Movement Building :

Occupy may day

WESPAC connects organizations, people and issues across all divisions, recognizing that we cannot win a better world if we stay divided. WESPAC promotes movement building through regular potlucks that bring people together to share food, knowledge and build relationships. WESPAC has developed a Speakers Bureau that can provide effective speakers on a variety of current social justice issues. WESPAC is an active member of a number of local coalitions including: the Hudson Valley Fair Economy Coalition, the Hudson Valley Community Coalition and the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform.

Rally to Protect Immigrants!

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

Footage from the May 2017 Westchester Social Forum

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

The “adultification” of black girls leads to harsher disciplinary treatment, researchers found

 
06/27/2017
A new report found that adults view young black girls as less innocent and more adult-like than white girls starting as young as 5 years old. 
Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood,” released on Tuesday by Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality, shows that society’s perception of black girls leads to their “adultification.” The report shows that adults believe that black girls seem older than white girls of the same age, and think that black girls need less nurturing, protection, support and comfort than white girls. It also found that people assume black girls are more independent, know more about adult topics and know more about sex than young white girls.
The report ― which built on information from a 2014 study by Phillip Goff that found that black boys are more likely to be viewed as older and suspected of crimes starting at age 10 ―is the first of its kind to focus on girls. Researchers surveyed 325 adults from racial and ethnic backgrounds in a ratio that mirrors the country’s population. Many of the adults surveyed had a high school diploma or higher. They found the biggest differences in the ways adults view children in the age brackets 5-9 and 10-14. These differences continued to a lesser degree in the 15-19 age bracket.
Rebecca Epstein, lead author and executive director for the center, and Jamilia J. Blake, co-author and an associate professor at Texas A&M University, broke down the relationship adultification has on the ways black girls are disciplined during a press conference call Tuesday
“One reason this might be occurring is because black girls are being held to the same stereotypes we have of black women,” Blake said. “Black women have historically and currently been seen as being aggressive, loud, defiant and oversexualized. And I believe, along with many other researchers, that the stereotypes of black women are being mapped on to black girls.” 
The report stated that “potential implications” for the findings could be research exploring how these perceptions of black girls affect how they are disciplined at school and beyond. Black girls are five times more likely to be suspended as white girls and twice as likely to be suspended as white boys, according to research used in this study. 
And though they make up less than 16 percent of the female school population, black girls account for 28 percent of referrals to law enforcement and 37 percent of arrests. Black girls are also almost three times more likely than white girls to be referred to the juvenile justice system and 20 percent more likely to be charged with a crime.

Georgetown Laws Center on Poverty and Inequality
“The consequences of entering the juvenile justice system can’t be ignored,” Epstein said. “As we know, it can change the course of a girl’s life. But despite these startling statistics, there’s precious little research about why this different treatment happens; why are black girls subjected to more discipline and greater contact with the juvenile justice system? And at the center, we wanted to look at those possible root causes.”
During their research, Epstein recalled talking to a young black girl who said her teacher told her, “You’re just like an angry black woman.”
Blake said these attitudes take away from black girls having a childhood.
“There’s kind of this social stereotype and of course there’s something about being resilient, being independent, but when this stereotype is put on girls at a very young age, it really robs them, whether they realize it or not, of this kind of naiveté of being a child,” she said.
The authors said they hope that researchers and teachers examine the “causal connection between adultification and harsh treatment,” and that policymakers make concerted efforts to counteract this bias. Epstein said Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality will being doing its part by creating an initiative on gender justice and opportunity later in the year. In all future related efforts, Epstein said it’s essential to center those affected the most. 
“In all of this work, voices of black girls themselves should be front and center to the work,” she said. “We encourage black girls to raise their voices about this issue and, of course, for adults to listen to them. All black girls are entitled to and deserve equal treatment, including equal access to the protections that are appropriate for children.”
Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Director's Blog, Movement Building, Racial Justice

GERMANS TAKE HISTORIC STANCE AGAINST ARMING DRONES

GERMANS TAKE HISTORIC STANCE AGAINST ARMING DRONES

 

For the first time in history, a national legislative body has taken a position against installing weapons on drones.

