Jews Against Islamophobia announces a new national network we hope will provide support and resources for organizing against anti-Muslim and anti-Arab racism, and in making the connections between Islamophobia and Israel politics.
The Jvp NETWORK AGAINST ISLAMOPHOBIA page is: JVP.org/JNAI
We hope those watching our video will become inspired to take action together with the many individuals and groups inside and outside the Muslim community organizing against Islamophobia and standing for peace, for justice, and for dignity for all peoples.
October 6, 2014
CONSTITUENTS OPPOSE NEW YORK SENATORS’ SUPPORT FOR
ISRAEL’S ONGOING HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
Protest in Front of Their Offices to Last Eight Hours
New York City — Today, a coalition of more than twenty community groups will stand from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in front of the New York City offices of Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand (780 Third Avenue) to protest their ongoing support for the Israeli government’s systematic violations of the Palestinian people’s basic human rights and their refusal to meet with constituents who do not support these policies. (See letter being delivered to the Senators this morning http://mondoweiss.net/2014/10/ny-senators-letter)
“Senator Schumer has repeatedly supported Israeli government aggression against the Palestinian people, including the latest assault on the Palestinians of Gaza,” said Candace Graff from Jewish Voice for Peace-NY, one of the co-sponsors of the day’s protest. “And both senators have failed to seek enforcement of laws requiring U.S. funding to be cut off to units of a country’s armed forces that have committed a ‘gross violation of human rights.’” This law, known as the “Leahy Law,” applies to the Department of Defense and the State Department.
During Israel’s most recent assault on Gaza this summer, the Israeli military killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, at least 1,400 of them civilians, according to the UN, including 500 children. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have documented numerous instances in which Israeli forces violated the laws of war, employing disproportionate, reckless, and indiscriminate violence against the occupied and besieged population of Gaza, including attacks on hospitals, schools, and mosques, and the destruction of thousands of homes and civilian infrastructure. The coalition demands that both of New York’s senators hold Israel accountable to the letter and spirit of the Leahy Law, and support the holding of hearings to apply these laws to Israel, as to other human rights violators.
This protest is part of a broader movement gaining momentum worldwide. It is bringing together people from multiple communities who share a common commitment to justice and human rights. As articulated by Mohammad Hamad from The New School’s Students for Justice in Palestine, one of the day’s endorsing groups: “From Ferguson to Palestine, communities are joining one another to challenge oppressive structures and re-commit ourselves to stand for justice and against all manifestations of racism and bigotry.”
Today is a day to make these voices heard.
The day’s demonstration and events are co-sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace/NY and Jews Say No! and endorsed by Adalah NY; Brooklyn ForPeace; Center for Constitutional Rights; CODEPINK NYC; CUNY4Palestine; Defense for Children InternationalPalestine; ; Direct Action Front for Palestine (DAFP); Granny Peace Brigade; JVP-Westchester; Middle East Crisis Response; Palestinian Rights Committee of Upper Hudson PeaceAction; Palestine sub-committee, NationalLawyers Guild; Northern Manhattan Neighbors for Peace and Justice; Queers Against Israeli Apartheid; Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) Brooklyn College, SJP College of Staten Island; SJP SUNY New Paltz; SJP The New School; Veterans for Peace, Woodstock, NY chapter 058; World Can’t Wait; WESPAC Foundation; WE WILL NOT BE SILENT; Women in Black Union Square.
In late June I traveled to Jackson, Mississippi, for the fiftieth anniversary of the 1964 Freedom Summer, where some 1,000 of us met after decades and celebrated the heroism of young volunteers and local African Americans who struggled and died for the right to vote. We talked about the way forward to eradicate still-existing racism in the country and we called the names of all our dead, a list of men, women and children whom the nation has never mourned.
As a recruiter for Freedom Summer and staff member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) fifty years ago, I had the honor of being approached by several volunteers whom I had helped select and who told me that going to Mississippi that faraway summer had forever changed their lives.
What propelled me into the civil rights movement in the first place as a young woman was the exhortation I had received from my secular Jewish progressive parents: that it is unethical to stand idly by while people are oppressed and suffering. What SNCC taught me was that I needed to act in my own community. It took me some time to put all of this together but finally, eleven years ago, I went to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza for the first time. Based on what I saw with my own eyes and the anguish I felt in my own heart I became a Jewish activist against Israeli governmental policies of injustice and inequality.
