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April 2015

AIPAC-backed legislation targeting BDS movement advances in Congress

Mike Coogan on

This week Senator Ben Cardin introduced an AIPAC-backed amendment to a trade bill that seeks to thwart the growing BDS movement. The legislation is designed to pressure the EU, which is currently negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the United States, to reverse course on the steps it has taken in recent years to oppose Israeli settlements. If it passes it would set a dangerous precedent for free speech and solidify the United States’ role as the chief enabler of Israel’s occupation.

Thorny issues

Hatim Kanaaneh on

Hatim Kanaaneh reflects on the recent news that the Israeli Supreme Court will permit the “legal seizure” of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem by remembering a story from his youth of trying to pick the delicious, and dangerous, prickly pear.

Shaken by the war on Gaza, Palestinians in Israel gather for March of Return

Dan Cohen on

Yesterday, an estimated 5,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jerusalemites participated in the March of Return in an open field overlooking the Sea of Galilee and above a valley where ruins of the village of Hadatha are scattered. Organized annually by the Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Displaced People, the March of Return commemorates the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by pre-state Zionist forces in 1947-1948 — what is known as the Nakba.

Using the dead: the ‘NYT’ works with Israel to justify military service

Tzvia Thier on

A New York Times article celebrating sacrifice in the Israeli army on the country’s memorial day was deeply disturbing to Tzvia Thier, who has personally experienced such loss. These soldiers died in vain, for a government dispensing terror. Journalists should not be celebrating that sacrifice.

Accusations of anti-Semitism roil Stanford campus as student coalition denies discrimination charges

Alex Kane on

Stanford student Molly Horwitz says she was the target of anti-Semitism during an interview with a coalition of students of color who endorse student candidates. Horwitz, who recently won a senate seat, says she was asked how her Jewishness would impact a vote on divestment–a charge that has been met with denials. She quickly became a cause celebre, but the students who Horwitz says asked her that question have released a strongly worded statement denying the charges. The result is two diametrically opposed, and unresolvable, narratives that have become the latest fodder for a nationwide debate on anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel at American colleges.

Learning Arabic in Al ‘Azza camp

Jacob Burns on

Jacob Burns writes about taking Arabic lessons with Echlas al ‘Azza in Bethlehem. He says, “What makes the experience of learning from Echlas unique, however, is that when you learn with her, you learn in her home in al ‘Azza refugee camp. This means that the lessons are not just about the language, but also an education in the history and culture of Palestinian refugees. Without understanding one, she says, it is not possible to understand the other.”

Marking Memorial Day in Tel Aviv with Kahanists and Combatants for Peace

Dan Cohen on

Tuesday night, a busload of Palestinians from the West Bank and hundreds of Israeli Jews filed into the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds to attend a Combatants for Peace event billed as an “Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony: Honoring the Victims, Fighting for Peace.” Kahanist protesters had opposed Palestinian participation in the event and baited attendees as they entered. Dan Cohen reports on the proceedings and finds the Kahanists may be a bit more honest then their liberal Israeli counterparts.

In defense of Cornel West’s prophetic voice

Marc H. Ellis on

Marc Ellis first met Cornel West almost thirty years ago when he was invited to share the podium with him on the subject of Israel and the Palestinians. Since then West has become a leading African American public intellectual and taken daring stands for Palestinians, including during Israel’s attack on Gaza last summer. Ellis reflects on West’s career and prophetic voice in light of Michael Eric Dyson’s New Republic article excoriating West, and writes, “Though Dyson’s predicted fall of Cornel West is clearly exaggerated, his penchant for disciplining West’s prophetic voice should be taken seriously.”

Defending the Iran nuclear deal from Israel and its supporters

Jeff Warner and Dick Platkin on

Within days of President Obama’s framework agreement on the Iran nuclear program polls showed that the American public supported the framework by almost 2-to-1, but the support weakened as opposition to the deal emerged from the Israeli government, AIPAC, other members of the Israel lobby. Jeff Warner and Dick Platkin deconstruct a column by Jewish Journal of Los Angeles publisher David Suissa which parrots the Israel lobby opposition to the deal.

Organizations across Canada oppose government effort to criminalize criticism of Israel

Sid Shniad on

In the face of growing intimidation from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government, Independent Jewish Voices – Canada (IJV) issued a statement identifying the tangible threat to criminalize criticism of the state of Israel in Canada. The positive response to this IJV initiative has been inspiring. At last count, 81 organizations from across English-speaking Canada and Québec – including major trade unions, labour councils, civil liberties, anti-war, faith-based, student and other groups — have endorsed the statement.

Leaked Sony emails reveal Hollywood execs efforts to support Israel

Alastair Sloan on

Top Hollywood bosses enjoy a strong relationship with the Israeli government and various pro-Israel lobbying groups across the United States, according to a cache of Sony internal emails leaked to Wikileaks and published for the first time last week.

The moral hypocrisy of American Muslims for Palestine on the Armenian Genocide

Sami Suleiman on

Sami Sulaiman writes that if Armenian-American college students felt betrayed in the past day, he would not blame them. Yesterday the umbrella organization United States Council of Muslim Organizations released a statement on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide that said President Obama should not refer to the “events of 1915” as a genocide without further investigation. They call for a more “balanced” approach through academic consensus based on Turkish archives that Turkey refuses to open to establish a “just memory.” Sulaiman says that USCMO member American Muslims for Palestine should know better.