Good Start, Ben & Jerry’s: Now Finish the Job! — Take Action

Shelly Altman, Jewish Voice for Peace NH

UPDATE: The international Work Group of the Central CT Democratic Socialists of America is holding a “Eat an Ice Cream for Palestine” on Sat. Oct 9 at 1 p.m. starting at the Ben and Jerrys store in New Haven. The store is at 159 Temple St., New Haven. It’s near the New Haven Green. We’ll take photos of ourselves eating or holding B&J ice creams followed by a walk to the New Haven Green and an informal discussion about Palestine. – Stanley Heller, DSA Int Work Group member.

On July 19, 2021, Ben & Jerry’s (B&J) announced that it is inconsistent with their values to sell their ice cream in the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). They will not renew their license agreement with their Israeli licensee when it expires at the end of 2022.

We at Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven and the New Haven Mending Minyan Havurah join with so many Vermonters in lauding this long-overdue decision by B&J’s, in particular because it was taken as part of B&J’s long-time advocacy for human rights and economic and social justice. But it does not go far enough. The very principles that drove B&J’s decision demand that the company withdraw from selling their products in both the OPT settlements as well as in the state of Israel itself. Furthermore, Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever, must commit itself to ending ties with Israel for any action to be meaningful.

Here’s why:

  • Earlier this year, both the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued detailed reports which document Israel’s control over all the territory it administers as an apartheid regime. B’Tselem notes that “one organizing principle lies at the base of a wide array of Israeli policies: advancing and perpetuating the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians.” HRW notes that “deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.” Both reports document apartheid conditions in both the OPT and in the state of Israel itself.
  • B&J ice cream is manufactured in Israel in Be’er Tuvia (adjacent to the town of Kiryat Malachi). Kiryat Malachi is one of four Israeli localities located on the lands of the former Palestinian village of Qastina, destroyed and emptied by Israeli troops in 1948. Be’er Tuvia is in southern Naqab about 20 miles from the Erez crossing into Gaza. B&J products are transported to the illegal OPT settlements on Jewish-only roads. The factory draws water from the Jordan River system and the Mountain Aquifer in the occupied West Bank, the two highest-quality water sources in the region. At the same time, Israel severely controls and restricts West Bank Palestinian residents’ access to water from those same sources, reducing it to a level which neither meets their domestic and agricultural needs nor constitutes a fair distribution of shared water resources. The apartheid regime practiced by Israel in the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River requires that to be consistent with its social justice values, B&J terminate sales in all of that land. Israel considers its illegal settlements to be part of its state. We celebrate this first step, but it is not enough. Unilever must work to finish the job that the independent board of Ben & Jerry’s started and cut the flow of money to this apartheid state.

News Flash: Our Third District Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, has just introduced a standalone bill whose sole purpose is to gift Israel with yet another $1 billion so that it can continue to “defend” itself while it mercilessly besieges Gaza and conducts one devastating bombing after the next. This is on top of the $3.8 billion per year of our tax dollars that are already going for the same purpose.

This bill is being fast-tracked by the “Democratic” leadership and will almost certainly pass with “bipartisan” support, but we need to let Rosa know how outraged we are at this. Express it as soon as possible at (202) 225-3661.

Israel’s Actions Long Past Self-Defense

by Shelly Altman, Chairperson of Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven

The threatened eviction of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The invasion of the Al Aqsa mosque by Israeli troops, firing rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and stun grenades. The bombing of the building in Gaza which housed the Associated Press and Al Jazeera press organization. All during the pandemic raging in Gaza. It’s all a pattern of erasure that is part and parcel of Israel circa 2021. Erasure of any trace of Palestinian presence between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Erasure of Jerusalem’s status as a holy city for three faiths. Erasure of news reporting of what’s going on in Gaza.

At the same time, Israel attempts to use its self-description as a Jewish state to erase any criticism of its crimes by labeling such criticism as anti-Semitic. But it is this state that is corrupting the meaning of Judaism and is dangerously fanning the flames of anti-Semitism worldwide.

