On Sunday, hundreds of mostly young, American Jews rallied in Washington, D.C., during the first day of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee 2017 Convention, to protest the expansion of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
“We’re protesting [AIPAC] en masse as Jews to say that to be Jewish in America at this moment doesn’t mean to support Israel unconditionally,” said 25-year-old Yonah Lieberman, one of the co-founders of the anti-settlement group IfNotNow, which spearheaded the protest in Washington D.C.
Lieberman described Sunday’s march as “the biggest ever Jewish-led protest of AIPAC.”
“A precious Jewish child in Tel Aviv has the same value as a precious Palestinian child in Gaza.” – Dr. Cornel West at #ResistAIPAC
The annual conference of the powerful pro-Israel lobby draws heavyweights from both ends of the political spectrum: This year’s speakers include House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Though the group describes itself as bipartisan, it’s commonly viewed as a right-leaning organization ? or at least one that is unfriendly to criticism of the Israeli government’s right-wing policies.
AIPAC has historically avoided taking a firm stance on settlements, but has had a hand in influencing policy that tilts in their favor. Critics, like Lieberman, are more blunt in their assessment:
“AIPAC is the largest institution that supports Israeli settlements,” he said Sunday. “They’ve done more in the past 50 years to support occupation than anyone else in the Jewish community.”
Sunday’s protests are symbolic stands against not only Israel’s half century-long settlement stance, but policies of President Donald Trump’s nascent administration.
Earlier this year when the Israeli government approved the construction of thousands of new settlement homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, despite Palestinian opposition and widespread international condemnation, Trump’s administration took a more amiable stance on the development than those of previous administrations ? which flatly opposed any construction of settler homes.
The Trump administration’s closer alignment to the Israeli government was confirmed at AIPAC by Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., during Sunday’s conference.
“For the first time in many years, perhaps even many decades, there is no daylight between our two governments,” Dermer said.
AIPAC will be pro-Israel at any cost, prioritizing the occupation over the safety of the Jewish community and other marginalized people in America.Sara Sandmel, an IfNotNow member
AIPAC was also criticized for what protesters said was a weak stance against a growing wave of anti-Semitism in the U.S.
“I’ve never seen the sort of antisemitism we’re seeing today, but despite bomb threats and desecrated cemeteries, AIPAC has chosen to remain silent,” Sara Sandmel, an IfNotNow member from Boston, said in a statement Sunday.
“This proves without a doubt that AIPAC will be pro-Israel at any cost, prioritizing the occupation over the safety of the Jewish community and other marginalized people in America.”
Lieberman said the new dynamic creates a “unique moral moment for the Jewish-American community.”
“Now, we have a unique role to play to ensure the occupation comes to an end,” he said. “We have a responsibility to resist it.”
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United Nations (United States) (AFP) – The UN Security Council on Friday demanded that Israel halt settlements in Palestinian territory, after the United States refrained from vetoing a resolution condemning its closest Middle East ally.
In a rare and momentous step, the United States instead abstained, enabling the adoption of the first UN resolution since 1979 to condemn Israel over its settlement policy.
Applause broke out in the chamber after the text was passed with support from all remaining members of the 15-member council.
The landmark move by the Security Council came despite an effort led by Israel and backed by US President-elect Donald Trump to block the text.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately rejected the UN resolution and slammed the outgoing administration of President Barack Obama for refusing to veto it.
“Israel rejects this shameful anti-Israel resolution at the UN and will not abide by its terms,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said.
“The Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN, it colluded with it behind the scenes,” it said.
“Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with all our friends in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to negate the harmful effects of this absurd resolution.”
Trump reacted after the vote by promising change at the world body after he takes office next month.
“As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th,” he tweeted.
– Saving two-state solution –
Ambassador Samantha Power said the US abstention stemmed from concerns that the expansion of the Jewish outposts was threatening the two-state solution aimed at achieving peace by creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
“We cannot stand in the way of this resolution as we seek to preserve a chance of attaining our longstanding objective of two states living side by side in peace and security,” she said.
“The settlement problem has gotten so much worse that it is now putting at risk the very viability of that two-state solution.”
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s office said the vote was “a big blow” to Israeli policy and a show of “strong support for the two-state solution.”
Israeli settlements are seen as a major stumbling block to peace efforts, as they are built on land the Palestinians consider part of their future state.
The United Nations maintains that settlements are illegal, but UN officials have reported a surge in construction over the past months.
Some 430,000 Israeli settlers currently live in the West Bank and a further 200,000 Israelis live in east Jerusalem, which Palestinians see as the capital of their future state.
