Victory – Judge supports UMass panel on Palestinian human rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 2, 2019 Contact: Sonya E Meyerson-Knox | [email protected] | 929-290-0317 “There simply cannot be a First Amendment exception when it comes to Palestine.” (Boston, MA) May 2, 2019: A Massachusetts district court ruled in favor of allowing a panel discussion at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst to go ahead earlier today. The May 4 panel discussion “Not…

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Turkey’s “IZU” hosts global confab on Palestine

by Yousef Aljamal

[Editorial note: Turkey has hosted a number of notable conferences on Palestinian issues in recent years. Just World Ed is fortunate that Palestinian social activist Yousef Aljamal was able to attend this one and send us this report from it.]

Hundreds of activists, students, and scholars from all around the world took part in a conference “The Question of Palestine: Examining History, Geopolitics, and Future Prospects” that was held by the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) at Istanbul Zaim University, April 27-29.

What follows are some highlights of what was said by some of the conference speakers who are not often quoted in US publications. (The full bios of all the speakers can be found here.)

Israeli historian Ilan Pappe:

The main problem with Israel is that it is not just an apartheid state, but it is also a settler-colonial state… Settler colonialism is a version of colonialism, and using this analysis reveals more about Israel. When it comes to analyzing settler colonialism, a group of young Palestinian academics contributed immensely…

The movement of these Europeans [the Zionist settlers] was into the land of another people. In the eye of settlers, it was a salvation project, so their interests clashed– that of the settlers and the empire. That’s why when the War of Independence took place in the U.S., it was between settlers and the British, and in Palestine it was between settlers and the British.

They attempt to erase memory: This is an important part of settler colonialism.  The history of Zionism is an an incomplete project of settler colonialism, including homes demolitions and the Israeli national law of 2018. If it is complete, it goes on and on, either until the settler colonial project is defeated or the population disappears.

The Zionist Movement studied the land laws of Ottoman Empire and the British laws. They could not solve the demographic issue. The heart of Israeli strategy of 2019 is to have the land without the people.

Israel cares about its image, so they try to commit their crimes clandestinely, during 1948 for example. They try to sell their occupation as peace talks.

After 1967, there were two schools of thoughts. The liberal Zionist idea of solving this balance between geography and demography.  So we had the two-state solution. The second school says we should continue controlling the demographic reality without threatening our geographic gains and that’s Israel’s version in 2020. 150,00-170,000 Israeli Jews are directly involved in controlling the Palestinian society.

The civil society such as the BDS movement want to send a message to Israel that this reality that most Israeli Jews think is fine can’t continue. If we are lucky, in 10 years, if we see a United Palestinian National Movement, we will have a freed Palestine.

South African parliamentarian Zwelivelile Mandela:

Ilan Pappe and Zwelivelile Mandela, 2nd and 3rd from left.

On the 27th of April 25 years ago, Nelson Mandela joined of millions of South Africans to cast their vote in the first democratic elections. It is the result of the dear sacrifices of men and women throughout our struggle for freedom.

Allow me to pay tribute to 6 million Palestinian refugees who were denied the right to return to their land. We had no such issue on such a large scale like this.

It is glorious that as we celebrate freedom in South Africa, a young team of Palestinians from Khan Younis visited South Africa for a football tournament. They received a hero’s welcome. When Nelson Mandela visited Gaza in 1995, Mandela said our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.

Israel is an apartheid state. One has to view the shrinking map of Palestine to understand what I mean.

I want Palestinians in exile to follow this example. Our diaspora became our ambassadors. The work of BDS has to be applauded in this respect…

Apartheid Israel has its date with destiny.

CIGA Director Dr. Sami Al-Arian:

Jews lived for centuries in peace with other Arab tribes. Jewish communities in Europe were discriminated against. European Jews lived in such miserable conditions that they had to have their own places.

Within decades, many Jews assimilated. Zionism has convinced that Europe is no longer safe for them. It was completely a European experience. These experiences had no equivalent in the Muslim world. When Jews were kicked out of Spain in the 15 Century, they lived in Palestine and Istanbul.

In order to achieve peace in Palestine and the world, the Zionist project must be defeated and Zionist institutions must be dismantled. There is a difference between the Zionist institutions and Jewish institutions.

