Looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday! 

Surprises Continue

The ADL Blog connecting the dots...

JVP-LA is proud to be co-sponsoring Sahar Francis's Los Angeles this Tuesday (details below) 


Google gives a virtual nod to 'Palestine'

LA Times Article below

From the ADL blog...
Advocate For Palestinian Prisoners On U.S. Tour

In an effort to gar­ner Amer­i­can atten­tion and sup­port for Pales­tin­ian polit­i­cal pris­on­ers, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Addameer, a Pales­tin­ian NGO based in Ramal­lah, is sched­uled to deliver pre­sen­ta­tions on the topic in sev­eral U.S. cities this month.

Sahar Fran­cis, Addameer’s Gen­eral Direc­tor, will likely address per­ceived issues in the Israeli prison sys­tem for Pales­tin­ian pris­on­ers, but she also seems to be engaged in an effort to analo­gize the Pales­tin­ian pris­oner cause to the way the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem in the U.S. addresses issues of crime in the inner-city.

Francis’s talks will take place in sev­eral cities that have faced trou­bling rises in crime, including Philadel­phia, Chicago and San Fran­cisco. The titles of the pre­sen­ta­tions, “From Pel­i­can Bay and Guan­tanamo to Pales­tine: Pris­ons, Repres­sion, Resis­tance;” “End­ing Mass Incar­cer­a­tion: From Pales­tine to Penn­syl­va­nia;” and “Juve­nile Injus­tice: Crim­i­nal­iza­tion of Youth in Pales­tine and Chicago,” under­score Francis’s appar­ent goal of link­ing prob­lems in the Amer­i­can prison sys­tem, such as dis­crim­i­na­tion, racial pro­fil­ing and lack of reha­bil­i­ta­tion options, to the issues faced by Pales­tin­ian prisoners.

Spon­sors of the events vary widely and include many groups whose mis­sions seem to be wholly unre­lated to the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, such as the Cal­i­for­nia Coali­tion for Women Pris­on­ers, the Black Youth Project in Chicago and the Com­mit­tee to Stop FBI Repres­sion. The diverse num­ber of groups sup­port­ing these events is likely to fur­ther cred­i­bil­ity to Addameer’s intended com­par­i­son between the Pales­tin­ian pris­on­ers’ cause  and prob­lems in the inner-city.

Sev­eral of the other sched­uled speak­ers work on social jus­tice issues related to undoc­u­mented stu­dents and immi­grant rights. At the Philadel­phia event, for exam­ple, the other speaker is a mem­ber of Drea­mAc­tivist PA, a youth orga­ni­za­tion that advo­cates for immigrants.

Fran­cis has been out­spo­ken about the Israeli government’s treat­ment of Pales­tin­ian pris­on­ers. In a 2010 inter­view with Elec­tronic Intifada, she asserted that Israel tries to demo­nize Pales­tin­ian resisters by describ­ing them as “ter­ror­ists” but that “cit­i­zens should be aware that Pales­tin­ian polit­i­cal pris­on­ers are not terrorists.”

She also alleged that “tor­ture, ill treat­ment and abuse” are norms of the Israeli prison sys­tem, and that Israel’s “pol­icy of impris­on­ment” is aimed at sup­press­ing non­vi­o­lent resis­tance like the Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions cam­paigns against Israel. In her talks, Fran­cis urges her audi­ence to call for the uncon­di­tional release of all Pales­tin­ian polit­i­cal pris­on­ers despite the fact that many of these pris­on­ers have been con­victed of vio­lent crimes against Israeli civilians.

We hope to see you on Tuesday evening!  We will learn from Sahar Francis, and be presented with information specifically about Palestinian prisoners which I am not aware of someone presenting in LA for quite some time.  We will see how much the ADL blog got right/wrong...  
~estee chandler
JVP-LA Organizer

Upcoming Local Events:

Los Angeles- Don't miss this rare opportunity...
an Evening with Sahar Francis

of Adameer
the leading Prisoner & Human Rights
organization in Palestine

Tuesday May 7, 6:30-9:00pm
Program Begins at 7:00pm


Jewish Voice for Peace, Los Angeles, United Methodists' Holy Land Task Force & PAWA are honored to present:

