In this episode of Wine, Women, and Revolution, Heather sits down with Peter Lemish and Amal Awad from Central Jersey Jewish Voice For Peace. They update us on the P is for Palestine book event as well as highlight the No Way To Treat A Child campaign.
Heather Warburton 0:02
This is Wine, Women, and Revolution with your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio. Hi and welcome to Wine, Women, and Revolution. I’m your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio. You can find us online at www.njrevolutionradio. com, follow us on all the social medias and get us wherever you get your podcasts from. Today I’m sort of doing a follow up / expansion on something that my partner Brian Powers covered. Probably a couple of weeks ago maybe even a month ago he brought you the story of a book P for Palestine that was causing a lot of controversy and blowback in the Highland Park area. And he had Peter Lemish on the show. And Peter is joining me here today. Welcome to the show, Peter.
Peter Lemish 0:54
Thank you. Thank you.
Heather Warburton 0:56
And also I’ve added an extra person who’s also a member of Jewish Voice For Peace along with Peter , Amal Awad. Welcome to the show Amal.
Amal Awad 1:04
Hello, thank you.
Heather Warburton 1:06
The first question I wanted to ask you guys was you’re both members of Jewish Voice For Peace. And if any of my listeners aren’t yet familiar, or they missed Brian’s interview, what is Jewish Voice For Peace?
Peter Lemish 1:19
Well, let me start with that and Amal can join in. Jewish Voice For Peace was established, I think close to 20 years ago, mostly in California and then in the New York area and then spread throughout the United States. There are today over 70 chapters. Througout the United States and outside of the United States 15,000 members approximately. And what I think is interesting to know about Jewish Voice For Peace, at least here in central Jersey is most of the or the chapters will do primarily majority, even more members would be Jewish. Here in Central New Jersey, our chapter is pretty much evenly split between Jews and Arabs and Palestinians from various areas and Muslims from various parts of the world, as well as affiliated people who are simply interested in in fighting for and working in solidarity with the Palestinians in terms of their ethics for self determination and justice.
A second thing that we work on is to educate New Jersey residents, really about the expansive effort. So Israel as a violator of human and human rights as third thing that we’re which is something that I think most people would associate those two first two points with what we’re most well known for throughout the United States. It’s joining the Palestinian initiatives known as BDS, boycott, divestment, and sanctions. The third that we’re working on and Amal may be able to talk more about BDS. But a third thing that we’re working on is to bring to people’s attention here in the United States of what we call the Israel centric narrative, the way in which so many different organizations in this country not just Jewish organizations, but the state of New Jersey, with its law that it’s considering 41001, and banning antisemitism. But beyond that, we have, as I think the Highland Park Public Library demonstrates how this Israel centric narrative has had an impact and consider also influences national representatives who have come very close to voting from measures that simply support the Jewish narrative of the conflict, and we need to do a lot of education and protest. Solidarity with Palestinians, educate residents of New Jersey, and focus on Israel centric nature of organizations.
Amal Awad 4:08
Yes, and it’s now BDS now is a global movement. It’s been picking up speed. It’s made up of unions, academic association, churches and grassroot movements are getting involved across the world. Celebrities are asked not to perform in Israel to show support for their Palestinian brothers and sisters. It’s been now 13 years since BDS has been launched. It’s having such a major impact. And it’s effectively changing and challenging international support for Israeli apartheid and their settler colonialism. BDS is really doing a great job all around and people are actually taking an effect what products support Israel and Israeli military supports the occupation and people are starting to say I don’t want to buy, you know, Nestle or I don’t want to support such and such organization because of BDS, and they don’t want to support that occupation. So it’s really starting to move along this way.
Heather Warburton 5:16
Why don’t you talk a little bit more about that Assembly Bill, you were just talking about? You said it was Assembly Bill 41001 in New Jersey, and that was just proposed recently.