Veteran Palestinian rights activist Dr. Salman Abusitta:

Israel can’t claim a meter of land that is not acquired without sheer military force. The French did not need deception in Algeria nor did the British in India, but the Zionists needed it because their project is against history.

Although Palestinians lost their land and geography but it remained in their hearts.

The war against Gaza never stopped since 1948. In 1956, a huge massacre was committed against Gaza by Israel where hundreds of Palestinians were massacred.

It was too painful to see people in the West dancing in the streets or London and New York. It was in Jordan and Lebanon that the resistance to Israel started.

The UN has said the Palestinian people have the right to gain their rights by all means possible. The UN also recognized Zionism as a form of racism, which was repelled later on.

Fifty-five peace proposals, we hear from Trump, were thrown at Palestinians and all these proposals are against international law. They were advanced by western countries and then by the Israelis themselves, then Palestinians became part of it, then we had the biggest disaster of Oslo, the big hoax.

The first thing to do is to reverse the crime of ethnic cleansing by implementing the right of return.

Palestinians in the diaspora held conferences to assert their right of return, in Boston, London, Beirut. Palestinian activists are active in groups such as SJP.

Zionism must be abolished. Any one who thinks that co-existence with Zionism is possible is mistaken.

People in the end will triumph because justice will prevail. 

Palestinian historian Dr. Saleh Abdel Jawad:

We have the issue of security coordination where Palestinians provide security services to Israel in return for nothing.

When people demonstrated in the West Bank to protest the bombing of Gaza, [Palestinian] security forces broke their hands. Some of them were my students at Bir Zeit University. That’s why it is difficult to have a third intifada!

Policy specialist Hani Almasri

Realizing the Palestinian national project requires a long historical phase. It is impossible to realize it now or throughout one phase.

After 1973, some Palestinians started saying that the train of peace process has left the station and and whoever does not get off the station will get lost. Discussions began on the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state on any part of Palestine based on a political resolution. Then, further concessions were made.

Despite the difficult circumstances Palestinian rights should not have been given up.

One dangerous thing that happened was recognizing Israel’s right to exist. There is a difference between recognizing Israel and recognizing its right to exist. American President Truman was lobbied to recognize Israel’s right to exist, but he refused…

The current Israeli battle is to annex the West Bank and to keep Gaza separated from it and under siege.

Womens Studies leader Dr. Islah Jad

Participation of women in the labor force went down following the occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

Through their activism, women managed to challenge the prevailing gender order… But following the Oslo Accords, many of the Palestinian feminists were incorporated into the PA.

Ethic studies expert Dr. Loubna Qutami

Oslo was a Nakba for the Palestinians. Frank Fanon says every generation has to fulfill its mission. For Palestinians there are two generations, the revolution generation and the Oslo generation.

In the 1950s, Abu Iyad, one of the Fatah founders and a student leader, spoke about the Nakba as “a gap in our souls.”

Student leaders such as Yasser Arafat and Abu Iyad followed the slogan of putting Palestine on the map.

The paradox was when, at a time Arab youths were talking about revolutions in 2011, Palestinian youths were calling for unity between Hamas and Fatah, which is re-establishing the existing order.

Today, Palestinian youths are rising everywhere, prisoners on hunger strike, students on campus, and Palestinians in the diaspora.

Film-maker Rawan Al-Damen

The four pillars of Palestine media strategy are:

  1. Producing more. We lack more materials on Palestine in different languages.
  2. To make the materials, once produced, accessible.
  3. To use the materials in advocacy work.
  4. Networking.

Author and journalist Ramzy Baroud:

Palestine and Palestinians have been excluded from their own narrative. I come from a refugee camp in Gaza and this is our narrative. Our narrative has been a negation of the Israeli narrative. Hamas, Fatah, PFLP are part of our narrative and society…

A Palestinian narrative that does not include Palestinians is not our narrative.

Rights activist and author Frank Barat:

We have seen how the Israeli government led by Netanyahu has been taking actions to annex the West Bank.

On one side, we have global Israel providing services and experts and technology on how to build walls, and on the other side we have global Palestine, with the growth of the Palestine solidarity movement and the BDS movement that are shifting the discourse at US congress and Europe.