“Palestinian Political Prisoners: The Intersection of International Law and the Palestinian Struggle”

Culver Palms United Methodist Church
4464 S. Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA

The subject of prisoners’ rights has a whole different meaning in occupied Palestine, beginning with how a Palestinian becomes a prisoner in the first place. The use of administrative detention to arrest and hold them, the illegal transfer of prisoners to Israeli jails, the slur of ‘terrorism’ to cover any form of (elsewhere) legal protest, the denial of medical care until the health of a protesting hunger striker is wrecked. Addameer (Arabic for conscience) is the main prisoners’ rights NGO in Palestine and its head, Sahar Francis, is touring the US. 

The Last Bookstore
SUNDAY - May 5, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

Sunday May 5, 2013 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

KPFK Radio and 
The Last Bookstore welcome New York Times bestselling author
 Jeremy Scahill with his newest title, Dirty Wars

DOWNTOWN LA  |  213.488.0599

In Dirty Wars, Jeremy Scahill, author of the New York Times best-seller Blackwater, takes us inside America’s new covert wars. The foot soldiers in these battles operate globally and inside the United States with orders from the White House to do whatever is necessary to hunt down, capture or kill individuals designated by the president as enemies.

Drawn from the ranks of the Navy SEALs, Delta Force, former Blackwater and other private security contractors, the CIA’s Special Activities Division and the Joint Special Operations Command ( JSOC), these elite soldiers operate worldwide, with thousands of secret commandos working in more than one hundred countries. Funded through “black budgets,” Special Operations Forces conduct missions in denied areas, engage in targeted killings, snatch and grab individuals and direct drone, AC-130 and cruise missile strikes. While the Bush administration deployed these ghost militias, President Barack Obama has expanded their operations and given them new scope and legitimacy.

Dirty Wars follows the consequences of the declaration that “the world is a battlefield,” as Scahill uncovers the most important foreign policy story of our time. From Afghanistan to Yemen, Somalia and beyond, Scahill reports from the frontlines in this high-stakes investigation and explores the depths of America’s global killing machine. He goes beneath the surface of these covert wars, conducted in the shadows, outside the range of the press, without effective congressional oversight or public debate. And, based on unprecedented access, Scahill tells the chilling story of an American citizen marked for assassination by his own government.

As US leaders draw the country deeper into conflicts across the globe, setting the world stage for enormous destabilization and blowback, Americans are not only at greater risk—we are changing as a nation. Scahill unmasks the shadow warriors who prosecute these secret wars and puts a human face on the casualties of unaccountable violence that is now official policy: victims of night raids, secret prisons, cruise missile attacks and drone strikes, and whole classes of people branded as “suspected militants.” Through his brave reporting, Scahill exposes the true nature of the dirty wars the United States government struggles to keep hidden.

Next Week
Palestine Awareness Week at UC Irvine

Powerful Speakers lined up at UC Irvine
Palestine Awareness Week 2013

More Info here:
Contacts: nasirm212@gmail.com or for
Public relations 

Nakba Demonstration Los Angeles 

Wednesday 5/15/2013 

al-Nakba |al ˈnakbä|

the Arabic term for the events of 1948, when many Palestinians were displaced from their homeland by the creation of the new state of Israel.
ORIGIN from Arabic, literally the disaster.

Nakba Demonstration Los Angeles

Wednesday 5/15/2013 

No Return = No Justice = No Peace!

Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 states, without any ambiguity whatsoever, that "Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive."

The Nakba ("Catastrophe" in Arabic) of 1948 refers to the planned ethnic cleansing of Palestine when the vast majority of Palestinians were violently attacked, massacred and driven from their homes, lands and villages into refugee camps by Zionist terror groups; and never allowed to return in violation of international law. This is the foundation upon which "Israel" was established and upon which its existence is built.  And it is why Israel remains structurally unsteady, morally corrupt, and legally culpable.

Please join Al-Awda's Chapters in Southern California and Palestinian Solidarity activists of Los Angles as they mark the 65th year of Al-Nakba:

Location: Israeli Consulate, 11766 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025
Date: Wednesday 5/15/2012
Time: 4:00 pm-7:00 pm

Until Return

For organizational co-sponsorship and further information, contact:


Saturday May 18th 
A workshop sponsored by Interfaith Witnesses and the Islamic Shura Council of So. California.  