The resolution demands that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”
It states that Israeli settlements have “no legal validity” and are “dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution.”
– A ‘no’ vote for negotiation –
Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon bluntly told the council that the resolution would not have the hoped-for impact of spurring peace efforts.
“By voting ‘yes’ in favor of this resolution, you have in fact voted ‘no’. You voted ‘no’ to negotiation, you voted ‘no’ to progress and a chance for better lives for Israelis and Palestinians, and you voted ‘no’ to the possibility of peace,” Danon told the council.
Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour said the resolution “may be too little, too late.”
Friday’s vote was scheduled at the request of four countries — New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela — who stepped in to push for action a day after Egypt put the draft resolution on hold.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi backtracked on the move to condemn Israel’s settlement policy after receiving a phone call from President-elect Trump, who spoke out in favour of a US veto.
The United States vetoed a similar resolution in 2011, which was the sole veto cast by the Obama administration at the Security Council.
Washington has used its veto a total of 30 times to block council resolutions concerning Israel and the Palestinians, according to Security Council Report, a research organization.
It last abstained in 2009 on a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
The Middle East peace process has been comatose since a US initiative to re-launch peace talks collapsed in April 2014.
France has announced plans to host an international conference on January 15 to try to restart talks based on the two-state solution.
Trump campaigned on a promise to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and chose as ambassador to Israel the hardliner David Friedman, who has said Washington will not seek to curtail settlement building in the occupied West Bank.
Comments: This resolution, while it’s the right thing to do, and the yes votes on it was justified and correct, is not worth the ink it’s written with. WHY?? Because Israel will never abide by it and do what the resolution dictates. Israel, for a long time has been dictating it’s policy on the US and forces the US to veto every resolution that the UN security council issues against them. This time President Obama decided to abstain, making it possible for the UNSC to issue it’s condemnation of Israel. Israel is counting the days until Trump takes office because he will be no less of puppet in their hands than all the presidents in recent history with the exception of Carter and Obama.
In January of 2006, former president Jimmy Carter went to Gaza to oversee the election and make sure that everything was fair and honest. Hamas won and the PLO were driven out of Gaza. Israel was outraged and decided to impose a blockade on the entire strip of Gaza, disallowing food, medicine and other life necessities to enter the area. The Israelis said that they are going to put the Palestinians on a diet but not kill them, Well they did both. The people in Gaza are starving and thousands of them were killed during the massacres that Israel inflicted in 2006, 2008, & 2014.
In recent days, coverage of the attack on the aid flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip has focused on the lack of availability of certain humanitarian goods. This fact sheet is a reference tool based on data collected by international aid agencies and human rights groups on the impact of the siege on the population of Gaza.
Electricity: The siege has led to a significant lack of power in the Gaza Strip. In 2006, Israel carried out an attack on Gaza’s only power plant and never permitted the rebuilding to its pre-attack capacity (down to producing 80 megawatts maximum from 140 megawatts). According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), the daily electricity deficit has increased since January of 2010 with the plant only able to operate one turbine producing only 30 megawatts compared to its previous average of 60-65 megawatts in 2009. The majority of houses have power cuts at least eight hours per day. Some have no electricity for long as 12 hours a day. The lack of electricity has led to reliance on generators, many of which have exploded from overwork, killing and maiming civilians. Oxfam reported that“[in 2009], a total of 75 Palestinians died from carbon monoxide gas poisoning or fires from generators, and 15 died and 27 people were injured in the first two months of this year.”
Water: Israel has not permitted supplies into the Gaza Strip to rebuild the sewage system.Amnesty International reports that 90-95 percent of the drinking water in Gaza is contaminated and unfit for consumption. The United Nations even found that bottled water in Gaza contained contaminants, likely due to the plastic bottles recycled in dysfunctional factories. The lack of sufficient power for desalination and sewage facilities results in significant amounts of sewage seeping into Gaza’s costal aquifer–the main source of water for the people of Gaza.
Industry: Prior to the siege, the industrial sector employed 20 percent of Gaza’s labor force. One year after the siege began, the Palestinian Federation of Industries reported that “61% of the factories have completely closed down. 1% was forced to change their scope of work in order to meet their living expenses, 38% were partially closed (sometimes means they operate with less than 15% capacity)”. A World Health Organization report from this year states: “In the Gaza Strip, private enterprise is practically at a standstill as a consequence of the blockade. Almost all (98%) industrial operations have been shut down. The construction sector, which before September 2000 provided 15% of all jobs, has effectively halted. Only 258 industrial establishments in Gaza were operational in 2009 compared with over 2400 in 2006. As a result, unemployment rates have soared to 42% (up from 32% before the blockade).”
