Tag Archives: Jews

Open Letter to Paul McCartney: Do Not Perform in Israel

The No Time To Celebrate Campaign has joined the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and other allies in issuing an open letter to Paul McCartney asking that he cancel a scheduled concert in Israel in late September.  More information is available from PACBI and the BIG Campaign (Boycott Israeli Goods) in the UK.

Sir Paul McCartney,

We write to you with sadness and urgency as we hear that you are preparing to perform in Israel at the end of this month, and we ask that you cancel this performance. As Jewish North Americans, we are outraged at the policies the state of Israel has implemented in our names and with our government’s financial support for more than sixty years. Palestinian people in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem live under occupation and siege; Palestinian citizens of Israel have fewer rights than Jewish citizens of Israel; and Palestinian refugees, who make up two thirds of the Palestinian population, have been denied their internationally recognized right to return to their lands and their homes since 1948.

At the same time, we write to you with hope that you will heed the unified Palestinian civil society call for boycott against Israel until it complies with international law.  Boycott is a nonviolent tool that has been used by ordinary people countless times to hold countries responsible for atrocities when our governments fail to do so.  In South Africa, the boycott movement helped bring about an end to the apartheid system.  The boycott is both collective and individual.  In this case, we call on you as an individual to take a stand against Israeli apartheid and cancel your performance.

Whether you perform or not, you are making a statement.  If you perform this month, at a time when Israel is celebrating sixty years of existence, you indicate that you support the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people (now millions) and the ongoing policies of ethnic cleansing of an indigenous population from their land.  If you cancel your performance, you indicate that you will not, in the name of profit, turn a blind eye to both the suffering and the call to action of millions of Palestinian people.

With stature comes responsibility, and we hope you do not take yours lightly.


The No Time To Celebrate Campaign
a campaign organized and implemented by thousands of Jewish people in the US and Canada this past spring to protest Israeli Independence Day activities and to commemorate the Nakba (1948 displacement of Palestinian people)


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Philadelphia: Banners Remember the Nakba

PHILADELPHIA, PA — On the mornings of May 18 and 20, 2008, Philadelphia drivers found messages hanging from several bridges leading into the city. Banners read, “Jews remember the Nakba,” “Ethnic cleansing is not a Jewish value,” “U.S. Jews mourn the Palestinian lives and land lost in 1948,” and “Jews say Israeli ‘independence’ = Palestinian dispossession.”

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Philadelphia Jews Say Israel’s 60th is No Time to Celebrate


Organizers Commemorate Palestinian Displacement at “Israel 60″ Parade and Festival

PHILADELPHIA, PA — On Sunday, May 18, 2008, anti-zionist Jews from across the Philadelphia area protested the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s “Israel 60 Parade and Festival” under the banner of “No Time to Celebrate.” Activists wore all black and held signs reading “60 years of Ethnic Cleansing – No Time to Celebrate” and “Philadelphia’s Jews Remember the Nakba.”

Activists lined the Israel 60 parade route and demonstrated their position of dissent from within the Jewish community. In addition to holding signs and chanting, the activists also held the image of Handala – the character created by Palestinian artist Naji Al-Ali who represents the struggle of Palestinian refugees. Protester Hannah Mermelstein explained, “The Nakba that began in 1948 continues today. Even thought the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia claims “one city, one celebration”, we are here to let participants and organizers of the Israel 60 Parade and Festival know that there has never been Jewish consensus around Israel. We support Palestinian people’s right to return, individually and collectively, to the homes they lost in 1948 and in the violent decades since then.”

The protestors brought attention to the history of Palestinian dispossession. While many in the world celebrate Israel 60, Palestinians around the world mourn 60 years since the Nakba – Arabic for “catastrophe” – of 1948. Sixty years ago, Zionist militias destroyed over 500 Palestinian villages and made more than 800,000 Palestinian people refugees in order to create a Jewish state in a land where the majority was not Jewish.

According to Israeli Human Rights organization B’Tselem, Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem are denied access to land, water, healthcare, and other basic resources. Palestinians throughout historic Palestine experience international isolation, economic devastation aided by the erection of a 730-kilometer wall, and continued closures and invasions including the siege of Gaza.

