This Hanukkah, help shatter the ‘Israel barrier’

on 23 Comments

The recently released Wikileaks diplomatic cables reveal that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu posited the Goldstone Report and a nuclear Iran as the main existential threats to his country, but the real existential threat to Israel is its own policies.

On November 8, when I stood up in New Orleans at a large gathering of Jewish leaders to tell Netanyahu that illegal West Bank settlements betray Jewish values, I could not have predicted that these words would not only reverberate through the room, but would also shatter the “Israel barrier,” the culture of silencing dissent towards Israel’s flagrant violations of international law that is so pervasive in my community. Supported by our allies at Jewish Voice for Peace, the five of us who disrupted Netanyahu’s speech gave a name to the real cause of Israel’s delegitimization: Israeli policies such as the occupation, the siege of Gaza, and the silencing of dissent.  The immediate response in the room was violent—I was actually put in a chokehold and pushed to the ground.  But it was too late to silence us, and our message was soon circling the globe. The response to our actions was overwhelmingly positive.  I’ve received emails of support from rabbis, cantors, Naomi Klein’s mom, young Palestinians, and Jewish friends with whom I haven’t been “out” on this issue.  

Our young, Jewish, and proud voices join the chorus rising from the West Bank, Gaza, Israel and around the world clamoring for justice.  On November 20, CODEPINK organizer Nancy Kricorian and I traveled to London for the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, where we testified about Ahava’s corporate complicity in Israel’s violations of international law.  As the Tribunal announced its findings regarding 12 corporations that are violating international law, including Ahava, blocks away two British activists locked themselves together inside Ahava’s flagship UK store, engaging in a brave act of civil disobedience.

This Monday, November 29, was the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, and in observance activists from LA to Seattle to Holland (LINK to ) coordinated Ahava protests, some of them using our new boycott holiday carols.  In South Africa activists lay charges against Ahava at Cape Town Central Police Station. And in Colorado Springs activists were arrested for peacefully demonstrating outside ULTA, a national chain that sells Ahava. Inspired by this action, our Stolen Beauty boycott of Ahava is urging supporters to send letters to ULTA President, CEO and Director Carl “Chuck” Rubin urging him to stop carrying Ahava at ULTA.

Over the past month, our list of endorsers has grown to include 10 rabbis, dozens of international peace groups, and thousands of conscious people working to take the profit out of occupation.

Last night, Jews began the ritual lighting of the Chanukah candles. We light eight candles to celebrate the miracle of fuel that lasted beyond all expectations, and a victory in the face of impossible odds. Today, we have an opportunity to join together in illuminating a path forward towards true equality for all in Israel and Palestine by taking part in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement.  As I wrote on Mondoweiss last year, I will again be boycotting Ahava when I do my holiday shopping this year.  And I hope you will join me in refusing to buy into the occupation.   

Rae Abileah is a Jewish-American of Israeli descent and is a national organizer with CODEPINK Women for Peace and a member of Jewish Voice for Peace.  She lives in San Francisco, CA and can be reached at[email protected].  She invites you to sign the boycott of Ahava products at

About Rae Abileah

Rae Abileah is a social change strategist and member of Jewish Voice for Peace who participated in the 21st Presbyterian General Assembly ( She is a Jewish-American of Israeli descent and lives in California. This month she traveled to Israel/Palestine to co-lead the 50th Interfaith Peace Builders delegation ( She can be reached at rae [at] and @raeabileah.

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23 Responses

  1. gingershot
    December 2, 2010, 10:21 am

    great article – than you Ms Abileah for your bravery at that Netanyahu conference

    Shattering the “Israel barrier” is akin to breaking thru a deep level of collective denial that has been deliberately created by this tribe bent on the ethnic cleansing of Palestine

    Thank you so much

  2. Richard Witty
    December 2, 2010, 10:30 am

    The Goldstone Report is in fact a gift to the Jewish state, towards improving the conduct of its military so that it may be more effective in Israeli defense.

    It should, and has partially, taken the information to heart and held accountable to some degree the individuals involved in extra-legal actions in Gaza in 2008.

    In contrast, Hamas, which is also named as perpetrator of war crimes has refused to undertake any self-inquiry into its policies and actions.

    The urge for reform is critical to Israel.