President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, nearly silent for so long on war crimes visited upon the civilian Palestinian population in the Occupied Territories, suddenly become vocal when Hamas fires rockets into Israel. Israel “has a right to defend itself,” they say. Dozens of American politicians deceitfully follow suit. But courageous voices in the Congress are now exposing this “right to defend” messaging for its utter failure to acknowledge reality. Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush, Mark Pocan, Betty McCollum, Sen. Bernie Sanders and others have pulled open the blinds to expose to the American public the brutality of Israel’s rule. They speak to empty chambers, but their voices echo loud and clear.

Israel is not “defending itself.” It is a heavily militarized occupying force that is using that military strength to oppress and kill those whom it is occupying. That is not defense.

In January, the B’Tselem report “This is Apartheid” documented in detail that “the entire area is organized under one principle: advancing and perpetuating the supremacy of one group — Jews — over another — Palestinians.” In April, the Human Rights Watch report “A Threshold Crossed” added further documentation: separate legal systems, separate road systems, illegal transfer of populations, no freedom of movement, residency rights, or building rights, and an intent by the state of Israel to maintain this in perpetuity. In Sheikh Jarrah and throughout East Jerusalem, we are witnessing 1948 Naqba in real-time 2021: people driven from their homes, the very essence of the Zionist project.

The highly respected Jewish journalist Peter Beinart recently wrote: “The crimes of the past, when left unaddressed, do not remain in the past.” It is well past time to address those crimes.

Shelly Altman is chairperson of Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven.

This opinion piece was published in the New Haven Register on May 19, 2021.

Israel Must Immediately End Its Assault on Gaza: The Imperative for a Human Rights Based Policy Toward Israel/Palestine

Excerpts from Statement by Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council, May 19, 2021

As U.S.-based health professionals and members of the Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Committee (JVP-HAC), we demand an immediate end to Israel’s offensive war against the Palestinian population of Gaza, and an end to U.S. support for Israeli military aggression. We add our voices in solidarity with our besieged colleagues, the health workers in Gaza and in all of Palestine; with the anguished cries of those who have lost loved ones and suffered terrible injuries and trauma throughout Palestine, and their families in the global Palestinian diaspora; and with the outraged members of Congress who have taken a moral stand to end our government’s complicity in the willful killing of Palestinians.

As Israel reiterates its intention to continue the bombing siege, multiple sources report a death toll of over 200 Palestinian civilians, including 60 children; over 1200 injuries to Palestinians in the last few days, with nearly 500 (primarily women and children) severely wounded; and more than 30,000 made homeless. In a demonstration of the disproportionality of force, the death toll for Israelis stands at 11. An Israeli military operation to clear a network of tunnels in Gaza utilized 160 warplanes to drop 80 tons of explosives over a period of 40 minutes.

Gaza’s health facilities, already near collapse under the Israeli blockade, immense destruction from three wars in recent years, and the COVID-19 pandemic, are now over-flowing with bombing victims. Among those killed in Gaza are a number of doctors and health workers, including Dr. Moeen Al-Aloul, a neurologist with the Ministry of Health who died with his wife and five children. Dr. Ayman Abu al-Auf, an internist who directed Shifa hospital’s coronavirus response, was also killed at home with seven family members in the same incident. Tank and bomb attacks on May 16 not only destroyed many homes and their inhabitants on al-Wihda Street near Shifa hospital, but also blocked access to emergency services and obliterated two private clinics.

[The full text of this statement can be read: https://www.jvphealth.org]

 

Notes to PAR Readers

We urge you to check the internet for the many demonstrations protesting the bombing of Gaza. As of this printing, there were rallies and marches in Hartford, New London, New Haven, and Manchester, as well as in cities throughout the US and around the world. The New Haven rally and march on May 22 was in solidarity with the people of Palestine and Colombia, fighting for their right to life and self-determination. Video footage is available at thestruggle.org.

A reminder that PAR does not publish in the summer. The next issue you receive will be the September issue. If your subscription has expired with this issue, you will have a renewal form inserted in this issue. Please look for it and renew your subscription. We ask for $13, or whatever you can afford.

