We are finally getting something of a national debate over Israel policy. The Republican debate in Houston last night had Israel at the top of the foreign policy portion, and Donald Trump said he could not start “demeaning” Palestinians if he’s going to negotiate a peace deal. Marco Rubio promptly demeaned Palestinians.
Imraan Siddiqi shares the story of Hisham Ghalia and Mounis Shaban, two men from Gaza currently being held indefinitely in a U.S. immigration detention facility. He writes, “The primary issue that has left these two men in limbo is: They’re essentially stateless. The United States government does not recognize Palestine as a country, therefore rendering them pawns in an endless diplomatic nightmare. As this nightmare continually unfolds, they sit in the ICE detention facility in Florence, Arizona.”
Marco Rubio blasts Donald Trump for saying he’ll be neutral on Israel, and says criticism of Israel is the “new face of anti-semitism,” in a sign that support for Israel is at last becoming a political issue in the presidential race.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions BDS movement had a big day on Monday, Feb. 22, 2015 in Canada, both in the House of Commons and on university campuses. Within a few hours of each other, Canadian politicians voted 229-51 to condemn BDS and even individuals who promote it; then the Students Society at McGill, a leading university in Montreal, voted to support BDS.
Kristian Davis Bailey was going to Birzeit University to speak about the Black Lives Matter movement and Palestine when Israeli authorities racially profiled him at Allenby Bridge, arrested him, searched him, went through personal data, and forced him to cancel his appearance.
When Annie Robbins read this morning that last September the Shin Bet had arrested two youths from the village of Nabi Saleh, and their subsequent interrogations led to the arrest of 19 more people she immediately recalled the video of the Tamimi family fighting an Israeli soldier that made headlines around the world last Fall. She checked the date of that incident and sure enough it was just weeks before the arrests. Coincidence?
Palestinian director Basil Khalil, whose short film Ave Maria is nominated for an Oscar this year, cautioned that the Academy’s effort to diversify its membership could fall short of achieving the intended goals, “As a Palestinian who was brought up in Israel, I know all too well about discrimination. The solution starts from the bottom. Producers, agents, film executives need to hire a diverse range of actors in their films, production staff in their companies, and finance diverse films.”
Nabil Alreaa, co-director of the Jenin Freedom Theatre production of The Siege, said there had been an oral agreement between the Palestinian company and the Public Theater in New York to stage the play this May, but Public backed out at the last minute when a contract was to be signed, forcing the Jenin company to cancel its American tour.
Prime Minister David Cameron said that though he was a strong supporter of Israel, he had been taken aback by what had seen first hands on visits to the occupied territories in Jerusalem. “I am well-known as being a strong friend of Israel but I have to say the first time I visited Jerusalem and had a proper tour around that wonderful city and saw what has happened with the effective encirclement of East Jerusalem – occupied East Jerusalem – it is genuinely shocking,” he told MPs in the House of Commons.
“We are being treated as if we were criminals”, said Ayed Al Azzeh, shaking his head. A schoolteacher from Bethlehem, Ayed is one of thousands of public-sector teachers across the West Bank who have been striking since February 10th. The strike comes after teachers claim the Palestinian Authority (PA) failed to follow through with wage increases. Approximately 20,000 protestors demonstrated in Ramallah upon the launch of the strike in the largest gathering since Arafat’s death in 2004, initiating a government crackdown on any further attempts of mass mobilization. Despite the efforts of the Palestinian police and army, an estimated 15,000 protestors gathered in Ramallah for a second time on Tuesday, demanding the government meets their demands. In an exclusive video for Mondoweiss, teachers at Tuesday’s protest reveal the obstacles they had to overcome merely to be present, and why they are resolute to continue the strike until the government concedes.