PalSol in Solidarity with Irish Academics taking a stance against Israeli apartheid and the complicity of universities

Sir, – As scholars associated with Irish institutions of higher education, north and south, we are deeply disturbed by Israel’s ongoing illegal occupation of Palestinian land, the intolerable human rights violations that it inflicts on all sections of the Palestinian people, and its apparent determination to resist any feasible settlement. We are also disturbed by the involvement of Israeli higher education institutions in Israel’s military and security industries, by EU institutional involvement in funding Israeli research, and by the research and development collaboration between Irish and Israeli higher-education institutions.

Responding to the appeal from Palestinian civil society, we therefore declare that we will not accept invitations to visit Israeli academic institutions; act as referees in any of their processes; participate in conferences funded, organised or sponsored by them, or otherwise co-operate with them.

We will, however, continue to work with our Israeli colleagues in their individual capacities and at the same time put in place strategies of political and practical support for Palestinian universities, academics and students.

We will maintain this position until the state of Israel complies with international law and respects universal principles of human rights. – Yours, etc,


(retired) TCD;


Dublin Institute

of Technology;


National College

of Art and Design;



Dublin City University;


University of Limerick;

and Prof Gerry Kearns, Maynooth University Prof Kathleen Lynch, UCD Prof Damian McCormack, UCD Prof Terrence McDonough, NUIG Prof Karen McElrath, Fayetteville State University, USA Prof Cahal McLaughlin, Queen’s University Belfast Prof John Pinkerton, QUB Dr John Kelly, Emeritus Professor, UCD Prof Sam Porter, QUB Dr Helena Sheehan, Emeritus Professor, DCU John Waddell, Emeritus Professor, NUIG Eyad Abu-Khiran, University and College Union, QUB Dr Barbara Bradby (retired), TCD Elaine Bradley, PhD candidate, TCD Dr Audrey Bryan, St Patrick’s College, DCU Dr James Carr, UL Dr Michael Carr, DIT Dr Justin Carville, IADT Teresa Cash, St Mary’s University College, Belfast Dr Maurice Coakley, Griffith College Dublin Dr Steve Coleman, Maynooth University Dr Peter Collins, St Mary’s University College, Belfast Dr Eileen Connolly, DCU Dr Catherine Conlon, TCD Magdi Rashied, DIT Eddie Conlon, DIT Dr Ciaran Cosgrove (retired), TCD Dr Colin Coulter, Maynooth University Dr Laurence Cox, Maynooth University Deirdre Cree, St Mary’s University College, Belfast Ann Curran, DIT Dr Laurence Davis, UCC Dr Sharae Deckard, UCD Miriam Delaney, DIT Dr Kevin Farrell, IT Blanchardstown Dr Paul Farrell, IT Tallaght Gerry Farrelly, DIT Dr Brian Feeney, St Mary’s University College, Belfast Dr Jude Lal Fernando, TCD Dr Mikael Fernström, UL Dr Andrew Finlay, TCD Barry Finnegan, Griffith College Dublin Mike FitzGibbon, UCC Dr Camilla Fitzsimons, Maynooth University Richard Fitzsimons, DIT Dr Angela Flynn, UCC Dr Michael Foley, DIT Dr Oona Frawley, Maynooth University Dr Paul Michael Garrett, NUIG Dr Brian Hanley, Historian Martin Hanrahan, DIT Tony Hayes, DIT Dermot Healy (retired), DIT Roddy Hegarty, Library & Archive Director (Armagh) Goretti Horgan, Ulster University Dr David Hughes, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Dr Mariya Ivancheva, UCD Celia Keenan (retired), St Patrick’s College Drumcondra Dr Sinéad Kennedy, Maynooth University Ian Kilroy, DIT Dr Heather Laird, UCC Dr David Landy, TCD Dr John Lannon, UL Zoe Lawlor, UL Dr Luciana Lolich, UCD Madeleine Lombard, St Mary’s University College, Belfast Eibhlín Mhic Aoidh, St Mary’s University College, Belfast Dr Martin McCabe, DIT Dr Conor Mc Carthy, Maynooth University Dr Des McGuinness (retired), DCU Simon McGuinness, DIT Denise McKee, St Mary’s University College, Belfast Dr Elaine McLaughlin, St Mary’s University College, Belfast Brian McMahon, Cork IT Noirin MacNamara, PhD candidate, QUB Dr Bill McSweeney, TCD Dr Martin Maguire, Dundalk Institute of Technology Dr Martin Marjoram, IT Tallaght Dr Chandana Mathur, Maynooth University Dr Thomas Murray, UCD Dr Yoga Nathan, UL Maeve O’Brien, PhD Candidate, Ulster University Dr Eithne O’Connell, DCU David O’Connor, DIT Dr Maureen O’Connor, UCC Dr Tom O’Connor, Cork IT Tom O’Connor, DIT Dr Hugh O’Donnell, DIT Dr Micheal O’Flynn, UCD Dr Féilim Ó hAdhmaill, UCC Dr Theresa O’Keefe, UCD Daithí Ó Madáin, NUIG Dr Eoin O’Mahony, St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra Dr Jacqui O’Riordan, UCC Dr Sinead Pembroke, TCD Dr Michael Pierse, QUB Dr Susan Power, Griffith College Dublin John Rafferty, St Mary’s University College, Belfast Dr John Reynolds, Maynooth University Ellen Reynor, St. Patrick’s College, DCU Dr Paola Rivetti, DCU Jim Roche, DIT, Chair Academics for Palestine Maggie Ronayne, NUIG Dr Colin Sage, UCC Dr Birgit Schippers, St Mary’s University College, Belfast Paul Sheehan (retired), former Director of Library Services, DCU Dr Fintan Sheerin, TCD Domhnall Sheridan, DIT Ailbhe Smyth (retired), UCD Dr Robbie Smyth Griffith College Dublin Stephen Stewart, Mater Dei Inst./DCU Dr Andy Storey, UCD Peter Tansey, UCD Dr Gavan Titley, Maynooth University Dr Antonio Toral, DCU Theresa Urbainczyk, UCD Ciaran Walsh, St Mary’s University College, Belfast.



