Category Archives:

Middle East Studies Association affirms members’ right to boycott Israeli academic institutions (Updated)

Annie Robbins on
BDS Movement Logo

A huge win for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement at the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) annual conference in Washington. Participating members voted overwhelmingly, by a majority of 265 against 79, to adopt a resolution defending their right to boycott Israeli academic institutions, part of the Palestinian campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. The resolution will now go to a vote of the full membership.

A handful of Wellesley students are trying to shut down discussion of Israel/Palestine

Eliza Marks, Nour Azzouz, and Mallika Govindan on
Wellesley College poster, photograph by Jordan Hannink

A Wellesley College chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine formed this fall and tried to start a conversation about Palestinian human rights. A few pro-Israel students are trying to shut down that conversation, saying it is “menacing.” The campaign represents a bigoted backlash against Palestinian solidarity and in the process Wellesley SJP has been falsely accused of contributing to a growing hostile and anti-Jewish environment on our campus. Three SJP members respond and address the repeated attempts to slander their work for Palestinian and Israeli human rights

Some reflections on the 5th anniversary of Kairos Palestine

Marc H. Ellis on
Elias Chacour, a former archbishop for the Melkite Greek Catholic church

During the five years of the existence of the landmark Kairos document on Palestinian conditions, solidarity with Palestinians has increased. But the reckoning that Kairos Palestine calls for hasn’t happened. It won’t happen in the near future either. The powers that be in the world are uninterested in Palestinian freedom

South African activists reflect on parallels between life under apartheid and Israel/Palestine today

Sarah Lazare on
South Africans march in solidarity with Gaza, in Cape Town, South Africa, on August 9, 2014.  (Photo: Che Erasmus Nche/Eras Media Productions)

In the midst of Israel’s latest seven-week military assault on Gaza, up to 200,000 people took to the streets of Cape Town, South Africa to march in solidarity with the Palestinian people–in what many say was the largest single protest that country has seen since the mass movements that overthrew apartheid. The people who filled this crowd—including prominent as well as lesser-known anti-apartheid heroes—made direct links between South African history and present-day reality for Palestinians. Sarah Lazare talks with three South African activists on the parallels between South Africa under apartheid and Israel/Palestine today, as well as the state of the Palestine solidarity movement in South Africa

In landslide, UCLA student govt votes to divest from Israeli occupation

Adam Horowitz on
(Image: UCLA Divest Facebook page)

The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) undergraduate student government voted 8-2-2 to pass a resolution calling on the university to divest from companies profiting from Israeli human rights abuses and occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. According to a UCLA Students for Justice in Palestine press release, UCLA’s vote marks the sixth undergraduate University of California campus to support divestment from the Israeli occupation

RE/MAX cashes in on Israel’s illegal settlements

Medea Benjamin on

The Israeli government’s recent announcement that it had authorized the building of another 1,000 settlement homes in East Jerusalem left the US government seeing red, with State Department spokeswoman Jen Psakicalling the settlement activity “illegitimate” and “incompatible with the pursuit of peace.” But the announcement must have left the US-based real estate giant RE/MAX “seeing green,” ready to cash in on the sale and rental of more illegal settlement homes. Among the 90 countries with RE/MAX franchises is in Israel. Since its entry into the Israeli market in 1995, RE/MAX has become the largest network of real estate agencies in Israel, boasting 100 branches and over 900 real estate agents in this small country roughly the size of New Jersey. But here is the problem. RE/MAX Israel sells properties that are not only in Israel proper, but are also in occupied Palestinian lands of the West Bank

Running for Gaza: Linda Wafi’s marathon journey for Palestinian children

Alex Kane on
Linda Wafi in a Manhattan coffee shop. (Photo: Alex Kane)

On November 2, Linda Wafi participated in the 26.2 mile-New York City Marathon. The 33-year-old Palestinian resident of Washington, D.C. was not just running for exercise, though. Wafi was raising money for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, a nonprofit that brings injured children from the Middle East to hospitals around the world for treatment. The fund is busy these days with helping Palestinians who were injured during Israel’s last military operation in the Gaza Strip, an area Wafi lived in for ten years

In travesty of justice, Rasmea Odeh found guilty despite history of Israeli torture

Mondoweiss Editors on
Supporters of community activist Rasmea Odeh hold up signs. (Photo via

The following statement was issued by the Rasmea Defense Committee: “In a travesty of justice, Rasmea Odeh today was found guilty of one count of Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization. For over a year, Rasmea, her supporters, and her legal team have been battling this unjust government prosecution, saying from the start that the immigration charge was nothing but a pretext to attack this icon of the Palestine liberation movement. And although there is real anger and disappointment in the jury’s verdict, it was known as early as October 27th that she would not get a full and fair trial.”