The BDS movement could play a great role in the movement!

The post Turkey’s “IZU” hosts global confab on Palestine appeared first on Just World Educational.

هموم الهوية في منظار أربعة من كبار الفنانين الفلسطينيين

استضافت مؤسسة الدراسات الفلسطينية ودار النمر للفن والثقافة في بيروت أربعة من كبار الفنانين الفلسطينيين هم: سليمان منصور ونبيل عناني وتيسير بركات وفيرا تماري، الذين أقاموا معرضاً وعقدوا ندوة في دار النمر، مساء يوم 30 نيسان/أبريل، تحت عنوان: “هموم الهوية”.

Exploring the roots of the Satmar Hasidim

by Miko Peled

My own family history has no connection to the Holocaust. My family were Zionists who came to colonize Palestine in the 1920’s and so even though I knew about the Holocaust and I knew people who were survivors, I have no personal connection to it. I never thought I would write about events relating to the Holocaust either, but then something happened. Working on a book about the Haredi Jewish community, I was curious to see the places from which they came.

I have been in touch and made friends with many people within the Ultra Orthodox Jewish communities in New York and London and many if not most are the children and grandchildren of survivors of the Holocaust. Besides that, many of the names of the Yeshivas, some the great institutions of learning in the Haredi world, carry the names of towns in Eastern and Central Europe. One of these is Satmar.

An
Unexpected Journey

The Satmar Hasidic community, one of the largest and most prominent in the world today, got its name from the city that used to be Szatmar in Hungary and is now Satu Mare, in Romania. Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, a luminary among Rabbis of the orthodox Jewish world, became the Rebbe, or head of the Yeshiva at Satmar in 1928. He survived the Auschwitz death camp and after he moved to New York where he revived this great community that was all but lost in the holocaust and now spans the globe with yeshivas and followers everywhere.

Though there were many groups within the
Jewish community in the city, even among the orthodox Jews themselves, Rabbi
Teitelbaum was the chief among the Rabbis, and he was the one everyone revered
and came to hear.

I was curious to see what Satmar is like, what
happened to it, and whether or not there is a Jewish community, or any
community there that appreciates the great traditions that have sprung and now
flourish from this  and other towns and
that still carry their names. So I decided to begin with Satmar, which I
thought was in Hungary.

It was in Hungary at one point, but then, after WW-1 it became part of Romania. Then Romania was forced to cede parts of Transylvania including Satu Mare to Hungary, but after WW-2 they were returned to Romania. So I flew to London and from London to Cluj, in Eastern Romania and then took a taxi to Satu Mare. It takes three and half hours to drive the 100 miles from the airport in Cluj, to the small town of Satu Mare. It is a winding country road, which takes you through a continuous flow of charming villages and rolling hills. In the spring, which is when I was fortunate enough to travel, the sides of the road are lined with never ending cherry blossoms. As far as the eye can see along the road and into the hills in the distance, the trees are covered in pinkish white hue.

Visiting
Satu Mare

Before WW2 the town numbered about 45,000, with the Jewish residents making up about one third of the population. Some 13,000 Jewish people lived in the city and another 5,000 in the surrounding villages. Satu Mare today has a population of some 100,000 with about 200 Jewish people. The sharp decline in the Jewish population was a direct result of the Holocaust.

I arrived in this lovely, quiet town at 9pm
only to find the front door of my hotel locked and a note with a phone number
stuck to it. I asked the taxi driver who brought  me from Cluj if he would be kind enough to
call the number. He found out that my reservation was cancelled and the hotel
was full. However, the person on the phone said that I should wait there and he
would come and take me to another hotel.

As we were driving to the new hotel I mentioned that I would only be staying in Romania for two days and then I would go to Ukraine. “So will I,” said my newfound friend. “If you want a ride I can take you, the drive is only about two hours and I leave on Tuesday at 10 am.” He dropped me off in what turned out to be a lovely old hotel, and we agreed to travel together to Ukraine. That was a good ending to a very long day.

