Jews for Palestinian Right of Return: Solidarity with Khaled Barakat and Palestine Free Speech in Germany

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Solidarity with Khaled Barakat and Palestine Free Speech in Germany

Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, July 2, 2019

Jews for Palestine Right of Return stands in solidarity with Khaled Barakat, a Palestinian writer and political activist who has been barred by the German state from participating in political activity. This is a racist form of repression and political targeting that aims to silence the Palestinian community in Germany, based on a false conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

Some claim that these attacks on Palestinian rights are a manifestation of German guilt over the Nazi holocaust against Jewish people. In reality, however, these repressive actions are encouraged, supported, and pushed forward by the far right in Germany, which embraces an alliance with Israel at the same time that it pushes anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian, and anti-Muslim propaganda. These far-right parties, such as the Alternative for Germany Political (AfD), are infamous for their own legacies of genuine anti-Semitism and racism.

Germany’s anti-Palestinian campaign is being promoted by Gilad Erdan’s Israeli “anti-BDS ministry,” funded with millions of dollars from the Netanyahu government to silence advocacy of Palestinian human rights, particularly in the U.S., Germany, UK, and other Western imperialist countries which arm apartheid Israel, just as they once armed apartheid South Africa.

In Germany, this repression includes the Bundestag’s recent anti-BDS resolution, the disinvitation of Talib Kweli and other performers who support justice in Palestine, the deportation of Rasmea Odeh, the closure of the bank account of Jewish Voices for a Just Peace, and the forced resignation of the director of the Jewish Museum. While Palestinians have been the primary target, the German state and right-wing similarly smear dissenting Jewish speech as anti-Semitic. Everyone who cares about justice and liberation suffers as a result.

All people, including those in Germany, have the right — and need — to hear directly from Palestinians. We call on Germany to immediately drop the political ban on Khaled Barakat, and end its policy of repression against those working for Palestinian freedom and human rights.

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Open Letter to New Jersey Legislature: Vote NO on Fake “Prohibiting Anti-Semitism” Bill

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July 24, 2019

Jews for Palestinian Right of Return calls on New Jersey state legislators to vote No on proposed Senate Bill 4001/Assembly Bill 5755, “Prohibiting anti-Semitism in public schools and institutions of higher education.”

Even were this bill actually intended to prohibit genuine anti-Semitism, it should be rejected on the basis that a) existing anti-discrimination laws already protect against anti-Jewish bigotry, b) it is tone deaf to the suffering of others in this country subjected to systemic oppression, and c) it creates the inaccurate impression that Jews are uniquely vulnerable.

But S. 4001/A. 5755, despite its title, has nothing to do with prohibiting genuine anti-Semitism in the first place. Like anti-BDS legislation already passed in 27 states muzzling our constitutional right to boycott Israel, its real goal is to legally enshrine a fabricated definition of anti-Semitism that would wed Jewish identity to Israel, criminalize opposition to a settler-colonial state, and silence those calling for equality, freedom, and justice throughout historic Palestine.

According to the bill, anti-Semitism includes “delegitimizing Israel by denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination and denying Israel the right to exist,” “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis, or blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions,” and “focusing peace or human rights investigations only on Israel.” 

It is past time to call these arguments out for what they are: double-speak to distract from Israel’s long-standing oppression of Palestinians. 

In what is known as the Nakba, or Catastrophe, Zionist settlers violently expelled and dispossessed more than 700,000 Palestinians in 1948 to establish the Israeli state. Ever since, Israel has denied these refugees and their descendants their inalienable right to return to their homeland. Those Palestinians who were able to resist expulsion are treated as second-class Israeli citizens, subject to over sixty discriminatory laws.

Since 1967, the West Bank has been ruled by a brutal Israeli military occupation, under which Palestinians have no citizenship rights at all. Since 2007, Israel has enforced a barbaric siege of Gaza — whose residents are overwhelmingly 1948 refugees and their families — turning it into a virtual concentration camp.

In 2018, Israel reinforced its status as an apartheid regime through the Nationality Law, which officially declared Israel a state of its Jewish citizens only. 