Palestinian Women from Occupied East Jerusalem Calling for Protection

Screenshot from 2015-11-04 15:30:34

We women of occupied East Jerusalem call for immediate protection as we witness and suffer the widespread and serious violations of Palestinian human rights, including physical attacks and injuries, severe psychological threats, and persecution by the Israeli settler-colonial state and settler entities.

We urge the international community to act and defend the rights of Palestinian children, women, and men, including the right to a safe life amidst the constant attacks, excessive and indiscriminate use of force used by the Israeli oppressive apparatus, acts of violence and daily terror committed by Israeli Jewish civilians, including settlers. This brutality is intimidating our lives, provoking our youth, willfully causing death and bodily and psychological harm, and disabling and injuring of our community members.

We, a group of Palestinian women, mothers, sisters, daughters and youth—and in the name of the “Jerusalemite Women’s Coalition”—call upon the international community to protect our families, community, and children. We are calling for the protection of our bodily safety and security when in our homes, walking in our neighborhood, reaching schools, clinics, work places, and worships venues.

We are calling for protection, for we feel displaced even at home, as the Israeli soldiers, armed settlers, border patrol, and police invade our homes, attack our families, strip search our bodies, and terrorize us all.

We women of occupied East Jerusalem feel as if we are orphans, without any protection from the Palestinian Authority or the international community, as the Israeli state terrorizes our homes, educational institutions, and public spaces. The state’s imposition of collective punishment and sanctions invade not only our physical spaces and bodies, but also our psyches. We live in a state of fear and horror, not knowing how to face the omnipotent power of the highly technologized settler colonial entity, and militarized Israeli state that regularly executes Palestinians in the streets. Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem have been abandoned, subject to the discriminatory policies of a violent state and its security and police apparatus.

The current political violence and the lack of any protection, as the Israeli security apparatus is protecting Jews only, jeopardizes women’s safety and her economic, social, psychological, and bodily rights, as well as children’s and men’s safety and security. We call for protection, and the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security, and urge human rights defenders to protect our community from the Israeli machinery of oppression. Our children must be allowed to reach their schools in peace, and our parents and elderly must be able to reach their work places, health institutions and welfare services with safety. We request that we are able to walk in the streets without fearing the attacks of the Israeli security apparatus and its armed settlers.

We are calling to protect women and girls, who are particularly vulnerable to various forms of state violence and mass atrocities. The economic strangulation of Palestinians by the Israeli settler-colonial powers, that have thus far resulted in the total dependency on the Israeli entity, further traps the lives of Palestinians. The feminization of poverty and the economic strangulation of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem enslave Palestinians. The feminization of slavery in the colony is apparent when watching Palestinian women turn into domestic workers humiliated, controlled, and oppressed in Israeli public and private entities.

We are aware that humanitarian law attempts to challenge the inherent inhumanity of wars and colonial criminality by requiring international actors to protect civilians. International humanitarian law suggests moral boundaries of the exercise of power in situations of mass violence. International humanitarian law’s main object is primarily to protect and aid victims of violence.

