Seeking Your Help to Protect Next Gandhi Peace Award Winner

by Stanley Heller, Administrator, PEP

Promoting Enduring Peace has set up a “Freedom to Travel” committee to pressure the Israeli government to allow one of its Gandhi Peace Award winners to travel to the United States. At a telephone press conference the 64-year-old peace and environmental group announced the Gandhi Peace Award will be given jointly to Ralph Nader (pictured on the left) and Omar Barghouti (right) at a ceremony in New Haven in April 2017.

nader-and-barghouti-620x330

Ralph Nader is known for over five decades for his consumer and civic activism and for being among the first nationally known figures to criticize Israeli abuses and to speak up in support of the Israeli peace movement. Omar Barghouti is one of the best-known leaders of the BDS (Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions) movement which calls for economic pressure against Israel until it withdraws from the land it occupies, gives full civic equality to Palestinians citizens inside Israel and allows Palestinian refugee families their right to return to their homeland and homes.

Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, talked about Omar Barghouti. He said the Palestinian was a “central player in the Palestinian campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.” And “Omar’s voice has been a crucial one in the past several years and one that should be increasingly amplified to all those asking about Palestinian non-violence.”
Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said she first met Barghouti in 2009 and that’s when Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) starting working on BDS issues. She hailed Barghouti’s leadership and “impeccable ethical framework” and his continued work “at great cost and risk to himself.”

The Israeli government has refused to renew Barghouti’s travel document and he is effectively banned from leaving Palestine/Israel. Vilkomerson said JVP would be working with PEP and other groups to restore Barghouti’s ability to travel and to come to the U.S. to accept the award.

Those interested in working on the “Freedom to Travel” committee should write to office@pepeace.org. A recent TSVN You Tube interview with Barghouti can be heard by going to http://www.pepeace.org.

Dr. Alice Rothchild discusses ‘historical and ethical challenges in Israel and Palestine’ in Storrs

by Julia Berger, Middle East Crisis Committee

On July 30, about 35 people convened at the Storrs Meeting House to enjoy a Middle Eastern potluck and a talk by Dr. Alice Rothchild: “A Personal Journey: Facing Historical and Ethical Challenges in Israel/Palestine.”

Alice Rothchild

Alice Rothchild

Dr. Rothchild has practiced ob/gyn for almost 40 years and served as Assistant Professor of Obstretics and Gynecology at Harvard Medical School. She is a first-generation American who grew up in a middle-class Jewish family in the Boston area. She grew up with the narrative of Israel as a haven for Jewish “victims,” as a democratic state in the Middle East surrounded by hostile Arabs and Palestinians. Only when she was in college did a friend cast doubts on this view. Dr. Rothchild was inspired by this friend to do some serious research—on colonialism, imperialism, and U.S. and Israeli history—especially about the 1948 Palestinian “Nakba” in which many Palestinians were killed by Israelis and many more became dispossessed refugees.

Eventually Dr. Rothchild joined Physicians for Human Rights on a journey to Israel and Palestine to see for herself the conditions there and to work in clinics, especially in Palestine. Since then she has gone annually to travel around, to work in clinics, and to speak with Palestinians and Israelis about the deteriorating physical situation in Palestine (the Wall, the increased Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands, the checkpoints, the housing demolitions, etc.). She emphasized she is not criticizing Jews as Jews but rather the policies of the Israeli government.

When she has attempted to speak about her experiences here in the U.S., she has frequently been harassed or her talks have been cancelled. But she remains optimistic because more and more Americans and Israelis are finally speaking out against Israeli government policies.

Dr. Rothchild also pointed out the affinity between Black Lives Matter and the Palestinian situation. Both are met with increasingly militarized/weaponized responses. The final irony: many of the U.S.’s police departments are even trained in Israel or here by the IDF.

She was also troubled that none of the current presidential candidates, except Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party, were even talking about Israel/Palestine.

Asked about BDS, she responded that the U.S. provides $3 billion a year to Israel—a population of 8.2 million—the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid. The American taxpayer has some responsibility for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. Moreover the non-violent BDS is supported by the Palestinians and seems to be having an impact on the Israeli government.

Dr. Rothchild has directed a documentary film “Voices Across the Divide,” and has written several books and articles on her experiences.

