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[photo by Jo Freeman]
Wed 9/26, 7 pm: International Law, Seeking Justice, and the Great March of Return in Gaza
International Law, Seeking Justice, and the Great March of Return in Gaza
During Israel’s creation, over 750,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled temporarily to save themselves from the violence. Palestinian refugees and their descendants around the world continue to be denied their right of return as stipulated in a 1948 UN resolution. Why won’t Israel let them return to their homes? What can be done to achieve peace with justice?
Come to this discussion of the Palestinian Right of Return
Bina Ahmad (social justice attorney, public defender, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights Steering Committee, Food Empowerment Project Advisory Board)
Jamil Dakwar (human rights lawyer and adjunct professor at John Jay College and Hunter College)
Donna Nevel (community psychologist, Facing the Nakba Project, Jews Say No!; Jews Against Anti-Muslim Racism)
Wednesday, September 26, 7 pm (Doors open 6:30 pm)
The Brooklyn Commons, 388 Atlantic Avenue between Hoyt and Bond, Downtown Brooklyn
Subway: A/C/G to Hoyt-Schermerhorn, F to Bergen; 2/3/4/5 to Nevins;
Nakba Day 2018: Support the Right of the Palestinian People to Rally, Resist, and Return! 1948–2018
The right of all refugees to return to their homes is recognized in international law. This right is recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“Everyone has the right to . . . return to his country”), in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and in UN Resolution 194 (Palestinian Right of Return). We call for the right of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return to their homes throughout historic Palestine, from which nearly a million people were driven and fled in 1947-48, when Israel became a state. Palestinians call that time the Nakba, or Catastrophe. These refugees and their descendants are now dispersed throughout the region in refugee camps and foreign countries. Deprived of their homes, their lands, and their livelihoods, many are living without hope for a future.
We support the rights of all people to peacefully assemble and to make their grievances known to the world. We call for an end to Israeli shootings and assassinations in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine. On March 30, and on subsequent Fridays, tens of thousands of Palestinians living in Gaza participated in the “Great Return March” to the fence that imprisons them, and assembled for a six-week tent city and peaceful protest of the violations of their human rights—set to culminate on Nakba Day on May 15. During five weeks of demonstrations by unarmed civilians in Gaza, Israeli snipers have killed at least 47 people, including children and journalists, and wounded thousands more, many critically.
The Nakba continues to this day. Palestinians continue to be forced off their land, their homes demolished, to be replaced by waves of Jewish settlers protected by the Israeli army. Jerusalem, the center of the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish faiths and originally intended by the UN to be administered as an international city, has been annexed by Israel, which denies Muslim Palestinians access to holy sites. (Trump has legitimized this theft by agreeing to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.)
Today, over 2 million Palestinians including 1.3 million descendants of original 1948 refugees, live in the tiny strip of fenced-in land known as Gaza, under an Israeli blockade that has lasted for 10 years. Lack of potable water, medical supplies, food, electricity, and waste treatment have led the UN to declare Gaza “basically unlivable.” Israel bombs Gaza periodically, killing thousands of civilians, including children, and destroying infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, and water treatment plants.
Is it any wonder that Gazans are seeking a return to their ancestral homes and an escape from a permanent nightmare of poverty, blockade, and Israeli-inflicted violence? On the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, we demand:
*An end to US military aid to Israel ($4.8 billion/year), which violates the Arms Export Control Act of 1976, specifically forbidding arms deals with governments that abuse human rights.
*An end to Israeli attacks on unarmed protestors!
*An end to the illegal siege of Gaza which has caused untold human suffering and degradation of life.
*An end to the racism that favors one ethnicity or religion over the other in Israel and the Occupied Territories.
Mon 3/19, 7 pm: Join us for a Forum: Palestinian Resistance, Israeli Oppression: How Should Activists Respond?
Join Brooklyn For Peace on Monday, March 19, 2018, at 7:00 PM for an evening with activists from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which brings volunteers from around the world to defend Palestine through nonviolent resistance.
A Palestinian-led movement, ISM follows its own strict guidelines of nonviolence, using direct action and documentation to intervene when Israel violates international law in the oppression of Palestinians. In 2002 the ISM made headlines in defending Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity and the ancient Nablus Casbah, and documented destruction and mass killing of Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp.
Two representatives from ISM will discuss current conditions in Palestine and the work ISM continues to do.
Palestinian ISM coordinator Rana Nazzal has trained and provided orientation to ISM volunteers in Palestine. In 2013, she and Nariman Tamimi, the mother of Ahed, were arrested in Nabi Saleh by the Israeli military occupation.