It was only a few days after I got home from Mississippi this past June that a new assault on Gaza began, the third in seven years. I had already seen in my two visits to Gaza what the siege was like for Palestinians living in Gaza.
At the time of this writing, the death toll is horrifying: a staggering total of 2,114 Palestinians, of whom 506 are children, and 10,529 wounded. Four Israeli civilians and sixty-four soldiers have died. Can we even begin to imagine the horror all these families are experiencing? Despite several short ceasefires, “Operation Project Edge” continues and rockets continue to be fired.
And now in the midst of an already terrible summer, Ferguson happens. Another incident of violent racism in our country.
For me, the events in Ferguson and the events halfway around the world are linked. I am not saying they are the same. I am not even saying there are many parallels, but there are some similar lessons.
In 1969, Ella Baker, SNCC’s great mentor, pointed us in the direction of meaningful action when she said, “In order for us as poor and oppressed people to become a part of a society that is meaningful, the system under which we now exist has to be radically changed.” This means that we are going to have to learn to think in radical terms. I use the term radical in its original meaning – getting down to and understanding the root cause. Baker continued, “It means facing a system that does not lend itself to your needs and devising means by which you change that system.”
This is the crux.
We have not yet managed to understand the “root cause” of deaths like Michael Brown’s in our country. This is the work still ahead of us. I understand Ferguson to be one more example of the basic inequality that still exists in the U.S., where communities of color are still unrepresented in their police departments or their city governments and live amidst poverty and neglect.
Yes, certain aspects have changed in the South; these days you don’t take your life in your hands if you travel in an automobile in an interracial group, and you are unlikely to be arrested if, as an African American, you try to eat in a restaurant, and you did, up until recently when voter ID laws and other impediments were invented, have the right to register to vote. But by all other measures, specifically education, housing, jobs, poverty, and an unequal criminal justice system that retains more than two million people, mostly Black and Brown, in prison, we are a racist society. South and North, East and West. We have not attacked the “root cause”: a basically flawed economic and social system that sanctions exploitation and needs racism and division to survive.
And what, in my opinion, is the “root cause” of all the death and destruction in the Middle East? It isn’t Hamas, it isn’t who sent the rockets first, who killed which teenager first, and it isn’t who broke which ceasefire first. The underlying cause flows from the injustice of one group controlling the lives and future of another group. As long as Israel occupies Palestine, and as long as Palestinians resist (which, according to International human rights law, they have the right to do), confrontations and death will result. The root cause is the occupation, which itself flows from the previous dispossession of Palestinians from the land they inhabited for generations.
Though the situations are thousands of miles away from each other in different languages and different cultures, somehow or other we will all have to follow Miss Baker’s teaching: to look deeply, beyond the horror of the moment and our particular loyalties.
Because once we understand that there are root causes, we will be able to make effective efforts to change them.
Dorothy Zellner is one of the founders of Jews Say No!, serves on the board of the Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theater and is a member and volunteer with Jewish Voice for Peace. She was a staff member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC staff) from 1962 to 1967.
In conversations about Gaza, I have heard many thoughtful people in the Jewish community lament the loss of Palestinian lives in Gaza but then say, “But Hamas…,” as if that were the heart of the problem. I’d like to suggest that, when we have these conversations about Hamas and Israel’s current bombing campaign, we begin with the necessary context and historical perspective.
Re: The Nakba
1. To create the Jewish state, the Zionist movement destroyed more than 400 Palestinians villages and expelled 700,000 Palestinians from their homes and land. Palestinians who remained in what became Israel were relegated to second-class citizenship, had much of their property confiscated, and, to this day, have fewer rights than Jewish Israeli citizens.
Re: The 1967 Occupation
2. In 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem and still occupies them until this day.
Re: Settlement expansion; the apartheid wall; and the siege of Gaza
3. Over the past 47 years of occupation, Israel has illegally confiscated more and more Palestinian land; built an apartheid wall; systematically denied Palestinians basic human and civil rights and engaged in state-sponsored violence; and forced the Palestinians in Gaza to live in appalling conditions that make it increasingly impossible to survive. Israel’s latest bombing campaign, Operation Protective Edge, has killed over 1,900 Palestinians, at least 450 of whom are children, and has displaced hundreds of thousands more.