Not all my meetings in Satu Mare were
accidental. My friend Rabbi Dovid Feldman from Neturei Karta in New York gave
me the name of my first contact in Satu Mare. In an email he sent me before I
left, Rabbi Feldman wrote, “Gavriel is the only Shomer Shabbos (observant Jew
who keeps Shabbos, or the Jewish Sabbath), in Satu Mare but he is not on the
best terms with secular Jews. I am not sure how you want to handle this, but I
will leave it up to you.” I called the number Rabbi Feldman gave me and spoke
to Gavriel. He is a very nice and intelligent young man and we had an excellent
chat for about 20 minutes. We agreed to meet at the gate to the cemetery which
was about 20 minute walk from my hotel.

Gavriel and I spent a couple of hours walking through the ancient cemetery (see photo above), and talking about what used to be a glorious Jewish community. He suggested that I meet with a Jewish woman he knows, who he said knew more than he did about the city and its history. She however, was not available and instead she gave me the number for Paul Dancu, a contact for which I will forever be grateful. Paul came to my hotel that evening. We sat for maybe a minute or two, before he offered to take me around to show what used to be the Satu Mare ghetto and other important Jewish sites around the city.

Satu
Mare Ghetto

The Satu Mare ghetto is not marked and no effort was made to make it visible. The synagogue where the community used to pray was allowed to collapse as a result of neglect and only a sign remains where the synagogue once stood.

I kept asking Paul if there is any commemoration or recognition that the ghetto existed. “Wait,” he kept saying, “you will see.” Finally he showed me a street name. The street that was once the main street of the ghetto now called, “Street of Deported Martyrs.” A pretty vague name, I thought, considering there is no other mention of the ghetto’s existence.

Street name: Street of the Deported Martyrs.

Paul walked at a very fast pace, talking and
pointing things out the entire time. I tried to keep up with him as best I
could, recording what he was saying on my phone and taking pictures all at the
same time. If ever there was a walking encyclopedia, Paul is it. He knows every
street and every corner, every house and every space where a house once stood.
He knows all the sad, tragic stories of people who were part of the community and
are now all dead.

This building marked the edge of the Ghetto. The windows were then, as now, boarded up.

“Once the Nazis came, it took three days for the entire Jewish community to be moved into the Ghetto,” Paul said as he pointed out the boundaries of the Satu Mare Ghetto. Although he couldn’t say for sure, it seemed to me like it was no larger than one half of a square mile. The ghetto was opened on May 3, 1944. The final transport taking Jews from the ghetto to their death in Auschwitz left on June 1.

“Eighteen thousand people moved in three days, then shipped out over four weeks?” I asked. “Yes. The transports to Auschwitz began and within one month there were no Jews left.” With few exceptions who managed to escape or hide, all eighteen thousand men women and children were killed were sent to the concentration camp. “After the war about 2,500 Jewish survivors returned and by 1968 most of them had immigrated. My mother in law is 93, her family name was Zelig, like the Woody Allen movie, she is a survivor. She was saved four times from Dr. Mengele’s selections.”

“Look at the writing on the bricks,” Paul said as he pointed the red bricks of the some the older homes. These are the names of the families that lived in this house. The names were written by the families themselves some in ink and others engraved. The names Frank, Hersh, Feidler, Konigstein and so on, names upon names upon names. Entire families forced into a house, one room per family.

No
Satmar in Satu Mare

There are no Haredi Satmar Jews living in Satu
Mare today. The community is not attached to the place, or to any particular
country for that matter. Either way, it is hard to imagine that they would be
able to maintain their way of life under the communist regime which existed in
Romania after the war and until the fall of the Eastern Communist bloc.

The city is, however,  included in a sort of pilgrimage route that Haredi Jews take through central and eastern Europe. There is even an app called Nesiya Tova where one can locate the graves of great Rabbis, synagogues, cemeteries, guest houses for Haredi Jews and nearby airports. The app can be used for creating an entire route, which of course, I did.

But there was one thing Paul could not
explain. A question that begs an answer yet an answer doesn’t seem to be
available, at least not to me. How does it happen that 18,000 people, one third
of a city, people who have been part of the community for generations, are
forced to leave their homes and move into a ghetto, then shipped out and
systematically killed. Where were the neighbors, the friends, people whose
children sat next to these children in a classroom, played together in the
playground, visited one another, and are suddenly taken away, shut in a ghetto
and then shipped to their deaths?