The ISM volunteer for the east coast, Joe Catron, reported from Gaza during several major Israeli attacks. He is now an independent reporter on Palestine and the Middle East, as well as a widely followed commentator on social media.
The program will include an abridged screening ofRadiance of Resistance, produced by ISM volunteers, featuring Ahed Tamimi, and her cousin, Janna Ayyad — winner of Best Documentary, Respect Human Rights Film Festival, Belfast.
Location: The Commons Cafe, 388 Atlantic Avenue between Hoyt and Bond, Brooklyn, NY11217
This venue is wheelchair accessible. Free admission.
Cosponsors: Park Slope United Methodist Church Social Action Committee; Jewish Voice for Peace/NYC; Park Slope Food Coop Members for BDS See it on Facebook.
Rasmea Odeh’s Statement to Court at Sentencing Aug 17, 2017
Rasmea Odeh’s statement to the court at sentencing Aug 17, 2017
NOTE: She was allowed to read the full statement. Check out this link for description of the sentencing hearing:
On this court’s platform, I’m standing today to raise my voice on behalf of myself as a Palestinian woman and on behalf of all Palestinian people, whether under occupation, in refugee camps, or scattered in exile across the world.
Honorable Judge Drain: First, I would like to clarify that my following message is not directed at you personally.
I am a Palestinian woman who was born into a family that had simple dreams and desires to live in peace and tranquility, far away from bombs, explosions, murder, and displacement.
But those dreams turned into a nightmare at the hands of the Zionist Haganah gangs whose crimes are hard to imagine. The Zionists committed massacres, killing children and the elderly without any consideration of human values. They displaced hundreds of thousands of my people, and killed thousands more, in 1947 and 1948, upon the establishment of the state of Israel. They turned us into strangers in our own country, and pushed us into the inhumane conditions of refugee camps inside Palestine and other Arab countries.
The Israeli goals were not satisfied in 1948, so they pursued the ambitions of Zionism and launched another war in 1967, illegally occupying the rest of Palestine and parts of surrounding Arab countries.
International law prohibits the following practices, and considers them punishable offences:
The Israeli occupation of Palestine is a crime; its use of biological and chemical weapons is a terrorist crime; demolishing schools, homes, hospitals, clinics, and places of worship is a crime; imprisoning hundreds of political organizers and resisters (including dozens of children) without charge is a crime; putting up the Apartheid Wall is a crime; killing people is a crime; and collective punishment is a crime!
Many countries in this world have struggled to win their independence. International law and all the United Nations conventions state that people have the right to fight for their independence, and to expel the colonizer and the occupier.
People in the U.S. struggled against British colonialism for their independence, and that is the reason the 4th of July is celebrated. Why are the Palestinians prohibited from struggling for our independence?
When Palestinians have fought for our rights over the years, all U.S. administrations have responded by supporting Israeli crimes and brutal aggression, falsely describing Israel’s acts as “self-defense.” At the same time, the U.S. government calls us terrorists by placing all of our legitimate resistance organizations on its terrorist list!
I wonder how the U.S. or any other country would respond if they were invaded by a foreign force? If people in the U.S. were to defend themselves, would they be considered terrorists, and would their resistance organizations be placed on a terrorist list?
I am sure that they would have the full right to protect their country, just as my people should have the right to protect our country.
The Arms Export Control Act of 1976 prohibits the U.S. from exporting arms in situations where such arms would “…aid in the development of weapons of mass destruction… [or] increase the possibility of outbreak or escalation of conflict…,” and also prohibits use of such arms against civilians and innocents.
Thus, the U.S. government or any U.S. company violates the law if it exports weapons to a state or group that uses them in this way. The reality is that the U.S., as Israel’s patron, violates its own laws by supporting Zionist aggression. That means the U.S. is also guilty of crimes against the Palestinians.
This country’s military, political, economic, and diplomatic support allows Israel to continue its colonization and military occupation of Palestine, and to commit crimes prohibited by international law and U.S. law. That is why we organize for Palestinian rights in the U.S., because it is this government that must also be held responsible for Israel’s state terrorism against my people.
We, the Palestinians, have been struggling against oppression for one hundred years, ever since the British Balfour Declaration promised the world that it would support the colonization of our country. And for almost 70 years, the manufactured state of Israel has been doing the bidding of the powerful British and U.S. empires. This Israel has no right to exist as a racist state of white settler colonialists, just like South Africa had no right to exist as the racist, Apartheid state it was.