If those of us in the Jewish community who are committed to justice begin from these facts, I think it would become clearer – regardless of who the Palestinian leadership is – that the underlying problem really is the denial of freedom and basic human rights to millions of people, for decades. And, as a community, it should also become clearer where priorities need to be in order to have any integrity on this issue: addressing the Nakba of 1948 and the responsibility for the Nakba head-on – including the right of return for refugees; ending the occupation; ending the siege on Gaza; and recognizing the right to full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Donna Nevel, a community psychologist, educator, is a long-time organizer for peace and justice in Palestine/Israel. More recently, she is a founding member of Jews Say No!, on the board of Jewish Voice for Peace, and on the coordinating committee of the Nakba Education Project-US.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 Over 150 New Yorkers stood in front of the Jewish Community Center (JCC) at 6 PM yesterday, on the Upper Westside of Manhattan, with signs that said “End the Siege of Gaza,” “Jews Say No to the Occupation of Palestine,” and “Don’t let Israel Get Away with Murder.” As protestors stood with the signs, several people read the names of the Palestinians who were murdered by the Israel Defense Forces, which a number of people continued to do even after the protest officially ended.
The protest was called as a response to an event being held at the JCC, co-sponsored by Jewish organizations, to “commemorate Israeli soldiers and civilians who lost their lives during ‘Operation Protective Edge,”‘ the bombing campaign of Gaza, without one mention of Palestinian lives lost.
The protestors were appalled at the blatant valuing of Jewish Israeli lives over the nearly 2,000 Palestinians, including hundreds of children, who have been massacred by the Israeli army and were standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people of Gaza.
The protest was co-sponsored by Brooklyn For Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace-NY, Jewish Voice for Peace-Westchester, Jews Say No!, Women in Black, NY, and WE WILL NOT BE SILENT.
Transcript of report on Democracy Now
Not In Our Name: Jewish Activists Arrested in Sit-in at Friends of Israel Defense Forces NYC Office
Protests in response to Israel’s assault on Gaza have drawn hundreds — and in some cases thousands — around the world. On Tuesday, members of Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No! occupied the New York City office of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, a nonprofit group that raises money in the United States to send to the Israeli military. For about an hour, activists read the names of the more than 600 Palestinians killed and demanded the organization stop its fundraising for the military attacking Gaza. Nine were arrested when they refused to leave the premises. We get a video report from the protest.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Protests in response to Israel’s assault on Gaza have drawn hundreds—and in some cases thousands—around the world. Here in New York City on Tuesday, members of Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No! occupied the office of the Friends of the IDF. The nonprofit group raises money in the United States to send to the Israeli military.
AMY GOODMAN: For about an hour, activists read the names of the more than 600 Palestinians killed and demanded the group stop fundraising for the Israeli military. Nine people were arrested when they refused to leave the premises. Others protested outside the office. Democracy Now! was there and brings you some of their voices.
PROTESTER: Find out why Jews are protesting Israel’s war on Gaza. Take a leaflet.
REBECCA VILKOMERSON: My name’s Rebecca Vilkomerson. I’m the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace. And we’re here today in Golda Meir Plaza at the office of the Friends of the IDF, the Israeli Defense Force, and we’re planning to do an action, the groups Jews Say No! and Jewish Voice for Peace, Jewish activists who are protesting against the war on Gaza, against this incredibly terrible assault on civilians, and protesting the fact that this organization right here is actually raising money for the Israeli Defense Forces, helping them, supporting the assault that they’re making on Gazan women, children and families. So we feel like it’s really important, especially as Jews, to make the statement that this is not in our name and that the Jewish community is not behind this assault in the United States and that they need to stop doing this immediately.
PROTESTERS: No more money for Israel’s crimes! Not another nickel, not another dime!
