Late Monday evening, Durham voted unanimously to become the first city in the U.S. to prohibit police exchanges with Israel, after broad community pressure and popular petition by the Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine coalition, an affiliate of the Deadly Exchange Campaign. The policy, which states that, “the Council opposes international exchanges with any country in which Durham officers receive military-style training,” was voted into official policy of the City of Durham during heated debate at City Council.
Prominent U.S. poets, writers, playwrights and publishers issued statements today in support of imprisoned Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour ahead of her upcoming trial verdict on October 17. The statements calling for her freedom, and demanding that Israel drop all charges against Dareen, released by Jewish Voice for Peace and Adalah-NY, come just as the Israeli government threatens to cut funding to a Yaffa Theater that agreed to host an artists’ solidarity event for Tatour on August 30th. Tatour, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, was arrested by Israeli authorities 22 months ago, in October 2015, and charged with incitement to violence primarily over a poem she posted online, “Resist, My People, Resist Them,” as well as two Facebook posts.
Five leaders on an interfaith delegation to Israel/Palestine were refused permission to board their plane in the United States, in what appears to be an implementation of Israel’s travel ban on supporters of Palestinian rights and Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS). Rabbi Alissa Wise: “We were told at check-in that the airline has a letter from the Israeli government saying we are not allowed to fly to Israel. I wasn’t even able to get as far as checking my bag.”
During an event in Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention, Representative Hank Johnson offered comments on the diminishing prospects for a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, citing Israel’s ongoing settlement activity. Rep. Johnson analogized this settlement activity to that of termites hollowing out and undermining a structure, noting that settlement expansion has made the creation of a viable Palestinian state in the occupied territories all but impossible. This analogy was taken out of context in an article with a misleading headline written by a journalist with a longstanding record of anti-Palestinian reporting.
Over 150 renowned writers, poets, translators, artists and literary figures signed an open letter in solidarity with Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour. Susan Abulhawa, Rae Armantrout, Carl Dennis, Dave Eggers, Carolyn Forché, Jorie Graham, Naomi Klein, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Naomi Shihab Nye, Claudia Rankine, Tracy K Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Ayelet Waldman, Alice Walker and Jacqueline Woodson were among the award-winning literary figures who joined the call for the immediate release of the Palestinian poet who was imprisoned for her poetry.