Revive the Peace Movement

Stan Heller, Administrator, Promoting Enduring Peace

Several Connecticut groups are in the forefront of a new network, RPM, Revive the Peace Movement Network. Promoting Enduring Peace and the Middle East Crisis Committee joined with CODEPINK and a number of other groups and individuals to form the group to serve as a pole of opinion and a network for discussion and suggestions. Its website is http://www.RPM.world and it is eager for groups to join it and for individuals to get on its mailing list. Its common “Statement” is as follows:

For a Renewed Anti-War Movement

At a time when wars engulf whole regions of the world we must revive the anti-war movement. The peace movement must put greater pressure on politicians and parties to end U.S. wars and to redirect military spending to meeting social needs at home and abroad.

Our primary tools are education and non-violent direct action, such as mass demonstrations, protest, civil disobedience, boycotts and divestment.

We resolutely oppose the wars of the U.S., its allies and clients, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and U.S. support for repressive regimes such as Honduras and Bahrain.

We call for an end to U.S. support for Israel and for justice for Palestinians, in all of historic Palestine and in their places of refuge.

We also recognize that there are other oppressors in the world, from ISIS to Russia, from Iran to China, from North Korea to the Assad regime. We won’t hesitate to oppose their wars, interventions and cruelties.

War and preparation for war are major contributors to catastrophic climate change. Climate change causes declining living conditions that also significantly contribute to war. We need to break this vicious cycle and work for a sustain-able economy based on social and environmental justice, full employment and one hundred percent non-nuclear renewable energy.

War and climate disruption tragically uproot millions from their home countries. We need to open the borders to refugees and meet their needs for health, safety and human dignity.

We challenge the racism and Islamophobia used to justify wars and occupations and the denial of human rights to refugees.

Seven decades after Hiroshima, the human race is still at risk of nuclear annihilation. Nuclear war is an ever present danger. We demand the abolition of all nuclear weaponry.

The militarism and authoritarianism that the U.S. promotes abroad is reflected in the militarism and attacks on civil liberties in our communities at home.

We stand in solidarity with those such as Black Lives Matter who are advocating the demilitarization of police forces.

We stand in solidarity with those who seek liberation, social and economic justice, and democracy in all countries, including the United States.

Another world is possible, free of militarism and war.

‘Speak Out for Justice’ Oct. 7 with Remi Kanazi and Bishop John Selders

by Stanley Heller, Middle East Crisis Committee

Come to the New Haven Library on Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. for “Speak Out for Justice.” Meet Remi Kanazi, Palestinian-American poet and activist, on the release of his new collection of poems: Before the Next Bomb Drops: Rising Up from Brooklyn to Palestine. He also wrote Poetic Injustice: Writings on Resistance and Palestine.

remi-kanaziKanazi writes and performs political poetry addressing topics such as human rights, Palestine, Iraq, and Islamophobia. Approaching his work from a humanist perspective, Kanazi says, “I’m not a nationalist, I’m not an ethno-centrist. This isn’t about me being a Palestinian or me being an Arab. It’s about a system of oppression and what’s being done to a people. So whether you’re talking about police brutality or the US-Mexico border or Afghanistan or the war in Iraq or the plight of Palestinians, what they’re going through and the injustice that’s being perpetrated against them is what matters. And that’s what we’re working against – systems of oppression.”

Our program also features Bishop John Selders, a leader of “Moral Mondays” who has led protests in Hartford against police brutality and who took part in the “All Roads Lead to Ferguson Tour” in July and August.

The Right Reverend Doctor John L. Selders, Jr. is an ordained minister serving in the United Church of Christ, the Organizing Pastor of Amistad United Church of Christ, Hartford, CT, Associate Chaplain at Trinity College, Hartford, CT and Executive Director of Zezzo House (an 18 unit housing project). John worked for 12 years as a Lecturer at Yale Divinity School in New Haven.

The program is sponsored by the Middle East Crisis Committee. MECC was founded in New Haven in 1982. Our TV program “The Struggle” www.TheStruggle.org has been broadcast on over 30 stations weekly since 2003. We’ve covered civil rights and black lives matter struggles over the years. Our latest is coverage of the Newark New Jersey protest: www.thestruggle.org/older_featured.htm
Executive Director: Stanley Heller, (203) 934-2761.