    The effort to eliminate it is critical to oppose.

    Which BDS do you support? The urge to reform, or the urge to eliminate?

    • Avi
      December 2, 2010, 1:30 pm

      Yet again, you have chosen to clumsily propagandize. I don’t know why Phil continues to allow you to post lies. How many times do your lies need to be refuted for you to cease and desist?

      It should, and has partially, taken the information to heart and held accountable to some degree the individuals involved in extra-legal actions in Gaza in 2008.

      “In some form”. That “some form” has come in the form of scapegoating two or three soldiers and then, adding insult to injury, Israel suspended their sentences. One was actually “punished” by being transferred to a different unit. That is 0.00000000000000001% compliance with the Goldstone report.

      You’re such a hack, witty. It’s beyond the pale.

      • annie
        December 2, 2010, 1:40 pm

        unfortunately witty is addicted to the hasbarist ‘elimination’ rhetoric. I know rae personally. she takes her israeli citizenship very seriously. the idea she would want to eliminate the state is absurd.

      • James North
        December 2, 2010, 10:37 pm

        Avi is right here. Opinions are one thing, but to claim that Israel has “taken the information to heart and held accountable to some degree the individuals involved in extra-legal actions in Gaza in 2008” is an untruth, just as Avi points out. Let’s set aside the euphemism (“extra-legal actions!”); I’m offended at this dishonest claim that any of the Israeli soldiers who killed 1400 Palestinians have been truly brought to justice.
        What disturbs me is that Richard is not a newcomer to the site. Avi, Shmuel, tree, and others too numerous to mention have, time and again, cited human rights reports on Gaza, some from within Israel itself, so he has no excuse to write this.
        I think Richard is veering dangerously close to the site’s definition of “trolling,” and violating the comment policy. A first-time visitor, repeating hasbara, might well make such a statement, and would be answered, just as Avi did above. But the site’s moderators might want to consider whether Richard’s repeated denial and misrepresentation of the facts is an effort (possibly unconscious) to disrupt the comment section.

    • Chu
      December 2, 2010, 1:59 pm

      I don’t belive you’re convincing anyone of your positions. Is it time wasted? I wonder. The ideas you set forth are most often not very clear. In order to win the War of Ideas, people have to believe your vast array of ideas. But I don’t witness that happening often.

      • Shingo
        December 2, 2010, 4:21 pm

        Witty aims to be vague, that way he can claim to be on the side of peace, but reject any and all means of achieving it.

        Witty belings to the grossly dishonest Zionist propagandists, like Goldberg, who claim to stupport a 2 state solution and oppose settlements, but deep down hold very different views.

        Witty’s vagueness is also a lame attempt to pose as an academic trying to tackle the IP conflict on an intellectual level, when in fact it is simply a chep effort to cloud the debate.

      • Chu
        December 2, 2010, 4:56 pm

        I mean, why does he bother…
        lame attempt is an understatement.
        It’s just grossly obnoxious how he
        underestimates the level of the crowd’s
        intellect. Must be all that zio-lemonade
        he drank with Phil in his youth. But Phil,
        got on the wagon and didn’t look back.

    • Antidote
      December 2, 2010, 3:04 pm

      We know you don’t support BDS. Do you realize what BS you support?

      “The Goldstone Report is in fact a gift to the Jewish state, towards improving the conduct of its military so that it may be more effective in Israeli defense.”

      So the IDF needed Goldstone to show them how to defend Israel more effectively and thus build a better wheel? That makes perfect sense. It sure is a blessed nation, your Israel. All works out in its long-term favor, no matter how much Israeli officials fight off the lessons sent from above via messengers like Goldstone.

    • Shingo
      December 2, 2010, 4:17 pm

      Yes Witty would rather Hamas have had a show trial like Israel did.

      Hamas were not accused of perpetrating war crims on the scale that Israel did.

      “The urge for reform is critical to Israel.”

      There is no urge Witty, other than in your delusional mind.

      “The effort to eliminate it is critical to oppose.”‘

      There is no effort to eliminate Witty, other than in your delusional mind.

    • Shingo
      December 2, 2010, 7:23 pm

      Which BDS do you support Witty? The urge to reform, or the urge to eliminate?