Peter Lemish 5:27
Yes, I just received a copy of it this morning. It’s being proposed by Senator Singer from Monmouth and Ocean district 30 and Stevens Sweeney district three Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem prohibits antisemitism in public schools and institutions of higher education. Its actually, amending several other bills that may exist, or laws that exist PL 1973 and other information that you can find. Whats interesting is the expansion of this. It starts by saying on one will be discriminated in a public school on the basis of religion. But it then it goes on to expand inclusion of antisemitism, which is generally been up until now. An expression of hatred for Jews or discrimination against Jews now to include something that is relatively new. And I think we can trace it back to add to what Amal, just said about BDS is that Israel is so, I think, it’s so taken by the BDS movement that this established a ministry, that is the sole function of the minister is to actually wage a campaign against BDS throughout the world. And we see that being actually being carried out by the American Ambassador Friedman, who is a strong opponent to BDS. So we’re having a huge impact. And we’re part of this Palestinian initiative.
Heather Warburton 6:59
SO part of that bill you said before that they were actually defining anti semitism as even being critical of Israel is now considered anti semitism.
Peter Lemish 7:09
Right, yeah. Exactly what we’ve seen expressed in the P Is For Palestine event, which I think in many ways is illustrative of the situation that we’re dealing with here with this Israeli Centric Organization Narrative, which is a narrative which has penetrated so many organizations and political PACS
Amal Awad 7:31
Can I can I give a quick synopsis
Peter Lemish 7:35
Including progressive movement then, we are on New Jersey Revolutionary Radio, and I want to talk about the fact that there is an acronym that is been floating around over the last several years which is called PEP P.E.P. which is progressive except Palestine. And this is not new in the left movement, but as I said, for more than 30 years, but by other people that but it is a very, very strange phenomena from the left but it is very well rooted in American society and in Europe as well.
Heather Warburton 8:06
All right Amal you’d like to give a little bit of a brief synopsis of what this P for Palestinian book event is that what we’re talking about here, right.
Amal Awad 8:15
I’m gonna give it background a little bit My name is Amal. I was born in Jersey City. My parents were both born in Palestine. My mom was born from Hebron, my dad is from Aneva, which now doesn’t exist anymore. So when I read the book, I, I was really surprised because I just want to give a really quick synopsis. Like, we have the Arabic letters alphabet , like you have ABC. So we have A is for Arabic B is for Bethlehem.
(Amal gives the A-Z of the book which we cant publish here for copyright reasons, but is on the audio version of the podcast)
I just gave you the A to Z of that book called P for Palestine. According to my understanding when I read it, I smiled from ear to ear because some parts were in English, some parts were in Arabic, and I know Arabic, you know, as my background. And I was like, This is amazing. But then some people with a different vision put on a different pair of eyeglasses. And when they read it. They said, Wait a minute, I is Intifada, that means to rise up to Israel. Why is anyone rising up to Israel when Israel is a democratic state? Who won the war fair and square. No one has the right to stand up to Israel. What do they mean by intifada? So some people took it another way.
So this is where I was shocked when I walked into the library, the board meeting last week. And Peter was there. And I happen to walk in with a raging Jewish man who was really very upset, saying this doesn’t belong in the community. Kids and I don’t feel safe here if this book is read. And this book should not be here, because you’re not going to solve the Israeli Palestinian conflict through a book. It doesn’t start in Highland Park. So this book should not be read at all, has nothing to do with the first amendment rights. Free Speech. We know all that sounds great in court. But right now when it comes down to Israel, this book should not be read. I was shocked. Because I was like, where are they getting? Wow, you know, I wouldn’t really and one of the ladies as I forgot her name, she stood up and she said, This is insane, that we’re talking about this book and the way we interpreted this book. It’s insane. And I’ll just that’s exactly how I feel the way she felt.
But coming from a Palestinian, I did not give my two cents in because it looked like I have interest in it. Because I wear hijab, I had a keffiyeh on around my neck. And already everyone knew in the room. I represent, you know, freedom for Palestinians because of the keffiyeh I was wearing around my neck. So I said you know what? Better for me not to say one word, and let them speak. Because I have a vested interest. I don’t want to talk, let them speak. And when I heard what they spoke, of course, it just took me to another world because I said this is a lot of hate in this room. And we’re not going to get anywhere with this. We’re not going to get anywhere. And no one from board ever seemed apologetic for the way some of people that they were talking.
