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Executive Director Rev Mark J Davidson's Latest Blog Post

7/29/2021

The big news in Israel this past week was the decision by Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, the progressive, Vermont-based retailer, to stop selling its flavorful pints in the Israeli settlements. Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, both proud American Jews and supporters of Israel were widely pilloried for supposedly engaging in “anti-Semitism”, “caving to the BDS movement” and “attacking the towns and villages of Israel.” Actually, what their independent Board of Directors did, after years of grassroots lobbying, was finally agree to apply the progressive values in the company’s code of conduct to the settlements issue. Among those bringing the pressure were Black Lives Matter activists, women, and people of color who were grateful for Ben and Jerry’s commitment to racial equity, and took the logical next step and asked, “What about Palestine?” Logical, because, as Dr. King put it, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Logical because “no one is free until all are free.” Logical because liberation struggles are intimately connected with each other.

I remember when the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) passed a boycott of settlement products in 2012 and urged all its members not to buy products made in the settlements or using Palestinian natural resources (such as Ahava, the Israeli cosmetic company expropriating Dead Sea minerals). At the time, the Church was very careful to distinguish the settlements (which are built on stolen Palestinian land and illegal under international law) from Israel proper (the internationally recognized sovereign Jewish state inside The Green Line). The thinking was “we support the state of Israel, but we condemn the illegal settlements.” Ben and Jerry’s action observed that same distinction. But it all seems so quaint now. In a recent letter signed by 90 of 120 members of Knesset, it’s clear that the vast majority of the Knesset and Israeli society view the settlements not as some kind of international embarrassment, but as an indivisible part of Israel. Attack the settlements and you are attacking Israel. This land is our land. We are not done annexing Palestinian land. The Knesset majority brazenly refers to huge swaths of the West Bank, not as Occupied Palestinian Territories, but as “Judea and Samaria,” ancient Jewish names for the region, signaling they intend to make them part of Israel, too.

Recent reports by B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch also pay little attention to the distinction between the illegal settlements and the legal state of Israel. Instead, they look unflinchingly at the brute facts on all the ground between the river and the sea. Their conclusion: there is but one sovereign power governing the space, and its name is Israel. What’s worth noting is that the Israeli government’s reaction to Ben and Jerry’s actually validated this unitary framing in the B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch reports. It’s basically saying, “If you divest from the settlements, it is the same, for us, as divesting from Israel. They are not two separable things; they are one and the same.” As we are seeing, divest from the settlements, as Ben and Jerry’s have announced they plan to do next year, and you will feel the full wrath of the Israeli government and large portions of the American Jewish establishment exactly as if you had mounted a campaign against the state of Israel. Precisely. Israel as a whole – its policies and practices toward the Palestinians within Israel proper and in the West Bank and Gaza – is the work of a unitary annexationist, apartheid state. So, here’s the question: why observe a distinction that Israel itself does not acknowledge? What’s stopping a full-scale boycott, divestment, and sanctions strategy directed at the state of Israel?

-Mark


On June 9, we hosted acclaimed speaker Jim Zogby!

This May we rallied to support Palestinian people!

Join us this Saturday, May 15th at 2 PM at Moore Square in Raleigh for a rally to protest the ongoing Israeli state-sanctioned and fascist mob violence and attacks on the Palestinian people. On the 73rd anniversary of the Nakba, we raise the Palestinian flag!

These visuals are an excellent tool for explaining the situation in Palestine. Thank you Visualizing Palestine for making them!

Poetry Reading

Apartheid is Alive and Well in Israel:

A Betrayal of Biblical Ethics

With Dr. S T Kimbrough, Jr.

On February 24, 2021, we hosted a night of poetry from Dr. S T Kimbrough, Jr. Dr. Kimbrough is a biblical theologian, acclaimed opera singer, and published poet addressing challenging contemporary issues such as Israel-Palestine, climate change, war and peace, and the plight of children and refugees in the Middle East.

Black History Month: Movement Spotlight

In honor of Black History Month, VJP will highlighted amazing Black-led organizations and campaigns happening locally and nationally that we encourage all of our membership to support and donate to! We will be adding a new organization each day - so check back here for updates and check out our social media for updates!

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VJP 2020 Highlights

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Our Work

Education

From Lebanon to Palestine: A Vision for Honest Democracy with Dr. Rania Masri

Click here to watch the recording!

On October 24th, 2020 VJP hosted a webinar with Dr. Rania Masri. Learn more about our event here


Perspectives on the One State With Yousef Munayyer and Peter Beinart

Watch the recording here!

On September 10th, 2020 VJP hosted a webinar with Yousef Munayyer and Peter Beinart. Learn more about the event here.


Advocacy

Ending Police Exchanges Between Israel and US

Palestinian-American Dr. Burhan Ghanayem speaks at the Durham City Council Meeting on April 16, 2018

Thanks to the depth and breadth of several organizations supporting the Council resolution to bar police police from training in Israel and other countries with militarized police the resolution passed unanimously and Durham became the first city in the United States to take such action. A firestorm of protests ensued from pro-Israeli factions. But the resolution stands. Read all about it here. Also see check out Eye Witness Palestine's account.

To get involved, visit Demilitarize Durham2Palestine.

Protest Against Knesset at Chapel Hill Council

Coalition for Peace with Justice Members Protest Knesset Members at Chapel Hill Council Meeting, April 2016

Members protest the Town of Chapel Town Council Hosting four Knesset members, who used the occasion to normalize the occupation of Palestinian and the egregious human rights violations against the Palestinian people. Read all about it in this Mondoweiss article.

VJP In Pictures

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Click here for more information on VJP's work

Learn

Police Brutality from the US to Palestine

Minneapolis

On May 25, 2020, Derek Chauvin, a police officer, brutally murdered George Floyd. Chauvin violently cut off George Floyd's airflow using his knee while Floyd desperately pleaded for his life. Outrage at Floyd's murder as one in a long line of state and extrajudicial murders of Black people in the United States sparked nationwide protests, marking #BLM as one of the largest movements in U.S. history.

Resources:

  • A document listing ways to support #BlackLivesMattet

  • Movement for Black Lives website chalk full of good information, events, and actions

  • Engage locally by donating to NC Bail Fund


Jerusalem

Did you know? Minnesota Police Department trained with Israeli Police. The same brutal tactic used by Chauvin against Floyd is deployed by IDF soldiers in Palestine. The U.S. and Israel have a sordid history of sharing brutalizing tactics in order to criminalize, surveil, and murder Black, Indigenous, and Palestinian people.

Resources:

  • Check out Demilitarize Durham2Palestine to learn how to fight police militarization and brutality from Durham to Palestine

  • Learn more about the exchanges of violence

  • Read up on the ways in which Israeli police dehumanizes and brutalizes Palestinian life

  • Learn about the myriad violations committed by the Israeli occupying force


Israeli Human Rights Abuses

Child Detention

Israel detains and imprisons Palestinian children. Children are forced to endure inhumane conditions, torture, and more.

Israeli Troops Kill Peaceful Protesters

Israeli troops were ordered to kill and maim peaceful protesters durning the Great March of Return.

For more resources, click here