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December 27, 2013 5

Campaigns In Atlanta And London Target Israeli Policy In Bethlehem

st-james-church-wall-bethlehem

St. James Church Wall

Right in time for Christ­mas, two cam­paigns have begun that demo­nize Israeli pol­icy in the West Bank city of Beth­le­hem, the birth­place of Jesus.

In Atlanta, Geor­gia, five elec­tronic bill­boards are cur­rently on dis­play for a two week dura­tion that depict Jesus’s par­ents Mary and Joseph being unable to gain entry into Beth­le­hem in mod­ern times because of Israel’s secu­rity bar­rier on the bor­der of the West Bank (the image was cre­ated by the artist Banksy). These bill­boards are spon­sored by If Amer­i­cans Knew (IAK), a vir­u­lently anti-Israel orga­ni­za­tion that has been run­ning anti-Israel bill­boards in cities across the United States over the past year.

In Lon­don, Eng­land, St. James’s Church erected a large dis­play out­side of the church to depict the secu­rity bar­rier that sur­rounds Beth­le­hem. The church’s rev­erend, Lucy Win­kett, claimed that the dis­play, which resem­bles the secu­rity wall in Israel, was designed to show passersby “what the peo­ple of Beth­le­hem are expe­ri­enc­ing today.”

The mock secu­rity wall out­side St. James’ Church is part of a fes­ti­val called “Beth­le­hem Unwrapped,” which is being spon­sored by the Holy Land Trust, a Bethlehem-based group that advo­cates for Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns against Israel. The fes­ti­val will take place in Lon­don from Decem­ber 23, 2013 until Jan­u­ary 5, 2014. It will fea­ture, among other pro­grams, a com­edy show called “Stand Up Against the Wall,” a “Beth­le­hem Christ­mas din­ner,” and a debate titled “Both sides of the Bar­rier – Sep­a­ra­tion or Secu­rity?” which will fea­ture Jeff Halper, the founder of the Israeli Com­mit­tee Against House Demo­li­tions; Leila San­sour, a res­i­dent of Beth­le­hem; Yif­tah Curiel, the Pub­lic Affairs spokesman at the Embassy of Israel in Lon­don; and Alan John­son, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the Britain Israel Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Research Centre.

Both the bill­board and mock wall dis­play delib­er­ately fail to account for Israel’s legit­i­mate secu­rity con­cerns. While IAK claims that their bill­boards, “will be seen an esti­mated 4 mil­lion times,” those who view the bill­boards will not receive any infor­ma­tion about why the secu­rity bar­rier was built and what it has done to thwart ter­ror­ist attacks.

Indeed, Israel’s secu­rity bar­rier was built as a defen­sive mea­sure that was first approved by the Israeli gov­ern­ment in 2002 to pre­vent Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ists from reach­ing their civil­ian tar­gets inside Israel. Since it was built, there has been a sharp decrease in Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ism – not because there have been no attempted attacks, but because the secu­rity bar­rier has impeded ter­ror­ists from reach­ing Israeli cities, or has forced them to take more cir­cuitous routes, lead­ing to their capture.

Although both cam­paigns seek to rein­force the point that Beth­le­hem has become inac­ces­si­ble because of the wall, thou­sands of Chris­t­ian pil­grims from around the world visit Beth­le­hem for Christ­mas Eve cel­e­bra­tions every year. This year was no excep­tion, accord­ing to news reports, the turnout was “the high­est in years.”

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November 21, 2012 1

“Netanyahu, you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide!”: A Round-Up of Anti-Israel Protests in the U.S. on November 20

At least ten ral­lies were held on Tues­day to protest Israel’s oper­a­tions in Gaza to thwart rocket attacks that tar­get Israeli civil­ians. Below is a sam­pling of yesterday’s anti-Israel protests:

Atlanta, GA

A rally was orga­nized by a group called “In Sol­i­dar­ity With Gaza” that drew approx­i­mately 150 peo­ple. Demon­stra­tors chanted “From the river to the sea, Pales­tine will be free,”  “Free, Free Pales­tine. Long live Pales­tine!” and “From the beach to the water, Israel is respon­si­ble for slaughter!”

A num­ber of pro­test­ers held signs that used inflam­ma­tory rhetoric, includ­ing “Israel, the new Nazis,” “Stop the geno­cide in Gaza!” “Stop the geno­cide. Save the chil­dren!” and a sign that had a Star of David with a swastika drawn in the cen­ter of it. Some of the pro­test­ers also used chalk to write mes­sages on the side­walk near the demon­stra­tion, includ­ing “Fuck Zion­ism,” “Arab Holo­caust” and “No To Genocide.”

Birm­ing­ham, AL

Approx­i­mately 30 stu­dents on cam­pus got together for an “emer­gency rally” for Gaza, accord­ing to the Uni­ver­sity of Alabama, Birmingham’s cam­pus news­pa­per. Stu­dents chanted “Gaza, Gaza, don’t you cry, Pales­tine will never die,” “Netanyahu, you can’t hide. We charge you with geno­cide!” and “From the river to the sea, Pales­tine will be free!”

The stu­dent news­pa­per also showed pho­tographs of stu­dents hold­ing signs that read, “Gaza, declared by UN, as world’s largest open-air prison” and “U.S. Tax $$ funds eth­nic cleans­ing, APARTHEID, and human rights violations.”

Boston, MA

Approx­i­mately 1,000 peo­ple ral­lied in Cop­ley Square at a demon­stra­tion orga­nized by the North­east­ern Uni­ver­sity chap­ter of Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine. The demon­stra­tors held signs that said “65+ years of Israeli col­o­niza­tion and eth­nic cleans­ing,” “End Israeli apartheid,” We say NO to Israel’s war crimes,” “US: Stop sup­port for mur­der­ous, apartheid Israel. Save the peo­ple of Gaza!” and “The mas­sacre goes on! Gaza needs your voice NOW.”

For infor­ma­tion about other anti-Israel protests that have taken place since the start of Oper­a­tion Pil­lar of Defense, please see these pre­vi­ous posts:

“End the Nazi Occu­pa­tion in Gaza”: A Round-Up of U.S. Anti-Israel Protests on Novem­ber 19

“Israel should be Ended Once and For All,” “Cru­cify Him, Cru­cify Them…Israel’s Pol­icy:” A Round-Up of Anti-Israel Protests in the U.S., Novem­ber 17–18

Demon­stra­tors at Anti-Israel Ral­lies: “Gaza is the Real Holo­caust,” “Long live the Intifada!”

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