Communities & Focus Areas :

Why has the Israeli occupation lasted so long? It’s good for business.

Michael Friedman reviews Jeff Halper’s book “War Against the People,” where Halper argues Israel has no intention of “winning” the conflict with the Palestinians. It’s protracted state is far too valuable for its international export brand, “In Halper’s view, Israel is an essential partner in this global pacification effort because it has developed such a model and used it successfully against the Palestinians for over 50 years. Governments buy what Israel is selling because it is not only sophisticated and comprehensive, but it has been field tested and shown to work.”

Source: Why has the Israeli occupation lasted so long? It’s good for business.

Posted in Director's Blog, Militarism and Foreign Policy

America’s Toxic Prisons: The Environmental Injustices of Mass Incarceration

US prisons may be largely hidden from sight, but their environmental toxicity spreads far beyond their walls.

Source: America’s Toxic Prisons: The Environmental Injustices of Mass Incarceration

Posted in Criminal Justice

I Spent 14 Months in Jail Because I Couldn’t Pay My Way Out

A 20-second bond hearing changed the lives of Lavette Mayes and her children because she couldn’t afford bail.

Source: I Spent 14 Months in Jail Because I Couldn’t Pay My Way Out

Posted in Criminal Justice

Killer Drones and the Militarization of US Foreign Policy

In the eyes of many around the world, diplomacy has taken a back seat to military operations in US foreign policy. The drone program is a prime example.

Source: Killer Drones and the Militarization of US Foreign Policy

Posted in Militarism and Foreign Policy

Maine’s food sovereignty law touted as nationwide first | Sun Journal

Source: Maine’s food sovereignty law touted as nationwide first | Sun Journal

Posted in Environmental and Food Justice

The Real Reason Behind Qatar’s Gulf State Freeze Out | The American Conservative

Officially, the narrative on the split among Gulf Arab nations, between Saudi Arabia and the tiny nation of Qatar, has centered around support for terrorism. The reality of the situation is far more n

Source: The Real Reason Behind Qatar’s Gulf State Freeze Out | The American Conservative

Posted in Militarism and Foreign Policy

Sara Roy · If Israel were smart: In Gaza · LRB 15 June 2017

Person after person told me that growing support for extremist factions in Gaza does not emanate from political or ideological belief – as these factions may claim – but from people’s need to feed their families.

Source: Sara Roy · If Israel were smart: In Gaza · LRB 15 June 2017

Posted in Militarism and Foreign Policy

No Apartheid in Our Name: LGBT Jewish Groups Block “Celebrate Israel” Parade

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/40870-no-apartheid-in-our-name-lgbt-jewish-groups-block-celebrate-israel-parade

Posted in Communities & Focus Areas, Militarism and Foreign Policy, Movement Building, Racial Justice

JVP Westchester Letter to the Board of Legislators

Dear Members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators:

On June 12 at 10 a.m. the Legislation Committee is scheduled to discuss an anti-BDS resolution referred to on your website as ID # 10140  Resolution – LEGISLATORS KAPLOWITZ AND MAISANO: Proposed Reso – Anti BDS Movement.

On behalf of the members of Jewish Voice for Peace-Westchester, I urge you to withdraw, or vote against, this resolution. 

Jewish Voice for Peace-Westchester is a national membership organization, with over 60 chapters and more than 200,000 online supporters, that seeks to promote a peace in Israel/Palestine based on international law, human rights, equality, justice, and security for all the peoples of the region. Our Westchester chapter is one of five in New York State.  As an organization and as individuals, we support Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS).   

Like many JVP members, I have been to the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In fact, I just returned from two weeks there.  I found the racial segregation and domination of Palestinians to be arbitrary and cruel.  Since the illegal 1967 annexation of the eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods and the land of 28 Palestinian communities deprived those residents of the protections of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the land expropriation, forced transfer of Palestinians and establishment of settlements has been systematic and premeditated. 

There is no public housing for Palestinians, and they are prevented from building homes by the requirement of a permit, which is routinely and arbitrarily withheld from Palestinians, and in the very few cases in which permits are granted, they are very expensive.  The 20,000 homes built without permits containing more than 85,000 Palestinians are all subject to demolition, with the cost of demolition imposed on their owners. 

