Solidarity with Palestine at Stanford | Tulio Ospina
The massive Palestinian civilian death toll of Operation Protective Edge last summer marked a watershed moment for the growth of sentiment in solidarity with Palestine in the United States. In an August Gallup poll
, 51 percent of young adults in the U.S. said Israel's actions were unjustified, whereas just 25 percent said they approved of them. Jewish Voice for Peace experienced rapid growth
across the country. The widely-shared images and videos of the horrors of the assault, which killed over 1,500 civilians and 500 children, gave a strong impetus to shifts in opinion that have been underway
since Operation Cast Lead in 2008, the last time Israel attacked Gaza
on this scale.
This turning tide has broken through at Stanford University. Out of Occupied Palestine -- a coalition of 19 student groups
, including Students for Justice in Palestine, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, the NAACP, and the Black Student Union -- is in the midst of an intense campaign
to get the university to stop investing in companies that enable violations of international law and human rights abuses against Palestinians. As of Feb. 7, over 1,600 Stanford students had signed our petition
, whereas the anti-divestment petition had received just a little over 300 student signatures.
As organizers of the divestment campaign, we have experienced firsthand a very positive reception as we canvass in dining areas and residences with our petition, as well as at our educational events. A decade ago, Palestine solidarity activists on campuses didn't get the benefit of the doubt when we talked about human rights for Palestinians. The most common responses were "it's too complicated," or "what about terrorism," or "I don't really know enough." That needle has moved. Progressive young people today identify the plight and recognize the struggle of the Palestinians. We see it in the context of empire, racism, and inequality.
Stanford students have organized a resurgence of political activism that highlights the intersections of exploitation and several forms of oppression in the world around us. The early
"Black Lives Matter" demonstrations last year were the first time many students had engaged in civil disobedience demanding more from our government -- demanding justice. Since then, a number of young people across the country and at Stanford have become newly familiar with the camaraderie and adrenaline pulses of protests.
Their boldness grew
over time. When the NYPD officer who killed Eric Garner was not indicted, more than one hundred Stanford students walked onto Highway 101 and shut it down in their red college sweaters. Then, on Martin Luther King Day, 68 students participated in an action on the San Mateo Bridge
and chanted until they were all arrested, and then chanted some more. It was during this last protest that a massive Palestinian flag was unfurled onto the bridge for every local news helicopter to see.
"We proudly carry the Palestinian flag as we call on Stanford to divest from human rights violations in the occupation and related state violence in the US," stated the press release about the demonstration. "Combating the triplets of racism, militarism and materialism was one of the biggest legacies King left us."
Shared solidarity and struggle across communities at Stanford have mirrored what is currently happening across global communities. Students are piecing together that many of the same corporations facilitating human rights violations in Palestine also work within the US: providing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets used on protesters to police departments, constructing a concrete wall to enforce borders, and profiting off mass incarceration. A recent trip
by Black Lives Matter leaders and Ferguson activists to Palestine further reveals how two communities threatened by state-sanctioned violence are acknowledging these connections between injustice abroad and injustice at home.
On Feb. 17, the Undergraduate Senate of the Associated Students of Stanford University passed Out of Occupied Palestine's resolution to divest from corporations facilitating the occupation of Palestine. The first senate vote a week prior had achieved a 9-5 majority, but at the re-vote, it achieved a 10-4 majority, passing the two-thirds threshold required. This victory comes on the heels of the passage of a similar resolution
by the University of California Student Association, which represents the 233,000 students enrolled in the UC school system. Two months before that, United Auto Workers Local 2865, which represents 13,000 student-workers across the entire UC system, became the first US labor union tovote to support
the Palestinian call for divestment.
Can I Take a Tax-Deduction on My Donation to Israeli Settlements in Palestine? | Foreign Policy
Can I Take a Tax-Deduction on My Donation to Israeli Settlements in Palestine?
American charities funnel millions of dollars to support the building of illegal settlements in the occupied territories. It's time for this to end.
th Israel’s campaign season in full swing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will add a new stop to his campaign trail. At U.S. House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation, Netanyahu is slated to address Congress on March 3 to advocate for a tougher line against Iran, in particular regarding the ongoing negotiations over its nuclear program. If Congress gives Netanyahu a platform to address these issues, it should also begin a conversation with President Barack Obama’s administration about how the United States can strike a blow against Israel’s continued settlement construction.
Since Netanyahu took office in March 2009, the population of Israeli settlements has grown dramatically. According to recently released Israeli government data
, from the beginning of 2009 until the beginning of 2014, the settlement population grew 23 percent — more than double the rate of the overall Israeli population, which expanded 9.6 percent. In late December, another 380 new housing units in East Jerusalem settlements were approved.
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This growth is partly being funded by millions of dollars from tax-exempt American charities, which help expand and support settlements.This growth is partly being funded by millions of dollars from tax-exempt American charities, which help expand and support settlements. Even though this revenue stream arguably violates Internal Revenue Service rules, neither Congress nor the Obama administration has done anything to stop it.
In late September, settlers moved into 25 housing units in Silwan, an East Jerusalem neighborhood that abuts the Old City to the south and is home to 50,000 Palestinians. The move prompted the Obama administration to condemn
the organization that engineered the purchase — a reference, apparently, to an Israeli association known as Elad — as one “whose agenda, by definition, stokes tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Elad’s name is an acronym for “To the City of David,” the name Israelis use for Silwan. The name reflects the organization’s mission
to, in its own words, “strengthen the Jewish connection” in the neighborhood, in particular, and East Jerusalem more broadly “through settlement and environmental and touristic development.” Elad’s agenda coincides with Israel’s state policy of moving its citizens into occupied territory — a position that violates international law. The Rome Statute, the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court, provides
that the court may prosecute government officials responsible for the “transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
American taxpayers indirectly subsidize Elad’s work. In 2011 and 2012, the two most recent years for which tax filings
are publicly available, Elad received around two-thirds
of its donations through a New York-based charity, Friends of Ir David. The charity transferred $5.6 million in grants in 2012 and $6.9 million in grants in 2011 to Elad — almost its entire revenue stream
. The founder of Elad, David Be’eri, is also a board member of the American charity.
In late October 2014, nine more Israeli families moved into Silwan. They wereassisted
by Ateret Cohanim, another Israeli settlement association largely funded through its U.S.-based charity, which raises
between $1 million and $2 million in tax-deductible contributions annually for Ateret Cohanim’s benefit.