Nonviolent Direct Action with
Rev. James Lawson 
You can register by emailing or calling JVP-LA friend and supporter Vicki Tamoush.  

A Great Opportunity for Jewish Students!
June 19th - 23rd
Know anyone going on Birthright?  
Know any young adults goint to Israel this summer?

Here is a fantastic Opportunity for them!
Ever wondered what life in the West Bank is like? Join Extend, a new non-profit aimed at engaging American Jews with Palestinian life, in its free, inaugural tour of the West Bank this June. They're looking for 12-15 American Jewish college students who are excited to explore the West Bank for a free, 5-day tour from June 19-23. Open-minded, enthusiastic American Jewish students (and recent graduates) of all political perspectives are welcome to apply. See the attached flyer or email extendtours@gmail.com for more information."
JVP-LA friend and SJP Claremont activist Juman Nijim (who has returned to Palestine) has a couple of friends from Swarthmore College who went on a Birthright trip, but were left wanting to see more. They sought out a few contacts and traveled around the West Bank on their own. Now, they have found funding and are organizing an extension to Birthright trip this summer to give others the opportunity to see more, meet Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank, and draw their own conclusions. 

I spoke with one of the organizers on Skype again today, and the buzz has gotten out, so if you know someone who is interested, have them get in touch soon! These guys are wonderful and very forward thinking to see the value in having more young Jewish Americans experience / witness life on both sides of the wall in order for them to make their own assessment with more knowledge. They are in their 20's and already investing in the future of this movement. 

The tour will begin and end in Jerusalem (participants are responsible for travel before and after this). Food, lodging and all site entrance fees will be covered by Extend. If you are interested in this opportunity, but would require a flight stipend, Extend will do their best to help.
Please pass along to friends and family who may be interested and will be in Israel in June.
For more information or to make a financial donation, call 845 304 0830 or contact Jon Emont at extendtours@gmail.com.

Upcoming Events at
The Levantine Cultural Center

The arts strengthen our communities and humanize our cultures.  
May 4, 8 pm — Arabesque: Performance Workshop on Aesthetics & Music of the Arab World
May 17, 9 pm — Mideast Masters of Jazz, Roseanne Barr presents Gilad Atzmon & Zane Musa live at The Mint in a progressive be-bop concert with these Israeli-Palestinian sax greats.
May 23, 7 pm — The Other Son screening at the Laguna Hills Community Center
June 13, 7 pm — Roadmap to Apartheid screening at the Laguna Hills Community Center

The arts strengthen our communities and humanize our cultures.  
Programs subject to change; for updated program information, visit levantinecenter.org
The Levantine Cultural Center is located at 5998 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90035-2657. The center’s café, art gallery and bookstore/giftshop are open daily 10 am to 6 pm, and during regularly-scheduled events, evenings, often 7 to 10 pm.
The Levantine Cultural Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, #91-2156607. Contributions are tax-deductible according to the IRS code.

Take Action (from home):            

From The Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation:
We need your help to support a recent op-ed by Sandra Tamari criticizing AIPAC's attempt to codify Israel's discrimination against U.S. citizens. 

Please 'like' her article on the US Campaign FB page and write a supportive comment below. Also, please condemn the letter published in response to her op-ed, which is nothing more than a libelous and disgraceful personal attack.

If you live in Illinois or Missouri, please write a letter to the editor in support of Sandra's article - letters can be sent to Frank Reust at freust@post-dispatch.com

Last May, the Israeli government denied me 

entry because I am 
The US embassy said that since I'm not Jewish, there was nothing they could do. 

Don't let this happen to anyone else. 

Tell Senator Barbara Boxer the US should not sign off on Israeli discrimination.




I am an American-born citizen, and a Palestinian. Last May, I attempted to travel to Palestine through Israel (which is the only way to visit my homeland). Instead, I was turned away in Tel Aviv, jailed overnight, and put on the next plane back to the US.  

My entry wasn't barred because I'm a Quaker, or a mother. I was turned away because I am Palestinian.