There are virtually no parks or swimming pools in East Jerusalem, except in Jewish settlements.   “Greater Jerusalem” – the Jewish-Israeli metropolitan area, now extends from Ramallah in the North, to the Dead Sea in the East, and Hebron to the South, facilitated by the Wall and a network of highways that tie the settlements into West Jerusalem and Israel.  By building and locating the Wall where it did, Israel effectively confiscated 9-11% of the West Bank and put the water acquifer inside it.  Israel now controls 85% of the water in the West Bank.  While water is plentiful enough in Jewish West Bank settlements to keep the swimming pools overflowing, Palestinian West Bank residents are often deprived of running water for many hours a day. 

In the West Bank, I saw up close how ugly, brutal and implacable the occupation is, enforced by overwhelming force and intimidation of the local population.  Many Palestinian families have endured raids of their homes without warning by Israeli soldiers.  Children as young as 12 years old have been taken from homes or streets and jailed without charges for weeks or months.  Two out of five Palestinian men have been held at one time or another in Israeli prisons, often without charge or trial.  Release is often conditioned on agreement to collaborate with authorities, making those released suspect in the eyes of their Palestinian brothers and sisters even if they have not agreed to collaborate.  Israeli soldiers, border police and settlers routinely walk around with guns, the latter too-often assaulting or taunting Palestinians children going to or from school. 

Tens of thousands of homes have been demolished, olive orchards have been destroyed, much of Palestinian agricultural land has been taken or threatened, while military checkpoints routinely make travel from one Palestinian town to another close by away take hours.  The United States has manufactured and delivered much of the military hardware and software used to enforce the occupation, to our shame and in violation of UN Security Council resolutions which call upon all UN member states to refrain from assisting or facilitating these violations of international law.

We oppose the Kaplowitz-Maisano resolution for the following reasons:

Legislative measures that demonize BDS and level false accusations against it and its supporters, even resolutions without the binding force of law, have a chilling effect on dissent. They are a form of indirect government censorship that undermines First Amendment protections. Further, they stifle the open exchange of ideas that could help resolve the tragic conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Boycott, divestment, and sanctions are nonviolent approaches to ending injustice. These tactics are protected under the Constitution and have a long and honorable history protesting segregation (the Montgomery bus boycott), unfair working conditions (the farmworkers’ grape boycott), an apartheid regime (the boycott of South Africa), and LGBT discrimination (boycotts of Arizona and North Carolina). 

 The BDS movement on behalf of Palestinian rights, which is supported by a growing number of us in the Jewish community, is directed against the discriminatory and oppressive policies that the government of Israel employs against Palestinians. Contrary to misinformation and the assertion in the Kaplowitz-Maisano resolution that  BDS as “a movement that seeks to undermine Israel and malign the Jewish people,” BDS is not anti-Semitic. It does not promote hatred or discriminate against Jews as a people but rather protests the policies of a state. Many Westchester Jews have written you protesting this misrepresentation. To misuse the term anti-Semitism in this way is to trivialize an odious phenomenon. As an organization guided by Jewish ethics and tradition, JVP supports BDS because we believe that enduring Jewish (as well as democratic) values require Israeli Jews to respect the humanity, dignity, and equal legal rights of their Palestinian neighbors.

 Under international law, the Israeli annexation and occupation of Palestinian lands is considered illegal and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians an abuse of human rights.  For decades, the stated policy of the United States Government has been that settlements in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace. Americans who support BDS are therefore adhering to the principles to which their government pays lip service.

The anti-BDS initiative before you is wrong-headed. It discourages thinking and action that is humanitarian in outlook by seeking to end grave harm and suffering. It distracts attention from pressing local issues, serves no discernible local interest, and alienates politically active sectors of Westchester’s residents who believe that the freedom to hold dissenting views without government pressure is a foundation of American democracy. It encourages Israel to persist in policies toward the Palestinians that undermine its Jewish values and its claim to democracy, damage its standing in international public opinion and contravene international law and human rights.

For all these reasons, I and my JVP-Westchester colleagues urge you to vote against this anti-BDS resolution.