  3. seafoid
    December 2, 2010, 11:57 am

    Economics will eventually be the downfall of Israel. There is no hasbara that works when the money men turn against you.

  4. annie
    December 2, 2010, 1:43 pm

    you’re such an inspiration rae. globetrotting ambassador for peace, and so camera friendly!! i love the way you can just open your mouth and the truth spills out in all it’s glory.

    may your hanukkah season be brimming w/everlasting light.

  5. Richard Witty
    December 2, 2010, 5:09 pm

    I’ll look for the reference shortly, but I read in Haaretz a couple months ago that 40 officers were decommissioned for violating rules of engagement in Gaza.

    Its not candid enough.

    But, your ranting is also misrepresentative.

    The primary recommendation of the report and the mandated outcome of the investigation was to insist on thorough review and reforms in to return to compliance with international law during wartime.

    Israel did that at least partially according to my continual read, and Hamas didn’t yet.

    You do remember that Hamas was also accused of war crimes by the Goldstone report, and was similarly required to conduct internal investigation, which it has publicly refused to do.

    I guess that is better, that it is honestly sticking its thumb at international law, rather than Israel’s mediocre compliance.

    • Philip Weiss
      December 2, 2010, 5:53 pm

      richard sorry not to have followed up on amira hass tape, do you have it, can i send you my address?

    • Avi
      December 2, 2010, 6:15 pm

      I’m not going to sully my hands with you anymore.

    • Shingo
      December 2, 2010, 7:22 pm

      “The primary recommendation of the report and the mandated outcome of the investigation was to insist on thorough review and reforms in to return to compliance with international law during wartime.”

      The war itself was a war crime. Israel attack on Gaza on November 4th was a war crime.

      “Israel did that at least partially according to my continual read, and Hamas didn’t yet.”

      Israel did nothing. Those 40 officers who were “decommissioned” are probably happy to be leaving the IDF and returning to normal life. I suspect they are continuing to receive full salaries and befits.

    • Kathleen
      December 2, 2010, 8:38 pm

      Dr. Norman Finkelstein said there was no war in Gaza: the so-called War in Gaza was a massacre.
      He said that although Israel flew 2,800 to 3,000 combat missions, not a single plane was damaged because Hamas sat in its bunkers the whole time; an Israeli analyst said not a single battle was fought.
      “After the first week of the air assault, the land assault began. The Israeli soldiers had special night-fighting equipment so Hamas couldn’t even see them. One Israeli soldier said: ‘There was nothing there. It was a ghost town, with only livestock.’ Another soldier said: “I didn’t see a single Arab the whole week I was there.’ Another Israeli soldier said: “It felt like hunting season. It reminded me of a playstation computer game.’ ”
      Surreal though this may sound, Mr. Finkelstein said the reality is that this so called War in Gaza was really 22 days of death and destruction inflicted on the Palestinian people in Gaza. He said the Israeli military exploded white phosphorous – which burns at a temperature of 816 degrees Celsius – over schools, hospitals and markets, resulting in 1400 Palestinians deaths.

      link to

    • Kathleen
      December 2, 2010, 8:41 pm

      Congress should read those war crimes committed by both sides out loud during a congressional hearing. Read Israel’s war crimes out loud. Read Hamas’s war crime out loud.

      Read the Goldstone Report out loud in a congressional hearing. Hear hear

    • Citizen
      December 3, 2010, 7:16 am

      So, I see Witty equates Hamas, an entity on the official USA terrorist list which does not claim to be a democracy, with the nuclear armed Israeli state, beneficiary of endless streams of USA free dollars and diplomacy vetoes. Watta guy.

      • Richard Witty
        December 3, 2010, 8:04 am

        Please send my your address.

  6. radii
    December 2, 2010, 6:52 pm

    all those protesters who shout at Netanyahu should say the same thing over and over “Nine-eleven was very good for israel” … use his own words against him and remind the world that he said it live on TV while the remnants of the bodies and buildings smoldered behind him

  7. Kathleen
    December 2, 2010, 8:29 pm

    So great to watch the anti apartheid movement grow. Watching so many young Jews and older Jews get on the Palestinian human rights bus. Edward Said, Art Gish and so many more who worked so hard to bring the worlds attention to this issue are smiling

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