To oppose the existence of such a state is not anti-Jewish; it’s anti-racist, anti-colonialist, anti-occupation, and anti-injustice.

This is precisely why Israel supporters have had to resort to a fictional definition of anti-Semitism. Unable to morally defend Israel, their only option is to criminalize arguments for which they have no answer, while smearing U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and other supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement — many of them Jewish — to justify stripping away our First Amendment rights. 

Meanwhile, this McCarthyite lawfare campaign conspicuously fails to acknowledge that recent violence against Jews in the U.S. — the Tree of Life massacre, the Charlottesville rally (“Jews will not replace us!”), the Poway shooting — has been perpetrated not by Palestine supporters but by self-proclaimed white nationalist anti-Semites and Islamophobes. Not surprisingly, white supremacist admiration for Israel and Zionism, and Israel’s cozy relationship with anti-Semites, also go unmentioned.   

Real anti-Semitism — hatred of Jews as Jews — must, like all bigotry, be condemned at every turn. As descendants of Holocaust victims, we need no reminding of that. But S. 4001/A. 5755 is no more than a transparent attempt to distort and weaponize the meaning of anti-Semitism to attack advocates of Palestinian human rights.

Vote NO on S. 4001/A. 5755.

Stop Ban of Palestine Children’s Book at Highland Park NJ Public Library!

PLEASE SIGN HERE.

We call on the Highland Park Public Library to rise up for what is right, reject this racist attack on free speech, and immediately reinstate the planned “P is for Palestine: A Palestine ABC Book” event with author Dr. Golbarg Bashi.

Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return CoalitionAmerican Muslims for Palestine – NJCouncil on American-Islamic Relations – NJOccupy Bergen CountyJews for Palestinian Right of ReturnLabor for PalestinePeople’s Organization for ProgressSamidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity NetworkSOMA for Palestine, USACBI: US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

Full petition text:

To the Highland Park Public Library Director and Board of Trustees,

It is inexcusable that the Highland Park, New Jersey, Public Library has bowed to pressure from Israel supporters to cancel its previously scheduled reading of the children’s alphabet book, “P is for Palestine” by Dr. Golbarg Bashi, an event originally sponsored by the library and Jewish Voice Peace-Central NJ. The book is “the world’s first-ever English-language ABC story book about Palestine.”

The pretext for this censorship is that the book’s entry “I is for Intifada” is “hate speech” that promotes “violence and terror”against Jews.

That is completely false.

Intifada means “rebellion” or “resistance”; as the entry says, “Intifada is Arabic for rising up for what is right, if you are a kid or grownup!” And Palestinians are certainly justified in rising up against the settler-colonial regime that occupies the West Bank, has enforced a barbaric siege on Gaza for over a decade, denies Palestinian refugees it forcibly expelled and dispossessed in the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe) their right to return to their homeland, and practices systemic discrimination against Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.

As Bashi recently summarized, “Intifada is actually 71 years old. It is resistance to occupation of a people’s land. It is like Native American resistance to white settlers.” She also likened it to the Black Lives Matter movement in this country.

Furthermore, we denounce the racist characterizations of Palestinians as a “fake people” with “no history,” driven by anti-Semitic blood-lust, promoted in so many pro-censorship comments (see the book’s Facebook page for examples).

The event cancellation is not an isolated case. As of April this year, 27 states have adopted anti-BDS laws designed to muzzle our constitutional right to boycott Israel. Elected officials who have the courage to speak up for Palestinian rights — mainly women of color like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib — are slandered by Israel supporters as anti-Semitic. Just this past February, they similarly tried — and failed — to shut down a “Your Right to Boycott and the Campaign to Silence BDS” event at the Maplewood Public Library.

Fortunately, this McCarthyite campaign has only boosted support for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). Moreover, mainstream media is finally giving voice to those, including a growing number of Jews, who challenge not only Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, but the Zionist regime itself. Indeed, the call to cancel the Highland Park book reading is a tacit concession that, having lost the moral argument, apartheid Israel’s enablers have no recourse but to silence pro-Palestinian voices — including authors of children’s books.

