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May 2, 2013 0

Advocate For Palestinian Prisoners On U.S. Tour

sahar-francis-addameer

Sahar Fran­cis

In an effort to gar­ner Amer­i­can atten­tion and sup­port for Pales­tin­ian polit­i­cal pris­on­ers, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Addameer, a Pales­tin­ian NGO based in Ramal­lah, is sched­uled to deliver pre­sen­ta­tions on the topic in sev­eral U.S. cities this month.

Sahar Fran­cis, Addameer’s Gen­eral Direc­tor, will likely address per­ceived issues in the Israeli prison sys­tem for Pales­tin­ian pris­on­ers, but she also seems to be engaged in an effort to analo­gize the Pales­tin­ian pris­oner cause to the way the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem in the U.S. addresses issues of crime in the inner-city.

Francis’s talks will take place in sev­eral cities that have faced trou­bling rises in crime, includ­ing Philadel­phia, Chicago and San Fran­cisco. The titles of the pre­sen­ta­tions, “From Pel­i­can Bay and Guan­tanamo to Pales­tine: Pris­ons, Repres­sion, Resis­tance;” “End­ing Mass Incar­cer­a­tion: From Pales­tine to Penn­syl­va­nia;” and “Juve­nile Injus­tice: Crim­i­nal­iza­tion of Youth in Pales­tine and Chicago,” under­score Francis’s appar­ent goal of link­ing prob­lems in the Amer­i­can prison sys­tem, such as dis­crim­i­na­tion, racial pro­fil­ing and lack of reha­bil­i­ta­tion options, to the issues faced by Pales­tin­ian prisoners.

Spon­sors of the events vary widely and include many groups whose mis­sions seem to be wholly unre­lated to the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, such as the Cal­i­for­nia Coali­tion for Women Pris­on­ers, the Black Youth Project in Chicago and the Com­mit­tee to Stop FBI Repres­sion. The diverse num­ber of groups sup­port­ing these events is likely to fur­ther cred­i­bil­ity to Addameer’s intended com­par­i­son between the Pales­tin­ian pris­on­ers’ cause  and prob­lems in the inner-city.

Sev­eral of the other sched­uled speak­ers work on social jus­tice issues related to undoc­u­mented stu­dents and immi­grant rights. At the Philadel­phia event, for exam­ple, the other speaker is a mem­ber of Drea­mAc­tivist PA, a youth orga­ni­za­tion that advo­cates for immigrants.

Fran­cis has been out­spo­ken about the Israeli government’s treat­ment of Pales­tin­ian pris­on­ers. In a 2010 inter­view with Elec­tronic Intifada, she asserted that Israel tries to demo­nize Pales­tin­ian resisters by describ­ing them as “ter­ror­ists” but that “cit­i­zens should be aware that Pales­tin­ian polit­i­cal pris­on­ers are not terrorists.”

She also alleged that “tor­ture, ill treat­ment and abuse” are norms of the Israeli prison sys­tem, and that Israel’s “pol­icy of impris­on­ment” is aimed at sup­press­ing non­vi­o­lent resis­tance like the Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions cam­paigns against Israel. In her talks, Fran­cis urges her audi­ence to call for the uncon­di­tional release of all Pales­tin­ian polit­i­cal pris­on­ers despite the fact that many of these pris­on­ers have been con­victed of vio­lent crimes against Israeli civilians.

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January 25, 2013 1

American Sentenced For Planning Deadly 2008 Mumbai Attacks

David Cole­man Headley

A Chicago judge yes­ter­day sen­tenced David Cole­man Headley, a Chicago res­i­dent who helped orches­trate the 2008 ter­ror­ist attacks in Mum­bai, India, in which over 170 peo­ple were killed, includ­ing six Amer­i­cans, to 35 years in prison.

Headley pleaded guilty in March 2010 to con­duct­ing sur­veil­lance on a num­ber of tar­gets in Mum­bai between 2006 and 2008 on behalf of the Pakistan-based ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion, Lashkar-e-Taiba’s (LeT). The tar­gets included the Chha­tra­p­ati Shiv­aji rail­way sta­tion, the Taj Mahal and Oberoi-Trident hotels, the Leopold Café, and the Nari­man House, the Mum­bai head­quar­ters of the Chabad Lubav­itch movement.

Indian news sources reported that Headley posed as a Jew dur­ing a July 2008 visit to the Nari­man House, where sus­pected mem­bers of LeT tor­tured and killed six peo­ple dur­ing the ter­ror­ist attacks four months later. LeT report­edly also tasked Headley with gath­er­ing details of Jew­ish cen­ters across India. In March 2009, four months after the Mum­bai attacks, Headley allegedly con­ducted addi­tional recon­nais­sance of Chabad Houses in sev­eral cities in India, which included other Jew­ish cen­ters in Delhi, Mum­bai, Goa, Pune and Pushkar.

Headley was also charged with plan­ning attacks with LeT tar­get­ing the Dan­ish news­pa­per that had printed car­toons depict­ing Muhammad.Since 2000 sev­eral other Amer­i­can cit­i­zens have been linked to LeT, which embraces an anti-Western ide­ol­ogy that demo­nizes the United States, Israel and India.

