Making Waves on Israel and Palestine

Massachusetts Freedom to Boycott Coalition
Massachusetts Freedom to Boycott Coalition meeting, October 2016

This article appeared in the 2016 Fall Newsletter

by Eva Moseley, Cambridge

The “A New Day” (AND) network, launched by MAPA’s Palestine-Israel Work­­ing Group at a well-attended conference a year ago, organizes its members by Congressional district and works to change US Israel policy.

One initial aim is to persuade Members of Congress to conform to the policy of every administration since 1967, that Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories are “illegitimate” and “obstacles to peace.”  MAPA board member and Democratic State Committee member Carol Coakley drafted a resolution on settlements supporting Obama administration efforts to oppose them, to be taken up in November by the DSC.

Last December, in an obvios conflict of interest (COI), ten state senators took an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel planned and funded by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), shortly after the Senate passed a JCRC-promoted resolution opposing the BDS movement, which promotes Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions of  Israel and com­panies that profit from Israeli occupation. Congress is considering a law encouraging states to suppress BDS, and Gov. Baker has signed an anti-BDS letter circulated by the American Jewish Committee.

To make sure all legislators are aware of the COI issue, we distributed to all 200 state legislative offices a booklet with a letter, signed by about 40 people, and Frank Phillips’s Boston Globe articles about the Israel trips.

A July attempt to legislate against BDS failed, but JCRC promises to try again next year. MAPA joined with Jewish Voice for Peace – Boston and the Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine to hold a forum on the Freedom to Boycott on Oct. 29th.

Attorney General Maura Healey also went on a free trip to Israel. A MAPA delegation met with her staff and asked whe­ther Israeli security practices—such as firing live bullets on peaceful protesters, or maintaining separate, unequal legal systems for Israelis and Palestinians in the same areas—provide lessons for Massachusetts law enforcement.

Susan Nicholson, Jeff Klein, and Noble Larson presented a workshop on state-level activism at the annual conference of the newly renamed U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.