DOROTHY ZELLNER: My name is Dorothy Zellner. I’m a former civil rights worker. I worked with SNCC for five years in the black liberation movement in the United States. Most of us have been to Israel and the West Bank and Gaza, if not once, many times, and we have seen for ourselves what the conditions are there. And it is totally unbearable to know that this country dares to even say they represent us and they speak for us. There is a sit-in going on right now up in the offices of the Friends of the IDF.
FRIEND OF THE IDF 1: No, no, no. Wait, wait.
FRIEND OF THE IDF 2: Sorry, no one can come in.
PROTESTER: We’re a group of American Jews. We’re here—
FRIEND OF THE IDF 2: I can’t have you stay here. You’re not here with an appointment. I ask that you wait outside.
PROTESTER: We are here peacefully.
FRIEND OF THE IDF 2: I know you are.
ALANA KRIVO-KAUFMAN: We are here to demand, as American Jews, that Friends of the IDF stop funding Israel’s massacre of Palestinians living in Gaza. Over the past two weeks, 621 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed. We are here nonviolently to do a civil disobedience. We mourn all who are lost, and we are reading the names of those who the Friends of the IDF have helped funded the IDF to kill.
BRANDON DAVIS: Thursday, July 10th, the following people were killed: Asmaa Mahmoud al-Hajj, age 22.
PROTESTERS: Asmaa Mahmoud al-Hajj, age 22.
BRANDON DAVIS: Was killed in a bombing in Khan Younis that killed eight members of the same family and wounded 16 other people. Mahmoud Lutfi al-Hajj, age 58.
PROTESTERS: Mahmoud Lutfi al-Hajj, age 58.
BRANDON DAVIS: Khader al-Bashiliki, age 45.
FRIEND OF THE IDF 2: We’re calling the police right now. Excuse me. Excuse me. The police are on their way. You have to wait outside.
FRIEND OF THE IDF 1: This is private property.
PROTESTER: We are here—we are here nonviolently.
FRIEND OF THE IDF 2: No, no cameras!
MAIA ETTINGER: My name is Maia Ettinger. I was raised by two Holocaust survivors: my mother and my grandmother. And in their name, I’m here today to oppose the dehumanization of Palestinians, to oppose collective punishment. These were the things that they suffered and that they taught me to fight on behalf of everyone, not just on behalf of Jews.
BRANDON DAVIS: Suha Hamad, age 25.
PROTESTERS: Suha Hamad, age 25.
PROTESTER: On Wednesday, July 9th, these many Gazans were killed. Abdel Hadi Jumaa al-Sufi, age 24.
PROTESTERS: Abdel Hadi Jumaa al-Sufi, age 24.
PROTESTER: He was killed in a bombing near the Rafah crossing.
POLICE OFFICER: Hey, you’re going to wind up—if you don’t leave, you’re going to wind up getting charged with criminal trespass. So, I would advise you, if you don’t want to get arrested, to leave now.
REBECCA VILKOMERSON: We’re here doing civil disobedience peacefully.
POLICE OFFICER: OK, good. Do whatever you want to do.
PROTESTERS: Hatem Abu Salem, age 28.
PRISCILLA READ: Priscilla Read. I’m here appalled by the crimes against humanity being committed by Israel that profess to the world that it’s capable of hitting targets in a very precise way. If this is precision bombing, the world has never seen anything like it. We are repeating the names of the people who’ve been killed in Gaza. The proportion of very young children is appalling.
BRANDON DAVIS: Nagham Mahmoud al-Zouaydi, age two.
PROTESTERS: Nagham Mahmoud al-Zouaydi, age two.
BRANDON DAVIS: Was killed in Beit Lahia. Basem Mohammed Mahmoud Madhi, age 22.
PROTESTERS: Basem Mohammed Mahmoud Madhi, age 22.
REBECCA VILKOMERSON: Looks like they’re preparing to arrest us. They have a bullhorn. When the police come in, we’re going to tell them that we’re here peacefully doing civil disobedience and that we’re here peacefully. We’re mourning all lives that are lost, but we’re holding the Friends of the IDF accountable for helping to support the IDF to kill all these people in Gaza—whose names we’ve been reciting for almost an hour, and we’re still not through the list—and tell them that we’re here peacefully. We will not resist arrest, but that we’re not leaving.
