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The Gaza War and its Historical Context

A panel discussion with Dr. Nahida Gordon

Dr. Gordon is Professor Emerita at Case-Western Reserve University, a steering committee member of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and pre-1948 native of Palestine. She has been a guest on Democracy Now and is currently writing a book on Palestine Voices.

and Ahmed Arafat

Pittsburgh resident Ahmed Arafat was born and raised in Gaza by refugee parents.
He will relate the personal stories of his family’s life in Gaza.

Sunday, Sept. 28, 4pm
First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh
605 Morewood Avenue, Shadyside

FREE — OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

AUTHENTIC ARAB REFRESHMENTS WILL BE SERVED

Co-sponsored by the Pittsburgh Palestine Solidarity Committee, the Thomas Merton Center, and 
the Consortium for Educational Resources on Islamic Studies (CERIS).
square_chop

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How to Help Gaza Now

[Source: a public Facebook post by Nicolas Sawaya . Our additions and edits are noted inline below--PghPSC]

Many people who have been shocked by the brutality of this latest Israeli attack on Gaza have asked: what can we do to help? I think that’s a fair question, and one that deserves to be answered as broadly as possible. There are multiple ways to help, and I’ve tried to compile a list that offers a broad set of options that you can choose from below (note that this list was motivated and inspired by a nice list made by an anonymous person and shared by Alex Reza). Depending on how much time and effort you’re willing to commit, you can choose to participate in one or many of these options, and every little helps. I don’t pretend that the list below is comprehensive or incorporates every possible means of helping. As such, if you feel strongly about options that are not included, by all means, copy/paste, add that to the list and then share. Also, if you disagree with certain options, feel free to copy/paste and remove these options and then share. Either way, share as widely as possible, subject to your personal sensibilities.

1) Educate yourself.

I can’t emphasize this one enough. There are many resources available to you to learn more about the Palestinian Israeli “conflict”, and understanding the history of the “conflict” is critical. Context matters. This latest brutal attack didn’t happen in a vacuum. There are underlying reasons that go back in time that are critical to understand in order to better contextualize why this “conflict” persists, and why this attack (only the latest one on Gaza) happened. I’m tired of US mainstream media (in particular) erasing, censuring or avoiding context and turning the discussion into cliches like “cycle of violence” that insist on a false sense of “balance” between two parties seemingly at war. In reality, this is a “conflict” between a people that has been ethnically cleansed, dispossessed, refugized and occupied, resisting an oppressor who continues to insist on defining the victim as victimizer. Here’s a good graphical primer to get started and that gives that much needed historical context: http://thrivalroom.com/understand-israeli-palestinian-apartheid-11-graphics/

a) News Sources and Analysis

b) Documentaries / Movies / Clips

c) Books

(please go to Amazon and insert title; links eat up too much space)

  • Harms & Ferry “The Palestine Israel Conflict: Basic Introduction”
  • Pappe, Ilan “A History of Modern Day Palestine: One Land, Two People”
  • Said, Edward “The Question of Palestine”
  • Neumann, Michael “The Case Against Israel”
  • Abunimah, Ali “One Country”
  • Mearsheimer & Walt “The Israeli Lobby and US Foreign Policy”
  • Masalha, Nur “Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of “Transfer” in Zionist Political Thought”
  • Morris, Benny “Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict-, 1881-2001”
  • Khalidi, Walid “From Haven to Conquest: Readings in Zionism and the Palestine Problem Until 1948″

2) Outreach and Education

a) Social media.

Spreading the word though social media is a great way to disseminate points of view and information. Most people get their news from Facebook or Twitter these days, so take advantage of that. Having said that, some important words of caution:

Please make sure that the information that you provide is first and foremost accurate. Too many times, people unfortunately share images that are not from Gaza (they may be from Iraq or Syria, for example), or videos that are old but are pitched as new (they may be from previous attacks on Gaza, for example), or simply videos or images that are fakes or doctored (photo-shopped images or edits and dubs that give the impression someone is saying something that is not true, for example). Of course, people don’t do it on purpose, but it’s our responsibility to check to make sure we’re sharing accurate information. Sharing inaccurate information doesn’t help on two fronts. First, by definition, it is information that is not representative of reality (whether the person sharing it knows or doesn’t know). Second, it serves to undermine your credibility, which is your most important asset. Finally, the truth is brutal enough, and as such, is more than enough in getting your point across.