Heather Warburton 13:10
Right. But these people were actually using hate speech against Palestinians. They’ve gone from this, oh, we don’t want any sort of anti semitism to broadening that to actually include dehumanizing of Palestinian people and of Palestinian culture. Like I think that’s something that needs to be focused on a bit is, this is a book about the culture in Palestine, its for children, it’s about a little bit of a celebration of
Amal Awad 13:37
Yeah, yes, as a Palestinian woman who reads little books to her four children when they were younger, I as an adult who follow not too much of Middle Eastern politics, but I try, I found the hope in a place of a children’s book for Palestine, that wow, Palestinians do have a future. I hope with an open mind and the anyone who reads that book will be able to teach children from around the world whether they’re Palestinian or not, that you can empathize with other children living under a military occupation. And even during that meeting, someone said I don’t know who it was during that library meeting, someone did say they’re not living under military occupation. They’re not under apartheid. I thought this person was nuts. When they were talking, I couldn’t even speak because I was like, What is he talking about? Of course, they’re under military occupation. Of course, there’s apartheid its a huge wall over there. He’s like, No, that’s not true.
I was like, okay, and as a parent, is my hope to raise Palestinian children to be proud of their heritage, their history, their homeland, and miss the onslaught of negative and demeaning messages towards Palestinians. And towards their, their, you know, because many people believe that they’re terrorists, or their Hamas, or the’re Hezbollah, they’re leaders of this and that. This book presents Palestinians in a beautifully illustrated, unaltered, unapologetic, proud narrative of Palestinian identity. Because now we are portrayed as violent, angry, irrational, Hamas, Hezbollah, uncivilized and incapable of living in peace with our Israeli neighbors. This is what cannot, you know, there is no negotiating with Palestinians. But this book, P for Palestine is exactly the kind of positive reinforcement needed by children whose identity is constantly under attack. Every child who read this book could benefit from learning about Palestine in a positive and uplifting way. And the next generation, you’re giving them the gift of learning about Palestine. In the context of this book by showing It’s okay, for a group to have freedom to, to believe in justice and equality.
The Jews and the Palestinians both need to live together in peace, with love, and both with equal and justice towards both groups. One doesn’t deserve more rights than the other. They deserve equal rights. Palestinian should not be seen as Oh, he’s Palestinian, then he doesn’t get the same rights as a child born in part of Israel’s, you know, state, and they deserve more rights. No, they deserve the same rights. And this is what the book is saying, we don’t have it, but we deserve it.
Heather Warburton 16:37
And I’m guessing that it’s very hard to find material that celebrates your culture, that that’s fairly rare and far between when you have the opportunity to expose your children to that.
Amal Awad 16:51
Of course, of course, it’s a children’s book that teaches about justice and teaches about resistance, as parents and when it comes up on our dinner table, about kindness, and also about somebody bullies another kid, stand up for that kid, it’s called being human. And our obligation as parents is to teach our children to stand up to bullies in school, whether they are in a school yard, or whether they’re outside on a basketball court, whether they’re in a bathroom, in a school setting, we teach our kids stick up for those who don’t have a voice. Love of justice is taught. It’s not sometimes instinctive. So we should also have solidarity with those who are oppressed, like the Palestinian children, like the Palestinian people, that’s a value. And we also have to model that value for the next generation.
So I feel that the book is, and the reading of it is essential to Palestinian kids who are too often robbed of their childhood, by a brutal occupation regime, which may people in the live in the board meeting, denied that Israel is a brutal occupation regime. That’s why I thought I was in another world, when they were saying this. They deserve the same rights to play to learn to read to laugh, like other children and like other Israeli children. So that’s why I’m in support of reinstating the P for Palestine story reading event at the Highland Park Public Library. Because the struggle for free speech and social justice should never be impaired. Never be impaired, excuse me by hate rhetoric, or the slogan antisemitism. When does a children’s book get coverage in the New York Post? Page Six, no less, it got coverage in the forward that newspaper called Horace, the New York Daily News and Breitbart, this little book caused havoc.