INSPECTOR ED WINSKI: Good afternoon, folks. I’m Inspector Winski from the NYPD You are trespassing on private property. I’m going to give you an opportunity to leave. And if you choose to leave, you can leave now; if not, you’re going to be arrested. So anyone that wants to leave can leave now.
PROTESTERS: [singing] We are a peaceful Jewish people. We are singing for Gazan lives.
AMY GOODMAN: Nine members of the Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No! organizations were arrested Tuesday occupying the offices of the Friends of the IDF in New York. Special thanks to Democracy Now! producers Hany Massoud and Sam Alcoff and to our fellows, Anna Özbek and Daniel Begun, for that report.
The Heart of the Problem With Israel: The Mass Expulsion of the Palestinian People
By Donna Nevel
July 18, 2014
As Israeli government violence against the Palestinians in Gaza intensifies (the latest news being an aggressive ground invasion), I saw a discussion on-line about whether Israel has become more brutal or the brutality has simply become more visible to the public.
I remembered listening to Benjamin Netanyahu when he was at MIT in the 1970’s. He called himself Bibi Nitai and said he was in self-exile until the Labor Party, which he despised, was out of power. He spoke contemptuously about Arabs, and predicted he would be the leader of Israel someday and would protect the Jewish state in the way it deserved. The immediate response many of us had was: “Heaven help us all if he ever gets into power in Israel.”
I also remember the many Israeli leaders I met in the 1970’s from Labor and Mapam and from smaller parties on the “Zionist left” who seemed kind and caring and markedly different from Benjamin Netanyahu—and in many ways they were, not just in their political rhetoric (they all said they were socialists) but as human beings, or so it seemed. But when I finally dug a little deeper and read my history, I learned how they, too, were participants—in fact, often leaders—in the plan to drive the Palestinians out of their homes and off their land. Nothing very kind or caring about that, to say the least.
The bottom line: Israel was created based on the expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinians from their land and from their homes (what Palestinians call the Nakba, the catastrophe). This is the heart of the problem.
In some circles, particularly among “progressive” Zionists, the terrible injustice done to the Palestinians is acknowledged, but as awful as the Nakba was, they say, it was what had to be done to create and ensure the security of the Jewish state. (The most recent proponent of this position is Israeli writer Avi Shavit.) It was a terrible price that had to be paid, he and others concede. To be clear, the price was paid by the Palestinians—that is, the killing and expulsion of Palestinians for the sake of Jewish safety. And quite simply, the only way you can think that – that you can excuse the Nakba– is to believe that Jewish lives matter more than Palestinian lives.
And isn’t that what we are seeing today? If Jewish lives matter more than Palestinian lives—if, as the argument goes, the Nakba had to happen so that Jews could be “safe”—doesn’t the brutal violence we see so casually inflicted on the people of Gaza by the Israeli government follow from, in fact, isn’t it embedded in, that history? (And it’s ironic to note that large numbers of the Palestinians in Gaza are from families that fled there during the Nakba in 1948 as refugees from cities and villages in what became Israel.)
That is why I believe those of us working in our own communities—in my case, the Jewish community—need to make sure everyone not only knows about the Nakba but understands that this is the heart of the issue. And that central to the achievement of the “Zionist dream” has been that Jewish lives matter more than Arab lives. That so much attention was paid in Israel to the three kidnapped Israeli boys, in contrast to the total contempt and disregard for the large numbers of Palestinian youth killed and languishing in Israeli prisons for the crime of being Palestinian, brings this point home.
Finally, our understanding of the Nakba cannot end there. We cannot use the acknowledgement of injustice to excuse ourselves from doing anything to end it. We have to take the next step—to think about solutions; to work to hold Israel accountable to basic principles of human rights and self-determination; to recognize the rights of those who have been expelled from their homes. Sometimes the problem is understood as beginning with “the occupation” of 1967, but the root cause goes back to the Nakba and the refusal to allow the return of the refugees in contradiction of UN general assembly resolution 194. In the Palestinian-led call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), which has reverberated across the globe, the principles are laid out clearly: 1. Ending the Israeli occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall; 2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and 3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194. That is what is needed to address the problem at its core.