What was more shocking, when I called the US State Department they told me that, regardless of citizenship, if I "wasn't Jewish," they couldn't help me.
If we don't act now, this de facto US sponsorship of Israeli racial profiling could become the law of the land.
Senator Boxer — your Senator — is sponsoring the “United States-Israel Strategic Partner Act of 2013.” 
This sweeping legislation includes a visa waiver agreement with Israel that no other country in the world has. It would give Israelis the right to enter the US without a visa, while preserving Israel's "right" to deny entry to anyone.
And the record shows that "anyone" means Palestinian-Americans, Arab-Americans, Muslim-Americans, and even Jewish peace activists.
This bill is an affront to basic principles of equality and dignity.  And it’s further evidence of the overwhelmingly biased US approach to Israel – a policy that harms all Americans.

As Senator Boxer’s constituent, you can change this bill.  

Please call Senator Boxer TODAY:

Identify yourself and tell her office that you are very disappointed with her sponsorship of the US-Israeli Strategic Partnership Act of 2013.

Tell her the Visa Waiver that sanctions Israel’s blatant discrimination against US citizens, particularly Arab-Americans, is especially disturbing.

Urge her to take the Visa Waiver out of the Senate bill.

Finally, ask her to issue a strong statement that condemns Israel’s discriminatory practice of refusing entrance to some U.S. citizens.

Her office numbers are:

202-224-3553: DC Office
510-286-8537: Oakland Office
LA Office

After you’ve made your call, please email us at congress@jvp.org to let us know you’ve called and any response you get.

This is an opportunity to make a difference!  

Thank you,

Sandra Tamari

Don't let Israel's Wall destroy yet another community!
Please Encourage Secretary Kerry to support
The Sisters of the Cremesian Valley and Peace

The Salesian Sisters of the Cremisan Valley are going to lose most of their land and be surrounded on three sides by the Israeli separation wall unless you and I can persuade Secretary Kerry to intervene for peace.

Click here to tell Sec. Kerry you care about what happens to these nuns and their community.
Recently the Israeli Special Appeals Committee for land seizure under emergency law released its verdict in the case of the Cremisan Valley. The verdict ruled in favor of the proposed alternative route of the separation wall.  The committee decided that building the wall according to the alternative route which will surround the Salesian Nuns’ Convent and Primary School from three sides and will confiscate most of the convent’s lands, is a reasonable solution that balances Israel’s security needs on one hand, and freedom of religion and the right to education on the other. The separation wall would also sever the convent from the Salesian monastery.
Click here to encourage Secretary Kerry to help the sisters!
While representatives of the land owners in the Cremisan Valley are considering taking the case to the Israeli High Court, we know that this situation needs a political solution based on the two-state solution so that all people will have equal and representative access to the governmental authorities that govern their lives and property.
Click here to urge Sec. Kerry’s work for a final peace agreement that will help the Sisters and all the people of the Holy Land live with security, human dignity and religious freedom.
With hope in God, you, and peace,
Rev. Doris Warrell
Field Director

P.S. As a former missionary who took children for walks in the Cremisan Valley I encourage you to take this action in solidarily with all people who want peace and dignity for all the people of the region.

Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace is a coalition of 24 national Church denominations and organizations, including Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions. It works to encourage U.S. government policies that actively promote a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ensuring security, human rights and religious freedom for all people of the region.

Ministers Lapid and Livni: Stop the 'Begin Proposal' regarding the Bedouins in Israel.

  2. Petition by

    Rabbis for Human Rights


Dear Ministers Livni and Lapid,

"I am certain that the world will judge the Jewish State by what it will do with the Arabs" 
- Chaim Weizmann – The First President of Israel

History will judge us harshly if we allow the expulsion of 40,000 Bedouin, and deny the Bedouin a fair opportunity to hold on to their ancestral lands.

In this matter, the Begin Proposal is no more acceptable than the Praver Proposal. We therefore ask that the Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs not approve any of the proposals currently on the table.

The Bedouin are not "Criminals squatting on land not belonging to them," and they are not "Taking over the Negev." The Bedouin community constitutes 30% of the Negev population, and their demands involve only 5.4% of its land. Their has never been a fair process for examining their demands, and most of the land claims the government requested the Bedouin to submit in the 1970's were never processed one way or the other. The population density in the unrecognized Bedouin villages is 6.3 times that of the adjacent Bnei Shimon Regional Council. The Bedouin occupy much less space in proportion to their numbers even if all their demands are met.