Teaching and learning about Palestine has been a sore spot for many powerful Zionists. Some parts of this book has been taken out of context. Again, Hate equals Fear, fear equals ignorance. And right now, I hope the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights keep everybody has everybody knows those rights that say it should provide information presenting all points of views on current and historical issues, I hope people say okay, this is according to the law, we’re going to keep this book here. And we’re going to let it be read. Because it’s backed up the ACLU, from my understanding, and other and and the, you know, first amendment speech, this is backed up, that there is nothing wrong with this book being read. And regardless, what’s up the beliefs or affiliations of the individuals of the group, this should be read, there’s nothing wrong, and I just went over A to Z, what each letter represented. And it to me, it was like a source of pride. For them, the letter I was a source of terrorism and rising against Israel, it was a form of indirect anti semitism. And it was a form of hate towards Jews. And this is what they This is how they took it in there. When they put their eyeglasses on, that’s what they thought, when I put my glasses on, I saw something different.
Peter Lemish 20:38
If I could just add maybe a bit of a different perspective on the opposition that this is not only here in Highland Park, but Amal was also referring to a similar incident that took place against the bookstore in the Upper West Side of New York several months ago there the opposition to even including the book in the bookstore, we need to say something like this, from a bit of a different perspective. And simply ask yourself, I have two grandchildren that I there’s a young age when I was reading books like this to them. I read several books to her about ABCs. And and I wonder, you know, when I tell her this story, would I talk about particularly, you know, bedtime, I would start telling you about the Israeli Palestinian conflict? I would take the word intifada, and I would explain to her, you know, what this means in terms of uprisings and the first intifada?
These were the examples that were given in, that they would be talked about well, I don’t think that’s the case. I think our point, our aim in this was to share a book, from the perspective of multiculturalism, diversity, and from the very point that Amal is born and lives here in New Jersey, these are our neighbors. This is a rich culture, which started way, way before the Israeli Palestinian conflict. And why wouldn’t we want to tell the story of the Palestinian culture like we want to tell the story of other cultures? And why is it that that people were afraid of this? What what it reminds me not only of that is, is the is the importation of the arguments. There are no Palestinians, which has been a part of Israeli narrative, a part of the Israeli narrative, and it’s and it’s a PR work for decades.
I’m just trying to recall, I can remember it being a part of the way in which Israel responded to the decision United Nations on a vote that Zionism is racism, this isn’t going back to the early settlements. And in that, in that period, it was building the year the, you know, a lot of Israel is democracy, the first one elected a woman to be prime minister in the world. But it was Golda Meir who said there are no people called the Palestinians, there is no Palestinian culture. And that hasn’t changed for over fourty years. And you see these people here in, in Highland Park, basically espousing that ideology, that narrative, so that people who has this rich history that preceded living in Israel, it living in the land, at a time when Jews were a very small minority in the land, going back to the long history of living in the land, and, and yet, there’s this denial, which is a part of the conflict. Not there but important here into the board meeting of our public library.
And so what we see is a lot of ignorance, a lot of battles about narratives. And that as Amal talked about, became involved in our reading of it. I actually spent started living in Israel as a student at Hebrew University. And I went there to to do investigation research on something called Brit Shalom, or the Ihud movement, which was the movement in the 1920s and 30s, to establish a binational state. It was founded by Albert Einstein, by Martin Buber, it was an initiative that grew very, very quickly and it continued into the mid 30s. When an opposition was launched by what later became the Likud party, the revisionist party led by Jebel Kinski, who has been a member of the Labour Party in Israel, and was so afraid of the idea of this binational state would, would gain so much momentum that he founded this ultra at the time ultra Jewish and political party that was a revisionists party trying to revive the idea that there will be a democratic state shared by Jews and Palestinians. And that movement became ultimately the the dominant narrative in Israel for the last 40 years.
