Courageous Women of Resistance Tour in CT — Oct. 21-29

by Tree of Life Education Foundation, tolef.org

In the history of popular struggles, a most important chapter will be the role of women who with courage and unflagging determination work for justice and human rights in their communities. Women helped to bring clean water to Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota, and women were at the forefront of the encampment at Standing Rock, by the contagion of their spirit helping to build an international community of resistance.

Likewise in Israel and Palestine, in the refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank, in organizations such as “Bedouin Women for Themselves” and “Grassroots Jerusalem,” women are helping to build a non-violent resist-ance movement. By refusing to be silenced or compromised by the militarism of settler colonialism, these women are speaking truth to power and in doing so, they are helping to bring enlightenment and engagement in the struggle to build a better and more peaceful future for their children.

This program will be taking place at the following locations: Saturday, October 21, Yale, New Haven – details to come. Sunday, Oct. 29, The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, 2 Ferry Street, Old Lyme – details to come.

The Courageous Women speakers: Madonna Thunder Hawk, a member of the Oohenumpa band of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, has a long history of grassroots activism prior to her formative work for Lakota People’s Law Project (LPLP) as a Tribal Liaison. She is co-founder of Women of All Red Nations (WARN), as well as the Black Hills Alli-ance—which prevented corporate uranium mining in the Black Hills and proved the high level of radiation in Pine Ridge reservation’s water supply.

Fayrouz Sharqawi works as the Advocacy Coordinator at Grassroots Jerusalem, a platform for Palestinian community-based mobilization, leadership and advocacy in Occupied Jerusalem. They believe that the challenges and responses of Palestinian communities must be articulated and led by them.

Barghouti and Nader Accept Gandhi Peace Award

by Stanley Heller, Promoting Enduring Peace

Hundreds gathered at Yale’s SSS building on April 23 to celebrate the Gandhi Peace Award being jointly given to Omar Barghouti and Ralph Nader. The award has been presented since 1960 by Promoting Enduring Peace (PEP).

Omar Barghouti

Omar Barghouti was introduced by Rebecca Vilkomerson, the Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace. She decried his Israeli arrest on March 19 as “politically motivated.” She called him a “charismatic speaker, a brilliant writer, savvy campaign strategist, and a principled thinker.”

Barghouti began his talk by noting Palestine “lingers on in colonial chains.” He dedicated his award to Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israel. He asked that his $2,500 prize money be given in equal shares to Black Lives Matter, Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, and Friends of Sabeel North America. He talked about the “striking similarities” between Israeli treatment of Palestinians and that of blacks in the days of apartheid South Africa. He noted the recent decision of Barcelona, Spain, which ended its complicity with Israeli settlements and explicitly defended boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS). He also listed many other BDS victories.

Ralph Nader was introduced by activist and mediator Charles Pillsbury, who said he was inspired to be a lawyer by Nader and wanted to be one of the activists dubbed “Nader’s Raiders.”

Ralph Nader said he was a student of Gandhi’s thinking that “open non-violent disobedience be active and not passive.” He said, “Peace is desirable not just on philosophical, religious or argumentative grounds, but a survival mechanism which transcends cultures.”

He talked about terrorism, and said the worst terrorism was “state terrorism” which “is always legitimized as in the ser-vice of national defense.”

At the end of his talk, he mentioned Palestinians and Israelis.

He denounced settlements as “illegal colonies.” He talked about breaking the grip of the lobby AIPAC on Congress and categorized some of the resolutions it advances as “bloody beyond belief.” He asked “Who has killed more than 400 times the number of innocent men, women, and children than the other side? The answer is the Israeli government.”

The talks were warmly received with standing ovations.

For more on this year’s awards, visit http://www.pepeace.org/gpa-2017-video-and-photos.

Palestinian Dance and Hip Hop at SCSU

by Shelly Altman, Jewish Voice for Peace

On Thursday, March 30, Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven will be partnering with SCSU Women’s Studies Department and Tree of Life to present the touring Shoruq Debka and Hip Hop. Shoruq, an initiative of Palestinian refugees, has two debka dance troupes (traditional Palestinian dance), one for adolescents and one for younger children. Participants are trained in dance techniques that allow them to express their thoughts, opinions and national identity. The troupe of dancers in the tour are age 13-16.
Shoruq envisions Palestinian refugees striving individually and collectively to attain and exercise their rights, especially the right of return to their original lands, and realizing dignified lives for themselves in the meanwhile until their return. It provides free legal aid and psychosocial support to refugee children in conflict with the law; owns and operates a media center that offers trainings and access to equipment to help children, youth and professionals generate media forms including music, online radio, video; uses art as a tool for advocacy; and creates many projects geared towards the social development of the refugee community.

