March 22, 2014
"

The real Israel is coming up to its 50th year of rule over another people and the dispossession of that people’s rights in nearly every sphere. This is the longest occupation in modern history. This occupation deprives hundreds of thousands of Palestinians of their basic human and civil rights every day. And those who view themselves as its supporters and its representatives to the strongest democracy on earth must not ignore this. Reality is forever complex. It means, among other things, a multitude of views about this reality, and that the voices of dissent must not be silenced, the debate must not be distilled to just one issue: The Iranian Threat.

Israel is a vital society with much to be proud of, and it is a country wrestling with many serious issues. People who love Israel should be learning about and engaging with this real-life country, and not with a two-dimensional placard.

"

Anat Saragusti, discussing her experience at AIPAC’s 2014 convention.

See also: When Will The U.S. Jewish Community Talk Peace? - by Ori Nir

March 21, 2014
This photo comes from a protest at the Hewett-Packard shareholder’s meeting on March 19th.  Yolanda Beck captions:

"Stop HP", a coalition that includes members of the American Friends Service Committee and Jewish Voice for Peace, amongst others, introduced a proposal at the Hewlett Packard Shareholders’ meeting in Santa Clara, California yesterday. That proposal, calling for an in-depth look at HP’s dealings with the Israeli military, was defeated by a majority. However, speakers in favor of the proposal pushed the issue, forcing HP CEO Meg Whitman to acknowledge it; Whitman said that the company "will look into this." A member of Sabeel, a group working for justice and reconciliation in Palestine-Israel, demanded a meeting be held to discuss the coalition’s concerns and the head of HP’s current human rights commission agreed to a sit-down.
Outdoors in front of the Santa Clara Convention Center on March 19, dozens of protesters called out Hewlett-Packard for its business dealings with the Israeli military. They sang, “Biometric ID cards at checkpoints in the West Bank restrict the People’s movement”. They expressed to TV news reporters on hand that HP is complicit in oppressing Palestine because it makes the technology for the biometric cards that contain large amounts of data on the card carrier. The cards are used by Israel to segregate and discriminate against Palestinians. 

h/t Jewish Voice For Peace

This photo comes from a protest at the Hewett-Packard shareholder’s meeting on March 19th.  Yolanda Beck captions:

"Stop HP", a coalition that includes members of the American Friends Service Committee and Jewish Voice for Peace, amongst others, introduced a proposal at the Hewlett Packard Shareholders’ meeting in Santa Clara, California yesterday. That proposal, calling for an in-depth look at HP’s dealings with the Israeli military, was defeated by a majority. However, speakers in favor of the proposal pushed the issue, forcing HP CEO Meg Whitman to acknowledge it; Whitman said that the company "will look into this." A member of Sabeel, a group working for justice and reconciliation in Palestine-Israel, demanded a meeting be held to discuss the coalition’s concerns and the head of HP’s current human rights commission agreed to a sit-down.

Outdoors in front of the Santa Clara Convention Center on March 19, dozens of protesters called out Hewlett-Packard for its business dealings with the Israeli military. They sang, “Biometric ID cards at checkpoints in the West Bank restrict the People’s movement”. They expressed to TV news reporters on hand that HP is complicit in oppressing Palestine because it makes the technology for the biometric cards that contain large amounts of data on the card carrier. The cards are used by Israel to segregate and discriminate against Palestinians. 

h/t Jewish Voice For Peace

March 21, 2014
Female Israeli activists stage a protest against the siege of Gaza at the Erez Crossing on International Women’s Day.
+972

Female Israeli activists stage a protest against the siege of Gaza at the Erez Crossing on International Women’s Day.

+972

March 19, 2014
For Purim, KKK costumes cause controversy

So a group of Israeli high school students thought it would be a good idea to celebrate Purim by dressing up in KKK costumes and blackface.  As you can imagine, a lot of people were offended (both within Israel and without). Surprisingly, though, some people are defending the students, including the Principal of the high school:

"The costume was designed to create interesting and important discussions." She added, "This act essentially created a platform where discussion can exist. There would be no difference if it were a Nazi costume."  The principal said the students would not be punished. 

