Archive for May, 2018

Over 300 New Yorkers came together in mourning and rage at offices of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand

May 17, 2018

May 16, 2018

Over 300 New Yorkers came together in mourning and rage at offices of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, demanding action against Israel’s killing of Palestinian protesters

New York City, May 16, 2018 – On Wednesday evening, over 300 New Yorkers with Jewish Voice for Peace – NYC (JVP) and Jews Say No! demonstrated at the NYC district offices of Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, mourning Palestinian protesters killed by the Israeli military in Gaza since March 30 and the more than 60 killed over the last two days alone, and calling upon the senators to break their shameful silence in the face of Israel’s use of deadly force against the Palestinian people, and to support Palestinians’ rights to live in dignity and return home.

Dressed in black, New Yorkers carried the names of the 111 Palestinians killed by the Israeli military while protesting in the Great March of Return in Gaza. Red poppies, the Palestinian national flower, were laid beneath a banner reading “Palestinians have the right to freedom and dignity, and the right to return home” in front of the senators’ offices. Demonstrators recited Palestinian testimonies of dispossession and expulsion from their homes in 1948, and described the last day of famed artist Mohammed Abu Amr, killed by Israeli forces while protesting.

“The catastrophe of Palestinian dispossession and expulsion by the Israeli government has gone on for 70 years,” said Rosalind Petchesky, a member of JVP-NYC. “Israel is doing now what it has always done: trying to suffocate Palestinian demands for freedom and equal rights through brutal and deadly force.”
Since March 30, thousands of Palestinians have formed a tent city along the militarized fence that separates Israel from Gaza, under the banner of the Great March of Return. Demonstrators are calling for an end to Israel’s brutal 11-year military siege of Gaza and for the right to return home for refugees. The March culminated this week, with the Israeli military killing at least 60 Palestinian protesters, including at least six children. May 15 marked the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” when 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes for the creation of the state of Israel. This came one day after the Trump administration moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem in a shattering blow to future prospects for peace.

Nic Abramson, a founding member of Jews Say No!, stated: “We are here to mourn for those killed, but also to draw inspiration from this historic, grassroots mobilization across Gaza. We stand with the Palestinian people in their calls to return home.”

Israel’s violence has prompted condemnations from over twenty U.S. members of Congress, including Senators Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as well as Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Betty McCollum (D-MN). New York’s senators and representatives have remained deafeningly silent.

“We desperately need real leadership to put pressure on Israel,” said Asaf Calderon, a member of JVP – NYC. “We are fed up with Senator Schumer’s hawkish support of Israel’s human rights violations. Now is the time for Senator Gillibrand to take courageous leadership. She cannot claim to be a champion of human rights if she sits in silence as the Trump administration unilaterally moves the embassy to Jerusalem and the Israeli military massacres peaceful protesters, journalists, and children.”

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MOVING FORWARD: Unearthing Truths: Israel, the Nakba, and the Jewish National Fund  

May 7, 2018

Israel, the Nakba, and the Jewish National Fund

We present this special issue of Moving Forward to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, the Arabic word for ‘catastrophe.’ The Nakba refers to the expulsion and dispossession of 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland during Israel’s creation (1947-1949).In this issue, we lay out the historical record of those years to show that the Nakba was the result of a deliberate policy of mass expulsion, dispossession, and ethnic cleansing—a strategy designed to ensure that the Palestinians who had lived on the land for generations would be barred from ever returning. We also zero in on the fundamental role played by the 117-year-old international organization, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), in facilitating that dispossession.

Our goal is that there be a serious moral reckoning with this history, and it begins with that icon of innocence, the JNF’s small blue metal box that many of our readers will remember from their childhood, boxes that beckoned us to drop in coins that would help “make the desert bloom” and build the land of Israel. It was a mission that was legitimized by the governing principle of the Zionist cause: “A land without a people for a people without a land.” As seductive as that slogan was, it was willfully false, as amply documented in personal testimonies of Palestinians and Israelis, historical records, and scholarly research. How, after all, could 750,000 Palestinians flee “a land without a people”?

From its founding, the JNF was encouraged by the Zionist movement to acquire land in Palestine for the purpose of settling Jews on that land. After 1948, aided and abetted by Israeli land law, the JNF continued to acquire land and also contributed to Israel’s dispossession of Palestinians from their land. This was accomplished by buying swathes of land from absentee landlords and then leasing it exclusively to Jews, by confiscating refugees’ land, and by forcibly—often violently—removing Palestinians from their land, a practice which persists today. By continuing to plant forests that conceal the ruins of Palestinian villages, the JNF seeks to erase history and memory, while hoping to whitewash its political motives and enhance its recent branding as an environmental organization. Ironically, however, it has earned widespread international condemnation for the degradation it has inflicted on the natural ecosystem.

While this year marks the 70th anniversary of the catastrophic events of 1948, we also know that the policies that informed Israel’s and the JNF’s actions back then continue to the present. With this issue we hope to expose the relationship between the Nakba and the Jewish National Fund; to encourage deeper conversation about the experiences and realities of Palestinians before, during and since Israel’s creation; and to facilitate among US Jewish communities—and more broadly—honest reflection, analysis, and action toward truth-telling and justice.

The Editors


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