As Israel is faced with tough economic choices and serious socioeconomic problems, it is terribly unwise to use NIS 8 billion to create additional problems. The rates of poverty, unemployment, crime and drugs are much higher in the artificially created townships than in the villages. Cutting off people from their sources of income and destroying their social fabric and way of life will only increase these problems, and the funds needed to deal with them. At the same time, the increasing tension created will discourage investment, and make matters worse for both the Jewish and Bedouin residents of the Negev.

"The sword comes into the world because of justice delayed and justice denied." -Pirkei Avot

The time has come for an equitable resolution of Bedouin rights in the Negev. Any worthy resolution must preserve the following principles:

It will be arrived at only with real involvement from the Bedouin community institutions.
Full recognition for all existing villages, even if that means altering the national zoning plan. 
Acceptance of the ownership claims made in the 1970’s. 
Diversity of settlement types, not just towns or large villages. 
Integration of the Bedouin in planning and finding solutions. 
Developing the Negev equally – for all its residents. 
It is in your hands to decide whether we recreate the "Pale of Settlement" and other restrictions the Jewish people know all to well, or observe the command to treat those living with us fairly and justice because "You were resident aliens in the land of Egypt."


Two Great Projects close to meeting their goals!

This campaign is raising funds on behalf of Extended Play Inc, a verified nonprofit. The campaign does not necessarily reflect the views of the nonprofit or have any formal association with it. All contributions are considered unrestricted gifts and can't be specified for any particular purpose.

The Project

What if you could explore a forgotten people’s history and better understand one of the most complex conflicts of our time? What if you could act on your understanding and be a part of an international grassroots effort for peace and social change?

We invite you to support Voices Across the Divide, a powerful documentary and oral history project exploring the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through stories usually not heard. Help us share these important stories, and be inspired to make a difference.

Where we're at

We currently have a 58-minute fine cut ready. Since 2009 we filmed more than twenty interviews, collected hundreds of family and historical photos, recorded several hours of footage of current Israel, and gained access to the UNRWA historical film archives. Now we want to bring Voices Across the Divide to your communities!

Your gift will help us fund:

  • Final editing of Voices Across the Divide.
  • The soundscore. A composer is creating a beautiful and compelling score for the film.
  • An online education platform. We are building an online library where all the interviews and their transcripts are available for free in addition to other educational materials to inspire open dialogue and understanding.
  • Graphics & Animation. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is complex. A team of animators is making maps, graphics and animations to explain the complicated history and context of the conflict.
  • Spreading the word. People need to hear these stories. Promotion for the Summer 2013 release helps us reach audiences across the US and even abroad.

Your donation of any size is tax deductible to the fullest extend of the law.

Why Now?

The time is urgent, after more than 65 years the conflict drags on: Palestinians continue to suffer the indignities of occupation, permits, checkpoints, loss of land, refugee camps, military incursions, and exile.

We can’t wait any longer, we need to act NOW

Support Voices Across the Divide on Indiegogo.com

Librarians and Archivists to Palestine

A delegation of librarians, archivists, and other information workers to Palestine in June/July 2013

Who We Are & What We're Doing

Ibrahim and his colleagues wanted to create a nurturing reading space for children in Balata refugee camp in Nablus, so they opened a children’s library at the Yafa Cultural Center. From daily book checkouts to oral history projects with community elders, the library continues to grow, and Ibrahim is looking for more ways to expand its programs to continue to enrich the lives of Palestinian young people in the camp.

Molly and Josh are artists and movement archivists in Brooklyn, New York. They hope to connect with Palestinian artists and grassroots archival projects and learn about the preservation of cultural production in Palestine.

Elisabet is an Arabic literature public librarian in Stockholm, Sweden. She is interested in finding ways to support the growing distribution of Arabic children’s literature in Palestine. 

How can archivists and library workers in Palestine and other parts of the world connect as individuals and within a larger context of ongoing colonization and imposed isolation? This summer, we will begin to find out. A group of 20 librarians and archivists from the US, Canada, UK, and Sweden will travel to Palestine to meet with our colleagues in library- and archive-related projects and institutions and apply our experience in the form of skillshares and other types of joint work.