 

As reported in the linked Reuters article, German SPD party members have blocked the leasing from Israel of drones that can carry weapons.   http://www.reuters.com/article/germany-defence-drones-idUSB4N1GS015

 

This historic, remarkable decision may be revisited after German elections in September, but for now it stands as a signal victory of concern for human rights and ethics within the German Bundestag and an exemplary position in dramatic contrast to the avoidance of consideration of international human rights law as it applies to drone killing within the United States Congress.

 

The German decision is completely in line with the intent of the linked Roots Action petition that has been circulating since 2013, calling for an international ban on weaponizing drones, and the decision offers hope that other national legislatures will endorse a ban against armed drones.http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6180

 

Here is an article that gives further background on the German developments.https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4980423,00.html

 

A central figure in achieving the German decision is Elsa Rassbach, a German-Anerican anti-war organizer and CODEPINK activist who has over the last several years organized meetings between German politicians and American anti-drone war organizers.

 

Ms. Rassbach asked that the following letters be written to help persuade German parliamentarians to oppose the leasing of droneS that could be armed from Israel:

  1. From Nick Mottern, Coordinator, KnowDrones.com

Dear……….

I understand that there is a proposal before the Bundestag that will lead to the German government leasing from Israel unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, which could be weaponized.

I understand further that Germany may use these drones in Afghanistan.

I am writing you as the Coordinator of the United States website and organizing center KnowDrones.com to urge the defeat of any measure that would authorize the German government to purchase, lease or develop drones that have the capability of carrying weapons of any kind, for the following reasons:

  1. Drone stalking and assassination, as undertaken most widely in the world by the United States, violates international human rights law because these practices violate privacy and long-held principles of due process.  While Germany might not initially decide to arm its drones, the possession of drones with the capability to be armed will expose Germany to international criticism for being willing to participate in drone killing and will almost inevitably lead to the arming of the drones given the likely pressure by the United States to join it in drone killing.

I say likely pressure because, as you know, the United States is having difficulty keeping drone operators and so is having a hard time meeting the demand for drone attacks in the various theaters in which it has chosen to be at war, now covering at least seven nations.

Even if the German drones do not carry weapons Germany will be under suspicion of drone killing because it will be participating with the United States in drone activities, and the United States is notorious for its failure to tell the truth about its drone operations.

  1.   The United States first started drone killing in 2001 in Afghanistan. Afghanistan appears to have experienced more U.S. drone attacks than any other nation, according to statistics provided by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.  The Bureau reports that, as of the date of this letter, the minimum number of confirmed U.S. drone attacks there was 2,214 with a total death toll of up to 3,551. 

 This is a dramatic underestimate of U.S. drone killing in Afghanistan, however, since the Bureau only began keeping these statistics in January of 2015.  The German television service ZDF estimated in their 2015 Webstory “Drohnen:Tod aus der Luft” that between 2001 and 2013 no less than 13,026 people were killed by drones in Afghanistan (based on data provided by U.S. Central Command, CENTCOM, and the book “Sudden Justice” by Chris Woods). 

  1. The United States is presumably conducting drone killings to suppress opposition to the government it has established in Afghanistan.  However, judging from the announcement yesterday that the United States will be sending thousands of more troops to Afghanistan, it appears that the military effectiveness of the United States drone surveillance and killing campaign in Afghanistan must be reevaluated.  Indeed, it is quite likely that the United States drone attacks have led to an increase in the size of the force opposing it, a concern expressed by the former commander of United States and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal. https://www.dawn.com/news/784919/mcchrystal-opposes-drone-strikes

Germany’s use of drones of any kind in Afghanistan will expose it to charges that, rather than simply training Afghan police and troops, it is joining the new United States offensive.

Germany’s use of drones, in and of itself, is likely to increase Afghan anger over German presence and increase risk to German soldiers.

  1.   The United States drone attack campaign, in which Germany will inevitably be seen as participating, is a particularly unsavory part of a larger military campaign to subdue an indigenous force comprised of extremely poor, Muslim people.  I respectfully suggest that the German people may not want to increase their level of participation in this ignominious endeavor.

You will find supporting material for the points above at KnowDrones.com.

Thank you very much for considering this letter. 

Sincerely,

Nick Mottern – Coordinator – KnowDrones.com

 

  1. From Ed Kinane – Counter drone war organizer, Upstate (NY) Drone Action.

Dear……….

I write hoping you will do all you can to stop the plan of the German government to make Germany into a killer-drone nation like the United States. I understand that this plan, to be voted on in the Bundestag by the end of June, includes immediately leasing weaponized drones from Israel…while at the same time developing a European killer drone.