Please let us know if you find out that regularly-occurring meetings or events have resumed so we can list them in our calendar pages. E-mail us at parnewhaven@hotmail.com. Many of the previously regularly scheduled programs have changed frequency, gone on hiatus, or switched to Zoom. We want to keep our readers in the know so they have options for activism.

Are you computer-proficient? We’d like help on the Production Team. We currently use a combination of Word and Open Office for this newsletter, and are open to suggestions for other programs for layout. E-mail parnewhaven@hotmail.com and put “computer-proficient help” in the subject line. A stipend may be available.

Another Case of “Good Rebels vs. Bad President”

by Henry Lowendorf, Greater New Haven Peace Council

In a live webinar from Damascus, Syria, Nov. 20, journalist Vanessa Beeley unravels the corporate and State Department narrative regarding the war on that country.

That narrative asserts the government of Syria under Bashir al Assad hates the Syrian people and kills them with little regard while the various rebel groups, supported by the United States and its allies, have been trying to liberate Syria for about 10 years. Evidence for such hatred comes from alleged indiscriminate bombing of and chemical weapons attacks on civilians.

In describing the disintegration of this narrative, Beeley points to accumulating evidence that the OPCW, the UN’s Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, censored its own technical experts who had challenged an alleged chemical attack, in order to draw conclusions and make a report that retroactively justified open U.S. and NATO bombing of Syria in 2018. That bombing led liberal U.S. media finally to call Donald Trump “presidential.”

In addition, recent leaks from the UK Foreign Office, detailed by Ben Norton https://tinyurl.com/NortonSyriaLeaks demonstrate since at least 2011, UK and U.S intelligence agencies have been feeding false news to all western major media organizations, which have dutifully rehashed it. The UK Foreign Office verified the documents.

Vanessa reported that she had teamed up with another journalist, Rafiq Lutf, to produce a documentary, “The Veto,” which reveals numerous CNN manipulations and falsifications of the aggressions against Syria.

Beeley has deeply researched a key element of the hybrid war on Syria, the White Helmets. This outfit operates only where terrorist groups rule. Unlike the real secular, diverse Syrian Civil Defense, members of any group of White Helmets belong to the same al Qaeda affiliate. The White Helmets was created by UK spy agencies and pipelined into the corporate media by an NGO based in Dubai.

Beeley further describes how the Turkey and Qatar-funded Muslim Brotherhood, once on the State Department’s terrorist list, has hugely influenced the public perception of the war in this country.

Watch the webinar on youtube: https://tinyurl.com/BeeleyWeb20.

Gandhi Peace Award presented to two via Zoom

Dr. Zaher Sahloul, co-winner of the Gandhi Peace Award with White Helmet Mayson Almisri, holding his medallion made from “peace bronze,” metal recycled from nuclear weapons facilities. The award was given Nov. 21, 2020 via a Zoom program and was recorded. A link to the event is at the Promoting Enduring Peace website pepeace.org.

From Sahloul’s Twitter page:

I will be dedicating the #Gandhi peace award to the doctors and nurses who were killed in #Syria while on duty including Dr. Hasan Alaaraj, Dr. Majed Bari Dr. Wasim Moaz and 930 other healthcare workers @PEPeace #Gandhiaward @P4HR @hrw @MedGlobalOrg @UNOCHA

Stanley Heller talks about the Gandhi Peace Award ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 21 which this year was given jointly to Syrian-American Dr. Zaher Sahloul of Chicago and Mayson Almisri of the Syria Civil Defense, honoring the brave work of Syrian medical and rescue workers. The public worldwide could view the ceremony on Zoom without charge. The link to register is at the website PEPeace.org.

Source: 2020 Gandhi Peace Award Honors Syrian Humanitarian Aid Workers – BTL

Alternative News Site for West Haven Forms

Stanley Heller, activist, West Haven resident

Faced with stony-hearted politicians and police in West Haven and virtually no coverage in the local free paper of the killing of Mubarak Soulemane in January or the July 5 use of police dogs on protesters, I decided to start a West Haven news site, The West Haven Call. Right now the modest sections are Justice, Climate, Schools, UNH, Health, Photos, Feeds, Instagram, Riseup, Jigsaws, and Memes. The site is found at https://westhavencall.com. We tweet @WestHavenC.