We, the women of occupied East Jerusalem,are politically orphaned. We are victims without protection, as the Palestinian Authority has no right to protect us in our city, and the Israeli state treats us as terrorists that should be humiliated, attacked, violated, and controlled. The guerrilla state style tactics used in occupied East Jerusalem, be it the attacks on Palestinians in the streets, the beating of the young and old, the attacks on children going to and from school, the invasion of violent settlers to our neighborhoods and homes, the control of our life, water, cell phones, internet, mobility, health, economy, and accessibility to other resources, have situated us in human cages—segregated, restrained by Israeli laws and security theology, unable to know what to anticipate and what will come next.

Having to endure all the above difficulties, which have been escalated by Israeli cabinet resolutions and otherwise ignored due to global amnesia, WE ARE CALLING FOR PROTECTION AND URGENT ACTIONS TO PREVENT FURTHER AGONIES, UPROOTING, DEMONIZATION,AND SUFFERING.

Signed by Jerusalemite Women’s Coalition /Al-tajamo’ Al-nasawiy Almaqdasy.

The Coalition includes a group of Women NGOs and Jerusalemite feminists from all segments of society

Jerusalem 24.10.2015

Palestine 101 workshop talks boycott, divestment, and sanctions

McGill student solidarity group focuses conversation on human rights

On October 28, Students in Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) McGill presented a workshop entitled “Palestine 101: Intro to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.” The event was organized as part of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Week at Concordia, and was the only event held by SPHR McGill.

The speakers were Melis Çagan, Ralph Haddad (former Daily editor and current director on the Board of the Daily Publications Society), and Michael McCauley, three members of SPHR McGill.

The workshop began with a brief overview of the occupation and the plight of Palestinians living in Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, and the diaspora, respectively. The overview, presented by McCauley and Haddad, described the blockade and military assaults on the Gaza Strip, instances of police brutality against Palestinians, and the Israeli West Bank Barrier, also known as the Wall.

This blockade of the Strip has prevented the reconstruction of homes that have been demolished in previous military assaults against the region, and have also virtually destroyed the Gaza economy,” McCauley said. “There is […] a 43 per cent unemployment rate in the Strip – that is the result of both the blockade and these repeated military assaults.”

There is […] a 43 per cent unemployment rate in the Strip – that is the result of both the blockade and these repeated military assaults.”

The presentation included footage showing Palestinian refugee camps being demolished by the Israeli state, as well as analysis of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, with a focus on the 1993 and 1995 Oslo Accords, and the 2000 Camp David negotiations.

The problem with these peace talks [is] that they’re very asymmetrical. They lean more toward Israel’s side than the Palestinian side,” said Haddad. “They also assume that both parties are equal and they have the same to bring to the negotiation table, which is inherently wrong. You can’t sit down at a table with your oppressor and talk about an equal exchange that will happen between you.”

The visual presentation displayed the three demands of the BDS call: “Ending [the Israeli state’s] occupation and colonization of all Arab lands [occupied in June 1967] and dismantling the Wall; recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties, as stipulated in [United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194].”

Because there is no constant stance in Palestine about a one-state or two-state solution, by focusing BDS on having [human] rights, [since] there’s a general consensus on what rights people should have […] it’s easier for people from different political views to take part in it,” noted Çagan.

Neutrality in this case means complicity with the oppressor, and I think this attitude needs to change if we are ever to make any strides in standing in solidarity with the liberation struggles of [the Palestinian] people.”

Çagan concluded the presentation by discussing the relative success of international calls for BDS, which began in 2004 with a Palestinian campaign for academic boycott. Recent successes of the BDS movement worldwide include the French multinational infrastructure company Veolia selling its shares in the consortium that runs Jerusalem Light Rail as well as the global mobilization to divest from G4S, a British multinational security company that provides security equipment and supplies to Israeli prisons in the West Bank.

Following the presentation, participants brought up questions comparing boycott and divestment tactics used to end South African apartheid in the 1980s and 1990s and BDS against Israeli apartheid today. Discussion also centered on McGill’s role in the BDS movement. McGill has investments in G4S as well as Re/Max, a real estate company that sells properties in Israeli settlements.

Liza Riitters, a U1 Political Science student who attended the workshop, noted that while many students she knew were in support of the Palestinian cause, many others at McGill did not support divestment. “I was here last year when they were trying to [divest from the occupation of Palestinian territory], and so many people were saying ‘Oh, the university shouldn’t have an opinion,’” said Riitters.

Ayesha Talreja, a U3 International Development student and member of SPHR McGill said, “Neutrality in this case means complicity with the oppressor, and I think this attitude needs to change if we are ever to make any strides in standing in solidarity with the liberation struggles of [the Palestinian] people.”


