As Wiccan and Faerie folk say, “the veil is thin between the worlds” around Samhain aka Halloween aka the Witch’s new year, so this is when we hold rituals to honor our dead. The annual Reclaiming Community Spiral Dance was as always, beautiful, powerful, meditative, sobering and uplifting. What needs to be remembered this year isn’t just loved ones who have passed away, but events we lived through that are being retold in horrifically distorted and dishonest ways, deceitfully standing truth on its head to make us forget our own experience. The liars are stealing everything they can and selling everyone a bill of goods. (Did that phrase originate because someone actually walked off with a receipt instead of the items themselves?) Their stated justifications are so obviously disingenuous that I am especially disheartened by the seemingly uncrazed people (that is to say, not the InfoWar devotees lampooned on late-night talk shows) who shrug them off. I really don’t understand how anyone can make light of the rise in blatant xenophobia and misogyny or downplay and normalize abusive, even murderous blatherings. And fiscal conservatives evidently don’t actually want to spend less prefering to throw hundreds of billions of dollars away to cripple and destroy the social safety net.
Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee still insists on pinning their hopes on big money instead of big ideas or big groups of underrepresented people. They remain unwelcoming to fresh, progressive voices. This dismays me as much as the global spread of truly fascistic leaders like Duterte, Trump and Putin, and the rise of violent, hateful movements, even if some of their numbers are overstated by “trumped” up social media “likes” and re-shares. Trump’s lies, ignorance, narcissism and bombasity are heartbreaking, as is his joy at appointing people so they can destroy helpful institutions or undo or change rules so as to maximize his profits for corporations and the tenth-of-a-percent while excluding everyone else. His ignorance propels him, but it is a widespread indifference to ignorance that paves his way.
Misogyny and patriarchy aren’t new, but people and groups pushing back against them are under increasing attack. Basic liberties are actually being undone, and people are already being hurt by legislation outlawing the boycotting of Israel by groups and individuals and more are in works at all levels of government! Bills to criminalize protests are pending to allow the state to start a fight at a public demonstration (either with provocateurs or police batons), declare it a riot, and then charge people with felony being at a riot. Bills are pending to exonerate in advance road rage murder of demonstrators, and the police already hesitate to treat cars as deadly weapons in protest cases. Look at what is happening to demonstrators who were in Washington DC on January 20 during the inauguration. And terms like economic terrorism and eco-terrorism are double-speak to get the public at large to see us as threats to society on par with bombers and mass shooters. Weapon of mass destruction is also being redefined to undermine abolition movements against threatening civilians with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and making economic activism as prosecutable as beating someone up.
In Texas, the Houston suburb of Dickinson was requiring applicants for hurricane relief to swear that they don’t boycott Israel because of a new state law. Public outcry caused them to revise their process for individuals, but not businesses. You better hope it is all struck down on constitutional grounds asap. Avowed Nazis can get aid, but not someone who boycotts Israel! Israeli journalist Gideon Levy made a daring point in Haaretz:
“Anyone wishing to understand how anti-Semitism is born and how the seeds of its violence are sown is invited to visit Dickinson. The obligation not to boycott Israel is the essence of everything anti-Semites claim: Jews control the money, power and influence, everywhere. One doesn’t need “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” we have Dickinson.” https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.819132
At the same time, The Forward may call him a “Jewish advocate” but Trump’s pick for the top civil rights position at the Department of Education, Kenneth Marcus, is really just an ardent supporter of Israel which is decidedly not the same thing. He hates the Israel boycott campaign, so I have terrible fears for the safety of Palestinian students and faculty, their right to organize, and the chilling impact on all organizing.
If you don’t stand up for boycotters, blockaders and knee-takers…women, water protectors and Palestinians…Muslims, immigrants, and African-Americans–If you only stand up if something is personal to you, or you withhold your support because something wasn’t quite perfect about a particular protest or manifesto, then it’ll be Martin Niemöller all over again. I predict that it won’t be long until the Liar-in-Chief tells us that he has always been the most feminist man alive. He will proclaim that his highest priority is stamping out violence against women. Then he will unleash Jeff Sessions’ (in)Justice Department to investigate anyone who used the #itwasme hashtag in a public apology for something they did that they regret, that they know crossed a line. In the same breath, the Narcissist-in-Chief may even “remind us” that he has always loved Muslims too. Just look at his concern for the Rohingya being massacred in Myanmar and his outstanding relations with rich Saudis. It is all so galling and yet possible.
We must be careful about what we proclaim in public in a similar way that one is well-advised not to make small talk if you are ever taken into custody. Something that seems irrelevant, inconsequential, petty or beside-the-point can open an unanticipated line of questioning down avenues you never considered. Other people may get caught up in a dragnet not related to you or why you are being held. Maybe Sessions could turn anything into a crime if he wants to, but apologizing while admitting to a potentially indictable action can’t help your case.
Now, more than ever, we have to remember to live, and somehow, we need to encourage people to remember what they have heard and seen, because we’re being told repeatedly not to believe our own eyes and ears and threatened if we remind people about the words and actions of decision-makers. And we need to stand together and protect each other’s backs.
