Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Efforts to suppress Palestinian activism on US campuses won’t work

From Mondoweiss, by Scott McConnell - What do you do if you are a committed American supporter of Israel and find that everywhere you look campaigns for Palestinian rights are gaining ground? You could, as a number have done, use whatever resources and platforms you possess to try to persuade Israel to change course and negotiate a settlement with the Palestinians that is at least relatively just and practical. Along these lines you could vigorously encourage American efforts to impose on Israel a two state solution. Alternatively you could double down on repeating various Israeli talking points—villa in the jungle, children as human shields, America’s best friend, what about Tibet and Darfur? Or you could escalate your financing of American politicians who will do Israel’s bidding automatically, and pray that Palestinian activism somehow runs its course like a bad fever.

But there is fourth, more innovative and indeed daring alternative, which was analyzed at a fascinating Institute for Palestine Studies forum held last Friday at the SEIU conference center near Washington’s Du Pont Circle: initiate active measures to suppress Palestinian activism. This tactic is bold because it seems obvious that in most respects, it comes into direct conflict with the First Amendment, and thus is based on the premise that forced to choose between Israel and the American Constitution, Americans will choose Israel.

I believe this premise is almost certainly incorrect, and that the activism suppression movement will eventually be seen as a wild and desperate overreach. But before that, there will be a long and grinding political fight: the suppression movement has had some successes, and Palestine activists need lawyers to defend themselves and journalists to expose these activities for what they are.

For me the heart of Friday’s event was the elucidation—by Dima Khalidi of Palestine Solidarity Legal Support– of the numerous avenues pro-Israel groups have opened up in attempts to hinder, entangle or actually suppress activists who advocate for Palestinian rights on American college campuses. It is here of course, in the battle for the sympathies of educated young Americans, where Israel has lost the most ground in the past fifteen years. Khalidi’s group provides legal advice to activists, and finds attorneys for individuals and student groups which need them. In the past year her organization fielded a staggering 215 requests for legal assistance – from matters as relatively minor as a student group being barred from holding an event and as grave as activists facing criminal prosecution. While most cases fall in the harassment category, their volume points to a coordinated effort to target and harass pro-Palestinian young people.

Khalidi provided several examples: pro-Palestinian campus groups being unable to reserve spaces to hold meetings, or being forbidden to publicize an event until it receives official approval, (which is not forthcoming until the last minute) or being told that because the views presented at their events are controversial, they have to pay fees for additional “security”. Occasionally widely-ignored campus regulations – such as one prohibiting distribution of flyers in dormitories –are resurrected and treated as terribly important when they can be used as a basis to punish pro-Palestinian students. One such case involved students who leafleted dorm rooms with mock eviction notices – representative of the very real evictions that Israel regularly gives Palestinian homeowners whose property Israel desires or finds inconvenient. Palestinian students are regularly accused by Zionist ones of supporting or raising money for Hamas—and though of course such charges are typically baseless, they serve their purpose if they catalyze formal federal investigations, chilling to anyone, much less a college student. more

Scott McConnell is a founding editor of the American Conservative. The former editorial page editor of The New York Post, he has written for Fortune, The New Criterion, National Review, Commentary and many other publications.

'Killing Hamas' taught as basic right for 2nd-grade students in Tel Aviv

From the International Middle East Media Center - Teachers at an Israeli school recently delivered a worksheet to their students which includes, in a list of rights, the right of "Killing Hamas".

This surprised some students' parents enough to cause them to make a formal complaint against the school, Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency reports.

According to Channel 10 Hebrew News, students of Tel Aviv's "Blokh" school were shocked to see the bizarre inclusion on a 2nd grade worksheet.

Parents were quoted to say that "instead of protecting the students, the school throws them in politics beanball", noting that such curriculum was not appropriate for 2nd graders.

Other rights reportedly included the right to swim, the right to eat ice-cream, the right to buy stationary, the right of education, the right to faith in God and the right to eat. more

Israel revokes residency of Palestinian attacker's widow

Israel on Wednesday revoked the residency rights of the widow of a Palestinian who carried out a deadly attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, drawing condemnation from human rights groups.

The move came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he would seek broad powers to rescind the residency and welfare rights of any Palestinian citizen of Israel or resident of annexed East Jerusalem if they or their relatives participated in unrest.

"I have ordered the cancellation of Nadia Abu Jamal's permit to stay in Israel. Anyone who is involved in terror must take into account that there are likely to be implications for their family members too," Israeli Interior Minister Gilad Erdan said in a statement.

Cousins Uday and Ghassan Abu Jamal, from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukabir, killed five people at a synagogue on November 18 before being shot dead by police, in the city's bloodiest attack in six years. more

Egypt to open Rafah crossing for 2 days

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah crossing with Gaza to allow thousands of Palestinians, stranded for weeks on the Egyptian side, to return home to the Strip, an official said Wednesday.

Nathmi Muhanna, director of Palestinian crossings and borders, told Ma'an that Rafah would be open on Wednesday from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and on Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Palestinian ambassador to Egypt Jamal al-Shubki confirmed that he had received word from the Egyptian leadership that the crossing would be opened.

The Palestinian Authority applauded the Egyptian decision to briefly open the crossing. more

Israeli forces detain 13 Palestinians in overnight raids

Israeli forces arrested 13 Palestinians in overnight West Bank raids, sources told Ma'an Wednesday.

In the Bethlehem district, Israeli forces raided the village of Wadi Fukin and detained three teenagers, Palestinian security sources said.

The teens were identified as 17-year-old Ibrahim Atiyeh Manasrah, 18-year-old Majd Muhammad Manasra, and 19-year-old Karim Atif Assaf.

Palestinian security sources also said that Israeli forces raided the village of Burin in the Nablus district and detained Muamin Raji Eid, 21, after ransacking his home.

Eid is a supporter of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the sources said. He was taken to Huwwara military base south of Nablus.

Israeli forces also detained two Hamas leaders in the Ramallah district, sources within the Hamas movement said.

Soldiers raided the al-Jinan neighborhood in the city of al-Bireh and detained Fayiz Warda. They also arrested Hussein Abu Kreik in Beituniya, the sources said.

In the Hebron district, Israeli forces entered al-Fawwar refugee camp and detained 42-year-old Rajih Abu Ajamiyya, 23-year-old Alaa Mustafa al-Ballas, and 26-year-old Wisam Fayiz Abdullah, family said. more