Health: Gaza’s health sector, dramatically overworked, was also significantly damaged by Operation Cast Lead. According to UN OCHA, infrastructure for 15 of 27 of Gaza’s hospitals, 43 of 110 of its primary care facilities, and 29 of its 148 ambulances were damaged or destroyed during the war. Without rebuilding materials like cement and glass due to Israeli restrictions, the vast majority of the destroyed health infrastructure has not been rebuilt. Many medical procedures for advanced illnesses are not available in Gaza. 1103 individuals applied for permits to exit the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing for medical treatment in 2009. 21 percent of these permits were denied or delayed resulting in missed hospital appointments, and several have died waiting to leave Gaza for treatment.
Food: A 2010 World Health Organization report stated that “chronic malnutrition in the Gaza Strip has risen over the past few years and has now reached 10.2%. Micronutrient deficiencies among children and women have reached levels that are of concern.” According to UN OCHA:“Over 60 percent of households are now food insecure, threatening the health and wellbeing of children, women and men. In this context, agriculture offers some practical solutions to a humanitarian problem. However, Israel’s import and access restrictions continue to suffocate the agriculture sector and directly contribute to rising food insecurity. Of particular concern, farmers and fishers’ lives are regularly put at risk, due to Israel’s enforcement of its access restrictions. The fact that this coastal population now imports fish from Israel and through tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border speaks to the absurdity of the situation.” 72 percent of Gaza’s fish profit comes from beyond the three nautical mile mark, but further restrictions by Israel’s naval blockade prevents Gazans from fishing beyond that mark. Between 2008 and 2009 the fishing catch was down 47 percent.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — An Israeli human rights group urged the U.N. Security Council to take decisive action now to end the country’s occupation of Palestinian territory.
Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B’Tselem, told an informal council meeting Friday on “Illegal Israeli Settlements: Obstacles to Peace and the Two-State Solution” that Israel has controlled Palestinian lives in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem for the past 49 years “and counting.”
“Israel will not cease being an oppressor simply by waking up one day and realizing the brutality of its policies,” he said.
With the 50th anniversary approaching next year, El-Ad said “the rights of Palestinians must be realized, the occupation must end, the U.N. Security Council must act, and the time is now.”
El-Ad stressed that the council “has more than just power: you have a moral responsibility and a real opportunity to act with a sense of urgency before we reach the symbolic date of June 2017 and the second half of that first century begins.”
Another Israeli rights group, Peace Now, was invited to speak but it was represented by its sister organization, Americans for Peace Now, which has also campaigned for an end to Israeli occupation.
“The occupation is a threat to Israel’s security and to Israel’s very existence,” said Lara Friedman, the group’s director of policy and government relations.
When Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed the Oslo peace accords 23 years ago, the settler population in the West Bank was 116,000, she said. At the end of 2015, it was almost 390,000.
“I urge you here today to finally take action in the Security Council to send a clear message to Israel that the international community stands by the two-state solution and unambiguously rejects policies that undermine it — including Israeli settlement policies,” Friedman said.
Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon accused B’Tselem of joining “Palestinian attempts to wage diplomatic terror against Israel at the U.N.”
He also accused the group of choosing “to slander and besmirch Israel’s good name” and vowed that “we will continue to fight and tell the truth about Israel despite the attempts to spread lies about us.
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. Ambassador, called the informal meeting “a very positive exercise” that builds on his discussions about a new U.N. resolution that would demand an end to Israeli settlement building.
The Palestinians pushed for the Security Council to adopt a resolution against settlements in February 2011 but it was vetoed by the United States. The 14 other Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution, reflecting the wide support for the draft which had over 100 co-sponsors.
What the United States might do about a new settlements resolution remains to be seen.
U.S. deputy ambassador David Pressman told the meeting that “the United States remains firmly committed to advancing a two-state solution … (and) we are deeply concerned about continued settlement activity.”
He recalled that last week the United States condemned new Israeli settlements and said that since July 1 over 2,400 settlement units have been advanced in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This makes “a viable Palestinian state more remote,” he said.
“In short, we need to start implementing the two-state solution on the ground right now,” Pressman said.
While a peace deal can only be achieved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, he said, “significant progress towards creating a two-state reality can be made now that will help restore hope and lay the groundwork for successful negotiations.”
“We continue to stress the urgency and importance of taking these steps now and refraining from actions that corrode the prospects for two states,” Pressman said.