Palestine’s Intifada: the Process of Liberation is Irresistible

By: Vijay Prashad


Yes, there is violence in the streets. It is the violence that fixates the viewer. Its context is set aside. Why are they using knives or why do they throw stones – that is the horizon of the question. The Western media is always surprised by the paroxysm of violence from the Palestinians – why do they resist? There is no parallel perplexity when Israel bombs Gaza and kills thousands or when Israeli bulldozers and helicopters target the homes of innocent families in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The bewilderment is uneven. Yes, there is violence in the streets, but it is not the only violence.

There is the hot violence of the Israeli army. But there is also what Teju Cole calls the cold violence of Israeli state policy. Right wing Israelis will name the Occupied Palestinian Territories by their own words (Judea and Samaria). Their Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked refuses – against international opinion – to acknowledge that there is even an occupation; she says that the West Bank and East Jerusalem is an “area under dispute.”

Having renamed the territory, Israel’s considerably powerful settler class – under cover of their government and in violation of international law – build exclusively Jewish settlements on this land. This provokes Palestinian reaction. Then come the walls, the checkpoints, the bulldozers, the destruction of Palestinian life, the humiliation – all designed to raise the cost of life and allow the Palestinians to decide to flee. Teju Cole calls the process “cold violence,” in his contribution to Letters to Palestine. “Putting a people into deep uncertainty about the fundamentals of life, over years and decades,” he writes, “is a form of cold violence.”

For Israel there is no peace process, no possibility of a Palestinian state or of justice for the Palestinians. As Justice Minister Shaked said to al-Jazeera’s Mehdi Hassan, “The status quo is the best option.”

If you are suffocating someone with a pillow, you cannot expect that person to passively welcome asphyxiation.

The 1960 UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, which applies to the Palestinian case, allows occupied people the right to resistance. “The process of liberation is irresistible,” says the Declaration.

What Non-Violence?

From the First Intifada’s opening days in 1987 onwards, liberals have scoffed at the Palestinians for their failure to become like Gandhi. Stone throwing children were mocked then for their lack of strategy as knife-wielding children are now painted as merely terrorists. “Why don’t the Palestinians follow a nonviolent agenda,” is the question in the salons of the West.

It is a fair, but disjointed question. The real question is why does Israel – the occupying power – refuse to allow the Palestinians a political path. The Israeli occupation has Orijit posterproduced what Baruch Kimmerling called, at the time of the Second Intifada, “politicide,” the death of politics. Kimmerling argued that Ariel Sharon’s policies eviscerated the Palestinian political and civic institutions, destroyed the Palestinian economy and threw the people into general despair. The ultimate goal, Kimmerling argued, was “the dissolution of the Palestinian people’s existence as a legitimate social, political and economic entity.”

One aspect of politicide was the refusal to allow Hamas, which decisively won the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, to govern within the narrow confines of the Oslo Accords. Even that was not permitted. Meanwhile, any political leader who had a genuine mass constituency that would pose a challenge to the Israeli occupation had to be jailed. Marwan Barghouti, the immensely popular Fatah leader who was one of the leaders of the Second Intifada, has been in prison since 2002. Last November, Barghouti called for a Third Intifada. He has his finger on the pulse of his people. So does Ahmad Sa’adat, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), also in prison since 2002. In April this year, the Israelis arrested Sa’adat’s PFLP comrade, Khalida Jarrar, who languishes under administrative detention. Barghouti, Sa’adat and Jarrar have a mass political constituency that would seriously challenge the Israeli occupation and the Oslo accords. They are in prison. None of those who sniff at Palestinian acts of violence ask why Israel continues to hold legitimate political leaders on long sentences. It is easier to malign the children on the streets. Far harder to question the basis of the occupation – namely, to question Israel’s acts of politicide.

Barghouti is known as the Palestinian Mandela. When the racist regime of South Africa released Mandela from prison, he took command of a mass movement that led inexorably to the end of the apartheid state. Israel probably fears this outcome. Better to have Barghouti in prison, then to risk his release on political grounds.

Freedom Theatre

In the midst of the Jenin refugee camp sits the Freedom Theatre. It was founded in 2006, a product of the Second Intifada. One of its founders, Juliano Mer-Khamis, who was assassinated in 2011, said around that time, “Israel is destroying the neurological system of the society which is culture, identity, communication.” Mer-Khamis, whose mother was Israeli and father Palestinian, drew from his mother’s work in Jenin amongst the children of the camp. He joined with a number of these children, such as Zacharia Zubeidi – who had previously played a role as a militant in the Second Intifada, to build this theatre – the basis of what Mer-Khamis hoped would be the next intifada, a cultural intifada.

