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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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February 10, 2012 0

Anti-Israel Hostility Pervades Penn BDS Conference

The Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) con­fer­ence held at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia last week­end fea­tured speak­ers rep­re­sent­ing a wide range of strate­gies used to dele­git­imize Israel. As expected, many of the speak­ers pro­moted mis­truths and biased nar­ra­tives of the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict and offered strate­gies on how to advance BDS ini­tia­tives and to fur­ther dele­git­imize Israel.


Sev­eral of the anti-Israel activists who head­lined the Penn BDS con­fer­ence are sched­uled to next month’s One-State “Solu­tion” Con­fer­ence at Har­vard, includ­ing Ali Abunimah, Dalit Baum and Sarah Schulman.
Below is a sam­pling of state­ments made at the Penn con­fer­ence:
  • Omar Bargh­outi, co-founder of the Pales­tin­ian Cam­paign for the Aca­d­e­mic and Cul­tural Boy­cott of Israel, claimed that Israel is gov­erned by an “extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy” and that it is a “racist oppres­sor” and an “apartheid state.” Bargh­outi also made ref­er­ence to the dis­pro­por­tion­ate role “Israel’s lobby groups” play in the U.S., adding that “it is cru­cial to reveal how Israel is right at the cen­ter of the 1% agenda,” refer­ring to the Occupy Wall Street movement. 
  • Ali Abunimah, the founder and exec­u­tive direc­tor of “Elec­tronic Intifada,” an anti-Israel Web site,  report­edly said, “Nakba denial is the equiv­a­lent of Holo­caust denial.”
  • Pro­fes­sor Amy Kaplan, pro­fes­sor in the Eng­lish depart­ment at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, offered sug­ges­tions in a Q&A ses­sion on how BDS could be inte­grated into the class­room. Accord­ing to an audio record­ing of her response, Kaplan said, “you take a the­matic course and you bring in themes from this issue [BDS], and lit­er­a­ture is really a great way to teach stu­dents about what’s going on.”

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February 2, 2012 8

Two Days to the Penn BDS Conference

In advance of this weekend’s BDS con­fer­ence at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, we are high­light­ing five of the most anti-Israel indi­vid­u­als sched­uled to speak at the conference.

Today we pro­file Ali Abunimah, the founder and exec­u­tive direc­tor of “Elec­tronic Intifada,” an anti-Israel Web site. Abunimah is sched­uled to be the keynote speaker at this weekend’s conference.
In his book “One Coun­try: A Bold Pro­posal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse” and dur­ing var­i­ous speak­ing appear­ances, Abunimah advo­cates a one-state solu­tion to the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, which would dis­man­tle the Jew­ish state. He has not hes­i­tated to com­pare Israel to South African apartheid and Nazi Ger­many, includ­ing describ­ing Gaza as a “ghetto” and a “con­cen­tra­tion camp” and argu­ing that “Zion­ism is not atone­ment for the Holo­caust, but its con­tin­u­a­tion in spirit.”
Abunimah also claims that many of Israel’s security-related poli­cies are pred­i­cated on racism and not gen­uine secu­rity con­cerns. For exam­ple, in a June 2011 inter­view on the news chan­nel Rus­sia Today, he claimed that Israel imposes a block­ade on Gaza “because they are not Jews” and described it as “fun­da­men­tally racist.”

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