I also hope that you will do all you can within the Bundestag to remove the U.S. military from bases in Germany. My particular concern is with the base at Ramstein. Ramstein plays a key role in facilitating the U.S. drone war on so many peoples to your east, including in Afghanistan.

Admittedly I know little about political practice and reality in Germany (a country I have fond memories of, having lived on the U.S. military Caserne at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the early eighties). But I do know that Germany, thanks to its hospitable spirit has become a beacon to many abroad who have lost their homes and land and livelihood. Like many U.S. citizens I am grateful that the Bundestag has been investigating the U.S. drone program in Germany that fuels the global refugee crisis.

We know that the U.S. weaponized drone program afflicting several Mideast and West Asian countries is leading to many non-combatant fatalities. Further, the MQ9 Reaper drone, triumphantly called “Hunter/Killer” by the Pentagon, terrorizes whole communities in the Islamic oil lands. Surely such terror contributes to the flood of refugees from those nations now desperately pressing on the gates of Germany and other nations near and far.

Further I believe that the U.S. drone war, while tactically clever, is strategically counterproductive. Not only is it leading to what I call “defensive proliferation,” but it almost inevitably must lead to enormous ill will toward the U.S. and to the West generally. That hostility will have consequential reverberations –- blowback — for any nation perceived as a U.S. ally. Surely a German killer drone program would also cause untold non-combatant fatalities and would generate hatred for Germany in the targeted regions.

You may well ask: who is this Ed Kinane who presumes to address you? In 2003 I spent five months in Iraq with  Voices in the Wilderness (a mostly-U.S. NGO, now suppressed). I was in Bagdhad before, during and after the several weeks of “Shock and Awe.” I know firsthand the aerial terrorism of the Pentagon’s overseas interventions and invasions.

In 2009 when I learned that Hancock Air Force Base – almost within walking distance of my home in Syracuse, New York – was becoming a hub for the MQ9 Reaper drone attacks in Afghanistan, I was shaken. Along with others here in Upstate New York I felt that if we (who live near this hub for the 174th Attack Wing of the New York National Guard) don’t speak out against this shameful, cowardly, illegal, inhumane way of waging warfare, who else would?

In its public relations efforts to win over the local civilian community, the then Hancock commander bragged in our local daily newspaper (the Syracuse Post-Standard, www.syracuse.com) that Hancock remotely pilots weaponized Reapers over Afghanistan “24/7.” It’s likely that the Hancock Reaper may also attack targets in North Waziristan (if not elsewhere) as well.

In 2010 here in New York State grassroots activists formed the Upstate Drone Action (sometimes also known as Ground the Drones and End the Wars Coalition). We were keenly aware that, according to the post-World War Two Nuremburg Principles, we each – especially those among us who paid federal taxes – bore responsibility for the actions of our government. Hardly being in a position to physically impede the Pentagon’s predations on other countries, we realized that at least here we could help expose those actions to the general public…and help awaken the consciences of Hancock personnel. These personnel typically are very young and live within a military cocoon, cut off from direct communication with us.

Via conventional activist tactics – rallies, leafleting, letter and article writing, street theater, vigiling, lobbying our Congressional representatives, multi-day marches, etc. – Upstate Drone Action has sought to share with the public our distress. Since 2010 a handful of us have vigiled across the road from Hancock’s main entrance at the afternoon shift change on the first and third Tuesday of every month. In the years since 2010 we have also blocked Hancock’s main gate a dozen or so times. Our scrupulously nonviolent blockades have led to my own and roughly 200 other arrests. These have led to many trials and some incarcerations.

Upstate Drone Action has not been the only grassroots group protesting U.S. drone warfare. Similar, mutually inspiring campaigns have been mounted at Beale Airbase in California, Creech Airbase in Nevada, and other bases across the U.S. With a kind of relentless persistence these direct actions keep recurring despite police and judicial attempts to deter us.