I’m looking for volunteers to help out with the site.  Reach me at westhavencall@gmail.com.  We’re a news site that salutes the Black Lives Matter Uprising and calls for an end to white supremacy and a world ruled by greed and climate destruction.

Gandhi Peace Award Ceremony, Nov. 17

by Stanley Heller, PEP Administrator

Promoting Enduring Peace has been holding back on its ceremony for this year’s honorees, Dr. Zaher Sahloul and Mayson Almisri, in hopes that we could have a big event in an auditorium, but since the pandemic shows no sign of letting up the PEP Board decided to hold the event online. It will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 17, exactly two weeks after Election Day. The time has not yet been decided.

This year we’ve chosen two people of Syrian origin to hon-or the work of Syrian doctors and Syrian rescue workers.

Syrian-American Zaher Sahloul was a longtime Senior Advisor to the Syrian American Medical Society, SAMS. He is currently the president of MedGlobal which sends teams of doctors and nurses to war and disaster zones from Ecuador to Lebanon. He works as a pulmonary specialist at a hospital in Chicago and is involved in treating COVID-19 patients. He himself fell victim of the virus and suffered from it for weeks. He’s been to Syria many times and has worked with the doctors whose medical facilities were bombed with abandon by Assadist and Russian forces.

Mayson Almisri is a member of Syrian Civil Defence, better known as the White Helmets. The group started informally as people who rushed to bombed-out buildings to try to save the injured and to recover bodies. As the years passed the group became more organized and received training and funds from foreign NGOs and governments including that of the U.S. The White Helmets try to video and photograph their rescues as a way of alerting the world to the viciousness of the regime, its allies and their militaries. For that they are demonized by the Assad regime and slandered as “terrorist supporters.” The rescue workers have rescued some 100,000 people during the last 9 years of war and have been the subject of several films.

In addition to the acceptance speeches, we hope to have art, music and song to entertain and inspire. Holding it on Zoom allows for more international participation. If you’d like to work on the project contact office@pepeace.org or call (202) 573-7322.

Chat with Others about The Struggle News Programs On-line

Stanley Heller, The Struggle Video News

When you premiere a show with YouTube, you get to have a chat column on the side where you and your viewers can converse. We had fun with it last Sunday and we’re hoping to do this every Sunday at the same time.

Watch The Struggle #851 on Sunday, May 31, 8:30 p.m. at http://www.TheStruggle.org. Stay for the chat!

The Struggle #850 was shown May 24 and featured the following: Verdict in murders of Dawabshe family *** poem “72 Years a Birth Certificate” for Palestine *** #Act4Daraa to warn world of Assad threat to Daraa *** new look for RPM.world *** Martha Klein talks about the threat of pipelines and fracked gas plant *** Tony Cherolis on transportation and climate *** What We Didn’t See at the Botanical Garden (NY) during Coronavirus 2020.

Remember, you can always access past shows on our website http://www.TheStruggle.org.

Telling the Palestinian Story – Palestinian Women Global Art Exhibit opening on Sunday, March 8

The exhibit features over 200 works of art from about 50 Palestinian women artists who have made significant contributions to the art scene in their immediate communities and around the world. Artworks that will be on display include paintings, sculptures, photographs, and embroidery pieces.

The exhibit will be unveiled during a ceremony on the afternoon of Sunday, March 8, and will be open on Sundays 1 to 5 p.m. through May 30, 2020.