A house that was part of the Satu Mare ghetto

There were a few stories of locals who tried
to help, tried to save Jews. Paul’s grandmother, who was not Jewish, brought
bags of food for their neighbors and threw them over the fence to help their
former Jewish neighbors. His mother, who was just a girl at the time, managed
to get food and sweets through the fence to give to her friends from school.
Those are certainly acts of kindness, but not resistance. One does not dare to
judge people until one walks in their shoes, yet still it is hard to comprehend
such cooperation of the other villagers with the authorities.

Paul submitted to the Israeli Holocaust Institute, Yad Vashem three names to be considered for the “Righteous Among the Nations” designation, given to people who saved Jews during the war. Two were awarded and a third was denied, “because by that time there were no more living survivors to testify.”

“Sha’ar Torah” synagogue in Satu Mare, built in 1892.

The Rebbe, Yoel Teitelbaum, an avid anti-Zionist was saved by Rudolf Israel Kastner, a Zionist emissary who negotiated with Adolf Eichman to save over 1600 Jews from Auschwitz.  Kastner managed to get about 1,600 Jews who were selected to be saved from Auschwitz and the Rebbe was among them. 

In 1953 Kastner was accused in Israel of being a traitor and collaborating with the Nazis. In 1957 he was assassinated outside his home in Tel Aviv. His killers belonged to the same rightwing Zionist organization which in 1933 assassinated Haim Arlozorov, who negotiated what became known as the “Transfer Agreement” with the Nazis.

Paul told me that  Kastner was from the area, he was in fact from Cluj. “He was not a traitor. He left his own family here, most of whom died, and saved others. It was stupid to accuse him of being a traitor.” The  Kastner affair was a very big deal in Israel, and to a large degree remains unsettled. Kastner himself, who went from being hailed a hero to being tried for collaboration with the Nazis, is still a controversial figure.

Before I left Satu Mare for the second stop on my journey, Lviv-Lemberg in Ukraine, I went to see the great synagogue, which was just around the corner from my hotel. I was there at 8:30 in the morning, which is when the office opens and visitors are allowed to go in and see the synagogue. I hadn’t planned to meet Paul again but he stopped by anyway on his way to work.

We walked through the old synagogue, built in 1892, where Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, a man of great religious zeal and a vocal anti-Zionist, used to pray and lead the services. It is a lovely structure but in need of repair, and repair requires funds which they do not have. “See the Parashat Hashavua?” Paul pointed out the decorated notice board where the weekly Torah portion is displayed. “This is the last parasha, the last portion that was read in this synagogue before the Jews were forced into the ghetto, and it remains there as an eternal memory.

“Come upstairs, I want to show you something,” Paul said as he lead me into the administration building behind the synagogue, and up the stairs to the second floor. As we walked, we talked more about the Holocaust, about Rudolph Kastner and his famous transports of selected Jews. The Zionists paid the Nazis enormous amounts of money so that these Jews could be saved. Finally, Paul pointed to a copy of the Israeli declaration of independence that was on the wall. He pointed straight to the signature of my grandfather, Avraham Katznelson. “That is my grandfather,” I said.

“I know,” he replied, looking at me, “I know the whole story.”

The post Exploring the roots of the Satmar Hasidim appeared first on Just World Educational.

Young Gazans speak up at online seminar

“People are demanding their basic rights! People want to live in dignity… It is a choice between slow death under siege or being shot at the fence.”

“I think the Great March of Return is the last option the Palestinian people have right now.”

“The voice of young people in Gaza has to be heard!”

These were just a few of the heartfelt pleas voiced when two
dozen, mainly youthful social-justice activists from Gaza took part in a
(Skyped) discussion with JWE president Helena Cobban, April 23.

This hour-long conversation was convened, on the Gaza end, by the Center for Political and Development Studies (CPDS), a Gaza-based research center, and featured members of their “Birds Without Borders” youth-activist team. It coincided with the opening, in CPDS’s Hashim Yeop Sani Library, of an exhibition of 40 photos of international (mainly US-based) solidarity activists holding up signs that proudly proclaim #IStandWithGaza.