This Israel represents nothing but violence and ethnic cleansing against my people. Many years of negotiations for a political settlement have been a huge failure, because Israel continuously demands recognition as a Jewish state, which goes against all notions of equality and democracy; and because it wants to liquidate all the rights of the Palestinians, including our rights to return, self-determination, equality, and political independence.
Each Israeli government moves more and more to the extreme right, and Netanyahu’s is the worst of them, launching three horrible wars on Gaza. He destroyed homes, schools, health clinics, and our infrastructure as a whole, killing thousands, and finally imposing a siege on the entire Gaza Strip.
Recently, Israel installed metal detectors and security cameras at the entrance to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, prompting weeks of massive protests. Three Palestinians were killed, and a thousand injured, before Israel was forced by our mass movement to remove the barriers.
At the same time, Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinians in Jerusalem, as well as settler violence against Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank, are official policies meant to force more and more Palestinians out of our country, and to consolidate Israeli control over Greater Jerusalem. It is quite clear that many, if not most, Israelis do not want Palestinians around at all.
I personally experienced a harsh, unstable, and terror-filled life in Palestine, like all my people under occupation. I was pushed off my land two separate times, my family home was destroyed twice, and my young sister was killed by the trauma of war. I was a political prisoner who was brutally tortured and raped by Israeli soldiers and prison authorities, and was almost killed more than once.
I continue to be terrified of the future for myself and my people. I can still almost feel the accelerated pounding of the people’s hearts while they are running to find shelter, the horrific screaming of the children, the moans of the people under the rubble of their homes, and the sounds of them dying from bombs, missiles, and bullets.
My people have the right to struggle to rid ourselves of the Israeli occupation of our country. The U.S. government must stop disavowing our rights, and stop working with the Israelis to prosecute activists and organizers here. Most of the people and governments in the rest of the world are with us. Millions of people are supporting the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Black-Palestinian unity and solidarity is at its absolute height in the U.S., because both peoples recognize that the racist nature of the U.S. government and the racist nature of Israel are the same. When I saw those white racists marching in Virginia, all I could think of was the white settlers in Israel burning Palestinian children to death or marching to attack my people in Jerusalem.
Many of the social justice forces—from the Women’s March, the Movement for Black Lives, and anti-occupation and anti-Zionist American Jews, to immigrant rights, anti-torture, and civil liberties organizations—that supported my defense campaign did it not only because they support me as a survivor of torture and injustice, but also because they support the much more important cause of the liberation of all of Palestine—a democratic, secular Palestine for all.
August 17 2017
Statement at Rally to Support Rasmea Odeh Thomas Cox, Brooklyn For Peace
Statement at Rally to Support Rasmea Odeh
14 August 2017, Union Square, NYC
My name is Thomas Cox, representing Brooklyn For Peace.
Brooklyn For Peace is committed to eliminating war and promoting human rights.
Our message today is: We stand with justice, we stand with compassion, and we stand with Rasmea Odeh!
Our founding in 1984 resulted from our disagreement with the US invasion of Grenada. Since then we have objected to many US “regime changes,” interventions and alliances.
We are mistrustful of the reasons behind the 2010 federal subpoena issued to 23 antiwar and Palestinian community organizers in Chicago and Minneapolis, including Rasmea Odeh, just as we are mistrustful of the current efforts to criminalize BDS.
Particularly troublesome to us, has been the uncritical, unquestioning, US alliance with Israel. We object to the billions of dollars going to Israel each year, money used to make and buy weapons to attack the Palestinian people in Gaza and the refugee camps.
We condemn the horrors of the Israeli torture chambers used to force Rasmea to sign a false “confession,” just as we condemn the American judicial system that prevented a jury from being informed of such torture.
If we accept into our legal system, documents supplied by the illegal military occupiers of Palestine, we make a mockery of justice.
If we believe our own government’s claims of who belongs on a list of “terrorists,” without investigating for ourselves, we set ourselves up for believing propaganda.
Israel’s establishment has given preference to Europeans and those claiming Jewish identify, over the indigenous people of Palestine – Muslims, Christians and Jews. We cannot take Israel’s word over the claims of the Palestinians. If we do, we demonstrate our indifference to the plight of the downtrodden, the less powerful.
It makes us both sad and angry to think of our loss in deporting Rasmea Odeh: her skills as a community organizer, a leader for positive change in the community, a role model for girls and women, a person of great personal integrity and compassion.
We support you, Rasmea! We love you! Long live Rasmea! Long live Palestine!
Brooklyn For Peace: Israel-Palestince Committee
Mon Aug 14, 2017: Rally to Support Rasmea Odeh
Brooklyn For Peace joined the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and other groups on Monday, August 14, 2017, in a rally to support Rasmea Odeh before her court appearance (in Detroit) and sentencing on August 17. The Rally took place at Union Square, Manhattan.