Another protester Adam Horowitz noted, “The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia does not speak for the entire Jewish community. We imagine “independence” and “freedom” outside the bounds of a state based on ethnic exclusivity and dispossession. This is no time to celebrate.

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Seattle: These Jews Aren’t Celebrating!

While some celebrate 60 years of Israel’s statehood, many Seattle Jews join a broad local coalition in mourning 60 years since the Nakba – Arabic for Catastrophe – of 1948, asking, “Is our nation-state worth the displacement of another people?”

On Wednesday May 7th, 2008, a dozen members of the Seattle chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace stood with many local community members in protest outside the celebratory Israel@60 event at Benaroya Hall. The protest was organized by the Seattle Nakba Coalition, of which the Seattle chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace is a member organization. Other member groups include Seattle Palestinian, Arab-American and Palestine solidarity organizations.

Five JVP members attended the Israel@60 event as ticket-holders, in an additional effort to present an often-silenced perspective. They distributed hundreds of leaflets to other attendees, questioning the dominant narrative of Israel’s independence. “What happened to 418 Palestinian villages that existed in 1947? How is this different from the ethnic cleansing that has long been practiced upon us?” These were met with widely varying responses, including deep appreciation. “We need more students doing this,” one attendee said.

After the performance, the ticket-holders unfurled banners inside the hall, reading “Shame on Us for Making Refugees” and “Seattle Jews for a Free Palestine”. They were quickly surrounded by police and escorted off the premises, singing Lo Yisa Goy – nations shall learn war no more.

While Israel provided a home for Jewish refugees after the Holocaust, some from our own families, the terrible fact is that over 700,000 Palestinians were made into refugees to make room for the future state of Israel. Sixty years and several generations later, that number has swelled to an estimated seven million. Many live in 58 registered refugee camps dispersed throughout the Middle East, still denied their rights under international law.

That is why the creation of the state of Israel is known as the Nakba, or the Catastrophe, to Palestinians. Today the Palestinian Nakba continues. Inside of the 1948 borders of Israel, Palestinian citizens are denied legal rights received by Jews. Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem are denied access to land, water, health care, and other basic resources. Palestinians throughout historic Palestine experience international isolation, economic devastation aided by the erection of a 730-kilometer wall, and continued closures and invasions including the current horrific siege of Gaza.

And that is why many of us are refusing to celebrate: as long as Palestinians are still fighting for their fundamental human rights, we cannot rejoice.

Any peaceful future depends on recognizing both the Palestinian and the Israeli narrative. And yet, just as the names of over 400 pre-1948 Palestinian towns and cities have been deliberately erased from maps, the history of the Palestinian Nakba itself has been all but erased from Jewish consciousness

As Jews, we are members of a community that has repeatedly suffered exile and ethnic cleansing. We refuse to remain silent while this oppression is perpetuated upon another people in our name. To this end, we will continue to work within Jewish community and also in solidarity with Palestinian community, as we seek a self-determination for Jews that does not depend on the displacement and oppression of another people.

also see: http://www.thestruggle.org/not_celebrating.htm
and more photos!

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Madison, WI demonstration

JVP’s Madison Chapter held a very successful “No Time to Celebrate” demonstration in partnership with several other area groups on May 8 on the Univ. of Wisconsin’s Library Mall.

The demonstration was a counter to an Israeli Independence Day birthday celebration put on by Hillel students also being held on the Library Mall. Their event featured birthday cake, free food, and a “moon bounce.” We actually outnumbered them during a three-hour time frame. We had from 45-50 people on our side with a very visually impactful presence including black balloons, a “puppet” figure dressed as a Palestinian refugee, Palestinian flags, banners, and signs. We also passed out a lot of
leaflets. Our chapter reprinted the UK statement (with attribution) to pass out with our contact info.

A group of Palestinian students put together a dramatic display on lower Bascom Hll (a major UW landmark) with rows of yellow “flags” each with a name of a village destroyed in 1948. The most encouraging thing was that we engaged in a number of great conversations with Hillel students who had many questions for us. It was a civilized and peaceful exchange. We all felt energized by the event.