Contextualize and explain what you’re sharing. It doesn’t help if you simply post an image of a dead child. Who is this child? How did he or she die? What is the name of the child? What were the circumstances of his or her death?

b) Call your representatives.

This may or may not be effective depending on where you live, but is still worth engaging in given the small effort this requires.

  • For people in the US, the following link http://whoismyrepresentative.com/ allows you to simply input your zip code in order to find out who represents you both in the House and in the Senate.
  • You can also call the Whitehouse at the following number 202-456-1111. Feel free to add information for the country you live in. [PghPSC adds email the whitehouse via its online form]

c) Talk to people.

In this age of technology, we simply don’t do this enough. Many people are curious about the situation and what’s going in Gaza right now, so take every opportunity to discuss this with them if they express interest. Invite them for lunch, dinner, or simply coffee. I’ve found that a 1 on 1 discussion is the most effective way of conveying information to people who are interested. Yes, it’s only one person at a time, but the quality of information uptake is second to none, and every person counts.

3) Participate in local protests, vigils and “solidarity events”

Depending on your availability and the timing of these events in your local area, try to make some of these (and I know it’s hard sometimes, and I’m just as guilty as anyone else for missing some of these). This helps on several fronts: first, it demonstrates solidarity with the people of Gaza that are under constant bombardment, which helps them know that they are not alone in this struggle; second, it demonstrates to your local community that there is an opposition to the actions of Israel, and may also lead them to get interested in learning more about the “conflict”; third, it puts pressure on your local representatives to acknowledge the existence of this opposition, which may help in putting pressure on politicians to “do something” (especially here in the US); finally, if media is present, it allows your message to be broadcast to a much wider audience that may otherwise be oblivious to the situation.

4) Donate Money

Donating money is a great way to contribute to alleviating some of the suffering that the people of Gaza are currently undergoing. Every little helps.

Some other non-profits recommended in Alex Reza’s list:

5) Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)

This section is taken from the BDS section of Alex Reza’s list:

Boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) is a movement that was called for by Palestinian civil society. It is a grassroots, nonviolent form of resistance that there are so many ways to participate in.

Here is the Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions: http://www.bdsmovement.net/call

Divestment:

Get involved with (or start) a campaign for your university, workplace, union, etc. to pull out its investments in companies that are connected to

  • Israeli human rights offenses.
    Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has led many successful divestment campaigns at universities across the country. http://sjpnational.org/
  • We Divest is a project of Jewish Voice for Peace, which has successfully pressured TIAA-CREF around its occupation investments.https://wedivest.org/

Consumer Boycott:

Here is a quick list of companies that profit from Israeli human rights offenses.
http://mic.com/articles/81363/9-brands-you-can-boycott-to-hold-israel-accountable-for-its-violation-of-international-law

Consumer boycott is about individually deciding not to buy these products, but it’s also about popular education. Flyering to educate people about what’s behind this stuff. Encouraging local shops not to sell these products.There are ongoing successful consumer boycott campaigns against SodaStream and Sabra Hummus, for example.

Cultural and Academic Boycott:

As artists and academics, it’s very important that we decolonize the way we produce our work, and don’t let it be used to normalize violent structures.
There is a set of guidelines for cultural and academic boycott from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) that artists and academics can sign on to.

An excellent resource, which can help you find information for whichever kind of BDS campaign you decide to get involved with, is the Who Profits? database: http://www.whoprofits.org/

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Statement by the Pittsburgh Palestine Solidarity Committee on the Cancellation of the Art Exhibit: SITES OF PASSAGE: BORDERS, WALLS & CITIZENSHIP

In order to establish the state of Israel in 1948, European Zionist paramilitary groups
ethnically cleansed Palestine by driving out 650,000 Palestinians from their homes and
destroying and depopulating 400 villages. Today, those 650,000 now number in the
millions, and many languish in refugee camps in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
(OPT), Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. In the last 65 years, this process of ethnic cleansing
has continued unabated. Millions of Palestinians, both inside Israel and throughout the
Diaspora, are denied basic civil and human rights on a daily basis. Israel’s seemingly
unquenchable thirst for more land and water resources is satiated only by house
demolitions, the expropriation of large tracts of farm land, and racist laws designed to
place the Palestinians in an untenable situation.

