Human Rights Advocates Oppose Massachusetts State Senators’ Trip to Israel; Deliver Signatures of Over 1200 Massachusetts Voters

Nidal al-Azraq of 1for3.org speaks against the Massachusetts State Senators Trip to Israel at the Massachusetts State House (Credit: Skip Schiel)

Community Leaders Decry Plans, Funded by Anti-Palestinian Groups

Boston, MA (Nov 23, 2015): The Boston Alliance for Water Justice gathered this morning to oppose the December 4th trip to Israel by ten Massachusetts Senators. After brief statements on the State House steps, members of the Alliance visited the offices of each Senator, as well the Governor, to deliver a petition signed by over 1200 MA voters.  They asked their lawmakers to reject economic collaboration with Israel until it complies with international law by ending its occupation, dispossession, and oppression of Palestinians.

Speakers emphasized the narrow political agenda of this trip, being planned by the partisan anti-Palestinian groups Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP): “While the Senators are meeting in Jerusalem, they won’t see what’s right next door behind an 8 meter concrete separation wall, at Aida Refugee Camp, where I was born and raised,” said Nidal al-Azraq of 1for3.org. “As a Palestinian living in the US, my tax dollars fund the tear-gassing of my own mother and father.”

Petition signers viewed the trip as a tacit endorsement of Israel’s policies, including ever-expanding military occupation, continued building of Jewish-only settlements, segregation, military harassment and arrests of children, lack of access to schools, destruction of housing and other human rights violations. Nancy Murray of the Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights (BCPR) recently returned from a delegation to Palestine/Israel: “I’ve been visiting since 1988 and things have never been worse. Israel is completing its land grab. This trip endorses the status quo.”

Ann Glick, of United for Justice with Peace (UJP), emphasized the racial segregation in Palestine/Israel. She also recently returned from a trip to Palestine/Israel, where she visited Jewish-only towns such as Nazareth Ilit, situated directly next to the original Palestinian town of Nazareth: “I discovered there were two cities: one for Jews and one for non-Jews”.

Senators going on the trip include Senate President Stanley Rosenberg (Amherst), Ben Downing (Pittsfield), Anne Gobi (Spencer), John Keenan (Quincy), Barbara L’Italien (Andover), Karen Spilka (Ashland), Michael Barrett (Lexington), Eileen Donoghue (Lowell), Richard Ross (Wrentham), and Dan Wolf (Harwich).

Nancy Murray of the Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights speaks against the Massachusetts State Senators Trip to Israel at the Massachusetts State House (Credit: Skip Schiel)

Nancy Murray of the Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights speaks against the Massachusetts State Senators Trip to Israel at the Massachusetts State House (Credit: Skip Schiel)

Other groups delivered their own letters to the Senators, including Cambridge Bethlehem People to People Project (CBPPP) and Massachusetts Peace Action (MAPA). Munir Jirmanus of MAPA, in his letter, questioned the ethics of this trip: “JCRC is a Pro-Israel group that spent $211,000 last year lobbying for some of its issues on Beacon Hill. The reported cost for the trips to our state senators will range between $5,000 & $6,000 per senator.”

The Boston Alliance for Water Justice formed to oppose the Massachusetts-Israel Water Innovation Partnership. Alliance members include 1for3.org, Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights, Cambridge Bethlehem People to People Project, Jewish Voice for Peace Boston, Jewish Women for Justice in Israel/Palestine, Massachusetts Peace Action, and United for Justice with Peace.