We call on the Highland Park Public Library to rise up for what is right, reject this racist attack on free speech, and immediately reinstate the planned “P is for Palestine: A Palestine ABC Book” event with author Dr. Golbarg Bashi.

Further actions to take:

  • Attend the Highland Park Library Board of Trustees Meeting on Wednesday 6/5/19 at 7:30pm, to show your support for the reinstatement of the “P is for Palestine” program. The venue for the meeting has not yet been announced. Call the library at (732) 572-2750 the day before the Board Meeting, or visit the website at https://www.hpplnj.org/ to find out the venue.
  • Write a letter or statement to the Highland Park Library and the Trustees, urging them to reinstate the program: director@hpplnj.org; childref@hpplnj.org (Library Director and Children’s Reference); trustees@hpplnj.org. Please send a copy of your letter to: CentralNJ@JewishVoiceForPeace.org. For maximum impact, please keep your letter polite.
  • Buy this book for yourself and for your local library: https://www.drbashi.com/books
  • Write letters to the editor. Thank the Star-Ledger for printing the positive guest Op-Ed. See letter guidelines at: https://www.nj.com/opinion/2018/01/submit_an_op-ed.html

Tell Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Stand By Your Principles — Stand With Palestine!

Issued by Jews for Palestinian Right of Return. To sign, please click here.

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On May 14, supporters of justice around the world were heartened when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won the Bronx Democratic congressional primaries with a grassroots campaign that included a forceful condemnation of the ongoing Israeli massacre of Palestinian Great Return March protesters in Gaza.

Now, under intense Zionist backlash, she has “walked back” her stand, saying she had not used “the right words” in calling out Israeli occupation, and endorsing Israel’s “right to exist.”

We fully embrace Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ original defense of Palestinian rights, and reiterate these essential facts:

Alexandria, your campaign is only as strong as its principles. Just as you speak truth to power for Abolish ICE, Standing Rock, Black Lives Matter, and Puerto Rico, stand firm with justice for Palestine!

In the Spirit of Dr. King: Condemn the Land Day Massacre — No Arms for Apartheid Israel!

April 4, 2018

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Letter from a Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

On April 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. courageously condemned the Vietnam War, declaring, “For the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”

On this, the 50th anniversary Dr. King’s assassination, we follow his example by condemning Israel’s premeditated massacre of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza on March 30, 2018, which left at least 17 dead and 1,400 wounded — some of them shot in the back by snipers while fleeing.

They were among 30,000 participants in the Great Return March demanding their right, enshrined in UN Resolution 194, to return to homes from which they were expelled during the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe) that created the Israeli settler-colonial state.

“I will not whitewash colonial violence by describing it with benign terminology,” says Palestinian-American scholar Steven Salaita about the massacre. “It is cruel, depraved, gratuitous, racist, and genocidal.”

The massacre took place on Land Day, which commemorates Israel’s 1976 killing of six Palestinians during mass protests against land theft, and is part of Israel’s crippling twelve-year siege on Gaza, including the military assault in 2014 that murdered 2,200 Palestinians, including 500 children.

By weaponizing Israel to the tune of $3.8 billion a year, the U.S. government — with virtually unanimous bipartisan support — shares full responsibility for all these crimes.

Evoking memories of racist violence at Sharpesville, South Africa in 1960 and Selma, Alabama in 1965, this latest massacre exposes the innate inhumanity of the entire Zionist project, while only strengthening refugees’ resolve.

“Being a Palestinian and standing up for our rights has meant sacrifice since our first displacement in 1948,” explains Rana Shubair. “My family and I will not back down.”

More than ever, in solidarity with this popular resistance, we call on all people of conscience to support the full Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions platform, which demands an end to Israeli occupation and apartheid, full equality for Palestinians, and — what BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti describes as “absolutely the most significant right in the BDS call” — refugees’ right to return to their homes and lands.

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!