Across Palestine, there are pockets of hope such as the Freedom Theatre, which is deeply political against the Occupation and yet compassionate toward the human spirit. Last year, the Freedom Theatre conducted a Freedom Bus tour across the Occupied Palestinian Territories. On that bus was Sudhanva Deshpande, an actor from the Indian communist street theatre company, Jana Natya Manch (Janam). Both Janam and the Freedom Theatre share a sensibility toward politics and culture. “Theatre isn’t pure art,” says Deshpande. “It cannot be. As the Freedom Theatre people said to me, they’re training freedom fighters. But the weapons used are tools of culture.”

This month, actors from the Freedom Theatre will travel to India, where they will join with Janam to craft a play. They will then take this play across India and then later across Palestine. This is solidarity. It is also part of the Palestinian political landscape. As Faisal Abu Alhayjaa said during a visit to India earlier this year, “There’s occupation, there’s Fatah, there’s Hamas, there are other political parties. There are killings, there are intifadas. There is no freedom. So we have learnt to use art as a tool to resist the occupation. Freedom Theatre is a place for men, women and children to express themselves. In a place divided by checkpoints and patrols, it becomes important to keep the sense of community together.” Art, then, is an antidote to politicide.

Occupation creates frustration and narrows the political imagination. Violence is the child of occupation. Other horizons have to be created. That is the role of culture. In The Wretched of the Earth (1963), Franz Fanon wrote not only about the inevitability of violence in the anti-colonial struggle, but also for the need of a “literature of combat.” What would that literature do? “It molds the national consciousness,” he wrote, “giving it form and contours and flinging open before it new and boundless horizons.”

The endless Intifada remains open to challenge the endless Occupation. They are twins. Between them, through them, emerge other hallucinations of a future. “This poem will not end apartheid,” writes the poet Remi Kanazi in his new collection Before the Next Bomb Drops (Haymarket, 2015). But it will open up the imagination, lead to new possibilities, produce new politics, a politics against politicide.


The Freedom Theatre is seeking funds for its Freedom Jatha to India and back. Please give them a hand. The poster above is by the Indian artist Orijit Sen. It depicts Handala, the character created by the Palestinian artist Naji al-Ali, holding hands with Madhubala, his new Indian friend. Orijit’s posters are available if you donate money for the Freedom Theatre’s Jatha.

Vijay Prashad, director of International Studies at Trinity College, is the editor of “Letters to Palestine” (Verso). He lives in Northampton.


Open letter to Mayor Bill De Blasio on his upcoming trip to Israel

October 14, 2015


Dear Mayor de Blasio:

We understand from a recent report in The New York Times that you will be departing tomorrow on a journey to the State of Israel. According to the article, your purpose is to speak at a gathering of mayors in Jerusalem on the topic of “combating anti-Semitism.” While combating anti-Semitism, along with all forms of racism and discrimination, is a valid goal, we write to register our concern that you, as Mayor of New York City, are choosing to follow the ritual of New York politicians who travel to Israel—and do so with political blinders on. That you are being fully subsidized by an individual investor and entrepreneur who resides in Brooklyn, Baruck Eliezer Gross, only underscores the potential for one-sidedness in this trip. For us, as New York City residents and voters engaged in critiquing Israeli policies and supporting those who are charged with “anti-Semitism” for doing so, this news raises some troubling issues.

We hope you recognize that your constituents include many Jews, Muslims, Christians, atheists, and others who strongly oppose Israeli policies of occupation, exclusion, apartheid, and relentless suppression of both Palestinian citizens of Israel and those residing in the Occupied Territory. Your travel to Israel under the circumstances detailed in the news report validates the “With-us or Against-us” ideological perspective of Israel partisans and marginalizes the perspectives of those who suffer from Israeli government policies—including Palestinians in exile in your own city.

You should be aware that, since the brutal siege on Gaza of summer 2014 when over 2,500 Palestinian civilians were killed and many more injured and displaced, the military violence against Palestinians (murders of youth, house demolitions, punitive reprisals, incarceration, restrictions of mobility, lockdowns of Palestinian neighborhoods) has escalated massively. We are concerned that the intent and effect of the visit by the mayor of the largest city in America during this time might be read as legitimating the actions of the Israel Defense Forces and border police in their campaign of violence and repression against Palestinians. We urge you to consider the risk that your office is being exploited.