International human rights organizations and the U.N. have documented the widespread
and systematic manner in which Israel has violated international human rights and
humanitarian law, all to little avail. Israel continues to deprive Palestinians of their right
to return to their homes and villages, the right to travel safely, the right to own and
maintain their land, and even the basic right to marry. Palestinians experience arbitrary
arrest and detention without trial at the hands of one of the strongest militaries in the
world, with approximately 8,000 political prisoners currently in Israeli jails. And on a
routine basis, Israeli soldiers kill Palestinians with impunity.

Faced with this wretched course of history, Palestinian civil-society has called for
boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel as a direct result of
over 65 years of exile, violence, racism and segregation. The Israeli government and its
champions have organized or supported a system of legal segregation, which too closely
resembles the Jim Crow South and apartheid South Africa. They have forced the
Palestinian people, caged by walls and fences, and suffering an ongoing denial of basic
human rights, into an act of legitimate and necessary form of non-violent self-defense
that is the BDS movement. With no international political leadership, and with an
increasingly intransigent Israeli government, BDS is an important means by which the
world can pressure Israel to change its course.

It is within this context that the Mattress Factory Exhibit, featuring American, Palestinian
and Israeli artists has been cancelled. Both the Mattress Factory and the Pittsburgh
Filmmakers released statements identifying the exhibit as one of collaboration between
the artists. However, each artist worked independently. After meeting with the
Palestinian artists this week, it is our belief that they began their work on this project in a
spirit consistent with BDS, but withdrew due to their concern that the exhibit, in its
entirety, may run afoul of the BDS movement. While the Jewish Chronicle article (May
28, 2014, “Israeli/Palestinian show canceled amid Arab threats”) clearly blames the
show’s cancellation on the “Arabs,” Palestinian artists, and the boycott movement, the
real blame lies squarely with Israel’s continued systematic human and civil rights abuses.

The Pittsburgh Palestine Solidarity Committee supports the artists’ withdrawal from the
exhibit, as we are of the belief that public events perceived as normalizing the unjust
status quo or continuing a never-ending dialogue while Israel intensifies its oppression of
the Palestinian people, undercut Palestinian civil society’s BDS efforts to overturn
Israel’s racist system of segregation and occupation.

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A Lecture By Jeff Halper: World Advocate for Palestinian/Israeli Peace

University of Pittsburgh
Ballroom—Pitt Student Union
Monday, November 4, 2013
12 NOON-1:30 pm

Jeff Halper’s presentation is entitled “ISRAEL/PALESTINE: TOWARDS PEACE, APARTHEID OR WAREHOUSING?”  This talk presents the political situation in maps, and also walks through a house demolition in slides. It ends up asking: Where do we go from here?, in which he will talk about options for resolving the conflict – two states, one state (bi-national or democratic) or a regional confederation – or towards apartheid or the warehousing of the Palestinian population.

Halper is author of: An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel (2012). His organization, ICAHD, works in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to rebuild Palestinian homes that have been demolished by Israeli bulldozers. In 2006, Halper was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, citing his work “to liberate both the Palestinian and the Israeli people from the yoke of structural violence” and “to build equality between their people by celebrating their common humanity.” In 2007, ICAHD received the Olive Branch Award from Jewish Voice for Peace.

[Halper will also be giving a workshop on activism Saturday, November 2. Details here.]

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A Workshop with Jeff Halper: World Advocate for Palestinian/Israeli Peace

Jeff Halper

Saturday, November 2, 2013
1-5 pm
The First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh (Ellsworth & Morewood)
Hosted by UUs for Justice in the Middle East (UUJME)

r.s.v.p. for light buffet supper at the end of the workshop

The continuing struggle for a just and fair peace between Israelis and Palestinians should concern all of us. Dr. Jeff Halper is an American-born Jew who has lived in West Jerusalem for forty years and is co-founder and director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. He will be presenting a workshop on how we can best direct our energy to advocate for Palestinian-Israeli peace.

Halper speaks before audiences everywhere in the world. The questions he asks will be central to the workshop:

    What does it mean to be active in the United States on behalf of Palestine/Israel?
    What are the implications for activism?
    Where do we go from here? How do we reframe the issue?
    Boycott, divestment, sanction (BDS): What are the issues? Why is it important?