We are public, school, and academic librarians; movement archivists; digitization experts; historians; Middle East specialists; activists; artists; writers; and more. We support access to information, and we recognize that this goes in more than one direction. On the delegation, we will explore how information about Palestine reaches us (or does not) and how Palestinians access (or cannot access) information. We will bear witness to the destruction and appropriation of information, and support efforts to preserve cultural heritage and archival materials of all kinds. We will visit research institutes and grassroots archival projects, children’s libraries in refugee camps, public and school libraries in towns, prisoner libraries, preservation and digitization initiatives, and museums.

Upon return to our communities, we will share what we have seen, apply what we have learned, publicize and build a network of further support for projects, and otherwise break down barriers to access in any way we can.

We thank you very much for your support, and look forward to sending you news about our work!

For more about us and the delegation, visit our website at librarians2palestine.wordpress.com.   
Support this project on Indiegogo.com

IDC Campaign Update

It seems that the optimistic tone of the Israel Divestment Campaign (IDC) update that we sent you in mid-February was somewhat premature. Since then the CalPERS staff has become less responsive to the evidence that we submitted documenting Elbit's and Veolia's complicity in the violation of Palestinian human rights and international law.

Although we wonder sometimes if we aren’t a bit like Don Quixote, tilting at windmills, we are undaunted and determined. Our targets might be as elusive as Don Quixote’s, but we don’t think that we are as delusional. After all, there are tens of thousands of BDS activists around the world; and more than 5,000 of us Californians who petitioned PERS and STRS. 

We continue to press on and to challenge PERS and STRS to do the right thing. In fact, we are launching a new phase of the campaign, linking Caterpillar’s violations of both Palestinian human rights and North American workers’ rights.

So, please join us in signing the new online version of letter to board members of CalPERS, CalSTRS and LACERA. It’s quick and easy - you can find it at www.idc-calif.org/letter. Remember, you don’t need to be a member of any of these funds to sign the letter; all California as taxpayers contribute to these funds.

Please follow the progress of the IDC campaign – and other international BDS efforts – by checking our website periodically: www.idc-calif.org

By Emily Alpert

May 3, 2013, 6:15 p.m.

Google has switched the tagline on its Palestinian website, replacing the words “Palestinian territories” with “Palestine” in both English and Arabic.

"We’re changing the name ‘Palestinian Territories’ to ‘Palestine’ across our products,” Tyler said in a statement emailed to the Los Angeles Times.

The company began making the changes Wednesday. In addition to the tagline on the Palestinian page, the shift will also be evident in location settings on Google websites. 

The decision was cheered by Palestinian leaders and activists who saw it as another sign of recognition for a Palestinian state, coming from one of the most influential companies on the globe.

"This is a step in the right direction," Dr. Sabri Saidam, advisor to Palestinian Authority Presiden Mahmoud Abbastold the BBC. The change "means putting Palestine on the virtual map as well as on the geographic maps."

In November, the United Nations voted to upgrade the Palestinian Authority from “nonmember observer entity" to “nonmember observer state," in a step widely seen as a boon to Palestinian hopes for statehood. Palestinian officials started issuing stamps with the name ‘State of Palestine.’

After the U.N. vote, the International Organization for Standardization soon relabeled its three-letter code for the area as “State of Palestine” instead of “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

More than a decade earlier, ICANN — the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers — granted the area its own suffix for web addresses. Much as French websites sign off with a .fr and South Africans tag their sites .za, Palestinians were granted the domain .ps. It is Google.ps where the new reference to ‘Palestine’ is now visible.

The U.S. and Israel opposed the U.N. decision to change its status in November, saying steps toward Palestinian statehood should come through direct negotiations with Israel.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor expressed concern about Google’s decision to Agence France-Presse news agency.

"This change raises questions about the reasons behind this surprising involvement of what is basically a private Internet company in international politics — and on the controversial side," Palmor told AFP.


