Author Archives: Amitai Ben Abba

Presenting Guest Speaker

Justice For Palestine Presents:

A talk by

Josh Ruebner, author and Policy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

shatteredhopes

Monday, October 20 – 7:30 PM – The Orchard-Hillcrest 103

Josh Ruebner, Policy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and author of the book Shattered Hopes, will talk about the war on Gaza last summer, the US response to it, how that relates to Kerry’s failed peace negotiation attempt last spring, and on ways to affect change by Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS).

JFP Mission Revised As 2014-15 Academic Year Begins

While oiling the gears for another academic year of action, we have updated our MiddLink Profile. Check it out:

Justice for Palestine (JFP) is an activist organization aiming to create a space for alternative discussion and action about the occupation of Palestine and resistance to apartheid.

Founded in early 2012, JFP has heeded the call of Palestinian Civil Society to campaign for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions on Israel as a nonviolent strategy against oppression. We have hosted screenings, discussions, guest speakers, and have held creative actions such as street theatre (click to see the national coverage!) and informational sit-ins. .With use of creative protest and critical analysis, we seek to bring to light a narrative of oppression and apartheid that has been widely neglected.

 

Middlebury students stage Israeli checkpoint to push divestment by Jay Saper

On May 15, students at Middlebury College in Vermont staged a checkpoint outside their dining hall during the busiest meal of the year to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, which led to the establishment of the state of Israel.

As the Middlebury divestment campaign from arms and fossil fuels gains national attention, a coalition that included Palestinian, Israeli and American Jewish students staged the act of political theater in solidarity with Nakba Day demonstrations around the globe as a call to add apartheid to the students’ divestment demands.

Israel receives over $3 billion a year in military aid from the United States with stipulations on how that money is to be spent. As a consequence, nearly all weapons used by the Israeli military to support the occupation are produced by U.S. arms manufacturers, in which Middlebury has $6 million invested.

The objective of the checkpoint was to urge the college to honor the call by Palestinian civil society for those who are invested in corporations that profit from the occupation to stop their complicity in the oppression of the Palestinian people and fulfill their “moral responsibility to fight injustice” by divesting from Israeli apartheid.

At a midnight breakfast event during finals week, students were greeted in the dark with barricades blocking the entrance to the dining hall and flashlights from full uniformed soldiers asking for identification cards.

Alex Jackman, a junior from New York City, described the checkpoint as “one of the coolest pieces of theater I have seen on Middlebury’s campus. Performed during the time when all students are wrapped up in stress about exams and schoolwork, the piece served as a reminder that there are greater battles to fight beyond our campus.”

A gate was lifted for students who had received Israeli documentation. They could pass freely to prepare themselves a plate of pancakes. Those with Palestinian IDs were not greeted with a welcoming tone. As their “Israeli” friends were able to pass through, “Palestinians” were ordered by soldiers to stop.

While they were held, three actors whose wrists were zip-tied and eyes blindfolded — alluding to the hundreds of Palestinians held under administrative detention without being charged or tried — pleaded for water and demanded to be released. Those with Palestinian papers were only able to eventually pass into the dining hall after being directed to walk all the way around the checkpoint.

Some students voiced their frustration with being held up, “This is not cool, I am trying to get to midnight breakfast.” One shouted, “I have to study for finals.”

Jackman contended it was important for students to confront the checkpoint. “Middlebury College students tend to abstract issues of social injustice, a method that allows us to remove ourselves from these issues,” she explained. “But by being confronted, quite literally, with this piece of theater, we were not able to remove ourselves from our privileges — even if only for a moment.”

The performance, developed by students as part of a course on Theater and Social Change and members of the organization Justice for Palestine, was broken up by campus public safety.

“This is not theater; we can tell it is political,” one officer voiced. “Everything that is political has to be approved by the college.”

For Palestinians, checkpoints are not a momentary interruption, but one persistent piece of a dehumanizing system of apartheid. Between 2000 and 2005 there were 67 Palestinian mothers who were forced to give birth at Israeli military checkpoints and 36 of those babies died.

Apartheid is not enabled through merely subjecting a people to oppressive conditions, but rather through creating separate realities whereby a group of people is not forced to confront their implication in the domination of another group.

Middlebury College itself is a settlement on stolen Abenaki land. With its pristine limestone buildings and perfectly manicured grass, Middlebury manufactures an environment seemingly separate from the oppressions it perpetuates, which is itself a political act.

Students at Middlebury are stepping up and refusing to allow a separation of conscience that tolerates inaction in the face of a school profiting from Israeli apartheid. Justice for Palestine has one message for administrators, particularly fitting of a midnight action, “We will not rest, until you divest.”

Jay Saper is a student organizer with Justice for Palestine at Middlebury College. He can be reached at: jsaper@middlebury.edu.