Mansour called Pressman’s use of the word “now” twice very interesting, saying his comments are in line with strong messages from Washington expressing “outrage against the intensification of settlement activities.”
He said it’s too early to say whether this will translate into U.S. support for a new settlements resolution.
A United Nations vote on one of the world’s most important religious sites has sparked international debate over the future of Jerusalem. The director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), issued a statement Friday assuring the Jewish identity of the site known as Haram al-Sharif by Muslims and Temple Mount by Jews after members voted Thursday to approve a draft resolution that was critical of Israel and only referred to the site’s Islamic name.
“The heritage of Jerusalem is indivisible,” Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, said. “And each of its communities has a right to the explicit recognition of their history and relationship with the city.”
Israel suspended cooperation with the U.N. cultural organization Friday in reaction to the vote on Judaism’s holiest site. The text refers to the Muslim site Al-Buraq Plaza, but places the Jewish name, The Western Wall, in quotations. The wall a remnant of the first biblical temple, is the holiest site where Jews can pray, while for Muslims, the temple marks the place where the prophet Mohammed ascended up to heaven. The site is officially under Muslim administration and under Israeli law, Jews are not allowed to pray there to avoid potential violence. But activists have increasingly pushed for the right to go inside the temple in recent months, prompting Palestinians and Muslim-majority nations such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia to complain that Israel is trying to take back the site.
Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules the Gaza Strip and is pledged to Israel’s destruction, called the resolution a “step in the right direction.” Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennet called the decision “shameful,” while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the vote as “the theater of the absurd.”
“What’s next? A UNESCO decision denying the connection between peanut butter and jelly? Batman and Robin? Rock and roll?” Netanyahu tweeted after the decision.
Out of the 57 nations present for Thursday’s vote, only six voted against the resolution. Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, the United Kingdom and the United States took issue with the draft, while a number of Arab and Muslim-majority countries joined Brazil, China and Russia to secure 24 votes in favor. Other member states, such as India, Italy and Spain, abstained. Serbia and Turkmenistan were absent.
The votes by Arab world countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan, which sponsored the bill, are not surprising. Only Egypt and Jordan have established diplomatic relations with Israel. Jordan has custodian rights over the site after Israel seized East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East War.
A number of other nations have been critical of Israel in recent years, voicing support for Palestinian statehood. Roughly 130 countries recognize Palestine. In 2011, Iceland became the first Western European country to recognize Palestine, followed by Sweden in 2012. That same year, a number of European nations, including France, Italy, and Switzerland, joined the successful vote to include Palestine as non-member observer state at the U.N. In 2014, the parliament of the European Union voted to recognize Palestinian statehood. This growing list of supporters has angered Netanyahu, who routinely criticizes nations that pursue Palestinian recognition.
While no European country voted for Thursday’s draft resolution, there was a noticeable lack of enthusiasm to block it as well. On the abstaining list, countries such as Italy,Greece and Spain have symbolically recognized Palestine in their respective legislating bodies.
Israel can claim a few diplomatic victories, however. A draft resolution similar to Friday’s was previously voted on in April, with the same text that Israel finds problematic. That vote saw 33 members including France voting in favor, after which Netanyahu personally wrote to French Prime Minister Francois Hollande, saying he was “honestly astounded to see our French friends raise their hands in favor of this shameful resolution.” France abstained Thursday.
It is typical of Israel to not only objects but gets angry when someone criticizes their policy, their mass killing of Palestinians or anything else about them. Forget about what’s right or what’s ethical. Israel wants everything to be in its favor. It’s acting like a spoiled child who wants everything his way and throws a fit if it doesn’t.
The Women’s Boat to Gaza is part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition. It contains 13 women, including the 1976 Nobel peace laureate from Northern Ireland, Mairead Maguire, and it journeyed from Barcelona to Gaza in September in order to bring attention to the Israeli’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. The organization posted on its website that they lost contact with the boat on October 5th, and presume that the Israeli Occupation Navy has surrounded it in international waters.
On Pink Floyd’s Facebook page, the band released the following statement: “‘Pink Floyd reunites to stand with the Women of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.’ David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Roger Waters stand united in support of the Women of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and deplore their illegal arrest and detention in international waters by the Israeli Defense Force.”
Waters has been clear about his stance on the Israeli government, and has called for a cultural boycott of the country. In October 2015, he toldRolling Stone, “It’s not the Israeli people, not Jews and not Judaism. I would never dream of attacking them. In fact, a lot of the Israelis are the people who are putting the most into fighting the hardest because they believe it is the most effective tool for changing policies of their own government.”