Two Actions on November 8:
1. Protest Free-Speech-Chilling Lawsuit against SFSU and
2. Anti-Occupation Coalition Building with Achvat Amim
Nov. 8, RALLY AT 1 PM AND ATTEND THE COURT HEARING AT 2 PM
Burton Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco
DEFEND ACADEMIC FREEDOM! DROP THE LAWSUIT! STOP ISLAMOPHOBIA! DEFEAT HATE!
The Northern District of California Court will be hearing Dr. Abdulhadi’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. In June 2017, the pro-Israel group The Lawfare Project filed a lawsuit against San Francisco State University (SFSU) and Professor Rabab Abdulhadi falsely charging them with anti-semitism. On August 21, Dr. Abdulhadi filed a motion to dismiss this frivolous and specious lawsuit whose aim is to suppress and punish campus debate, scholarship and activism for Palestinian freedom. Dr. Abdulhadi maintains, “This will fail, because, as an educator, I have the right to seek truth and justice, and to study Palestine.” To help plan the rally and for more information contact: email@example.com
Nov. 8, 7:00 to 8:30 pm, Kehilla Community Synagogue’s Fireside Room, 1300 Grand Ave., Piedmont (Facebook)
Karen Isaacs and Daniel Roth founded the program Solidarity of Nations – Achvat Amim to help young diaspora Jews engage with anti-Occupation work on the ground in Jerusalem. I was very impressed as I worked alongside them during the CJNV delegation I was on in May. Dedicated to the principle of self-determination for all people — Achvat Amim offers young activists a way to find their place in the struggle for freedom and dignity for both Palestinians and Israelis.
Until recently, Achvat Amim received funding from Masa Israel Journey (an organization funded by the Jewish Agency). But after recent pressure from the far-right-wing organization Ad Kan, Masa Israel withdrew its funding, further silencing the voices of anti-Occupation Jews. But we know the stakes are too high to stand idly by now: not as Palestinians live the nightmare of the Occupation daily, and not as Israelis face the horrors of upholding it.
Karen + Daniel (partners in life + activism) are way more than co-founders of Achvat Amim. They co-founded All That’s Left: Anti-Occupation Collective and This is Not an Ulpan, and were crucial actors in the coalition of Palestinians, Israelis, and diaspora Jews behind the صمود : مخيم الحريه Sumud: Freedom Camp צֻמוּד: מחנה חירות.
I will be speaking in Las Vegas Nov. 12 and 13
about my Center for Jewish Nonviolence experiences.
I’m thrilled to return to Las Vegas at the invitation of Jewish Voice for Peace-Las Vegas to give a presentation about my trip to Israel and Palestine in May. Join us on Sunday, Nov. 12 from 2:30 to 4:30 at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at 4550 South Maryland Parkway across from the main entrance to UNLV. I am also giving a talk that Monday night with more of the Catholic Worker/Nevada Desert Experience community. Everyone is welcome to either. Monday is at a private home, so if you want the address, get in touch with me for details. (It’s not far from Trop. and Decatur). Also, if you would like a pdf and informal guide to the slideshow I have made, contact me.
My remarks will focus on:
• CJNV’s mission, vision and actions
• Palestinian life in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and south to the Israeli border
• “Jerusalem Day” protest that was violently broken up by Israeli security forces and how this relates to JVP’s Deadly Exchange campaign.
• The value of joining a delegation and info about upcoming opportunities.
Just World Works
I continue to learn more in my new position with Just World Books and Just World Educational Foundation. JWB’s authors bring to light important and understated issues for us all to contend with. JWE is working to bring different issues and communities together in new ways.
I’m captivated by Zohra Drif‘s recently translated memoir (Inside the Battle of Algiers, translated by Andrew Farrand) of being a woman freedom fighter in Algeria as they fought for liberation from France in the mid-1950’s. You may be surprised at some of what this admitted bomber said that felt fair and reasonable, even to my pacifist heart. The morning after her first deadly mission, reading the French press about it, she explained that:
“What bothered me was their double standard for indignation and their dirty work as a colonialist propaganda machine: ‘Why don’t they tell the truth? What these papers call a ‘civilian population’ are these European settlers who their army brought by boat to colonize our country. Those they call a ‘civilian population’ are the agents without which our country would never be considered three French départements today!”
Gar Smith‘s anthology, The War and Environment Reader, is timely, alarming and fascinating reading. The discussions it is sparking are vital to the success of movements that need to work together or fail.
Gar Smith Events: In person
11/29, 7:00 pm: Resource Center for Nonviolence, 612 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, CA
12/12, 6:00 reception, 7:00 presentation: Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 1035 Carol Lane, Lafayette
Gar Smith Events: Radio
Mon. 11/6, 10:00-11:00 am: KALW, 91.7 FM, San Francisco on Your Call Radio with Rose Aguilar.
