For Immediate Release August 7, 2016
Jewish Voice for Peace Supports the Movement for Black Lives and is Appalled that the Jewish Federation Disassociates Itself from the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)–Portland and JVP–national both fully endorse the demands and vision boldly and inspiringly laid out in the recently released Movement for Black Lives platform. The platform, a collective effort of more than 50 organizations representing thousands of Black people from across the country, articulates a common vision and agenda and recognizes the shared struggle of Black people with all oppressed people. With the release of this powerful, transformative policy statement, the Black Lives Matter movement has just taken a huge and important step towards the creation of a real movement for social and political change in our country.
Portland JVP endorses the Movement for Black Lives platform in its entirety, without reservation. However, we are deeply disappointed by the statement released August 4th by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland stating their opposition to the Movement for Black Lives platform due to its call for Black-Palestinian solidarity and support for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The Federation says it will disassociate itself “from the Black Lives Matter platform and all Black Lives Matter organizations that embrace it.”
It is terribly unfortunate that the Jewish Federation is rejecting thorough and inspiring transformational policy ideas developed by a broad coalition of Black leaders simply because these Black leaders have linked the experiences and struggles of Palestinians with their own. JVP honors those linkages and the non-violent struggle of the Palestinian people, like that of African-Americans, for freedom, justice and equality.
Rather than hear the message, the Jewish Federation chooses instead to kill the messenger. If the Federation wonders why JVP is the fastest growing Jewish organization in the country or why increasing numbers of especially young Jews not only support the Palestinian struggle for freedom, equality and justice, but also feel the Jewish Federation does not speak for them, the Federation need look no further than their deplorable stand on this Movement for Black Lives platform.
The wide-ranging new platform of a coalition growing out of the Black Lives Matter movement includes harsh criticism of Israel, which it describes as an “apartheid state” that, it claims, perpetrates “genocide” against the Palestinian people, endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.
Released Monday, the platform of the Movement for Black Lives calls for “an end to the war against Black people” and is the campaign’s first comprehensive document addressing specific federal policies.
Black Lives Matter Network is one of over 50 black-led organizations in the coalition.
While the majority of the document addresses issues other than Israel, the section on foreign policy, titled Invest-Divest, objects to U.S. military aid to Israel, which it describes as “a state that practices systematic discrimination and has maintained a military occupation of Palestine for decades.”
We, the undersigned organizations, commend Oregon’s U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer for asking House Speaker John Boehner to cancel an invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress. Rep. Blumenauer has stated that if the speech is not cancelled, he will refuse to attend. We implore all the members of Congress from Oregon to follow his example.
Our objections to the Netanyahu invitation go beyond the fact that: a.) This invitation is a breach of protocol, b.) It is a stunt timed just prior to a very close Israeli election and c.) It is an attempt by the Republican-controlled Congress to embarrass President Barack Obama.
The most serious objection to the invitation is that Netanyahu is attempting to scuttle negotiations between the United States and Iran regarding Iran’s nuclear program by urging Congress to impose additional sanctions on Iran. As Rep. Blumenauer states, the only solution in the best interests of all countries is a negotiated settlement. Why would Mr. Netanyahu be invited to thwart that effort? World leaders also recognize the danger of his address as interference with the diplomatic process and are also imploring that he not interfere.
Additional sanctions risk an end to the diplomatic path and an increase in tensions between our country and Iran that may lead to war. As a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Iran is under routine inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has never documented any evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Iran has called for the Middle East to be a nuclear weapons-free zone. In contrast, Israel has never signed the Nonproliferation Treaty and is known to possess nuclear weapons.
Inviting Netanyahu to address Congress is also reprehensible in view of Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza this past summer. Three respected human rights organizations—Amnesty International and the Israeli human rights groups B’Tselem and Physicians for Human Rights—have issued reports finding Israel guilty of committing war crimes by deliberately targeting civilians during its 51-day bombardment. Under Netanyahu’s government, Israel has continued unfettered settlement expansion and land confiscation, making a viable Palestinian state impossible. It continues to imprison Palestinians by using administrative detention laws that lack due process. It is unconscionable to invite a leader with such a dismal human rights record to address the U.S. Congress.
In short, Netanyahu’s speech is not in the best interests of the United States or of world peace. We, the undersigned, urge you to boycott the speech and speak out in opposition to any leader of a foreign nation seeking to intervene in the making of U.S. foreign policy.
Americans United for Palestinian
Human Rights, Corvallis/Albany Friends of Middle East Peace, Friends of Sabeel North America, Individuals for Justice, Jewish
Voice for Peace-Portland Chapter, Lutherans
for Justice in the Holy Land, Mission of the Atonement Holy Land Ministry, Peace and Justice Works Iraq Affinity Group, Oregon
Fellowship of Reconciliation, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Tree of Life Educational Fund-
West Coast, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (Corvallis chapter), Veterans for Peace Chapter 72 and Linus Pauling Chapter.
Water shortages are not new for Palestinians. Whether in the occupied Gaza Strip or the West Bank including East Jerusalem, the supply of water flowing into Palestinian homes is strictly capped or obstructed by Israel.
As temperatures climb during the summer, taps run dry. Clemens Messerschmid, a German hydrologist who has worked with Palestinians on their water supply for two decades, calls the situation “hydro-apartheid.”
This year, Israeli journalist Amira Hass published data proving that the Israeli Water Authority had reduced the amount of water delivered to West Bank villages.
In some places, the supply was slashed by half. Her records contradict official denials that water supplies to Palestinian cities and villages are cut during the summer, even though that too is not new.
Cities and small villages have gone as long as 40 days without running water this summer, forcing those who can afford it to haul in water tanks.
Israel’s high court placed the fate of the Palestinian village Susiya and its 340 residents in the hands of defense minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday, leaving it to him to decide whether the army will demolish nearly half its structures, mostly ramshackle dwellings.
On Monday, the court punted a petition the village had submitted with Rabbis for Human Rights requesting that it compel Israel’s occupation administration to recognize the legality of structures that Palestinians had built without permits from the army.
The president of the court, Miriam Naor, said she would reject the petition, but left the decision to Lieberman.
The Civil Administration, the name Israel gives to the military bureaucracy that rules the lives of millions of Palestinians, has refused to grant any building permits to the village.
Susiya is in the South Hebron Hills, and is part of “Area C” – about 60 percent of the West Bank that remains under full Israeli military control with no presence of the Palestinian Authority, according to the terms of the Oslo accords signed by the PLO and Israel in the early 1990s.
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