Granted an op-ed in the New York Times to spread distortions and lies regarding Israel’s critics, the country’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett attempts to whitewash the recent Israeli ban against BDS activist groups, by demonizing them as “enemy soldiers” and slyly comparing them to those who “helped Nazi Germany.”
In a recent New York Times Op-Ed, Naftali Bennett argued that Israel’s ban on entry of foreign BDS supporters is logical and necessary, comparing it to the U.S. ban on the entry of Nazi collaborators. Jack Snyder responds, “I am a Jewish student. I study at the preeminent institution of the academic study of Judaism in America, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. And yet somehow, in the eyes of the state of Israel, due to my membership in Jewish Voice for Peace and the BDS movement, I am no better than a Nazi collaborator.”
Mathilde Krim, who died at 91 this month, was honored in obituaries for his courageous advocacy for AIDS victims in the 90s. The press ignored her other great cause: Moving US foreign policy on Israel in the 60s to the “no daylight” stance we’ve had since. Krim had lived in Israel and married a leading Democratic fundraiser, and she twisted Lyndon Johnson’s arm to stand by Israel’s side.
In a talk yesterday at the Middle East Institute, Palestinian Ambassador Husam Zomlot accused Donald Trump of “backstabbing” Mahmoud Abbas, deepening a dispute over who is to blame for the failure of a peace deal with Israel. While earlier in the day Trump said Palestinian leaders had abandoned pre-talk discussions, Zomlot presented an altogether different narrative: the Palestinians were bystanders to internal divisions within the Trump administration that prevented peace talks from starting months ago.
After pressure from local pro-Israel organizations, the New Orleans City Council yesterday voted unanimously to rescind a human rights resolution that the body passed exactly two weeks ago. “The hoods are off. We see the way Zionist organizations like the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish Federation are willing to kill a human rights resolution and undermine entire movements to protect Israel,” Anna Baltzer, Director of Organizing and Advocacy with the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, said.
Palestinians in Bethlehem’s Aida refugee camp have expressed their mounting anxiety over a US decision to slash funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Ahmad Abu Salem, who owns a small shop in Aida camp, tells Mondoweiss, “UNRWA is all we have. We don’t have any alternatives if they continue cutting services. We would have no jobs and nowhere to go. If these cuts continue the situation here could explode. Without UNRWA we have nothing.”
Reading JMN Jeffries’s reissued 1940 study of the Balfour Declaration, scholar Joseph Levine concludes that it is true that there are two narratives about the foundation of a Jewish state in Palestine — but only one of them, the Palestinian one, has much connection to reality.
Liberal Democrats have turned against Israel. Nearly twice as many liberal Democrats say they sympathize more with the Palestinians than with Israel– 35% vs. 19%– in the latest Pew survey. Just two years ago, Israel’s number was 33. We can thank Netanyahu’s ugly international image for that, as well as the attitudes of the young.
Ben Jealous, the former President and CEO of the NAACP, is running for governor of Maryland. Kim Jensen and Laila El-Haddad are encouraged by his stances on public education, worker’s rights, and single-payer healthcare but say his position on BDS reveals a troubling inconsistency in his platform as a progressive.
As Vice President Mike Pence began his speech to the Israeli Knesset, Palestinian lawmakers disrupted the speech, protesting the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. They were forcibly removed from the chamber– reportedly all 13 members of the Joint List. In his fiery speech, Pence advocated regime change in Iran.
Why did Rawan Yaghi not see her family in Gaza for four years as she studied at Oxford? Why did she miss her brother’s wedding? Because of Israeli borders that turn Palestinian territories into prisons. “Qalandia checkpoint looks like a slaughterhouse. As soon as the bus moved, I could then see the wall, the massive wall that now stood between me and my sister. The grey force pressed down on my chest and I burst into tears. I haven’t seen my sister since then,” she writes.
As thousands of women, and men, dust off their pink pussy hats ahead of this weekend’s anniversary Women’s March, Nada Elia says we are seeing many of the divisions that riddled last year’s rallies surface again. Thankfully, she says, we are also witnessing the emergence of a solid alternative to the shortcomings of imperial feminism. Elia writes, “Palestinian women and our allies have long pointed out the erasure of our oppression from mainstream feminist discourse. Hopefully 2018, and the grassroots insistence that Palestine must be included in intersectional struggles for justice, will put an end to that.”
Archives of Israel’s leftleaning Labor Party in the years after the country’s creation reveal that David Ben-Gurion and other leaders vacillated between relating to Palestinian citizens as dogs or as donkeys. Moshe Dayan looked forward to the opportunity of expelling the remaining 170,000 Palestinians, and Ben-Gurion said if differences between the people were eliminated, “the Jewish people” would be eradicated.