As you address your audience about “combating anti-Semitism,” it is vital that you understand the ways in which the term is used to undermine criticism of Israeli government practices. The false charges of “anti-Semitism” have been repeatedly used by Israel advocacy groups to smear and silence peaceful, lawful organizations, scholars, and students in the US for speaking out against Israel’s policies—policies that many Israeli Jews also oppose. As an advocate of social justice and the First Amendment, you should recognize the ways in which criticisms of Israeli government policies are no different in kind than criticisms of US policy. We expect you would be sensitive to this reactionary tactic—and resist it. Ultimately, the tactic is used to justify or evade Israel’s widely condemned violations of international human rights and to vilify groups that support Palestinian demands for justice.

We must ask whether you have considered questions that would be natural for a mayor who asserts a commitment to voices of marginalized communities: Will your audience in Jerusalem include any Palestinian mayors from the West Bank? Will your talk address Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian attacks as well as anti-Semitism? Would you consider modifying the itinerary of your three days in Israel to include a visit to Palestinian areas in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, to Hebron, to border checkpoints, so you might witness the brutal conditions that Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory are subjected to on a daily basis?

Along with this letter, we are including the links to two urgent new reports—one issued by Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights (The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in the US); the other by Jewish Voice for Peace (Stifling Dissent: How Israel’s Defenders Use False Charges of Anti-Semitism to Limit the Debate on Campus). Both reports document many recent examples of how groups supporting Israel have used erroneous accusations of anti-Semitism and terrorism against professors, students, and public intellectuals throughout the US in order to stifle or suppress views about Israel/Palestine with which they disagree. The targets of these attacks include faculty and students right here in New York City at CUNY, Columbia, and New York University, especially members of Students for Justice in Palestine.

As you review these documents, we would urge you to incorporate some of the realities they describe into your Jerusalem speech, to inject some fairness into the conversation. We hope they inspire you to visit areas and people (including Jewish and Palestinian human rights groups) most affected by Israel’s security regime. The stature of your office, we believe, compels you to hear the voices of the dispossessed and evaluate the realities on the ground.

We would ask for an opportunity to meet with you after your return to discuss our organizations’ goals of peace and justice with regard to Israel/Palestine and the implications of these reports regarding the suppression of speech on this critical issue, including here in New York City.


Center for Constitutional Rights

Jewish Voice for Peace-New York City chapter

Jews Say No!


Solidarity with the Palestinian popular resistance! Boycott Israel now!


By: Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)

Whether the current phase of Israel’s intensified repression and Palestinian popular resistance will evolve into a full-fledged intifada or not, one thing is already evident—a new generation of Palestinians is marching on the footsteps of previous generations, rising up en masse against Israel’s brutal, decades-old regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid.

World governments, especially in the west, are calling this a “cycle of violence” where both sides are to blame, ignoring the root cause of the colonial conflict and their own complicity in enabling Israel to maintain it and to violate international law with impunity. Almost all Palestinians today are calling for a full boycott of Israel and for isolating it internationally, in all fields, just as apartheid South African once was.

In this latest round, Israel has fanned the flames of Palestinian grassroots resistance by stepping up its attacks against al-Aqsa mosque compound, the Noble Sanctuary, located in the heart of the Israeli occupied Old City of Jerusalem. Fanatic, government-backed Jewish fundamentalist settler groups have persistently desecrated the compound, often verbally insulting worshippers with vile racism and openly calling for the destruction of the mosque. This has triggered widespread anger and protests in Jerusalem and among Palestinians everywhere in historic Palestine.

Typically, the Israeli army’s response was to protect the criminal settlers and punish the Palestinian victims, ultimately denying almost all Palestinians access to their holy site.

These threats are taken seriously by Palestinians who suffer daily the consequences of Israel’s official policy of “Judaization” of the city, a policy of gradually colonizing the land and replacing its indigenous Christian and Muslim Palestinian population with illegal Jewish settlers. This policy, which amounts to ethnic cleansing and a war crime under international law, is implemented through incessant land confiscations, expansion of the colonial wall, house demolitions, settler take-overs of Palestinian homes, extrajudicial killings, arrests and expulsions, all supported by Israel’s “justice” system, a constantly reliable, rubber-stamp partner in crime.

The latest Israeli attack against the al-Aqsa mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, moreover, is not an isolated incident. Hundreds of historic churches and mosques have been destroyed by Zionist militias and later the Israeli state since 1948. Last summer, during the massacre in Gaza, Israel bombed to the ground 73 mosques. Many Palestinian churches and mosques have been defaced or otherwise desecrated this year alone by Jewish extremists in so-called “price tag attacks,” including the Church of Loaves and Fishes (Multiplication), overlooking Lake Tiberias, which was set on fire last June.