Shoruq’s hip hop group is specialized for girls, currently 9 girls. The girls write about their feelings and experiences as refugees and as girls to share them with the world. They re-cord their original songs at Shoruq’s media center. Hip hop is a means for advocating and reinforcing children rights and refugee rights. They meet regularly to share new ideas and get training from Shoruq’s volunteers who have a good background in hip hop.

An excerpt from one of the Shoruq songs:
All I need in this life, is to be free
Free, from this cage, but I need a key
The key for a life waiting for me
If only you’ve seen what my eyes still see`
Problems after problems, yet in poverty
IDENTIFIED, without identity
I will fight for my country till eternity under the name of justice, humanity I want to live, I want to learn, and I want to be successful
Even if it’s stressful
Just for staying alive, for life I am grateful
I’m right here, and that’s what I rap for
All my life I’ve been paying them up prices
I’m depending on luck, so I’m just throwing dices

Details: March 30, 7:30 p.m. Engleman Hall, C112, SCSU, 501 Crescent St., New Haven. $15 general, $5 students, available at www.eventbrite.com/e/palestinian-debka-hip-hop-in-new-haven-tickets-31114730998 or email newhaven@jvp.org Web: www.jvpnh.org Facebook: jvpnewhaven Twitter: @jvpnewhaven.

No Child Behind Bars: Living Resistance from the US to Palestine

by Nina Stein, Jewish Voice for Peace

On Feb. 1, Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven will be partnering with Tree of Life to present a program “No Child Behind Bars: Living Resistance from the US to Palestine.”  The presentation will feature Ahed Tamimi*, a charismatic and articulate 15 year old from the West Bank Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, who will discuss the brutal injustices to which she and others her age are subjected on a continuing daily basis.

Ahed will be joined by Amanda Weatherspoon, a Unitarian Universalist minister and Black liberation activist from the San Francisco Bay Area, whose ministry is centered on collective liberation and cross-movement solidarity between oppressed people. Nadya Tannous, a writer and organizer who has researched the detention of Palestinian minors since 2013, will join the two to provide additional insight into the realities Palestinian minors face within the Israeli detention system.

In addition to discussing the life of Palestinian children under Israeli occupation, the presentation will show how the struggle for human rights in Palestine is inextricably linked with the struggle for civil and human rights here in the US.

The event will take place on February 1 in New Haven at 7 p.m. at Sudler Hall, William L. Harkness Hall, Yale University on Cross Campus.

This presentation is part of a three week, 18 city U.S. tour organized by Friends of Sabeel (FOSNA). FOSNA is part of Sabeel, a movement initiated by Palestinian Christians, which promotes theological, moral and legal principles for peace in the Holy Land.

Email: newhaven@jvp.org; Web: www.jvpnh.org; Facebook: jvpnewhaven; Twitter: @jvpnewhaven

* Ahed, who was originally to appear in person, has been denied a travel visa by the U.S. State Department, so arrangements are being made to have her speak about the situation on the ground and share her story by live-stream video.

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.

Dr. Alice Rothchild to Speak on Historical and Ethical Challenges in Israel/Palestine July 30

by Joyce Rawitscher, Israel/Palestine Peace Group of NE CT

Alice Rothchild

Alice Rothchild

On Saturday, July 30, the Seventh Annual Potluck Picnic of the Israel/Palestine Peace Group of Northeastern Connecticut starts with a picnic at 4 p.m. The featured speaker, Alice Rothchild, physician, author and filmmaker, has focused her interest in human rights and social justice on the Israel/Palestine conflict since 1997. She will talk about “A Personal Journey: Facing Historical and Ethical Challenges in Israel/Palestine,” at 6:30 p.m. at the home of Joyce and George Rawitscher, 343 Codfish Falls Road, in Storrs. The public is welcome.

Dr. Rothchild practiced ob-gyn for almost 40 years. Until her retirement, she served as Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Harvard Medical School. She writes, blogs, and lectures widely, and is the author of Broken Promises, Broken Dreams: Stories of Jewish and Palestinian Trauma and Resilience, and On the Brink: Israel and Palestine on the Eve of the 2014 Gaza Invasion. She directed a documentary film, “Voices Across the Divide,” and is active in Jewish Voice For Peace. Condition Critical: Life and Death in Israel/ Palestine will be published in early 2017.

Information: (860) 429-3107, joycerawitscher@gmail.com.