, refuting the bogus charges. You know the old saying by Mahatma Gandhi:

"First they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you.
Then they fight you.
Then you win."

Let us continue to challenge U.S. aid to Israel and Israeli apartheid as part of this movement that can no longer be ignored. Part of what makes IAW so powerful is that it is internationally coordinated around the same goal to build the global BDS movement. Please click here to contact the U.S. IAW organizers as soon as possible if you plan to participate, so they can get your events up on the international website for this exciting week of action! 
Click here to contact the U.S. IAW organizers now if you plan to participate, so they can get your events up on the international website for this exciting week of action!