The session marked almost exactly eight years since Ms.
Cobban took part in a seminar at CPDS in person (as reported by participant
Yousef Aljamal, here.)

The April 23 session was organized
by CPDS Librarian Ahmad Ghazal. Ms. Cobban opened it by speaking a little about
her earlier work as an author and publisher, and about Just World Educational’s
work to expand the discourse in the United States, especially on the Palestine
Question. “There has been so much disinformation here,” she told the Gaza
crowd. “The impact of the Zionists at all levels of the culture has been
very negative. We try to bring more Palestinian voices and Palestinian
perspectives such as the wonderful Palestinian cartoonist Mohammed Sabaneh. He
shared his art and perspective with the American public.”

But she also
noted that over the 35 years she has been in the United States, “Things have
really changed here, at the grassroots level and even now a little bit at the
political level. I have worked for years alongside others, including many
Palestinians Americans, to try to explain things to people. But now finally
people are listening.”

She cited the
recent election to the U.S. Congress of supporters of Palestinian rights such
as Rep. Rashida Tlaib from Michigan and Rep. Ilhan Omar from Minnesota as
demonstrating a real change in the attitudes of many grassroots Americans to
the Palestine Question. She noted that Sen. Bernie Sanders and other
national-level leaders are now also prepared to express open criticism of
Israeli policies and that attitudes toward Israel are changing within many
sections of the U.S. citizenry, including among Jewish Americans—but she
stressed that much more educational work remains to be done.

But she
stressed that she wanted to hear from the people of Gaza themselves regarding
the situation of their families and the difficulties they go through and what
they expect from people outside especially in the United States to do. She
asked the Gaza youths if they judged that a mainly-online project like
#IStandWithGaza is meaningful for them.

The first
person to respond was Ms. Rana Shubair, who observed, “There are mostly
university students here today. Some people aged 30 don’t know from Palestine
except Gaza because they have never seen any other parts of Palestine. We can’t
visit Jerusalem, we can’t visit any Palestinian city. So, it is a psychological
struggle as well as a physical one.”

Rana noted that
the internet allows Gaza Palestinians to connect with people in the outside
world, including by writing about their daily lives. “We love life, we want to
live, love, and get an education!” she stressed. Rana’s view was shared by
Helena eight years ago, when she told Gaza’s youths “The internet is your
Tahrir square.”

“We believe
that armed struggle is not the only way to end the occupation. That’s why a
year ago people started the peaceful Great March of Return. People were
peacefully demanding their right to live in peace. The protesters were received
with fire and thousands of people were shot by Israeli snipers, many of them
were children. We want from people outside to stand in solidarity with us and
to boycott Israel.”

Helena asked
Rana if it is worth to continue the Great March of Return a year after it was
launched or if she thinks it is too painful to do so.

“People are
demanding their basic human rights,” Rana responded. “People want to live in
dignity. All people have seen is destruction and war. People have survived
three wars and 80% of young people are unemployed. These are the people who are
protesting. It is a choice between slow death under siege or being shot at the
fence.”

Jehad Al-Hallaq
added: “The voice of young people in Gaza to has to be heard. Many people
around the world do not know who is the victim, who is the victimizer. So, it
is our responsibility to tell the truth about what is going on here.”

Wesam Abujarad
commented on the #IStandWithGaza campaign that it “shows us how people around
the world really care about us. The situation of youths here is known to
everyone. They are suffering. There are no jobs. The only thing that we are
convinced of is to reveal this suffering to people around the world.”

The session
included quite a lot of discussion of the Great March of Return. Yousef Ghabin
described it as “the last option the Palestinian people have right now.” He
added:

When you have a lot of people protesting, the Israeli army will be
on alert all the time 24/7. This will of course cost Israel a lot of money and
efforts and will come at a political price. Israel can’t live with this
situation. When people protest they convey their message to the world and the
reality they live in the Gaza Strip. They want to tell the world what is really
happening and tell them about their suffering. If people in Gaza suffer, Israel
has to suffer with them.