“The exhibit will give dozens of Palestinian women artists an opportunity to exhibit their artwork in the United States for the first time,” said Museum founder, Faisal Saleh. “Our mission is to celebrate and showcase Palestinian artistic excellence – this event goes a long way in fulfilling that promise.”
Partial list of artists participating in the exhibit are:

  • From the US & Canada: Samia Halaby, Manal Deeb, Samar Hussaini, Rawan Anani
  • From Europe: Laila Shawa, Jacqueline Bejani, Halima Aziz
  • From Jordan: Raida Shahin, Dalia Ali, Reem Khader, Nadia Al Khateeb, Aya Abu Ghazaleh
  • From Palestine: Nameer Qassim, Sana’ Tahboub, Hya Kaabneh, Reen Natsheh
  • From Africa: Kholoud Subhi (Kenya)
  • From South America: Ruby L. Yunis (Chile), María Eugenia Akel (Chile)

Palestine Museum, 1764 Litchfield Tpke, Woodbridge, CT 06525 Museum Hours: Every Sunday 1 – 5 p.m. Admission fees: Adults: $8; Students and seniors (age 65+): $5; Children 12 or under: Free. Maximum $20 per family.

Why We’re Still Standing Out Here in 2019 (and Will Be Again in 2020)

Sunday Vigil flyer, Dec. 22, 2019

This vigil for peace and justice has been observed every Sunday from noon until 1 p.m. since May of 1999. Twenty years and four U.S. presidential administrations later, we are still here.

Often people ask us what we mean when we say, “RESIST THIS ENDLESS WAR.” What we mean is that the serial wars fought by the U.S. and its allies are one war being waged on many fronts. Men, women, and children are being slaughtered, maimed, traumatized and driven from their homes all over the world so that immense wealth and power can be concentrated in the hands of a very few people.
The weapons of this war are many. Here are just some examples: continued development and production of an ever more deadly nuclear arsenal; drone attacks against human beings many thousands of miles away (targets whose bodies the bombardiers, operating their weapons by remote control, will never have to see); mass incarcerations and deportations of immigrants and refugees (condemning them, in many cases, to a future of torture or death); the systematic dismantling of infrastructure and social programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security that most of us not only depend upon but have funded with our hard-earned tax dollars all our lives; the destruction of our environment; and the undermining of workers’ rights and the refusal to pass a national minimum wage that is a living wage.

In 2016, we had a presidential election in which the issues of war, peace and economic justice were never seriously addressed. The state of endless war was accepted as the norm. Now we are dealing with an administration that, during its nearly three years in power, has exponentially escalated on all fronts this war that we have been describing and resisting for two decades and more. The 2018 “mid-term” elections largely ignored these issues.

With its bloated military budget, its blatantly racist and xenophobic rhetoric and policies, its utter disregard for the U.S. Constitution and international law, its attempt to roll back even the modest attempts at addressing the climate crisis that are embraced by the Paris Agreement, its utter disregard for human rights at the borders, and its unapologetic war against poor, working-class and non-white people on behalf of the billionaire class it represents, the Trump ad-ministration has made transparent the existential threat of the 1% to all our lives and to the future of our planet.

RESIST THIS ENDLESS WAR

As this year draws to a close and a new one begins, and as we enter another election cycle, we ask you to think about the issues this vigil has been trying to address in a very modest way over the past 20 years. The war we now face on all fronts transcends partisan politics, and we didn’t get here merely as the result of one terrible election. Simply voting, while important, will not resolve this existential crisis or lead us to a just, peaceful and healthy world. Only a truly engaged citizenry, able and willing to think critically and to use every nonviolent tactic we can muster, will be able to make the serious, deep, systemic changes that are so very long overdue, changes upon which our very survival depends.
We invite you to join the conversation any Sunday, here at Broadway, Park and Elm Streets in New Haven, noon to 1 p.m. http://newhavensundayvigil.wordpress.com.

Mazin Qumsiyeh to Give Shafer Lecture Jan. 18

by Stanley Heller, Promoting Enduring Peace

On Saturday, Jan. 18 at 6 p.m., Mazin Qumsiyeh will speak at the Palestine Museum US, 1764 Litchfield Turnpike, Woodbridge. The Shafer Lecture is a continuing project of Promoting Enduring Peace (which gave its Gandhi Peace Award to Omar Barghouti in 2017). Qumsiyeh is the Director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History at Bethlehem U. See this National Geographic page about him: www.nationalgeographic.org/find-explorers/mazin-b-qumsiyeh. He was the Director of Cytogenetics at the Yale Medical School for a number of years and has written “Sharing the Land of Canaan” among other works. He lives in Palestine near Bethlehem.

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