Let’s be clear: what we do isn’t civil disobedience, but rather civil resistance. After all, we aren’t disobeying the law; we seek to enforce the law. In many of our direct actions we attempt to present “People’s Indictments” to the base. In these documents we cite not only the Nuremburg Principles, but also the U.N. Charter and other international law and treaties that the U.S. has signed. We also cite Article Six of the U.S. Constitution which declares that these treaties are the highest law of our land. Those among us religiously motivated also cite the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”

Having lived and worked in Islamic lands, I am also motivated by what I perceive is the Islamophobia of U.S. military policy – akin to the racism that so plagues our civilian society. Currently, the primary target of U.S. aerial terrorism is the people and communities and regions identified as Islamic.

 I could cite statistics regarding the untold victims of drone attacks. I could cite the number of those attacks – steeply escalating with each new U.S. president (Bush/Obama/Trump). I could provide estimates of the millions of refugees displaced from not only their communities, but from their nations. Frankly such numbers leave me numbed. I cannot fathom them.

Instead, with apologies for not writing to you in German, let me cite just one text among many (see attached bibliography of English language sources) that have helped shape my understanding of the drone scourge: the Stanford and New York Universities’ 165-page, “Living Under Drones: Death, Injury, and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan” (2012). I encourage you to seek out this deeply human yet rigorously documented report at http://livingunderdrones.org/.

I write to you today, not only with urgency, but with desperation. Too many U.S. people — and their Congressional representatives, regardless of party — see the U.S. drone wars as somehow making the U.S. safer. In fact the opposite is true. My hope is that Germany will not follow the Pentagon’s lead and that Germany will end its current collaboration with that entity’s global war of terror. Any nation, especially a highly nuclearized superpower, possessing the means to assassinate any person and any leader anytime, anywhere only increases global precarity and undermines its own national soul. That nation does not need allies who facilitate its barbarity.

Sincerely,

Ed Kinane

 

 

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

Rally for Westchester County Airport: Stop Privatization and Expansion

Date: Monday, July 17, 2017
Time: 5:30 p.m. 
Place: on the steps of the Westchester County Office Building 
148 Martine Ave. White Plains, NY 
 
 
Join us as we raise awareness about the negative financial and environmental impacts that would result from privatization of the county airport.

The bids from private companies to take over the Westchester Airport are due shortly before the rally. Speakers include: George Fuss, Legislator Parker (Dist.-7), Jonathan Wang, and a public health expert. After the rally, we will attend the Board of Legislators regular meeting in the 8th floor of the building, where representatives plan to speak during the public comment period. The rally is permited.

Sponsored by Citizens for a Responsible County Airport, Westchester for Change, WESPAC, Sierra Club, Federated Conservationists of Westchester County, Purchase Environmental Protective Association, Food & Water Watch, Grassroots Environmental Education, We Persist, and Indivisible Westchester.

Citizens for a Responsible County Airport is a nonpartisan grassroots group committed to sustainable, conscientious management and improvement of the airport by holding our government accountable. crcairport.org

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Director's Blog, Environmental and Food Justice, Frontpage, Movement Building

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

Justice Monday continues at 5pm, Monday, June 5th

From Westchester for Change:

June Brings Action and Activity

 
Justice Monday Reboot

On Monday, June 5, the Westchester Social Justice Community will gather at Renaissance Plaza at the corner of Main St. and Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains to support single payer healthcare in New York. The New York State Assembly passed bill A4738 (single- payer healthcare) overwhelmingly. We all must contact members of the New York State Senate to ask them to support bill S4840 and bring it to the floor for a vote. The bills, essentially Medicare for all, will protect New Yorkers from Trumpcare, which will devastate the health and well-being of millions of people. The House of Representatives passed a bill that will throw millions off healthcare, penalize people with preexisting conditions and put a lifetime cap on insurance. Bring signs ( no poles).

When: Monday, June 5, NEW TIME; 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Renaissance Plaza corner of Mamaroneck Avenue and Main Street
White Plains

Note New Time for Justice Monday Rallies

The next Justice Monday rally on June 5th and all rallies in June, July and August will take place at Renaissance Plaza in White Plains at 5 p.m.

Healthcare Call-in Day

Statewide Call in Day for single payer Health Care.To get more information go tohttp://www.nyhcampaign.org/statewide_call_in_day_for_ny_health.

When: June 2nd

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Director's Blog, Economic and Human Rights, Frontpage, Movement Building

Please sign statement in support of Palestinian Prisoners on the 37th day of their hunger strike

Please sign statement in support of Palestinian Prisoners on the 36th day of their hunger strike:

https://goo.gl/forms/HZmKDfN8zBllRrMO2

 

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