A group of Palestinian youths cycle past a section of Israel’s separation barrier to promote a cultural festival in the West Bank city of Ramallah and as a protest against the wall on June 30, 2009 in the Qalandia checkpoint between northern Jerusalem and Ramallah.ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/GETTY
For a Palestinian insurgent supposedly determined to see Israel destroyed, Paul Hadweh looks remarkably like his fellow students at the University of California, Berkeley. I met the 22-year-old senior on the rooftop of a campus building, overlooking the expanse of San Francisco Bay, which glimmered in the pure light of late afternoon. He wore gray Converse sneakers, stylish jeans and a teal T-shirt. On the table beside him lay an iPhone, earbuds coiled, and a packet of loose tobacco. He could have been just another kid, except a nervous energy radiated from him like steam. This was understandable, for in the last month, Hadweh has been depicted as an enemy of Israel, one dangerous enough to allegedly warrant intervention from the country’s government.
For a few moments, we admired the view of the Bay Area. We were about 140 miles from Chowchilla, the Central Valley town where Hadweh lived until he was 10 years old; and we were about 7,000 miles from Beit Jala, the West Bank village of mostly Palestinian Christians where Hadweh’s father, a doctor, moved the family in 2003 (it is near Bethlehem); but we were mere steps from where, in 1964, Berkeley students launched the Free Speech Movement, in protest of the administration’s restrictions on political activity. This juxtaposition galled Hadweh, irritated him more than Israeli politics, more even than the death threats he has received. “They’ve thrown an undergraduate student under the bus in the most public of manners,” he says of an administration that tried to stop him from teaching a class about Palestinian history.
Berkeley has a long tradition of students teaching classes. In 1965, in response to growing student unrest on campus, the Berkeley philosophy professor Joseph Tussman started a program that allowed both students and faculty to “engage in intensive reading and discussion of texts in an ungraded environment.” The experiment came to be known as DeCal, for Democratic Education at Cal. Any student can teach a class on any topic, provided the student has a faculty sponsor and approval from the Academic Senate. DeCal classes typically have about two dozen students and are quite popular, to judge by the current offerings. There are 195 such courses offered at Berkeley this semester, and they reflect the diversity of curiosities among the school’s 27,000 undergraduates: Intro to Baking, Intro to Surgery, Berkeley Poetry Review.
The DeCal website urges students who’ve enjoyed a DeCal course to start one of their own: “It’s not as difficult a process as you’d expect.” Paul Hadweh almost certainly disagrees.
Paul Hadweh says he has received death threats for trying to teach a class on the history of Palestine at UC Berkeley.
HADWEH’S FAMILY ARRIVED in the West Bank in the midst of the Second Intifada, as the periodic armed Palestinian campaign against Israel is known. It was a gruesome affair, with Palestinian suicide bombings in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israeli military incursions, a bloody dance from which neither side wanted to disengage, even as they made the obligatory overtures for peace. At the conclusion of the second intifada, Israel remained vulnerable to rocket attacks from Gaza (and, more recently, a spate of knife attacks), while the Palestinians remained the stateless people they’d been for decades.
Hadweh’s family is Christian and relatively wealthy. Nevertheless, he felt the full force of the occupation, especially after Israel started to build a West Bank barrier in 2002. “Occupation affects every aspect of your life,” he says. I asked if he’d ever had the chance to hold a dialogue with his Israeli peers, the sort of thing that makes for hopeful public radio segments. Hadweh sneers: “There’s no way any connection can ever be made. There’s a 26-foot concrete wall between us.” (The barrier varies in composition and height, and many Israelis say it is necessary to prevent terrorist attacks.)
So when he discovered that there was no course that, in his view, fairly addressed the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories, he decided to make his own. “If you’re not going to give me a space to explore Palestine, then I am going to make that space,” he says with an edgy defiance that hints at how hard that space has been to claim.
Last year, Hadweh took an Arabic course with Hatem Bazian, an Islamic scholar at Berkeley who has been involved in political activism that, some say, seeks to delegitimize and malign Israel. Over the summer, Bazian helped Hadweh create a DeCal course called Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis.
I asked Hadweh if his course calls for the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. He met this question with disgust, explaining that there is no getting rid of Jews from a land they call home. “I’m deemed anti-Semitic because I fundamentally believe we can all live together.” He’s vague about how he’d resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but both he and Bazian appear to seek a single state in which Palestinians and Jews are equals, and expelled Palestinians are allowed to return. Many believe this would effectively be the end of Israel, since demographic trends overwhelmingly favor the Palestinians.