JVP in The News:

Israel's Fraying Image


May 1, 2013

WHEN THE American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) holds its annual spring meeting in Washington, DC, the organization takes elaborate measures to present a portrait of overwhelming political clout. Huge video screens featuring footage on Israel’s geopolitical perils, thousands of attendees, rousing speeches, a steady stream of Democratic and Republican politicians proclaiming their undying fealty to Israel—all are meant to suggest an irrepressible organization on a roll. This year, as in previous ones, Iran was the dominant topic. “Words alone will not stop Iran,” Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the conference by satellite. “Sanctions alone will not stop Iran.” He then admonished his American audience: “Sanctions must be coupled with a clear and credible military threat if diplomacy and sanctions fail.” At the same time, Senator John McCain excoriated the Obama administration for not being sufficiently friendly toward the Jewish state, while Vice President Joe Biden sought to assuage lingering unease about the administration’s stance by declaring that Obama is “not bluffing” when he threatens Iran with military action to forestall its nuclear-weapons development.

But, as AIPAC once again tried ostentatiously to display its influence, distant drumbeats raised new questions about America’s relationship with the Jewish state—and whether AIPAC’s influence is perhaps not always exercised strictly in Israel’s or America’s interest. Washington’s local metro system displayed ads, sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace and the Avaaz advocacy group, that featured various ordinary American Jews denouncing AIPAC as antithetical to peace and not speaking for them. Although such protests by left-wing Jewish organizations may have only slight influence, they reflect a broader reality: Israel’s image seems to be under challenge as never before, in Europe as well as in America.

A number of incidents suggest a cultural shift is emerging that could presage a reexamination of the nature of America’s political ties to Israel. This shift is rooted in a mounting perception that Israel cannot be exempted from culpability for its current predicament; that it is isolating itself from its neighbors in ways that are problematic for itself and for its one staunch ally, America; that its robust and illegal expansion of settlements—including in East Jerusalem, where more than five hundred thousand Israelis live—is inimical to any chance of peace; that its recent initiative to segregate Israelis and Palestinians on separate buses represents just another step toward colonization; and that it must strike out on a new course or risk becoming an international pariah. President Obama did not really deviate from this position during his recent visit to Israel in March. Obama made it clear that America supports Israel, and he brokered renewed diplomatic ties between Israel and Turkey. But he also emphasized that it is up to Israelis themselves to take back their country from the retrograde forces that are driving it into the abyss. Obama even went on to take a swipe at Netanyahu and his coterie: “Political leaders will not take risks if the people do not demand that they do. You must want to create the change that you want to see. Ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things.” Essentially, Obama was telling Israelis to perform an end run around their own government—to view the conflict not just from their own perspective but also that of the Palestinians.

Obama’s remarks were impassioned, friendly and moving. Their import could not be clearer. He offered both promise and admonition. And in uttering obvious truths, Obama exemplified a broader phenomenon—namely, the crumbling of a longtime taboo in America on criticizing Israel. Glenn Greenwald, writing as a Salon columnist a few years ago, put it starkly when he referred to the “mainstreaming” of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s depiction of a powerful Israel lobby that is undermining American foreign policy. The University of Chicago’s Mearsheimer and Harvard’s Walt—both “considered A-list scholars,” according to NPR—were excoriated in the media in 2006 when they published in the London Review of Books (after the Atlantic, which initially commissioned the piece, declined to publish it) their now-famous article suggesting that the United States frequently subordinates its own interests to the wishes of Israel, in part because of “the unmatched power of the Israel Lobby.” The duo expanded their argument into a book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, the following year.

Their scholarship unleashed a concerted effort on the part of many academics and journalists to portray the two professors as lurking outside the confines of respectable thought. Johns Hopkins University professor Eliot Cohen flatly labeled the article “anti-Semitic” and a reflection of “bigotry,” while Harvard’s Alan Dershowitz declared Walt and Mearsheimer to be conspiracy theorists as well as anti-Semites. Words such as “smelly,” “nutty” and “oddly amateurish” were bandied about. The aim was to marginalize the authors. The truth is that Walt and Mearsheimer’s book, as a 2007 National Interest symposium noted, did suffer from some serious flaws, including a failure to appreciate that it is possible to side with Israel without being pressured by an Israel lobby. Further, the authors elide any Palestinian responsibility for the failure of the peace process.
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