So my point is, that this, this argument has a long history. And it’s fascinating to see how these people here in Highland Park, not only have taken on the narrative, but they also are simply repeating things that many extremists have been using social media. For us in this meeting, Jewish Voice For Peace, co sponsors of the event with the public library. They accuse us of being antisemite. They accuse us of being traitors . And they accuse several members, one in particular for being a terrorist. And that’s a direct set of quotes from the Canary Mission, which seeks out any kind of members of activist community here in the United States and Israel and abroad. Anyone who was supporting this, the self determination and social justice with the Palestinian state to take knowledge about who we are. And they claim that this member is, is associated with terrorist organizations, and who knows what how they define terrorist organization, but he’s simply an activist for human rights of Palestinians. So what what we see here is a really interesting live confrontation, as it takes place in social media today, much worse than past years. And what we see that living out is public body, allowed that kind of hate speech be stated and did not oppose it as not, actually required civil speech. But apparently, if you say that a group of people who are organized to talk about the different values that are values of Israel, Palestine, who simply don’t agree with the Israel centric narrative, those people ought to be hated and seen as anti Semite. And traitors to the Jewish people.
Heather Warburton 27:35
I think that it’s actually you said, it was interesting, it’s terrifying to me that this level of cultural erasure and dehumanization is what directly leads to people feeling entitled to use hate to get someone, that if you dehumanize them, that it’s not a person you’re hating. It’s this terrorist entity, and it’s terrifying to see people the robbed of their identity, because we know what kind of atrocities that leads to.
Peter Lemish 28:07
Let me say that I agree that its dehumanizing, that that was certainly the case. And I was shocked that no one from the religious community or the zionists in the room, or the non Zionist, would stand up and say, you could not use the speech here in Highland Park. When the meeting was cancelled, the previous board meeting was, was postponed it was supposed to take place on May 20. And on June for that meeting was postponed to take place in June 5 and ultimately took place on June 20. The reason why the event that we had scheduled for May was was cancelled, and later they couldn’t, was just postponed. That was an that was because the security and the mayor had working together with the security force, in Highland Park had come to the conclusion that such an event will be met with violence.
Amal Awad 29:05
Peter Lemish 29:07
And if there’s violence, I have to ask you, what we understand is that there were buses that were being this is not just an understanding, we have good evidence, we have good reason to support the evidence that we are, we have heard because they were talking about it on social media, that there were rabbis from as far away as Brooklyn, and they were planning to bring buses to, this reading this event, and to the board meeting that was booked for a place on June 5, they were expecting them to show up also in on June 24. And they didn’t show up. But they have they come from the Synagog, and from other groups in the Brooklyn area who have a record, over 40 years of being violent. So that was good reasons to suspect, I presume from the FBI, because these are on the watch list. That it’s not just dehumanizing people who believe this, that The Jewish Voice For Peace are an anti semitic group, they they feel justified in attacking us. As as I have experienced my own life by them. Back in 1975. So they have a long history of this. And so that has been recognized as the reality that we’re living in the reason for us to argue is they’re not willing, the security forces are not willing to defend the First Amendment. Then this will continue to be a threat that simply they’re realizing.
Amal Awad 30:46
Heather Warburton 30:47
Go ahead, Amal. I’m all sorry. Were you saying something?
Amal Awad 30:50
No, I would I attended about I think I missed about 20 minutes of it. So I heard from some members, at the end of the meeting that he called one of my good friends from Jewish Voice for Peace. Someone had said he’s a terrorist. And I was shocked. I wasn’t there. I didn’t witness someone calling him directly that he’s a terrorist because they read his name off. I couldn’t believe it. Because he’s like my mentor. When it comes down to Palestinian verbiage and talk, he’s the one. He’s my go to for Palestine and Palestinian history. So for him to be called out, I was really taken back because I was like, I don’t think we’re getting anywhere here. I just felt like Peter said, we didn’t feel like we were going to go, we didn’t feel like we were going forward in this meeting.
Heather Warburton 31:45
Yeah, it sounds like the the people opposing that book. We’re not interested in hearing anything that you had to say, and let’s keep reminding This is a children’s book. This is not some horrible, it’s a book for children to celebrate their identity,
Amal Awad 32:01
Heather Warburton 32:02
I think that needs to be reminded, you need to say that over and over again. Because the kind of people are using throwing around words like terrorist at a meeting about a children’s book. That’s a very powerful and large word to use. People who are defending a children’s book, there’s this radical disconnect here
Amal Awad 32:22
Yes, yeah. And that is why I said I kind of like, step back, because I’m like, already walking in here looking like a Palestinian. You know, let me just listen to what they have to say. And not at all at all, interrupt them. Because they’re ready, everyone knew what site I was on.