Please Attend an Important and Unique Forum with Aida Touma-Sliman, Oct. 17.

by Henry Lowendorf, Greater New Haven Peace Council

Aida Touma-Sliman became an Arab member of the Knesset in the Israeli election last January. She is a lifelong political activist, Director-General of Women Against Violence, the largest Arab women’s NGO in Israel, editor-in-chief of Al-Ittihad, an Arab-language daily newspaper in Israel, and a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Israel.

Because of a new Israeli law intended to reduce the number of small parrties in the Knesset, the several Arab parties, with widely diverse ideologies and programs, created a Joint List, a coalition, to be voted on as a block. The election result was that the Joint List became the third largest block in the parliament.
Touma-Sliman was voted the Chair of the Knesset’s Permanent Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, the first Arab chair of a Knesset committee.

In an interview in the Jewish Journal (www.youtube.com/ watch?v=hUslyGicqfs) Touma-Sliman describes herself: “I am not accepted because of my opinions, because I stood up against many of the things the patriarchal laws in our society… To be now in the mainstream of our society … gives us the power as a movement, to address new groups of people, to raise the voice of rights of women from the highest platform to the parliament and in our society.”

Of discrimination against Arabs in Israel proper, Touma-Sliman says that “In our villages and towns since 1948, not one industrial zone was built, no proper public transportation. Even in minimal civil rights we are not getting what we are supposed to get.”

She refers to the Israeli occupation: “We don’t want [Israel] to continue to be occupiers, because occupation is ruining not only those who are occupied, it is ruining also the occupiers themselves.” “Settlements are an international crime… You cannot use your crimes” to bargain.
With the recent peace agreement with Iran over Iran’s nuclear program, there is now increased attention on Israel’s existing nuclear arsenal, attention that the Israeli government constantly tries to deflect. In 2013, Touma-Sliman spoke at a peace conference to create a zone in the Middle East free of nuclear weapons: “If peace groups don’t make the connection that the Israeli government is the source of hostile policy against neighboring countries, and if we don’t speak about nuclear policy and to ask Israel to join international agreements and be under the control and inspection on that matter we are missing the point.”

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to hear Aida Touma-Sliman, Bethesda Lutheran Church, 450 Whitney Ave., 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17.

Jewish Voice for Peace hosts filmmaker Dr. Alice Rothchild

Shelly Altman, Jewish Voice for Peace

Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven (JVPNH) recently hosted a visit by filmmaker Dr. Alice Rothchild with screenings of her film Voices Across the Divide. The film explores the Palestinian narrative of the Nakba, featuring interviews with three generations of North American Palestinians whose families were forced into refugee status during the war of 1948-49.

In a retrospective on her visit, Rothchild states “I discussed the complexities of the Zionist movement, the fact that Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together pretty well until Zionists arrived, that the goal was clearly to create a Jewish-only state and that required getting rid of indigenous Arabs.[…] I urged people to understand that Netanyahu is not an aberration, that if you found a state based on Jewish privilege and dominance and you support militant settlers and the profound racism that has been present since the birth of the Zionist movement, then you get the government we have now. This is clearly highly problematic for liberal American Jews and we need to face these contradictions.”
Questioned by an audience member at the Whitney Center about her recent visit to Gaza, Rothchild spoke of the devastating effects of the collective punishment of Gaza by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). She referenced on her blog a meeting with Dr. Mona el-Farra of Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA). Rothchild quotes Dr. el-Farra:

“400,000 children are traumatized after the attack due to eyewitness experiences according to the UN and UNICEF. I see that those kids, age five to 16, who are suffering this trauma, were eyewitnesses of the attack, are the future youth, those kids will be the future negotiators. When Israel hits Gaza, it hits the psychological well-being of those kids.”

See her blog at alicerothchild.com/blog-2015 for a remarkable daily recounting of her March journey.
That is the present reality in Gaza. For a conversation about growing up and attending school in the West Bank, come June 17 at 6:30 p.m. to the Spring Glen Congregational Church, 1825 Whitney Ave., Hamden, to hear Shurouq Isam Alatrash and Heba Elias Bannoura, 2015 Nursing and Mid-wifery graduates respectively from Bethlehem University. For more details, see http://www.jvpnh.org/event/discussion-palestinian-nursing-and-midwifery-students.

You can reach JVP New Haven on the web: www.jvpnh.org, by email:  newhaven@jewishvoiceforpeace.org, or facebook: jvpnewhaven, or twitter: @jvpnewhaven.