Marilyn Garson reviews Norman Finkelstein’s new book ‘Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom’: “Finkelstein has set out to deconstruct the false narrative of war in Gaza, by refuting its component parts. One by one. Finkelstein is an author, activist and scholar with decades of archives and outrage to bring. ‘Gaza’ is one exhaustive act of witness.”
Munther Amira, a highly respected activist in the West Bank, was arrested on December 27 during a nonviolent protest and Israel has brought 12 charges against him, including throwing stones and organizing unpermitted marches. “It’s important to note that Israeli military courts have over a 99% conviction rate, and in Munther’s case, I think there is a clear political motivation here,” Jonathan Pollak, a member of Amira’s legal team, tells Mondoweiss, “it’s obvious that Munther’s political activism is not tolerated by the Israeli regime.”
The Trump administration informed the United Nations yesterday it would cut aid for Palestinian refugees by more than half, withholding $65 million in funds. For Mariam Oraif, 74, and many other Palestinians who depend on UNRWA health services the cuts could be a matter of life or death. When asked what she will do if UNRWA is no longer able to provide her with insulin and her weekly treatment, Oraif said of Trump, “He wants to kill us.”
If you think Trump’s “shithole countries” statement is bad, consider that such statements are routine in Israel, whose leaders have likened Palestinians to “cancer” and snakes and cockroaches, said that disloyal Palestinians should be decapitated with an “axe” or drowned, and have actually had a Muslim ban since the country was established.
J Street, the liberal Zionist group, has issued two statements expressing anguish about Ahed Tamimi slapping an Israeli soldier occupying her family property in Nabi Saleh. Neither mentions the fact that hours before the slapping an Israeli soldier shot her cousin in the face, apparently maiming him.
At a settlers’ winery in an illegal settlement outside Hebron, boxes are labeled “Made in Israel,” and a bottle of Riesling says “Jerusalem Winery, Israel” — false labels to get around EU restrictions on the sale of settlement goods. Two European visitors get photographic proof.
The city council of New Orleans unanimously passed a resolution which calls on the city to review and divest from companies that perpetrate human rights violations anywhere in the world. It was proposed by local Palestine solidarity activists who support the BDS movement for Palestinian human rights. “It’s not very different from the stance that a number of entities took when apartheid was commonplace in South Africa,” Councilmember-at-large and cosponsor Jason Williams said in adopting the resolution.
Pro-Israel groups are working to save the Hebrew program at Evanston Township High School, north of Chicago, where enrollment has slipped in recent years to only 34 students. “The message of these Hebrew programs are clear: If you’re going to learn Hebrew, you’re going to learn to love Israel. No room exists for students to master the language while disagreeing with Israel’s policies”–writes Liz Rose, former Hebrew teacher in a Chicago area public school, who lost her job when she attempted to show students the Palestinian side of the story.
The statistics show higher levels of Palestinian deaths, disabilities, home demolitions and poverty than at any other time since the dispossession of Palestinians in 1948. At the same time, there is an internal crisis of political leadership and Palestinian civil society is divided at a time when it is imperative that Palestinians show unity against the Israeli occupation. Haidar Eid writes, “the example of South Africa has a role to play in Palestine today. Not only can we learn about Israel by examining apartheid in South Africa, but we can also help to take the Palestinian cause forward by learning from the South African anti-apartheid struggle.”
After two decades fighting to remain in the United States, Amer Othman Adi spent the first days of 2018 saying goodbye to his friends and neighbors in his adopted hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. That is until his lawyer and supporters — including a Congressman — secured a final-hour stay of deportation yesterday, just a few days before Adi’s forced deportation to Jordan scheduled for Sunday. “I have been fighting this deportation for almost 23 years; I thought we had it solved,” Adi told a small group of teary-eyed friends and neighbors gathered at the hookah bar on Tuesday. “But when Donald Trump was elected I knew I was in trouble.”
The 101-year-old American Friends Service Committee, or AFSC, is barred from Israel by the government because it supports boycotts on behalf of Palestinians, many of them refugees. But last century the AFSC won a Nobel Prize for helping refugees of the Holocaust, including many Jews. The group is honored at the Israeli Holocaust memorial.
Israel issued a blacklist of 20 organizations that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Among those barred entry are Code Pink, AFSC, American Muslims for Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace. “We wear this designation as a badge of honor,” said Yousef Munayyer of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights.