Groups March and Rally for Palestine

by Stanley Heller, Middle East Crisis Committee

On Sept. 19, the groups that organized the protest for Palestine last month were joined by students from Wesleyan’s Students for Justice in Palestine.

Again we stood on a corner in the center of Middletown with signs and banners, chanting led by activists with bull horns. We featured signs about the recent Israeli report whitewashing their killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and again talked about the massacre of people in early August in Gaza. We also had signs calling for the shaming of both Connecticut Senators and our five members of Congress for their blind support of Israeli apartheid. Two signs had photos of two children who died because Israel would not let them leave Gaza for medical treatment. Judging by the number of honks from passersby our reception was even more friendly than in August.

Photo: Stanley Heller

About 70 of us marched on the sidewalks down to the City Green, displaying the signs and banners and being urged on by chanting led by some very young members of the Omar Islamic Center.

On the Green we had 7 or 8 speakers including Marwan Hameed, a former Iraqi diplomat, and Laura Schliefer of Promoting Enduring Peace. We opened up two banners created ten years ago to commemorate the mass murder of at least 1300 Palestinians and Lebanese in the Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon in September 1982. They had been ordered into the camps by Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, supposedly to look for “terrorists.”

Ms. Schliefer was later interviewed on WPKN’s “Mic Check” for a half-hour. The interviewer was Mike Merli. We need more protests for Palestine like this all around Connecticut.

To see video and photos of the protest, go to thestrugglevideo.org. For more info on how to be involved, email mail@thestruggle.org or call 203-444-3578.

Connecticut Must Oppose Israeli Apartheid

by Shelly Altman, Jewish Voice for Peace, New Haven

This is an excerpt from a viewpoint published in the CT Mirror on March 2, 2022. The entire article can be read at ctmirror.org/2022/03/02/connecticut-must-oppose-israeli-apartheid-shelly.

In 1982, Connecticut took the lead among states to be on the right side of history by passing legislation requiring divestiture from South Africa for its practice of apartheid.

In February, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and University of Connecticut President Radenka Maric led a delegation to Israel, seeking to strike deals with Israeli businesses to locate in Connecticut. Lamont says “Israel is a perfect fit because they are the leading innovators in life sciences, biotech and the defense industry — all the groups that we’re bringing over.” The Israeli defense industry has for years used Gaza and the West Bank as testing grounds for weapon and surveillance technology.

On Feb. 1, Amnesty International released a report based on four years of field research, concluding that Israel maintains a “system of oppression and domination over Palestinians” which “amounts to apartheid.” The crime against humanity of apartheid under international law is committed when serious human rights violations are perpetrated in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another, with the intention to maintain that system.

Some Israeli and American politicians and organizations have been quick to label the Amnesty International report as “false” and “antisemitic.” Middle East scholar Jennifer Lowenstein reports on the frequent charge of antisemitism against any criticism of Israel, noting “it is easier to shout at, label, condemn, and discredit the bearers of the message than to rebut the facts.”

Israeli journalist Gideon Levy questions the critics. Levy asks “What, precisely, is incorrect in the apartheid report?… Does Israel not maintain a regime of oppression and control of Palestinians in Israel and in the occupied territories for the benefit of Israeli Jews? Is the nation-state law not apartheid? Is there a single sphere, in Israel or the territories, in which there is true, absolute equality, except in name?”

In ignoring Israel’s well-documented practice of apartheid, Governor Lamont, UConn President Maric and their delegations are on the wrong side of history. It’s a disservice to the students of UConn to promote work/study opportunities in an apartheid state. It’s a stain on Connecticut’s name to seek out this partnership.

Answer the ADL with the Truth

by LouAnn Villani, secretary, MECC

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the CT Jewish Federation sponsored a film praising a particularly violent Israeli Prime Minister of the 1980s, Menachem Begin. Upon hearing about it, the Middle East Crisis Committee held an online panel on December 11 to spread the truth about Begin and about the ADL itself. Our Executive Director Stanley Heller talked about Begin’s career using terrorism in the 1940s, the role his Irgun played in the infamous Deir Yassin massacre of 1948 and his war in Lebanon in 1982 which killed an estimated 17,000 people.

Dr. Emmaia Gelman, who wrote her doctorate at NYU about the ADL spoke about both that organization and Jewish Federations as a whole. She explained that both groups were formed about a hundred years ago to support Jewish civil rights, but also to maintain the hold of the Jewish upper class on the Jewish community. Both the ADL and the federations became Zionist decades ago. The ADL claims itself as the go-to organization after acts of bigotry, but that’s pretty odd since its basically all-white and supports an apartheid state enthusiastically.

Shelly Altman of Jewish Voice for Peace talked about a program JVP has sponsored for a number of years to counter an ADL program. The ADL brings Israeli police to the US and US police to Israel for training. JVP believes they learn the worst practices of both forces from each other. US police learn to treat all minorities as potential terrorists. The JVP calls this program the “Deadly Exchange” and has worked to combat the program. Several years ago it picketed the ADL office in Hamden over this issue.

Parts of the program can be seen on TheStruggleVideo.org.

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.

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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.

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