June 2018 Monthly Update

In This Issue
Update on Esther Koontz and Ahed Tamimi
Congressional Bill to Apply Israel-Centric Definition to Antisemitism on Campuses
Cities for Palestine Campaign and Toolkit
MCC Signs Gaza Statement and Offers Action to Take
Christ at the Checkpoint Conference USA
Go HP-Free
Read More

Razan Al-Najjar (left) and Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez (right)
Oppression does not occur in a vacuum. The dots connecting injustice cross geographic boundaries and specific issues. Antisemitism, Black racism and Islamophobia have common links in the United States and around the world. Intersectionality is the term increasingly used to describe these threads of connection. Four examples illustrate the intersectionality between the United States and Israel:
1. Razan Al-Najjar was a 21-year-old medical volunteer shot dead on June 1, 2018 by an Israeli sniper as she tended the wounded in Gaza during the Great March of Return. Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez was a 20-year-old woman from San Juan Ostuncalco in Guatemala who was also shot dead on May 23, 2018 by a US Border Patrol agent as she marched to a safer and better life in the US. Within eight days of each other, these two young women (photograph above) were murdered at a border, Razan on the Gaza/Israel border and Claudia on the Mexico/US Border.
2. Israel and the US have state-enforced policies to separate children from their families and hold them in detention. Several hundred Palestinian children languish in Israeli prisons and several thousand Central American children suffer detention in cages in the United States, all forcibly separated from their families.

3. The building of racist walls of separation in Israel and the planned expansion of walls on the Mexico/US border involve two Israeli corporations: Elbit and Elta play a significant role in building both walls.

4. The Trump and Netanyahu collaboration with dangerous exchange programs bring together police, ICE, border patrol and the FBI from the United States with soldiers, police and border patrols from Israel for training in control and intimidation tactics and the use of lethal force.

Update on Esther Koontz and Ahed Tamimi

Esther Koontz (left) and Ahed Tamimi (right)

Earlier this year, Esther Koontz, a Mennonite school teacher, filed a lawsuit against the State of Kansas when she lost a job opportunity because she would not promise to not boycott Israeli corporations or institutions that participate in the oppression of Palestinian people. Esther told MennoPIN that after the injunction against the Kansas law took effect, “the state of Kansas passed a new law stating that the anti boycott certificate only applies to companies (not individuals) and only those with contracts over $100,000.  Therefore, the law no longer applies to me, so I can no longer be a plaintiff.  My lawyers will likely be dismissing the case on our terms.” Stay tuned for further developments on Esther’s case.

Also, a parole board in the West Bank Rimonim prison rejected Ahed Tamimi’s request for early release from prison because she has “dangerous ideology” and should remain in prison for deterrence purposes. The teenaged Ahed was sentenced to eight months in prison last March after confronting and slapping Israeli soldiers who shot here cousin in the face. After serving her full term, Ahed is set to be released from prison later this summer. During her parole session, Ahed told the parole board, “I will get out of prison with my head up.”

Congressional Bill to Apply Israel-Centric Definition to Antisemitism to Campuses
US lawmakers from both houses of Congress and both sides of the aisle have introduced legislation to make criticism of Israel on campuses and at other educational institutions equivalent to antisemitism. The current legislation (H.R.6421 and S.2940) is entitled: “Antisemitism Awareness Act of 2018.” While antisemitism is clearly on the rise in the United States and needs to be addressed and condemned, this bill effectively outlaws expression of a political and moral opinion critical of policies and actions by the government of Israel as antisemitic and illegal. Some states are also crafting similar legislation. MennoPIN encourages you to contact your congresspeople to express opposition to these bills.

Cities for Palestine Campaign and Toolkit
The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights has launched a new campaign called Cities for Palestine. Palestinians in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip are beginning their 51st year of brutal Israeli military occupation. As resistance builds across Palestine, the US Campaign is encouraging people in the United States to seize opportunities to organize for Palestinian rights in our cities, towns, counties and states. The municipalities approach has worked before, in the South African anti-apartheid movement and environmental justice campaigns.

Go here citiesforpalestine.org to get eight ideas on how to start a campaign and a toolkit to help implementing a municipal campaign in your community.

MCC Signs Ecumenical Gaza Refugee Rights Statement and Offers Actions to Take
The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) sign a statement along with fourteen other church and church agency bodies in support of the right of return for the people of Gaza. Referring to the Great Return March, the statement affirms that “the Gaza demonstrations are an assertion of Palestinian rights: the rights of refugees, the right to demonstrate peacefully against injustice, and the right to live in and with dignity, not under closed military confinement or blockade.” Read the entire statement here.

The MCC Washington Memo also offers “Take Action” ideas to “Tell Congress: 70 Years of Suffering is Enough.” Go here and tell your congresspeople what you think!

Christ at the Checkpoint Conference USA
The first Christ at the Checkpoint Conference in the United States will be held in Oklahoma City, OK October 15 – 18, 2018. Since 2010 Palestinian Christians have held an international Christ at the Checkpoint Conference at Bethlehem Bible College in Bethlehem, Palestine every other year. Organizers of the U.S. conference feel “compelled to address the injustices that have taken place in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, particularly the Palestine lands under occupation…We believe that standing up nonviolently to injustice is an acceptable expression of our faith.” For more on the conference and to register, click here.

Support Palestinian Human Rights and Go HP-Free
Reach out to your pastor, church council and congregation to encourage your church to sign the HP Free Church pledge, committing to not buy HP computers, printers, inks, and other products until HP stops profiting from occupation and human rights violations. For more on the HP-Free Church Campaign go here.

Read More
Why Palestine Matters
No Way to Treat a Child Campaign
The Palestinian Portal Resource
HP-Free Church Campaign

The “Great March of Return” continues in Gaza.  Tens of thousands of Palestinians attended morning prayers for Eid-el-Fitr, the celebration which marks the end of the month-long Ramadan fast.  Lord we continue to pray for the Palestinian demonstrators and their commitment to non-violence. We pray that the Israeli government would abide by international law and would allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. Lord in you mercy…Hear our prayer. Sabeel wave of prayer

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