Heather Warburton 32:45
And that’s horrible that you felt you had to do that to
Amal Awad 32:49
I felt it was necessary. I felt it was necessary. Because when I walked in, you know, I walked first thing I walked in late. And second thing the wall I walked in looking like she’s got to be a Palestinian because she has the keffiyeh around her neck to you know, and I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. And then to hear Peter say that I’ve heard that all those prior meetings were cancelled, because they wanted to make sure they had enough security. And then to hear that this this thing was going to get worse. If it was held on those previous days, because people wanted to come from all over, you know, to stop this book from being read. That really made it just makes me more sad to hear that.
Heather Warburton 33:37
Right. This was your own community attacking people, and that in other meetings, or could have been people coming from everywhere attacking.
Amal Awad 33:48
Yeah, yeah, yeah, to hear that. And then there was another, there was another woman in the front. I don’t know who she was. But she kept saying, Are you from Highland Park? And this is me asking myself, I think that meant, if you’re not Highland Park, you really not, you’re really not as important for us to hear your opinion. And it seems like they were very well prepared to make sure there’s a distinction between people who care about the rights of other people that are being oppressed, and she was more concerned, if you’re from Highland Park, you get first priority. If you’re not from Highland Park, then whatever you say, doesn’t matter. And it seemed like the people from Highland Park, which is the community seemed like they were more, there was more people in that room that were not in favor of reading the book, versus people who either lived in Highland Park previously, or our neighbors, the Highland Park, or who came out to in favor of the book being read. She wanted to silence their voices. And I was, you know, she wanted to do that. Yes.
Peter Lemish 35:01
Maybe I can try and explain something interesting about how I interpret what she said. One of the things that that reveals that she’s a religious person I could tell by her dress, but more generally, Highland Park is it does have a population of about 40%, I think that are Jewish, and many of them, are religious. People who, who have been taken in by this Israel centric narrative to understand that there can be Jews who don’t agree with them. And that’s what she wanted to know. I don’t think that was coming to you is I think it was directed at someone just in front of me, she turned around at, the member of our group,
Amal Awad 35:50
Right. Yeah, it was a member of our group
Peter Lemish 35:52
And how I mean, the idea that Jews could be could be arguing in favorite of Palestinians is what leads them to think that, that you must be a self hating Jew, or you must be a traitor to the Jewish people. And that’s why they get they move so quickly into this. But what what I think is important to remember is that the Jewish community is very diverse, around the world. And the history of the split between Jews who are supporters of Israel and who are critical of Israel is over 120 years old. And what we are now experiencing is the most recent wave of that, that’s been exacerbated by the fact that Israel has brought on in itself, violations of human rights, and it’s the kiling that it’s engaged.
But fundamentally, this goes back to the very, very beginning of the start of the nationalist colonialist movement in the late 1880s, in the case of the Jewish community, and when you had immigrants who are families who are being persecuted in Eastern Europe, Russia, Poland, Lithuania, for example, there was a split in the in the Jewish community there between those who are advocating going to Israel. This was the beginning of the Zionist movement. It didn’t become the zionist movement, until Herzl in 1904, and those members of socialist joined the party, which was a Jewish Socialist Workers party to come to the United States and not to stay , and they moved to New York City. They were the heart of the garment industry in New York City in the beginning of the 20th century. And were very active in the organizing and union movement there and they were anti Zionist. And they even had an event with Highland Park Public Library. Months ago, of Jewish chicken farmers in New Jersey, in which they had come from the settlers had come from Russia. And they didn’t want to go into New York City and work in the garment industry, they have not been able to own land. Jews were not allowed to own land. And so they found an opportunities to buy land. And they found it wasn’t very good for agriculture. So they became chicken farmers.