Court Sessions Continue Against the ‘Westport 2’

Stanley Heller, Exec. Director, Middle East Crisis Committee

On May 12 two young men went into a Westport, CT, synagogue to read a three-paragraph statement opposing the meeting there to raise funds for the “Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.” They were stopped before they could get into the meeting room and someone FALSELY claimed the two were armed. Many police cars came to the synagogue. Police brandished automatic weapons. Schools in the area were sent into lockdown. The two men, Dan Fischer and Gregory Williams, were arrested on a charge that if punished to the maximum could get them one year in prison.

In court on May 22 in Stamford Dan Fischer applied for “Accelerated Rehabilitation.” Gregory Williams opted for a jury trial. The next court session is July 21.

The two had attempted to enter the talk and to read testimony by Nabilah Abu Halima, a Palestinian woman whose son was killed in Gaza during 2009’s Operation Cast Lead and who had to flee her home with the rest of her family during 2014’s Gaza Massacre.

Fischer and Williams were particularly concerned that the event, a women’s luncheon sponsored by Friends of the IDF, claimed that the occupying army is “a world leader in integrating women in the armed forces.” The activists intended their demonstration to call attention to the experiences of women living under the apartheid regime in Palestine.

Palestinian women and families suffer the brunt of the violence of the IDF’s periodic assaults on Gaza. The family of Nabilah Abu Halima, whose testimony Fischer and Williams were attempting to read at the talk, is just one example: “Our son Matar was 17 when he was killed in the 2009 war [Operation Cast Lead]. He was killed together with his cousin Muhammad, who was 12, while they were trying to escape the bombardments. Other members of the family who were with them were injured. One of them, Ghada Abu Halima, died of her wounds three months later….My son Matar was killed right before my eyes.” Ghada Abu Halima died from burns she suffered from a white phosphorus bomb.

A defense fund has been created to help pay for lawyers.  To see how to contribute and for latest developments see: www.TheStruggle.org.

‘Badhoneywell’ Makes Its Nationwide Debut | Truthout

The US government’s complicity in the Israeli siege of Gaza is no secret. Israel has the eleventh largest military in the world, which is in large part due to US military aid of over $3 billion annually. What remains in the shadows, however, is the alarming extent to which United States corporations profit from the Israeli war machine.

A prime example is Honeywell International Inc. The Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade, a Canadian group, has documented a long-lasting and profitable economic relationship between Honeywell and the Israeli military, with many of their collaborations traceable directly to war crimes committed by the IDF. The 2010 attack in the waters outside Gaza against the “Freedom Flotilla,” in which nine activists were killed in an attempt to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza through the Israeli blockade, was perpetrated by a Sa’ar V Corvette, built by another US company, Northrop-Grumman. Yet that ship was armed by Honeywell-built torpedoes.

This relationship, in which Honeywell profits from some component of weapons production without appearing to be prominently involved, appears frequently.

via “Badhoneywell” Makes Its Nationwide Debut.

Israeli Author to Speak in Connecticut

by Stanley Heller, Middle East Crisis Committee

Ofra Yeshua-Lyth will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in the Program Room of the New Haven Public Library, 133 Elm Street, New Haven.

Ofra is a former correspondent in Germany and the U.S. for the Israeli paper Ma’ariv. She has written a book called The Case for a Secular New Jerusalem: A Memoir. She is a member of New Profile, an Israeli feminist organization. Venues have not yet been arranged.

On Amazon a reviewer says this about her book: “What is actually at the heart of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? Ofra Yeshua-Lyth, in a book that is as hard hitting as it is entertaining, makes the case that at the center lays the religious nature of the Zionist movement beneath its modern-secular veneer. She uses the stories of her grandmothers — women who immigrated to Palestine in the early days of Zionism from Yemen and Russia with high hopes, courage and grace — as well as other stories — to illustrate the implications of the Zionist failure to separate religion and State.

“While the Western world agonizes over Muslim fundamentalism in the Middle East, hardly any attention has been given to the Israeli adaptation of Judaism, which at its most extreme abhors any form of cohabitation with non-Jews.”

Watch for news about her appearances during the month at www.TheStruggle.org, or call (203) 934-2761.

Free *** Refreshments

Read an article about her on Mondoweiss http://mondoweiss.net/2014/10/ofra-yeshua-israeli

Sponsor: Middle East Crisis Committee

1 2