These racist and criminal attacks against Palestinians and their freedom of religion come as an extension of a massive shift in Israel to the extreme right and the unprecedented prevalence in Israeli society of overt, deeply-seated colonial racism and racial hatred against the indigenous Palestinian people.

Virtually all Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza are denied access to Jerusalem, which is besieged by walls, watch towers and barbed wire, and are subject to daily assault and humiliation.

In a typical so-called “period of calm”, Israel enforces its medieval siege of Gaza, conducts incursions into Palestinians cities, confiscates Palestinian land, including in the Naqab (Negev), destroys Palestinian property, and builds illegal Jewish-only settlements. In its ongoing attempts to entrench its system of apartheid and colonial rule, Israel denies Palestinians their full spectrum of rights in the most banal of ways, from a child’s right to education to a mother’s access to health care, to a farmer’s ability to reach his/her land and to the right of a family to even live together in one home. And all this is done with the blessing of the courts.

In light of the apathy or direct complicity of world governments and the UN, and as a result of Israel’s impunity in perpetuating this system of injustice against Palestinians, in historic Palestine as well as in exile, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has made great strides in redefining Israel’s positioning in the world stage as a pariah state.

Through boycotts of institutions that are complicit in Israeli violations of international law, through divestment from corporations supporting Israeli oppression and through a principled call for sanctions against Israel, the BDS movement has increased the isolation of Israel and started to impose costs on its regime of settler-colonialism, apartheid and occupation.

The World Bank has revealed that Palestinian imports from Israel are falling significantly. Israeli businessmen are reporting that European investors are no longer willing to invest in Israel, while a UN study confirms that foreign direct investment in Israel dropped by 46% in 2014, as compared to 2013. A Rand study predicts that BDS may cost Israel between 1% and 2% of its GDP each year over the next ten years, and, most recently, credit rating agency Moody’s has reported that BDS is a potential threat to the Israeli economy.

More needs to be done, however, to hold Israel to account and shatter its still strong impunity. Complicit governments must be exposed. Corporations that are enabling and profiting from Israel’s human rights violations must pay a price in their reputation and revenues. Israel’s military machine, including its research arm, must face a comprehensive international military embargo, and all Israeli leaders, officers and soldiers who are involved in the commission of the current and past crimes must be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court as well as national courts that respect international jurisdiction.

Israel is not just oppressing Palestinians; it is exporting its ruthless model of securitization and repression to the world. Israel is deeply involved in training and arming death squads in Latin America, often as a US proxy, selling weapons and military expertise to dictatorships in Asia and Africa, often to both sides of a civil war, and militarizing police forces in Ferguson, Los Angeles, London and cities around the world. Israel today is a key player in domestic repression against racial, social, economic and environmental justice movements around the world.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the Palestinian leadership of the global BDS movement, calls on people of conscience around the world to support Palestinians in their quest for freedom at this crucial moment by stepping up BDS activities against Israel’s regime of oppression. In particular, and related to the current mass revolt on the streets of Palestine, we call on supporters of the Palestinian struggle to:

Build awareness about Palestinian rights under international law and support for BDS through media outreach, including social media;

  • Pressure parliaments to impose a military embargo on Israel;

  • Campaign against Israeli military companies such as Elbit Systems;

  • Support boycott and divestment campaigns against complicit companies, such as G4S and

  • HP, that are most blatantly complicit in Israel’s infrastructure of oppression;

  • Pass effective and strategic, not just symbolic, BDS resolutions in unions, academic associations, student governments and social movements that can lead to concrete measures, and enhance the cultural boycott of Israel;

  • Consider legal action against Israeli criminals (soldiers, settlers, officers and decision-makers) and against executives of corporations that are implicated in Israel’s crimes and violations of international law.

Like their parents’ generation, the thousands of Palestinian youth in Jerusalem, Gaza, Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem, Jaffa, Nazareth and elsewhere who have taken to the streets in large protests against Israel’s occupation and apartheid are first and foremost shaking off despair and liberating their minds of the myth of oppression as fate. They are also nourishing the entire Palestinian people’s aspiration to self-determination and living in freedom, dignity and a just peace.

It is high time to isolate Israel’s regime of militarization, securitization and racism as a danger not just to Palestinians and the Arab region, but to humanity at large.


Israel-Palestine: India’s tight-rope walk amid flip-flops will need more than just a balancing act

Pranab Mukherjee, the first Indian president to visit Israel and Palestine, will encounter ominous portents: escalating violence and unrest.


By: Sukumar Muralidharan

With Jordan as springboard for one of the most contentious visits abroad by an Indian head of state, President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday arrived in an occupied Palestine seething with unrest. The President’s meetings with the beleaguered political leadership of the Palestinian Authority have been given precedence over engagements in Israel. This is part of the careful choreography of India’s overtures in the region, a balancing act between symbolic support for Palestine and deepening strategic engagement with Israel.