Tues. 11/7, 6:00-7:00 pm: KZFR, 90.1 FM, Chico on Ecotopia with Stephen and Susan Tschudi.
Center for Jewish Nonviolence (and Friends) Updates
Trial Continues for Issa Amro in Israeli Military Court on Charges Related to Peaceful Protest
The trial of Palestinian human rights defender Issa Amro continued on October 29 in Israeli military court on 18 charges for peaceful protest against Israel’s theft of Palestinian lands, illegal settlement project and discriminatory policies. It was clear in court that this is a case of political persecution. The witnesses accused Issa of inciting against the Israeli occupation and admitted they follow Issa on social media and target him during demonstrations. Read more of the details and the context of yesterday’s court hearing here. As I have said repeatedly, I found Issa to be one of the most inspiring nonviolent leaders I have followed and worked with.
Jewish-Palestinian Activists and Artists Space to Open in Jerusalem!
Uri who was my workgroup guide in East Jerusalem in May sent an appeal that I am very happy to encourage you with: There is quite a large community of activists working in Jerusalem, but they have no space to call their own.
A group of Jerusalem-based activists and artists, Israelis and Palestinians, are working hard on opening a new collective space in Jerusalem. It is something they have been talking about for years and finally decided to make happen. The place will be named Imbala, in hebrew this means “if she wants” and in arabic “Actually, Yes!” The money is for the first months of rent, renovation, and some cafe/bar equipment. (And also for books!) Things are going well, but they hope to have the support of the diaspora as well. This space will also serve radical activists from around the world when they come here. See the Imbala crowd funding page And Facebook post and be generous.
Sumud Freedom Tour, 21 December 2017 to 3 January 2018
This delegation is organized by Holy Land Trust and Nonviolence International. This trip is about taking your activism and integrating it into the global movement of liberation. Other longtime activist friends like Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions are involved. The itinerary looks phenomenal and includes meetings and visits to Ramallah as well as Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem, and solidarity work in the south Hebron Hills villages of Sarura and Um Il-Khair.
Early bird tour cost (available now through November 10, 2017): $1840. Late bird tour cost (November 11 until registration closes): $2240. Registration info is here.
Um Il Khair Suffering Even more Abuse and Attacks by Settlers and the IDF
As I was finishing this Missive up, I got more upsetting news (received October 27):
The situation in Um al-Khair took a very sharp for the worst. Eid’s car was confiscated by the Israeli forces. This is a big blow to the community, not just Eid. As now they will be almost entirely dependent on either neighboring communities or expensive taxis to travel even for basic needs.
Following Israeli settlers throwing stones, the families of Um al-Khair have issued several complaints to the police. In response, the settlers of Karmel have leveraged their political connections in response. The military and civil administration has threatened to enact the pending home demolitions, including the destruction of the main tent area, and declare portions of Um al-Khair a closed military zone. There is a clear precedent that the IDF could create a situation to isolate Um al-Khair from international support. To help my friends there and their just cause:
Share the Um al-Khair page for updates. https://www.facebook.com/Khirbat.Umm.Al.Khair/
Because Facebook doesn’t privilege posts made by pages, more importantly, ask people to sign up for Um al-Khair alerts. http://bit.ly/Um_Al_Khair_Sign_Up . Email this link and share it on your social networks.
“With these home demolition orders and the expansion of the settlement, my community – my nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles – are facing expulsion. Despite this, we believe in change. In our community, we believe that we can work together for peace and justice. Join us this winter in Um al-Khair.”
–Tariq Hathaleen | Um al-Khair Human Rights Acivist
Open Shuhada Street (Hebron) with Youth Against Settlements
February 15 to 26 in Hebron
Travel to Hebron and take part of the annual Youth Against Settlement’s Open Shuhada Street campaign. Learn how to use nonviolent protest and call for the opening of Hebron’s main street, closed almost entirely to Palestinians since the 1994 Ibrahimi mosque massacre when Brooklyn born settler Baruch Goldstein opened fire in the mosque killing 29 Palestinians in worship.
For the 2018 delegation you will stay with Palestinian families in Hebron, participate in nonviolent resistance trainings, visit cities and villages across the West Bank and join Hebron activists for a week of activities and protests to gain freedom and equality.
Cost: $2,200 plus individually purchased airline fare. Delegation costs include 10 days of food, housing with families and transportation within Palestine. Option available to stay longer as a Youth Against Settlements volunteer. Some discounts and scholarships may be available. APPLY NOW to join the delegation or make a donation to to sponsor others to attend!
Gaza 5k Walk/Run/Brunch Success
Please, support UNRWA’s work in Gaza even though this particular fundraiser is over. The people of Gaza don’t deserve to be cut off from the world by Israel. The UN Relief Works Administration provides a basic lifeline as necessary now as ever. I find it increasingly troubling to know that some of my friends think Gaza was freed by Israel a decade ago as though Israel has no responsibility for the care and lives of its inhabitants instead of being first to be held to account for their deaths. I also can’t stand being told that Israel is at war with Gaza. Israel is destroying Judaism.
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