 Very truly yours,

 

Robert L. Herbst

Chapter Coordinator

Jewish Voice for Peace-Westchester

Larchmont, New York 10538

 

 

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Director's Blog, Movement Building, Racial Justice

Help Us Defeat Kaplowitz and Maisano Anti-BDS Resolution

Help Us Defeat Kaplowitz and Maisano Anti-BDS Resolution

On Monday, June 12 at 10 a.m. the Legislation Committee of the Westchester County Board of Legislators is scheduled to discuss an anti-BDS resolution referred to on their website as ID # 10140  Resolution – LEGISLATORS KAPLOWITZ AND MAISANO: Proposed Reso – Anti BDS Movement.  We are asking for people to attend this public hearing and contact your legislator (contact information can be found here  http://westchesterlegislators.com/contact-us.html ) with the following points:

1.Boycott, divestment, and sanctions are nonviolent approaches to ending injustice. These tactics are protected under the U.S. Constitution and have a long and honorable history protesting segregation (the Montgomery bus boycott), unfair working conditions (the farmworkers’ grape boycott), an apartheid regime (the boycott of South Africa), and LGBT discrimination (boycotts of Arizona and North Carolina). 

 2. Legislative measures that demonize BDS and level false accusations against it and its supporters, even resolutions without the binding force of law, have a chilling effect on dissent. Their indirect effect is to exercise government censorship, undermining First Amendment protections. Further, they stifle the open exchange of ideas that could help resolve the tragic conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

3. The BDS movement on behalf of Palestinian rights, which is supported by many in the Jewish community, is directed against the discriminatory policies the government of Israel employs against Palestinians. It is not anti-Semitic. It does not promote hatred or discriminate against Jews as a people but rather protests the policies of a state.

4. Under international law recognized by the vast majority of nations of the globe, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands is considered illegal and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians an abuse of human rights.  Supporters of BDS are thus acting in concert with international law and standards of justice.

5. For decades the stated policy of the United States Government has been that settlements in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel are illegal under International law and an obstacle to peace. Americans who support BDS are giving substance to the principles to which their government pays lip service.

WESPAC is fully in support of the Jewish Voice for Peace – Westchester Chapter Statement below in strongly opposing this proposed resolution and we urge supporters of the United States Constitution and supporters of justice to stand up to the Westchester County Board of Legislators and urge them not to support this proposed resolution:

I write on behalf of Jewish Voice for Peace-Westchester, the local chapter of an influential national organization that seeks to promote a peace in Palestine/ Israel based on international law, human rights, equality, justice, and security for all the peoples of the region. As an organization and as individuals, we support Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS).   

Like many JVP members, I have been to the West Bank and East Jersualem. In November 2012 I saw up close what the occupation looks like. It is unspeakably ugly – physically brutal and psychologically Kafka-esque. It operates through an arbitrary and cruel imposition of unpredictable rules and regulations enforced through overwhelming force against a subject people that make their daily life an unrelenting grind. Some 40% of Palestinian men have been held in Israeli prisons, many of them without charge or trial.  

Children as young as five and six have been detained not only without lawyers but also without the comfort of their parents. Youths throwing stones confront soldiers carrying heavy arms and driving tanks, radically upending the David-Goliath motif. Houses are demolished, orchards uprooted, access to property and livelihood made difficult if not impossible. Military checkpoints at shifting points and schedules make movement from one village or town to another endlessly time-consuming.

The Occupation amounts to ethnic-cleansing: it makes life so intolerable that people who can leave are tempted to do so, and some others drift into hopelessness and despair.  That the vast majority of Palestinians resist this abusive regime nonviolently day in and day out is testimony to their courage, their humanity, and their steadfastness in the face of injustice. I was deeply ashamed to see the Israeli policies abetted by U.S. connivance. Much of the equipment and weaponry used to enforce the occupation is stamped “Made in America.”  This poisonous fact does not escape the notice of the peoples of surrounding lands for whom American involvement is synonymous with repression and violence.

We oppose the Kaplowitz-Maisano resolution for many reasons. Among them are the following.