Paul Hadweh, a senior from the West Bank, wanted to teach a course on the Palestinian experience. He seemed to have secured all the necessary approvals to do so.ALEXANDER NAZARYAN/NEWSWEEK
Hadweh believes this is an urgent question to discuss. “This isn’t a course that is pro-Palestine or pro-Israel,” he says. His goal was “exploring history.”
Bazian approved the course, as did the head of the Ethnic Studies department and the university’s Academic Senate. As the fall semester began, he started to hang posters advertising the class around campus: four maps in a row, each showing the contours of Israel and the Palestinian territories. The first map, from 1918, is nearly all teal (Palestinian land), with just a few flecks of black (Zionist settlements) near the Mediterranean coast. Israel was founded in 1947; the map from 1960, accordingly, is overwhelmingly black. In the map’s final iteration, there are only two disjointed swaths of teal: the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
Twenty-four students signed up for the course, with six more on the waitlist. The first meeting would be on September 6.
BERKELEY’S FAMOUS PROGRESSIVISM can sometimes be more convenient for the school’s detractors than for the school itself. Ronald Reagan, as governor of California, used the late 1960s tumult at Berkeley to position himself on the national stage as a law-and-order Middle American disgusted by the excesses of the revolutionaries camped out in front of Sproul Hall. More recently, “Berzerkeley” has served as an easy target for anyone wanting to denounce the overreach of political correctness or social activism, even as the school itself has become ever more conventional, less interested in social revolution than attracting gifted students and star faculty away from nearby rival Stanford.
Israel, on many college campuses, has become the new Vietnam. Earlier this year, the Board of Regents of the University of California system endorsed a report that began by noting that “there has been an increase in incidents reflecting anti-Semitism on UC campuses.” The resolution said, “Anti-Semitism, anti-semitic forms of anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.” Many Jewish groups saw this as a major victory; the resolution was a loss for activist organizations like Students for Justice in Palestine, which had urged the University of California and many other universities around the nation to boycott and divest from Israel. The co-founder of that group was Bazian, Hadweh’s adviser on the DeCal course.
After that piece was published, several Jewish-American groups reached out to Berkeley administrators. The Amcha Initiative, based in California, sent a letter to the chancellor signed by 43 organizations that said Hadweh and Bazian “intended to indoctrinate students to hate the Jewish state and take action to eliminate it.”
Ron Hassner, a political scientist at Berkeley with a Ph.D. from Stanford, agrees with this harsh assessment. Hassner, who teaches religious conflict, says he was appalled by the DeCal course. “The class is despicable because it is bigoted,” he says, comparing its intellectual underpinnings to the “flat Earth” theory.
The cancellation of Hadweh’s class caused an uproar on the Berkeley campus.ALEXANDER NAZARYAN/NEWSWEEK
Administrators apparently agreed. On September 15, The Daily Californian said the course was being canceled because it had been “mistakenly approved.” That swung the outrage the other way. One pro-Palestinian website suggested that the Israeli government had exercised influence over the university. Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof says this was an “insidious rumor,” and “there has been no contact of any kind with official or unofficial representatives of the Israeli government.” More moderate voices noted that DeCal courses like Modern Square Dance and Body Positivity seemed to meet both academic and administrative requirements, so it seemed dubious that only a course focused on the Palestinian experience would garner extra attention.
After the class was suspended, Hadweh was offered representation by Palestine Legal, which frequently defends students who become targets of the pro-Israel lobby. His lawyer, Liz Jackson, is a Jewish alumna of Berkeley Law who, some years ago, went on Birthright Israel, the free trip offered to American Jews. “The knee-jerk labeling of the Palestinian perspective as ‘anti-Jewish’ is akin to dismissing the study of civil rights struggle in the U.S. or the movement to end South African apartheid as ‘anti-white,’” she says, adding that there was “a documented, coordinated effort by Israel advocacy organizations, and the Israeli government itself, to suppress campus debate in the U.S.”
Hadweh and Bazian met with Carla Hesse, the executive dean of the College of Letters & Science. On September 19, she wrote a letter to the Academic Senate and departmental chairs in the social sciences asserting that the “meeting resolved the procedural issues concerning academic review and consultation.” The course had its name altered, from Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis to Palestine: A Settler Colonial Inquiry, but there were no changes to what Hadweh was going to teach or how he was going to teach it.
NOW EVERYONE WAS UNHAPPY. Hadweh and his supporters thought Berkeley administrators were bowing to political pressure and media coverage; detractors thought the university was allowing anti-Semitism to flourish. There were charges of academic freedom being usurped and of that freedom being perverted for political gains. “It’s a matter of double standard,” says Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard Law professor and a frequent defender of Israel. “The critical question is: Would an anti-Palestinian mirror image course be accepted? Academic freedom requires a neutral single standard of evaluation.”