Someone else wrote:

Purim represents the Jews special relationship with Hashem no matter what evil exists in the world. This is why some dress as Haman, and Romans and Greeks, and other enemies of the Jews. I see Nazis and KKK as enemies of the Jews and thus these costumes are acceptable.

The problem is that dressing up in blackface carries baggage that extends beyond the KKK costumes.  Blackface invokes the minstrel shows and Vaudeville acts of America’s past, where Black people were dehumanized by virtue of being portrayed as “characters” played by White performers.  Blackface also carries with it the damaging implication that Black skin is a costume that you can put on and take off.  It has been used in the past to crowd out people of color from the entertainment industry, where we see White actors using Blackface, Brownface, and Yellowface to play Black, Hispanic, and Asian characters.  Blackface therefore has demonstrable negative effects on the Black community.

The students say they “have no regrets,” which is unfortunate.  The above attempts to defend these teens all miss the mark.  Being a member of a historically oppressed group does not grant one a special dispensation to engage in behavior that perpetuates the cultural oppression of another group.  The fact that the KKK historically oppressed Jews does not mean that it’s ok for a Jewish student to dress up in blackface “to create interesting and important discussions.”  Using racism to fight racism is to oppress one group at the expense of another.  It also undermines the admirable Jewish traditions of "going forth and repairing the world," and to "not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, for once you were strangers in the land of Egypt."  If your method of fighting oppression encourages the oppression of someone else, it’s probably not a good method.

March 17, 2014
Holocaust survivors hand gift baskets to asylum seekers

From the article:

A group of 20 Holocaust survivors arrived on Monday at the Population and Immigration Authority Bureau in Tel Aviv to distribute water and Purim gift baskets to the hundreds of asylum seekers who have been waiting outside the bureau to renew their visas.

The initiative to involve Holocaust survivors, as well as workers and volunteers of the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel, came about after many of them noticed the harsh conditions asylum seekers have been facing in recent weeks.

Batya Rapaport, a 75-year-old Holocaust survivor, explained that this is an initiative by survivors and the foundation’s workers “who every day see people waiting for hours in the rain, in the cold, and in unbearable conditions. As a Holocaust survivor it raises thought, it takes you back to a time in which you were constantly chased and your life was in danger.”

According to Rapaport, who as a child escaped Warsaw Ghetto before it was eliminated, the survivors seek to convey a message: “Beyond politics, we want to say that human beings cannot overlook the suffering of other people.”

[…]

"When I saw the people waiting here my heart broke," Esther Miron, an 80-year-old Holocaust survivor told Ynet. "When I see people who fled their homes and were left with nothing, I cannot stay silent – I was in that situation too, we too were refugees. The Israeli society has a history and that is why we cannot stay indifferent to human suffering; that should be our primary thought. We established a country here to set a moral example.” Hungary-born Miron was deported during the Holocaust to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, where many of her family members were murdered.

March 9, 2014
Israeli teens tell Netanyahu: We will not take part in occupation | +972 Magazine

From the article:

Dozens of Israel teenagers signed a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Saturday, in which they announced that they would refuse to serve in the Israeli army come draft time.

According to the letter, the teenagers are refusing to enlist in the army due to their “opposition to the military occupation of Palestinian territories,” where “human rights are violated, and acts defined under international law as war-crimes are perpetuated on a daily basis.” Aside from the ultra-Orthodox and Palestinian citizens of Israel, army service is mandatory for all Israelis (three years for males, two for females).

The letter goes on to decry the effect of the occupation on Israeli society itself, especially the way it “shapes the educational system, our workforce opportunities, while fostering racism, violence and ethnic, national and gender-based discrimination,” and promotes and perpetuates “male dominance” and oppressive gender structures within the army itself.

[…]

When asked about the possible consequences, [17-year old Elza Bugnet] says “We know that the outcome might be problematic, but we cannot be a part of an army that takes upon itself to occupy another people.” “I am sure there will be a big price to pay,” adds Segal, “but I don’t really want to live in a community that measures me by whether or not I served in the army.”

March 7, 2014
A group of Israeli women hold protest signs that say “Stop The Occupation” in Hebrew, English, and Arabic, respectively.  Activestills captions:

In honor of International Women’s Day, Activestills pays tribute to more than a quarter century of anti-occupation activism by the ‘Women in Black’ group in Israel. Every Friday since 1988, the women have stood in the main squares of cities or at highway junctions with signs calling to end the Israeli occupation. Often spat at, cursed or violently harassed by passersby, they have become, for us, a symbol of persistence.