Facts on the ground make this an especially unpropitious time for a diplomatic tight-rope walk. Since October 1, when two Israeli settlers in an illegal settlement in Palestine were shot dead, unrest has escalated, claiming 25 Palestinian lives. Many of these have fallen victim to lynch mobs of Israeli extremists, rousing themselves to action with now-familiar “Death to the Arabs” calls. Typically, this chant is accompanied by the extremist battle-cry “Am Yisrael chai”, or “the Jewish people lives”.

Despite Israel’s evident unease, the Indian President’s delegation has underlined the symbolism of his planned visit to the Palestinian Al Quds University in Jerusalem. Even as arrangements were being finalised, a shipment of Information Technology hardware from India for a computer centre the President was to inaugurate at Al Quds, was detained by Israeli customs. Israel will not easily relent from its posture that every institution of Palestinian civic life is a breeding ground of terrorism.

The figleaf

Ongoing unrest is greatly aggravated by unilateral Israeli moves to change the rules of access to the Haram al-Sharief, a site of immense religious significance in Palestine. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed all such accusations as incitement by the Palestinian leadership. But his own intimacy with extremist settlers intent on reclaiming the site as exclusive Jewish patrimony, is very poor testament for his credibility.

The figleaf of the peace process was the basis for India’s recognition of Israel in 1992. Yet there has since never been the faintest sign of good faith on Israel’s part since its objectives did not go far beyond finding a Palestinian proxy to police its occupation.

In recent years, Israel has insisted on recognition of the eternally Jewish character of the territory it controls as a precondition for resuming talks, while provocatively continuing with settlements on occupied land. In evident frustration, Mahmoud Abbas, the most conciliatory Palestinian

leader Israel is ever likely to get, announced at the United Nations General Assembly just days ago, that the PA would no longer be bound by the 1993 Oslo Accord.

Abbas promised a bombshell but retreated in characteristic timidity afterwards, holding out a vague threat of unspecified future actions. A day later, Netanyahu took to the podium at the United Nations General Assembly with a 45-minute diatribe interspersed with the settler battle-cry “Am Yisrael Chai.” Most of the his speech was spent demonising Iran and embellishing the mythology of the Jewish nation and its exclusive claim to Palestine.

A pivot to the extreme right

Severely challenged in terms of basic civility, Netanyahu has used every appearance on overseas platforms to deliver angry screeds against the imagined crimes of history. In March this year, he addressed the United States Congress in a brazen effort to undermine negotiations then underway to curb Iran’s nuclear programme. And while sketching a scare scenario of mortal danger to Israel’s survival, Netanyahu reached for Biblical analogies and invoked a sinister Persian viceroy’s plot against the Jewish people from two-and-a-half millennia back.

The malevolent emergence of the Islamic State militia in the West Asian region, did not make Iran a potential ally of the west, said Netanyahu. In the deadly game underway, there would be “no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone”.

Rhetorically, these were overtures to the most extreme religious bigots in the U.S. and elsewhere. Then facing a tense electoral battle at home, Netanyahu pinned his hopes on retaining the loyalty of the fanatical right-wing that is now mainstream in Israel. As polls neared, he warned about a sinister left conspiracy to depose him, before playing his final card and vowing that a Palestinian state would never become reality under his watch.

That pivot to the extreme right transformed a losing position into victory. After weeks of negotiations, when Netanyahu put together a narrow majority in parliament, it was in alliance with Israel’s most reactionary elements. Today, as unrest escalates, his chilling avowal that crackdowns and home demolitions will continue, convey nothing by way of conciliatory intent.

Serious hazards

Israel’s role in the ongoing chaos and violence in the Arab world cannot be discounted, including well-founded suspicions of assistance rendered to extreme Islamists in Syria. Deepening ties at this time with Israel, will draw India into a strategic posture fraught with serious hazards.

India’s presidential visit comes just over a year since Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza which killed over 2,000 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians and a large number being children. Vacuously and with little purpose, India’s parliament debated the matter in July last year, since the treasury benches refused to allow voting on a resolution of condemnation.

Later that month, India voted for a motion in the United Nations Human Rights Council calling for an investigation into suspected war crimes in Gaza. In July this year, India abstained from a vote in the same forum, referring its findings to the International Criminal Court.

Various tortured explanations have been advanced by the Indian foreign policy establishment for this sequence of flip-flops. There has been no escape from the fact though, that opportunism rather than principle is now the dominant motif in India’s approach towards one of the world’s most combustible regions.