All-star musicians come together to support Gaza with new album ‘2 Unite All’

Annie Robbins on
2 Unite All ~ Cover Art by Greg Spalenka / TuneCore distribution

“2 Unite All” features 26 powerful musical tracks of healing and peace created in a wonderful and very accessible way for people around the world to support the besieged Palestinian community of Gaza. The album features Peter Gabriel, The Police’s Stewart Copeland, Grammy Award-winning opera singer Sasha Cooke, Rick Allen (Def Leppard), Country Grammy winner Gary Nicholson, Pearl Thompson (Cure/Led Zeppelin) and System of a Down’s Serj Tankian

Unionizing solidarity with Palestine: Support grows for BDS among grassroots labor movement

Alborz Gandanhari, David McCleary, Kumars Salehi and Tory Webster on
Block the Boat march in Oakland. (Photo: Bob Ristelhueber)

Compared to its international counterparts, the U.S. labor movement has been slow to embrace BDS. On the grassroots level, however, things look different. This summer, hundreds of US labor leaders and organizers signed on to Labor for Palestine’s BDS statement. To add to these inspiring developments, on December 4th, UAW 2865, a union that represents 13,000 student workers across nine University of California campuses, will become the first U.S. union to hold a membership vote on joining the BDS movement. Similarly encouraging are recent solidarity actions in the San Francisco Bay Area, which show that, despite the ambivalence among some union leadership, rank-and-filers do not hesitate to stand in solidarity with the oppressed

Tufts students challenge university’s complicity in Israeli violence

Leah Muskin-Pierret on
Tufts SJP Group Shot marching for water rights. (Photo: Leah Muskin-Pierret)

Murder, in any democracy’s foreign policy, is hardly ever sold as murder; instead it is neatly repackaged, advertised as necessary defense to loyal constituents. On November 10, the Fletcher School and Tufts Hillel will host one of the primary architects of this summer’s massacres in Gaza. Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine is calling on Tufts President Anthony Monaco to cancel a speaking engagement by Lt. Col. Dr. Eran Shamir- Borer so that apologists for Israeli war crimes are not honored on their campus.

Overcoming rage through action

Katie Miranda on
Protesters at the port of Oakland. (Photo: Block the Boat Coalition)

Jean-Jacques Surbeck, Israel apologist, speaks at Santa Cruz university and leaves a listener enraged by his mythology. Katie Miranda takes a lesson from the prophet Muhammad, channel your rag

This is how an academic boycott of Israel actually works

David Palumbo-Liu on

The growing momentum of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement since last year has drawn a great deal of media attention to the issue of Israel-Palestine, and the cause of Palestinian rights. Unfortunately, this often has produced more confusion and obfuscation than illumination and clarity. Even one of the mainstay journals of American academia, the Chronicle of Higher Education, is not immune from inaccuracies and misstatements. Even when it claims to be setting the record straight. This points to an inability, and perhaps unwillingness, of the mainstream media to treat the issue of the academic boycott of Israel in a fair-handed manner

Will BDS become another form of ritualized solidarity?

Marc H. Ellis on
Montreal (photo: Scott Weinstein)

“Friends” of Palestine – the churches, NGOS and the UN – will go out on the Palestinian limb – up to a point. The dance that follows is what Marc Ellis calls “ritualized solidarity.” Is BDS any different? At this point, he believes it is – to some extent. But there are unexpected dangers ahead. In the end, BDS supporters may have no choice in the matter. Those driving the peace train are much more powerful than movements of dissent, including

Tampa ‘Block the Boat’ activists delay unloading of Israeli ship, thwart police for over 5 hours

Annie Robbins on
Tampa #BlocktheBoat

In a bold action, Block the Boat activists from Tampa delayed the unloading of a ZIM boat for more than 5 hours Saturday morning.Chaining themselves by the neck to a parked car in front of Tampa’s port entrance, Block the Boat activists prevented the police from dispersing them for several hours after the break of dawn. Eventually, according to Ahmad Saadaldin, “the boat unloaded unfortunately, but there was a MAJOR delay. Port of Tampa has never seen anything like this before. It was an apocalyptic traffic jam. It’s all inspired by Block the Boat Oakland.”

SodaStream says it plans to leave West Bank for the Negev, but boycotters promise to not let up

Annie Robbins on
(Image: Stephanie Westbrook)

SodaStream stock is still in free fall and the company announced yesterday that it is dumping its apartheid digs in the occupied West Bank. SodaStream says it plans to move to the heavily subsidized Idan HaNegev Industrial Park /Lehavim Industrial zone, 1,100-acre “development zone” in the Negev desert where Palestinian Bedouins are being forcibly removed by the Israeli government. Although the move from the occupied territories is certainly a victory, it’s not enough for boycott activists

Widening the Frame: SJP national conference highlights Palestine in global context

Kristian Davis Bailey on

Kristian Davis Bailey reports from this year’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) national conference which brought together the largest contingent of SJP members in the movement’s history. Over 500 student activists and SJP alumni came to Tufts under the theme “Beyond Solidarity: Resisting Racism and Colonialism from the US to Palestine,” which sought to embody our student movement’s continued commitment to joint struggle. Ahmad Abunzaid, the legal and policy director of the Dream Defenders, summarized the core message of the weekend during a conference workshop on Black liberation: “Our struggles are bound together and our liberation will be bound together.”

Bouquets for Melissa Parke

John Salisbury on

Melissa Parke (ALP, Freemantle WA) spoke in favor of a petition calling for BDS on the floor of the Australian Parliament on Monday night. John Salisbury writes: “Although her speech was a cri de coeur for common sense and common decency it was remarkable for its uniqueness. No Australian politician, except Parke, would deign to speak up for Palestinian suffering in Parliament. In Australia, as in the US, most politicians are just ventriloquist dolls for the pro-Israel lobby. . . But Monday night Parke walked into no man’s land. The brickbats will inevitably follow as our Australian versions of Haim Saban and Jeffrey Goldberg try to take her down. But Melissa, you don’t deserve the brickbats, you deserve bouquets.”