I read this response to Jackson, Hadweh’s lawyer. She found Dershowitz’s position ridiculous. “There are anti-Palestinian courses taught every day all over the United States,” she says, pointing to a course on Israeli history taught at Berkeley last spring that seemed to “erase Palestinians” in favor of a Zionist perspective. “Many people view classes from a Zionist perspective as being anti-Palestinian,” she says. “It’s correct that academic freedom requires a neutral standard applied in an even manner, regardless of the political viewpoint. That is exactly what went wrong here,” in her view, with Hadweh receiving “special scrutiny.”
Jackson wishes Berkeley had stood up for Hadweh the way the University of California, Riverside, came to the defense of Tina Matar, who in 2015 tried to start a course titled Palestinian Voices. The Amcha Initiative objected, but Riverside decided to let the class stand.A report issued some months after the incident agreed with this decision: “At the end of the day the existence of objections and concerns about ‘Palestinian Voices’ (some of which are eloquently articulated) constitutes an insufficient basis to second-guess academic judgment.” Jackson wonders why Berkeley, which boasts of all the Nobel Prize laureates under its aegis, could not reach the same conclusion.
But there are issues beyond academic freedom. Hassner, the political science professor, says the furor over Hadweh’s course would be “very, very hard on the Jewish students on campus,” inevitably leading to a rise in anti-Semitism. Just days after we spoke, posters started appearing on campus that said “Jewish bullies” were silencing free speech at Berkeley, though the DeCal course had been reinstated.
Anti-Semitic posters appeared on the Berkeley campus in September.COURTESY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
Hadweh denounced these posters, but having to defend himself against such charges clearly left him enervated. And it was only September. “What does this say to anybody who wants to talk about Palestine?” he wonders. “Don’t.”
Maybe the events of the last month have taught Hadweh more than any class ever could. For this is the way the Middle East works, too: anger, recrimination, escalation, exasperation. And in the end, everything stays the same.
We salute Paul Hadweh and people like him who are trying to bring awareness of the Palestinian History to the American students, many of which have had no knowledge of the Israeli intrusion and theft of the Palestinian land and resources.
This article has been updated with a clarification regarding the letter sent by the Amcha Initiative, as well as with the correct name of the department that approved the DeCal course in question.
Israeli authorities have told U.S. officials that they found no criminal wrongdoing by soldiers involved in the February killing of an American teenager whom the troops allege tried to stab them, and that Israel will not further pursue the case, POLITICO has learned.
The decision has upset human rights activists who question the description of what happened and who have long accused Israel of failing to hold its security forces accountable for the use of excessive force. Some U.S.-based activists have quietly been pushing the Obama administration and Congress to do more to shed light on what happened.
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The incident in question took place on Feb. 26, when Mahmoud Shaalan, a Miami-born 16-year-old of Palestinian descent, went to a checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah. The encounter came amid a wave of Palestinian stabbing attacks that have put Israel on edge.
According to past statements from the Israelis, Shaalan stabbed a soldier, and when other troops shot him, he kept trying to stab them before being shot further. But according to Israeli media, eyewitnesses told activists that Shaalan was shot in the back after getting into an apparent verbal dispute with Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint.
It’s unclear if there is audio or video footage to back up the claims on either side. A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces told POLITICO earlier this year that there was “one existing camera that belongs to the IDF, however, the camera did not capture the event because it was not in range.”
In any case, a State Department official confirmed late this week that after six months of looking into the case, Israeli officials had decided not to press further. “We have received an official response from the Israelis, and we understand that they have completed their investigation. We understand that they did not find any criminal misconduct and do not plan to proceed with a criminal investigation. We are studying their response,” the official said.
The State Department official insisted that the Obama administration considered the case a priority and that U.S. officials regularly raised it with Israeli leaders. However, the official declined to say what steps the U.S. would take next.
Shaalan’s relatives have maintained his innocence. They describe the late teen as a straight-A student far more focused on his studies than Israeli-Palestinian tensions. They buried him with an American flag as well as a Palestinian one, according to an account in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Informed Saturday morning about the Israeli decision, the teen’s uncle, Salman Shaalan, said the family had retained a lawyer and was looking at other avenues to seek justice. He said the Obama administration had not done enough to convince the Israelis to carry out a thorough investigation.