The GMR serves to expose Israeli practices against protesters and
Palestinians in Gaza. It shows the world that the Israeli army is using live ammunition
against peaceful protesters. A lot of women and children fell victims to the
practices of the Israeli occupation. I think the GMR is effective. The
Palestinian Authority spoke to Israel for 26 years now and they got nothing.
The Gaza Strip is under siege. So, the only way for the Palestinian people to
keep the cause alive is to protest and say no, to scream. There are victims,
but it is the price of freedom.

Helena asked
what reactions the people at CPDS had seen from inside Israel to the GMR.
Yousef replied, “There are people who expose Israeli crimes such as the Israeli
organization B’Tselem, and other media leftist outlets such as Haaretz. They
don’t have a lot of effectiveness. They can say something, but they can’t do
anything, because they are weak inside Israel.”

Another
participant added, “There are people in Israel who support the Great March of
Return, but they are not many. They take photos of Israeli snipers killing
Palestinians and post them to social media. Israelis tend to cover up their crimes.
But we should fight to expose their crimes and support the Palestinian cause.”

Helena had
asked what the CPDS participants thought their supporters in the United States
and other countries could most effectively do to support their cause. Wesam
Abujarad’s view was that, “We know that Israelis try to have hegemony over the
media. So, it is very important for Palestinians and their supporters to
publish and write to change the perception of people around the world. Such
books tell the truth about our issue. They tell our suffering in Gaza and the
West Bank.”

As the
conversation got lively, Helena showed the audience Gaza Kitchen, a book that her company Just World Books had
published in the United States, telling them that sometimes the way to people’s
hearts is their stomachs!

More seriously,
Yousef Ghabin stressed the following priorities for rights supporters in the
west: “We expect you and other activists in the United States to expose the
crimes committed against the Palestinian people, especially during the Great
March of Return. There are crimes committed against protesters including women
and children. They also target media outlets and press people who cover these
protests because they want to hide their crimes, so they don’t want these media
outlets to come and cover what is going on. So, please, convey what is going on
in Gaza to people in the United States by using social and mainstream media!”

Yousef also
urged Americans to speak out about the 7,000-plus Palestinian prisoners in
Israel’s jails and the plight of Palestinian Jerusalem. He noted that the
situation in Jerusalem had deteriorated badly after the United States moved its
embassy there last year.

“Israel,” he
said, “is using a lot of abusive tactics to pressure people in Jerusalem such
as confiscating their IDs, demolishing their houses, arresting people there.
Israel wants to push Palestinians out of Jerusalem to make a place for the
Zionist Israeli settlers. I think people in Jerusalem are suffering a lot and
there is a little media coverage about it… The international media should cover
the situation of people in Jerusalem too.”

Helena asked
the CPDS people how they thought their own political leadership could be more
effective, and whether a new round of Palestinian elections might be helpful.
Yousef responded: “Our leadership are far away from reality. I think one big
problem we have is our leadership. Our leadership both in the Gaza Strip and
the West Bank are not in touch with the needs of our people… Our leaders don’t
want to have elections because they want to stick to power they have! People
are not satisfied with the PA after all these years of peace talks, so our
leaders will try to maintain the status quo.”

After the Skype
session was over, Helena Cobban noted that it was difficult and heart-wrenching
for her not to be able to have the same kinds of in-person discussion with
young people at CPDS that she was able to have back in 2011—“though I realize
that the brutal and inhuman siege and travel ban that Israel has maintained on
Gaza for so many years, with the full support of the U.S. government, is a
thousand times harder for the people in Gaza than it is for me.” But she and
her colleagues on the board of Just World Educational are delighted that the
April 23 session was just one in a series of activities that Just World
Educational will be undertaking this year to highlight the situation in
Palestine.

The post Young Gazans speak up at online seminar appeared first on Just World Educational.

Israel and the Antisemitism Playbook in Great Britain and the Grassroots

The continuing attacks on Congressional critics of Israeli policies like Representative Ilhan Omar for their alleged antisemitism appear culled from the same playbook that Israel’s supporters in Great Britain have used to tarnish Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn over the past few years: vilify the messenger in order to discredit the message. In our continuing discussion of this issue (see our roundtable on the manufactured controversy over Ilhan Omar’s tweets) we asked two commentators from Great Britain and two from grassroots activism in the United States to respond and reflect on what is behind this tactic and why now it is being deployed in each context. Source