The purpose of the rally was to show love and support for Rasmea Odeh before her sentencing in federal court three days later in Detroit. The will be her last court appearance and Rasmea is planning to make a statement.
The plea agreement that has already been reached states that Rasmea will not get additional jail time – but she will have to leave the U.S. This rally will express our support for a legendary former political prisoner and beloved community leader.
Rally organized by: Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network Endorsed by Brooklyn For Peace and others
Thomas Cox represented Brooklyn For Peace and made this statement.
Case of Rasmea Odeh: Summary Updated August 11, 2017
Rasmea Odeh (born 1947/1948) is a leading member of Chicago’s Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim communities, and her decade of service in Chicago has changed the lives of thousands of people, particularly disenfranchised Arab women and their families. She has been with the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) since 2004, and is responsible for the management of day-to-day operations and the coordination of its Arab Women’s Committee, which has a membership of nearly 600 and leads the organization’s work in the areas of defending civil liberties and immigrants’ rights.
In 2013, Rasmea received the Outstanding Community Leader Award from the Chicago Cultural Alliance, which described her as a woman who has “dedicated over 40 years of her life to the empowerment of Arab women, first in her homes of Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon, where she was an activist and practicing attorney, and then the past 10 years in Chicago.” Continue reading →
Action Alert: Stop unconstitutional attack on freedom to boycott!
Take action to stop unconstitutional attack on freedom to boycott
2 Aug 2017: NOTE: Breaking News: Sen Gillibrand has removed her name as a co-sponsor! Please call to thank her: 202-224-4451
20 July 2017
One of the most recent, and most pernicious, pieces of anti-boycott legislation at the federal level is getting renewed attention right now. On July 18, the American Civil Liberties Union released a letter to the Senate and a letter to the House, urging them not to co-sponsor the bill because it unconstitutionally discriminates against people “for no reason other than their political beliefs.” The Intercept published an article highlighting how “the criminalization of political speech and activism against Israel has become one of the gravest threats to free speech in the west.” Brooklyn For Peace opposes the legislation and is making available a backgrounder from Jewish Voice for Peace for engagement with Congress.
BFP Statement on Escalating Violence in Israel and Palestine (October 2015)
BFP Statement on Escalating Violence in Israel and Palestine, Oct. 2015:
Willful killings of both Israeli Jews and Palestinians have been rising in the Jerusalem, the Occupied West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and Israel. Brooklyn For Peace condemns all violence regardless of who perpetrates it and we mourn all victims.
As Americans, we pledge to redouble our efforts to bring the Israeli occupation of Palestine to an end, by campaigning to end the US government’s military, diplomatic, and economic support of Israel until it complies with international law and respects the lives and human rights of all peoples.
We must also speak the truth. Actions taken by the Israeli government have exacerbated an already dangerous situation. Activities condoned or ignored by Israeli authorities continue to fan the flames of hatred. For example:
The 48-year-long Occupation of the West Bank, dispossession of Palestinians, destruction of their lands and homes, use of collective punishment, and continued expansion of Jews-only settlements, with no end in sight, have created a tinder-box of resentment;
The Israeli government incites Jews to shoot to kill Palestinians, rather than arresting alleged wrong-doers, leading to open season on Palestinians in public spaces—many of these victims are children or teenagers;
Israeli forces have escalated the use of excessive lethal force against peaceful protests in occupied Palestinian territory;
Israeli forces conduct nightly incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, arresting civilians, children, and journalists, who are then held indefinitely and without charge;
Israeli forces turned the West Bank into cantons, establishing checkpoints, and arresting Palestinian citizens, including children;
Arbitrary restrictions on the movement of Palestinian citizens make work, school, and family life even more difficult;
Israeli settlers have attacked, wounded, and killed Palestinian civilians, sometimes while Israeli police watch;
Restrictions placed on access to Al Aqsa (East Jerusalem) interfere with who may pray and when. At times Muslim clergy have been barred from the mosque;
Israeli police invaded Al Aqsa (East Jerusalem) early in the morning of September 13, 2015. They destroyed property, arrested people, and trampled on Muslim holy space with boots and weapons;
Israeli officials have called for Jews to arm themselves, encouraging vigilantism as Israeli civilians, particularly settlers, shoot Palestinians while claiming self-defense.
The Israeli government has continued to show little regard for Palestinian life. The pronouncements of Cabinet ministers, military officials, and Prime Minister Netanyahu make it clear that eradication of Palestinian society, not justice, is the main objective.