U.S. governments generally treat their relations with Israel in a very delicate matter, seeing as how important the country’s continued friendship is in a Middle East consumed by chaos. But President Barack Obama has had an unusually testy relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The State Department and the U.S. should call for an independent or joint investigation — at least a joint investigation,” Salman Shaalan said, adding that his nephew was “a good kid” and “not capable” of a violent act.
Over the past year, Israel has faced a wave of attacks, many of them involving knives, carried out by Palestinians. The attacks have targeted Israeli security forces as well as civilians.Some call the surge of assaults the “stabbing intifada.”
Critics, however, say that in many cases, Israeli security forces have overreacted to what were often unclear threats. According to The Associated Press, Palestinians have killed 34 Israelis and two visiting Americans in attacks since September, while some 207 Palestinians have been killed in that time — most of whom Israeli identified as attackers.
An IDF spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday, which is the Sabbath in Israel.
Human rights activists reached by POLITICO, however, expressed frustration. Some noted that it’s relatively unusual for the Israeli government to punish a soldier for excessive use of force or even what appear to be extrajudicial killings. The rights activists added that even if the Israeli soldiers’ account is true, it’s impossible to be sure because Israeli officials won’t reveal their evidence or much about the process.
“The State Department knows that Israeli investigations are inadequate,” said Edith Garwood, a country specialist with Amnesty International USA. “They’re not independent, they’re not transparent. I’m not sure under what circumstances the U.S. government is prompted to carry out their own investigation, but it would appear to be this would be an example of where they should do so.”
Raed Jarrar, an official with the American Friends Service Committee, pointed to the reports of eyewitness accounts to say that “according to U.S. law, the Obama administration should immediately suspend military aid to the Israeli security unit responsible for this gross violation of human rights.”
Jarrar is working with an array of other rights groups to urge members of Congress to bring pressure on the Obama administration to look more closely into the case. He declined to name the lawmakers because the discussions are still ongoing, but Shaalan’s uncle said the family has spoken to Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who has promised to see what he can do.
POLITICO has in the past reached out to members of the Florida delegation about the case, but the general response was that they were waiting for the Israelis to finish their initial probe.
Of course the Israelis who shot and killed the boy will be found not guilty by the Israeli investigators. With all the Israeli violations to human rights, no one has ever been found guilty by the Israeli government. This is a clear case of the the weakness of our president and government when dealing with the Israelis who literally get away with murder.
It’s finally settled; the Democrats are nominating Hillary Clinton for president of the United States and the Republicans Chose Donald Trump. While no one can predict with 100% certainty who the winner of the election on November 8th will be, all the poles indicate that Hillary will be the victorious. Although some recent poles show Trump ahead by a couple of points, chances are that the writing is on the wall and he will be done with come November 8th.
As in any election, people compare the two candidates and vote for the one they trust more and believe will deliver on his of her promises. The problem in this election is that both candidates are viewed very unfavorably by the public.
Hillary Clinton will cater to her supporters of the Jews and big corporations. She is corrupt and untrustworthy but she knows the system and how to manipulate it.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, is a huuuge liar with a terrible memory. He says something, only to contradict himself later on, forgetting what he said earlier. He has some “off the wall” ideas that can never be implemented but appeal to radicals like him. One of his ideas is building a wall between the US and Mexico and have the latter pay for it. I don’t know what he was smoking when he said that but instead of correcting himself or saying that this is wishful thinking, he repeated the same thought to his supporters who were have as much of a small brain as he does. Even if he builds that proverbial wall which will cost billions, how in heavens name is he going to force Mexico to pay for it. Is he going to take them to court or round up a few thugs and threaten the Mexican leaders, or perhaps attack Mexico and steel the money from their treasury.
Another one of Trump’s wacky ideas is stopping all Muslims from coming to United States. Evidently, Khizr Khan, the father of the Muslim hero who was killed in Iraq, was right when he said that Trump has never read the constitution and offered him a copy of it. Preventing Muslims from entering this country is unconstitutional and discriminatory and can never be implemented.
If this election is about name calling and insulting the other party in addition to a whole lot of lies and stupid ideas, Donald Trump will win hands down, but unfortunately for him, it’s not.
Actually, Donald Trump was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton. Of all the Republican candidates in the primaries, he will be the easiest to beat. How can someone like him who insulted the Mexicans, the Muslims, the Blacks and everyone else win an election. It’s nearly impossible. Those minorities can make or break a candidate and his popularity among the Hispanics is a dismal 2%.
It seems that while we have two unfavorable candidates, the lesser of the two evils is Hillary, whom I predict will win the election and Trump will scream that the election was rigged.