Although Headley faced life in prison, the judge lis­tened to pros­e­cu­tors’ rec­om­men­da­tions that he receive a lighter sen­tence due to his exten­sive coop­er­a­tion in other ter­ror­ism tri­als.  His coop­er­a­tion was most vis­i­bly demon­strated in the trial of his for­mer friend, Tahawwur Rana, who was con­victed in June 2011 of assist­ing Headley in plan­ning the attack in Den­mark and for pro­vid­ing mate­r­ial sup­port to LeT. Rana was sen­tenced to 14 years in prison on Jan­u­ary 17.

India has expressed dis­ap­point­ment in the lenient sen­tenc­ing, say­ing that “all those involved… should receive death,” and pledg­ing to con­tinue to seek Headley’s extradition.

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November 20, 2012 3

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

Close to two dozen anti-Israel ral­lies took place across the United States on Mon­day, from Greens­boro to Gainesville, Seat­tle to Santa Cruz. Nearly half of Monday’s demon­stra­tions occurred on uni­ver­sity and col­lege cam­puses, an indi­ca­tion of how student-driven the anti-Israel reac­tion is to the lat­est round of vio­lence tak­ing place in the Mid­dle East.

Below is a sam­pling of yesterday’s anti-Israel protests:

New Brunswick, NJ

At Rut­gers Uni­ver­sity, a state uni­ver­sity with more than 50,000 stu­dents, a rally orga­nized by Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine drew approx­i­mately 150 demon­stra­tors to Brower Com­mons. One of the signs dis­played by stu­dents read, “It would be my great­est sad­ness to see Zion­ists do to Pales­tini­ans much of what Nazis did to Jews.” Demon­stra­tors also chanted “Intifada, Intifada” dur­ing the evening protest.

At least four rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Neturei Karta, an ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist orga­ni­za­tion, par­tic­i­pated in and spoke at the rally. Jew­ish anti-Zionist groups often view their role as “pro­tect­ing” the anti-Israel move­ment from alle­ga­tions of anti-Semitism. It seemed to work here. Shortly after the protest ended, sev­eral stu­dents expressed how happy they were to have the Neturei Karta rep­re­sen­ta­tives, with one stu­dent not­ing, “I’m tired of being crit­i­cized as an anti-Semite for hav­ing crit­i­cal views of Israel, when in fact I have no qualms with our Jew­ish broth­ers and sis­ters, but rather an apartheid nation.”

San Fran­cisco, CA

A rally out­side the Israeli Con­sulate drew activists from Jew­ish Voice for Peace who held ban­ners and signs that read “The Siege of Gaza Betrays Jew­ish Val­ues” and “Israelis Against War and Apartheid.”

Chicago, IL

More than 300 demon­stra­tors ral­lied out­side a Fed­eral Build­ing in Chicago and then pro­ceeded to march to Daley Plaza, chant­ing “From the river to the sea, Pales­tine will be free.” Speak­ers alleged that Israel is a “ter­ror­ist state,” a “bru­tal killing machine” and that Jerusalem is “occu­pied.” One young woman held a sign that read, “End the Nazi Occu­pa­tion in Gaza!” The same sign also showed the Israeli flag with a large red swastika drawn over it and the words “real ter­ror­ists.” The rally attracted the sup­port of Amer­i­can Mus­lims for Pales­tine, Chicago Move­ment for Pales­tin­ian Rights, Coun­cil of Islamic Orga­ni­za­tions of Greater Chicago, Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Group, US Pales­tin­ian Com­mu­nity Net­work and Jew­ish Voice for Peace.

Ithaca, NY

Anti-Israel stu­dents at Cor­nell Uni­ver­sity squared off against pro-Israel stu­dents who were hold­ing a rally to sup­port Israel’s actions and then marched across cam­pus chant­ing, “Hey Netanyahu, what do you say, how many kids did you kill today?” “Brick by brick, wall by wall, Israel’s apartheid’s got to fall” and “When peo­ple are occu­pied, resis­tance is jus­ti­fied.” The rally, called “Sol­i­dar­ity from Ithaca to Gaza,” was heav­ily attended by Jew­ish anti-Zionists, includ­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Jew­ish Voice for Peace-Ithaca who held signs that read, “Jew­ish Voice for Peace Says Divest From the Occu­pa­tion” and “I am another Jew opposed to Israeli attacks on civilians.”

Tal­la­has­see, FL

The Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine chap­ter at Florida State Uni­ver­sity orga­nized a protest that drew sev­eral dozen stu­dents. The stu­dents held signs that read, “Resist Zion­ism and Impe­ri­al­ism,” “Sup­port Peace, Defend Gaza” and “Denounc­ing Israel’s War Crimes is not Anti-Semitic.” One of the lead­ers of SJP was inter­viewed by local media and said, “We’re out here because Pales­tini­ans are being bru­tal­ized, are being bombed, are being killed every sin­gle day with Amer­i­can tax dol­lars and we think that’s inher­ently wrong.” He also apol­o­gized for Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ism, say­ing it is the result of how “mis­er­able and hope­less” the Pales­tini­ans feel and pre­dicted that the “extrem­ism” will only end when the sit­u­a­tion for Pales­tini­ans improves.

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

“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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