Here are some photos (more are after the jump):

Continue reading

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May 12, 2008
For Immediate Release
Contact: Ethan Heitner



Approximately ten Anti-Zionist Jews confronted attendees at a
Birthright-Israel “Mega Event” fundraiser at a club near Columbus
Circle on Saturday night, May 10. The group , wearing matching black
party attire, delivered their message through coordinated chants and
cheers, until residents of the apartments above asked them to keep it
down, at which point they deployed a banner reading “It’s No Time To
Celebrate” and distributed fliers explaining their presence as Jews
commemorating the Nakba.

“We were surprised at how few of the people we talked to going into
this party had any clue about the ideology of the Birthright program,”
said Louisa Solomon, an organizer. “They really thought it was about
free trips, not about convincing young American Jews that they have
the “right” to a land already populated by others. I mean, it’s in the
name, people.”

Birthright-Israel is a program which pays for two week tours of Israel
for young Jews that contain multiple lectures and presentations
designed to teach the participants a Zionist perspective on the
history and present of Israel and Palestine.

“We reject the notion of a “birthright,” as embodied in Jewish-only
fully-funded trips to Israel,” said Hannah Mermelstein, a co-founder
of Birthright Unplugged, which offers Jewish young people a chance to
visit and learn from Palestinians. “Israel has ignored the
internationally recognized right of return for refugees, but has
created a “Law of Return” which extends citizenship benefits to any
person of Jewish heritage, excluding millions of Palestinians born in
the land that has become Israel.”

The anti-Zionist demonstrators, organizing under the banner of “It’s
No Time To Celebrate,” have signed an electronic pledge disavowing the
violations of human rights and international law that have marked
Israel’s existence and promised to disrupt celebrations of Israel’s
60th anniversary not just in New York but across the nation. On May 7,
Israel’s “Independence Day” they took a giant Handala puppet and a
kickline cheer into crowds of attendees at Radio City Music Hall’s
musical gala salute to Israel, while twenty Jewish protesters were
in San Fransisco at a fundraiser.

“As Jews who believe in justice, it’s important to us to stand out
here, visibly and audibly, reminding people that many Jews are
outraged, not elated, at the 60th anniversary of the Nakba,” said
Temim Fruchter, another protester. “We hope others will join us in
speaking out.”

For more information, visit: notimetocelebrate.wordpress.com

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May 8, 2008


Photo by Bran Ali Fenner

Photos by Bran Ali Fenner

A small group of anti-Zionist Jews calling themselves “Schlockettes” and their giant Handala puppet provoked stares, anger and intense conversations at Israel’s 60th Anniversary Celebration at Radio City Music Hall last night with a high-kicking musical protest. The group of fifteen sang, danced and performed a cheerleading routine in front and at times in the midst of crowds of attendees waiting in line to enter the event while across the street a separate Palestinian solidarity rally was held. The event was the beginning of two weeks of events through out New York City that Jewish activists have pledged to disrupt under the banner of “It’s No Time To Celebrate.”

“People forget that there was no consensus among Jews that ethno-nationalism would save them in 1897, there was no consensus in 1948, and there sure as hell isn’t a consensus now,” said Louisa Solomon, one of the organizers.

“A shonda! A shame! No occupation in our name!” shouted the activists, dressed in matching black, as they led a banner reading “Jews Honor Palestinian Resistance” and an 8-foot tall puppet of Handala through sometimes hostile crowds. Handala is a cartoon character representing Palestinian refugee children created by cartoonist Najy al-Ali, and shonda is Yiddish for shame.

The New York protests mirror other events taking place across the nation. Hundreds of Jews and allies have signed an on-line pledge called “No Time To Celebrate” calling for peaceful demonstrations and alternative events demonstrating opposition to Zionism and solidarity with Palestinian communities.

“Sixty years ago, Zionist militias destroyed over 500 Palestinian villages and made more than 800,000 Palestinian people refugees in order to create a Jewish state in a land where the majority was not Jewish,” reads the on-line pledge, which has over 500 signatures. “This does not deserve to be celebrated.”

Or as the New York activists cheered as part of a choreographed dance routine:

“We’re gonna shake off, shake off this racist occupation!
All people deserve self-determination”

photo by Bran Ali Fennerphoto by Bran Ali Fenner

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