David Palumbo-Liu

As Palestinian Prisoners’ Hunger Strike Enters Second Month, Could Israel Force a Third Intifada?

On Sunday, May 21, 2017, a hunger strike by about 850 Palestinian prisoners entered its 35th day. On that day, the Israeli Prison Service evacuated 60 of the strikers to hospitals due to their deteriorating medical conditions. Nearly 600 others were moved into infirmaries, while a general strike was planned throughout the West Bank.

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Trump's 'Muslim Ban' Is Damaging Crucial Humanitarian Work Around the World - and Also Galvanizing Mass Resistance

There may be no way to adequately represent the full cost of President Trump’s executive order curtailing immigration from select Muslim countries — it has unleashed both immediate and long-term damage to individuals, families and whole populations. (That order is now on hold, thanks to the order of a federal judge in Seattle — but no one knows for how long.)

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Modern Language Association Votes Down Boycott Resolution on Palestinians

On January 7, the Delegate Assembly of the Modern Language Association voted against a non-binding resolution to endorse the call from Palestinian civil society for the academic boycott of Israeli institutions (Yes 79; No 113).  At that same session, the Assembly voted for a resolution to “refrain from endorsing” the boycott (Yes 101; No 93). This latter resolution now must be ratified by the membership at large. 

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Israel Puts Celebrated Palestinian Activist On Trial

On November 23, the long-delayed trial of human rights defender Issa Amro began in a military court in the occupied West Bank. Charges against Amro, a 36-year-old Palestinian activist who heads the non-violent human rights group, Youth Against Settlements, stem from 18 alleged crimes stretching back three years. Among the charges— “insulting” an Israeli officer. Other changes include organizing demonstrations and “incitement,” a catch-all term that has been particularly used to arrest and detain people for postings on social media. What is highly significant in this case is that by reaching back this far in time and gathering together these charges in one bundle, what were relatively minor “crimes” are now consolidated into charges that can earn him a much longer sentence. Haaretz calls the charges against him an “unusually broad” indictment. Amro faces up to three years in prison. His attorney, Gabby Lasky, has submitted a motion to have 14 of the 18 charged dismissed on the grounds that those charges are several years old and in some cases the charges were already investigated and closed without indictment. Issa Amro’s arrest has garnered international attention—many see it as one of the most serious examples of Israel’s intent to clamp down on all forms of resistance—violent or non-violent. The hearings promise to be a landmark legal battle over what Israel will permit in terms of peaceful protest and the consequences that face those who engage in it.

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Senate Anti-Semitism Bill Targets Student Activists While Letting Real Bigots off the Hook

Under the cover of the outrage that has accompanied the election of Donald Trump to the presidency and his appointment of Steve Bannon as his chief strategist, a man the Anti-Defamation League has condemned as a facilitator of “a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists,” two U.S. senators have fast-tracked the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, a bill that is aimed less at fighting anti-Semitism and more at suppressing student activism for Palestinian rights. U.S. senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced the bipartisan bill on November 29. Two days later, without any debate, the Senate passed the bill, which enlists the Department of Education to deprive students and others on campus of their constitutionally guaranteed rights.

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Israel’s War on Open Discourse: State Censorship Now Reaches Into International News Sources and Social Media

Since the beginning of this year, Israel’s attempts to control what people can read and write within the country and in occupied Palestinian territories have increased, reaching into new areas in ways that are of concern.  

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Was The Anthropological Association BDS Vote A Defeat, Or Sign Of The Movement's Development?

When in 2013 the American Studies Association voted for the academic boycott of Israeli institutions, the near silence of the American press regarding the cause of Palestinian rights was broken. From that point on, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, created from within Palestinian civil society, has been increasingly successful and increasingly in the news. Suddenly the idea of academic boycotts could no longer be considered merely symbolic.  

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As Methodists Continue Their Support of BDS, Is Hillary Clinton on the Wrong Side on Palestinian Rights?

Despite the latest frontal attack on the grassroots boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian freedom by church member Hillary Clinton, and intense lobbying by representatives of the Israeli government with church delegates, the United Methodist Church continued its support of Palestinian rights at its General Conference in Portland last week.

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Scientific Stars Join Activists: Noted Palestinian Professor Arrested and Released - Again

Recently, for the second time in 15 months, noted Palestinian professor and astrophysicist Imad Al-Barghouthi was arrested by Israeli authorities.  Barghouthi, a professor of space physics at al-Quds University, was arrested at an Israeli military checkpoint in the West Bank on his way home.  According to the New Arab news source, Barghouthi, “a leading researcher, publishing frequently in academic astrophysics journals,” has previously worked for NASA.  In what appears now as an extended manipulative game played by the Israeli government, Barghouthi was arrested, released, re-arrested, exonerated, and yet not released as should have been the case.  Rather, after the prosecutor for the initial charge said he had no compelling evidence to keep Barghouthi under detention, and thereupon the military court said it would release Barghouthi, a new charge of “incitement” has been cooked up to keep him detained.

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Israel Targets BDS Movement Co-Founder With 'Civil Elimination' Plan

If the cold-blooded, documented murder of an already wounded, disarmed, and prostrate Palestinian youth on a public street carried out by a member of the  Israeli army by an almost casual shot to the head is only the most recent in a long series of what Amnesty International has called “extrajudicial executions” of Palestinian men, women, and children, it is not unfair to regard it as a particular index to the profound depths of moral poverty to which Israel has fallen. That Israeli municipalities and politicians are rallying on the soldier’s behalf and holding him up as a national folk hero is still more depraved.

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Anti-Zionism Does Not Equal Anti-Semitism: Someone Please Tell Hillary Clinton and the University of California

Last summer there was a flurry of activity in the University of California system as U.C. regents were pressured to suppress criticism of Israel on U.C. campuses. One regent in favor of such silencing played a trump card: He threatened to bring his particularly well-connected partner in to add muscle. The regent was wealthy developer Richard Blum, his wife is Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Here is what Blum said in September:

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America Is Changing Its Mind on Israel: How Netanyahu Is Alienating His Most Essential Ally

The current violence in Israel-Palestine—immediately following the debate about the Iran arms deal, which revealed growing fissures in American support of Israel–has brought the conflict into the foreground of U.S. political discourse. The absence of any serious mention of Israel-Palestine during the first Democratic presidential debate thus speaks volumes. It tells us that even as polls show more and more of the Democratic base shifting its support away from Israel, the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination are reluctant to talk about Israel. It will be interesting to see if they shift their stances at all in the next few months, given the stakes that are emerging. Recent polls have shown that Latinos, a critical constituency, are lending their sympathy to the Palestinians. They join the young, progressives, Blacks, and Asian Americans. This is not only the perception of supporters of Palestinian rights, this point of view is shared by advocates of Israel as well.

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