Legislative measures that demonize BDS and level false accusations against it and its supporters, even resolutions without the binding force of law, have a chilling effect on dissent. They are a form of indirect government censorship that undermines First Amendment protections. Further, they stifle the open exchange of ideas that could help resolve the tragic conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Boycott, divestment, and sanctions are nonviolent approaches to ending injustice. These tactics are protected under the Constitution and have a long and honorable history protesting segregation (the Montgomery bus boycott), unfair working conditions (the farmworkers’ grape boycott), an apartheid regime (the boycott of South Africa), and LGBT discrimination (boycotts of Arizona and North Carolina). 

 The BDS movement on behalf of Palestinian rights, which is supported by many in the Jewish community, is directed against the discriminatory policies that the government of Israel employs against Palestinians. Contrary to misinformation and the assertion in the Kaplowitz-Maisano resolution that  BDS as “a movement that seeks to undermine Israel and malign the Jewish people,” BDS is not anti-Semitic. It does not promote hatred or discriminate against Jews as a people but rather protests the policies of a state. Many Westcheter Jews have written you protesting this misrepresentation. To misuse the term Anti-Semitism in this way is to trivialize an odious phenomenon.

Under international law recognized by the vast majority of nations of the globe, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands is considered illegal and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians an abuse of human rights.  Supporters of BDS are thus acting in concert with international law and standards of justice.

For decades the stated policy of the United States Government has been that settlements in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel are illegal under International law and an obstacle to peace. Americans who support BDS are giving substance to the principles to which their government pays lip service.

The anti-BDS initiative before you is wrong-headed. It discriminates against thinking and action that are humanitarian in outlook. It distracts attention from pressing local issues, serves no discernible local interest, and alienates politically active sectors of Westchester’s residents who believe that the freedom to hold dissenting views without government pressure is a foundation of American democracy. It encourages Israel to persist in policies toward the Palestinians that undermine its claim to democracy and its standing in international public opinion and contravene international law and human rights.

Below please find the text of a thoughtful resolution adopted recently by the California Democratic Party. It addresses many of the issues relevant to discussions of Palestine/Israel and BDS. You can consult it on the CA Democratic Party website at

http://cadem.org/sidebar/Convention-2017-Floor-Report-FINAL.pdf . See page 4.

On behalf of JVP-Westchester, I urge you to vote against the anti-BDS resolution.

Yours sincerely,

Priscilla Read

Tarrytown, New York 

RESOLUTION 17-05.05

Opposing Trump’s Dangerous Provocations; Supporting Peace, Justice and Equality for Israelis and Palestinians — And Robust Discourse in California

WHEREAS for decades some members of both parties and Congress have expressed criticism of Israel’s now nearly 50-year occupation of Palestinian lands, while failing to back up that criticism with actual steps to change the status quo and bring about a real peace process; and

WHEREAS the new administration has indicated that it is likely to adopt an even more one-sided policy, threatening to provoke havoc and further instability by moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and appointing an ambassador (opposed for confirmation by all but two Democratic senators) who is an avid supporter of illegal settlements and opponent of Palestinian statehood; and

WHEREAS empowered by the new administration’s policy, the government of Israel has accelerated its construction of illegal settlements in the occupied territories and has adopted new anti-Democratic measures internally, denied entry into the country of representatives of mainstream human rights organizations and passed a law that would bar many visitors with critical views;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the California Democratic Party favors a U.S. policy that would work through the United Nations and other international bodies as well as with Israel and the representatives of the Palestinian people for a just peace based on full equality and security for Israeli Jews and Palestinians alike, human rights and international law, in line with the words of Sen. Bernie Sanders in his 2016 message to AIPAC: “Peace also means security for every Palestinian. It means achieving self-determination, civil rights and economic well-being for the Palestinian people”;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the CDP rejects any effort to restrict or discourage open public discourse on issues surrounding Israel and Palestine; disavows conflation of criticism of a country’s policies with hatred of its people; but also opposes anti-Semitic or Islamophobic language brought into the debate and also opposes any attempt to restrict or penalize those who exercise their right to express their views through nonviolent action to effect change.

Authors: David L. Mandel, AD 7; Murad Surama, AD 7; Karen Bernal AD 7

Sponsors: CDP Region 3; Norma Alcala, AD 7; Gina Barkalow, AD 9; Peter Brogan, AD 9; Alice Chan, AD 10; et al.

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Director's Blog, Militarism and Foreign Policy, Movement Building, Racial Justice