Jews for Palestinian Right of Return

Anti-Zionism is Not Anti-Semitic: Reinstate Moshé Machover to the British Labour Party

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Anti-Zionism is Not Anti-Semitic: Reinstate Moshé Machover to the British Labour Party
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
October 23, 2017

On October 3, eminent Israeli scholar Moshé Machover was summarily expelled from the British Labour Party for authoring an allegedly anti-Semitic article. In reality, however, Prof. Machover’s article discusses well-documented ideological parallels and active collaboration between Zionism and Nazism in the 1930s and ’40s, the current relevance of which is only confirmed by neo-Nazis like Richard Spencer, who calls himself a “white Zionist.”

Unable to dispute such facts, Zionists resort to smearing anti-Zionism — which is anti-racist, anti-apartheid, anti-colonialist, and anti-fascist — as anti-Semitic. Above all, this McCarthyite witch-hunt is designed to silence the surging Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, many of whose supporters are Jewish.

BDS, which resembles the divestment movement from apartheid South Africa and many other social justice movements, demands an end to Israeli occupation and apartheid, full equality for all, and Palestinian refugees’ right to return to the homes and lands from which they were expelled.

In short, the Labour Party doesn’t have an “anti-Semitism” problem; it has a Zionism problem, as reflected in this baseless expulsion. Along with Jewish Voice for Labour and many others, we call on the Leader of the Party, and its National Executive, to immediately reinstate Prof. Machover and end all Labour complicity in attacks on the Palestine freedom movement.

Stop Fascism & White Supremacy: National Day of Action in Solidarity with Berkeley

Stop Fascism

Stop Fascism & White Supremacy: National Day of Action in Solidarity with Berkeley
Sunday August 27th
Union Square
3pm – to coincide with the counter-demonstration against the fascist mobilization in Berkeley

In the wake of Charlottesville, the streets of Boston this weekend were a resounding showing of the mass outrage against fascist mobilizations. The more than 40,000 people in Boston today have outnumbered and made it impossible for the racists to congregate on Boston Common.

We need to continue to show our numbers and our refusal to allow Nazis to grow or mobilize. Next weekend, another “alt-right” call is convening in Berkeley – and they will be met with resistance. A large ad hoc coalition is organizing a broad, large call to counter the right. They have put out a call for a national weekend of solidarity actions. As one chant in at demonstration today highlights: “Wherever you go, whatever you do, we are many, you are few!” So next weekend, let’s make it a national day of action against hate that the fascists will remember.

***We want this to be as broad and large and representative as possible – email ntylim@gmail.com to endorse. We will list endorsers and make them admins for this event as we receive them. There will be an organizing meeting on Wednesday 8/23 at 7pm at the Brooklyn Free School (372 Clinton Ave) – an event page for this is posted on the wall of this event***

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We have seen, all too chillingly, the impact the Trump presidency has had on an emboldened and rebranded “alt-right”. Charlottesville has exposed the nature of these organized racists who aim to enact violence against people of color, activists, and anyone who stands in their way. While mourning the life of Heather Heyer, we must redouble our commitment to stopping these murderers in their tracks. We need to unite every organization and every individual in the shared goal of marginalizing their message, halting their efforts at organizing, and refusing to accept the normalization of Nazis in the streets.

Tens of thousands have rallied against the right since Charlottesville. We have another upcoming opportunity to stake our ground next weekend. Berkeley, which has been at the center of right wing mobilizations since the election, is calling for a day of solidarity actions as a broad, united front of trade unions and political and faith-based organizations seek to counter a far-right provocation. Now is the time to take up the call. There is a renewed opening in the aftermath of Charlottesville to unite tens of thousands across the country against racism, against fear, and against fascist mobilizations.

Let’s take this opportunity to build as large and broad a demonstration as we can here in NYC on August 27th. This is a crucial next step in better organizing our side, and to take on the fights against racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-semitism and all the forms of oppression and hatred stoked by the Trump regime. Showing in numbers that these forces are not welcome is the only way to demoralize and isolate them. This is an urgent task.

Sponsored by (list in formation): American Muslims for Palestine, Decolonize This Place, International Socialist Organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, Jews say No, NYC Solidarity With Palestine, Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Science for the People NYC