Come be part of this important discussion/workshop. Learn how we can together move forward in addressing this pressing, seemingly intractable situation.

Halper is author of: An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel (2012). His organization, ICAHD, works in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to rebuild Palestinian homes that have been demolished by Israeli bulldozers. In 2006, Halper was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, citing his work “to liberate both the Palestinian and the Israeli people from the yoke of structural violence” and “to build equality between their people by celebrating their common humanity.” In 2007, ICAHD received the Olive Branch Award from Jewish Voice for Peace.

Please RSVP for the buffet supper to: krparker . 4487 @gmail.

[Halper will also be giving a public presentation on Monday, November 4. Details here.]

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Palestinian-American Sam Bahour to speak at the University of Pittsburgh

Sam Bahour

Wednesday, October 16, 2013, 7:00pm – 8:30pm
William Pitt Union, (Kurtzman Ball Room)

Sam is a Palestinian-American based in Al-Bireh/Ramallah, Palestine. He is a freelance business consultant operating as Applied Information Management (AIM), specializing in business development with a niche focus on start-ups. Sam was instrumental in the establishment of the Palestine Telecommunications Company and the PLAZA Shopping Center and recently completed a full term as a Board of Trustees member at Birzeit University. He is a Director at the Arab Islamic Bank and serves in various capacities in several community organizations, including serving as a member of the core Local Reference Group of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). Sam writes frequently on Palestinian affairs and has been widely published. Sam is co-editor of HOMELAND: Oral History of Palestine and Palestinians

[facebook event page]

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Pittsburgh’s Appeal to the Presbyterian General Assembly to Support Overtures by the Middle East Peacemaking Committee

 

WARMEST GREETINGS TO THE DELEGATES AND ATTENDEES OF THE 220TH PRESBYTERIAN GENERAL ASSEMBLY 

We are Muslim, Christian and Jewish, Palestinian, Arab and American.

We are native and foreign-born.

We come from all walks of life.

We are students, businessmen and women, activists, artists, professors and workers and we want to thank you from the bottom of our collective hearts for your hard work and dedication to the cause of peace with justice for the peoples of Palestine and Israel.

 

Enduring 60+ years of occupation and oppression, the Palestinian people have continued non-violent resistance through their call for divestment and boycott against the state of Israel, especially its destructive military machine.  Divesting from companies that profit from the illegal occupation of the West Bank and boycotting products made by illegal Israeli settlers carries the moral authority and tells the state of Israel that its discrimination against the Muslim and Christian communities is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by others.

 

Palestinian American, Sam Bahour explained: “Palestinian civil society and Palestinians-Christians and Muslims alike have urged you to divest from the occupation. As we struggle to remain hopeful while a 24-foot high cement wall snakes through our homeland, we Palestinians don’t want a more beautiful prison to live in. We want the prison walls to come down, and that won’t happen unless pressure is placed on Israel to end the occupation.”

 


We therefore urge you to vote for the following overtures:

15-02 On Boycotting Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories and Hadiklaim

15-03 On Divestment from Caterpillar

15-04 On Supporting a Peaceful, Diplomatic Solution to the US-Iran Issues

15-06 On Responding to the Call from Palestinian Christians for Economic Solidarity

15-08 On Approving the GAMC’s Recommendations on Selective Divestment Made by MRTI

15-09 On Human Rights and Religious Freedom of Arab Christians and Other Palestinian Citizens

15-11 MRTI Report on Engagements with Corporations Involved in Israel, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank

 

By supporting these overtures you bring us closer to that day when Palestinians and Israelis can live normal and productive lives.

 

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Presbyterian General Assembly 220 Pittsburgh

The Presbyterian Church’s Middle East Peace Making Committee voted on Tuesday in favor of divesting from CAT, HP and Motorola Solutions because of those companies’ support of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. They also voted to boycott all Israeli products made in the Occupied West Bank. On Thursday, the committee will bring its recommendation to the General Assembly of the church, as the GA will make their decision to adopt the committees recommendations or not (they can also choose to amend).
LIVE STREAM @ http://oga.pcusa.org/section/ga/ga220/

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My Name is Rachel Corrie

Free and Open to the Public

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CONFRONTING APARTHEID

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