Street Theatre

Update:

Please share the video from the action: Checkpoint Street Theatre

“This is not street theatre – I can see it’s political – you have to stop!”
-Public Safety Officer
(sometimes you need a little bit of repression in order to know that you’re doing something right)
We were shut down after one hour of a checkpoint, in which we funneled hordes of Middlebury students on their way to midnight breakfast. Our ensemble of five soldiers, three detainees, and two ID and flyer distributors put a taste of the disruptive, intimidating, confusing reality of the occupation in the consciousness of the unsuspecting College community.
We got a fascinating myriad of reactions – from people that aggressively rejected the act and stormed through the barricade to people that played along, participated and protested at having to walk at separate paths than their friends of different arbitrary ID’s. 

Expect a video of the act to come out soon.

“My husband and his brother drove me to this checkpoint after I felt sharp pains in my stomach. I’m pregnant and the doctor in my village doesn’t have the proper facilities to deliver my baby. The pain is so intense I can’t stand, but the soldiers ahead won’t let me pass because we don’t have a permit to cross the checkpoint by car. I can feel the kicks against the inside of my stomach, and I know that the child will come out any moment. I think he will be born at a checkpoint rather than a hospital…”
This is a tragically true story that happened to Naheel Abu Rideh at the Huwwara checkpoint close to Nablus, in the West Bank. Israeli soldiers refused to allow her through the checkpoint, and she ended up giving birth in the backseat of the car while the soldiers watched. Her mother-in-law delivered the stillborn baby who Naheel had felt kicking just minutes before.
Studies have shown that about 10% of pregnant Palestinian mothers heading to the hospital get delayed at checkpoints, which has resulted in children born at the checkpoints, as well as both maternal and infant deaths. 
“I have class today, at least I’m supposed to. Unfortunately, I’m stuck here, and I have been for over an hour, trying to get to a class that’s supposed to start in five minutes. Without checkpoints, I could get to my university in fifteen minutes, but I try to leave extra early and account for these hold-ups by planning ahead. Still, I worry that if I keep missing class, it’s hardly worth my trouble even trying. My parents want me to eventually go to school in America, but at this rate I’ll be happy if I can graduate from a university just a few miles away. “
This is a daily reality that many Palestinian university students undergo, especially when trying to reach the top Palestinian institutions outside of their local areas. For example, some 91% of students at an-Najah University in Nablus report having missed class because of checkpoints, while some students face up to five checkpoints on their daily commute to their university. To make matters worse, the Israeli government often denies international professors visas and places obstacles in the way of Palestinians going to study abroad. One example of this includes trying to cancel SAT that were to be administered in the West Bank, as well as blocking scholarship students from Gaza from leaving the coastal enclave. Certain elementary school teachers have taken to administering classes at the checkpoints because so many students couldn’t make it to their classes at the school building.

News Advisory
Wednesday, May 14, 2013
Justice For Palestine, Middlebury College

Street Theatre—Checkpoint and Apartheid at Middlebury College

The goal of this theatrical demonstration is to raise awareness of the oppression and vast suffering of the Palestinian people under the Israeli occupation. As a culmination to Justice for Palestine’s educational campaign this semester, we are staging a military checkpoint to bring to light part of an oppressive situation in which all Americans are implicated, with over $3 billion given every year to the Israeli government. This action is in solidarity with Palestinians and Israelis who together continue to struggle against the apartheid regime in the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, and 1948 Israel.

We believe that all people, including Palestinians and Israelis, should not be the targets of violence and discrimination. Just as we condemn the racism and discrimination underlying the policies and laws of the state of Israel, we reject any form of hatred or discrimination against any religious, racial, or ethnic group. In turn, we recognize that we are here in Middlebury on occupied Abenaki lands; we are settlers working for the decolonization of this land and all lands.

We fully support the Palestinian Civil Societies call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions of Israel as a non-violent tactic to end the occupation, dismantle the wall, and recognize the rights of Palestinians to full equality. Middlebury College has divested from apartheid in the past, now is the time to do it again.

These checkpoints will occur Wednesday night from 11 PM – 1 AM, and Thursday afternoon from 12 PM – 2 PM at Proctor Dining Hall (Hepburn Road, Middlebury College, Middlebury VT 05753). These times are particularly festive, and hundreds of Middlebury students will go through the checkpoints and experience a piece of what it is like to live under occupation.

Please contact Amitai Ben Abba with questions or quotes. abenabba@middlebury.edu and 831-535-2261

Slingshot Hip Hop – Screening+Discussion

Event: Screening of Slinghot Hip Hop followed by discussion.

Time and Location: Friday (April 26th) at 5:00 PM in Axinn 232.

Justice for Palestine presents Slighshot Hip Hop. A 2008 documentary that braids together the stories of young Palestinian artists living in Gaza, the West Bank and inside the 1948 lines as they discover Hip Hop and employ it as a tool to surmount divisions imposed by occupation and poverty. Featuring artists; DAM, Palestinian Rapperz, Mahmoud Shalabi, and female artists Arapeyat and Abeer Alzinaty.

Come continue the discussion around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYCe17MEkDQ