Read More

A group of Israeli women hold protest signs that say “Stop The Occupation” in Hebrew, English, and Arabic, respectively.  Activestills captions:

In honor of International Women’s Day, Activestills pays tribute to more than a quarter century of anti-occupation activism by the ‘Women in Black’ group in Israel. Every Friday since 1988, the women have stood in the main squares of cities or at highway junctions with signs calling to end the Israeli occupation. Often spat at, cursed or violently harassed by passersby, they have become, for us, a symbol of persistence.

Read More

February 23, 2014
Is Foreign Aid To Palestine Prolonging The Occupation?

Menachem Klein raises an interesting argument:

Israelis do not acknowledge that foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority – mainly by the EU – helps Israel maintain its rule over the Palestinians, as well as to keep Israeli citizens’ high standards of living. Since 1994 the international community has donated more than $30 billion to the PA as humanitarian relief and emergency assistance, most of it after the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000. The huge sum helps the PA to survive the present, but due to Israeli restrictions it cannot use it for capacity and infrastructure buildings.[3] Without this aid Israel would have to take on the daily life needs of more than 4 million Palestinians. Donor assistance in maintaining basic services and meeting humanitarian needs of the occupied Palestinian population has freed Israel from these responsibilities, and allowed it to avoid making hard political decisions regarding its legal, moral and political responsibilities toward the Palestinians. In other words, donor countries indirectly facilitate Israel’s rule over all of historical Palestine. Israel can expand settlements, prevent any Palestinian economic recovery, seize Palestinian land, cut the Palestinian territories to disconnected areas, increase socio-economic fragmentation to avoid the foundation of a viable Palestinian state, and in 2000-2003 it was able to carry out destructive army operations inside Palestinian cities, all while donors foot the bill for reconstruction and emergency aid.

Klein’s argument raises the prospect of “benign neglect.”  Should foreign governments concerned with the plight of the Palestinians stop foreign aid to Palestine in order to force Israel to make difficult political decisions it has been able to put off for some time?  Is doing so worth the inevitable human cost in Palestine?  Or perhaps more importantly, would it be worth the human cost not to?  Perhaps there’s a third way.  But if foreign aid if actually enabling the Occupation, then foreign powers who claim to be serious about peace between Israel and Palestine have some hard choices to make in the future.

February 18, 2014
"

There is no question that Charles H. Manekin is a rarity. Not because he is an Orthodox Jew who keeps the Sabbath, refraining from driving, turning on lights, even riding in elevators on Saturdays. Rather, this philosophy professor at the University of Maryland is rare because he believes that his Orthodox faith calls him to take stands against Israel.

Professor Manekin, 61, became Orthodox in college and became an Israeli citizen in the 1980s. Yet in an interview this week, he denounced Israel’s “excessive reliance” on military force, its treatment of Arab citizens and its occupation of the West Bank. Although not a member of the American Studies Association, he was pleased when the group voted in December not to collaborate with Israeli academic institutions — the “academic boycott.” He is “sympathetic” to B.D.S., as the global movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel is known.

“As a religious Jew,” he said, “I am especially disturbed by the daily injustices perpetrated against the Palestinians.”

"

Mark Oppenheimer.  Oppenheimer also interviewed Corey Robin, a Jewish Political Science professor at Brooklyn College, who writes, “There are lots of ways to be Jewish, but worshiping a heavily militarized state seems like a bit of a comedown from our past…I love being Jewish. I just don’t love the state of Israel.”

February 5, 2014
"By some accounts, the Palestinians who work at SodaStream are well treated by the standards of occupation enterprises. But suggesting that those Palestinians don’t have much choice about their employment because the West Bank is entirely aid dependent, and because it’s hard to have a vibrant economy under foreign military control — that’s not delegitimizing Israel either. That’s the truth as pro-Israel progressives worldwide see it."

Naomi Paiss, Vice President of Public Affairs for The New Israel Fund.

Liked posts on Tumblr: More liked posts »