I personally I grew up in California and members of my family, were also Jewish chicken farmers in the Napa Valley. So it’s these people and had basically a hardcore socialist orientation. They were not interested in Israel, they were interested in being an immigrant community here in the United States. And they continue through the progressive movement here in New Jersey, we have community, which is a group of people who are not religious, but belong to what’s called the humanistic Jewish movement. And this community is split, pretty much I would say, like Jews who are supporters of Israel, and people critical of Israel. And so this is a long, long time, what we’re just seeing is the latest chapter of this. And I was just getting by reminding us that it was a religious chemist, very well known religious chemist in Israel, who said, June 10 1969, this occupation is going to destroy the Jewish people. And then he basically prophesied that what we’re seeing today is happened was was bound to happen from the occupation of a colonial settler society.
Heather Warburton 39:52
Thanks for pointing that out. I remember we had talked about that a little bit in the pre show about the split in the Jewish community. And it was really fascinating, and I’d love to learn more about that. But we are really running out of time. And then there’s one more big thing I wanted to get to you. Amal had mentioned a little bit about things that you wanted to bring some attention to, because part of Jewish voice for peace’s goals, is bringing awareness and attention to where things education could be gained. And you were talking about a No Way To Treat A Child movement. Can you expand a little more about that.
Amal Awad 40:29
Yeah, there’s a hashtag, no way to treat a child. Its a campaign. You can get it online, they’re on Facebook, Twitter. They seek to challenge Israel’s prolonged military occupation of the Palestinians, they expose what Israel is doing. The military, what they’re doing is they’re systematical treatment of the Palestinian children. In the Israeli military detention system. It’s run it’s, it’s a joint project of DCIP. That’s the defense for children, international, Palestine, and it’s also by the American friends Service Committee. So we have two projects supporting this. They believe that Palestinian children have the right to just like Israeli children have a right to safe and just future. And they kinda like use pressure relevant to Israeli authorities to end the detention and the abuse a Palestinian children. They have videos, if you go on that, no way to treat a child campaign. They actually have live footage and videos just press on the link. And they show you kids being interviewed from the time they went into the Israeli Jeep, all the way to they’re prison, how they’re blindfolded how they’re tortured. And then they come back to their family, and how they become sort of like, isolated, withdrawn from family activities, from family fun, because psychologically, they went through some stuff in prison. Some of them, most of them don’t really want to talk about it. And they end up withdrawn from family life. And like, sort of like a post traumatic stress disorder.
Heather Warburton 42:34
You were saying, children as young as 14, that they’re put in prison
Amal Awad 42:39
Yes, yes, under 18 years old, you do have some that are 19 20 21. But most vulnerable children are 13 14 15, under the age of 18 years old. And this, this, no way to treat a child campaign. They basically envision a world where all children attain the rights, in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international standards, they want to go according to that, which makes it reasonable like you don’t have the right to do this to kids, these kids do fall under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. And in this implements an approach that incorporates the use of international human rights. It gives a framework and a movement to building the rights and the protection of these Palestinian children. And they want to challenge they want to end the Israeli prolonged military occupation of the Palestinians by organizing supporting their network, people that are going to talk about it activists, people that are passionate to see other oppressed people, giving them protection, whether you know, this is for protection for Palestinian children held in the Israeli military detention, where they are ill treated, the torture is widespread, and institutionalized. So this is this is a great organization for anyone to learn more, like myself, I didn’t even realize that this organization existed until Jewish voice for peace. And for the people, the members in there, you know, emailed me this organization, so I can read about it. I, these Palestinian children, they’re faced with arrest, and and process and persecution and imprisonment just like adults. It’s unbelievable that they persecuted and under an Israeli military detention system that denies them their basic rights, they’re treated as if they are adults. Their torture is as if they are adult squeezing their private parts, making them consent tothings that, whether they did it or not. A lot of these kids on the video was saying I didn’t do it. But I had to confessed because I didn’t like my private parts, being squeezed, is unbelievable. The stuff that I read, and I heard, and I viewed on this campaign. And besides that, I’m saying to myself, these kids need a voice. People need to know what’s going on over there. And they shouldn’t get away with it. Using US tax dollars. You shouldn’t get away with it.
Heather Warburton 45:26
Right? We give them how many? What is it the amount of money that we give Israel?
Amal Awad 45:30
Right now, according to this, it says, fiscal year 2014, the United States provided 3.1 billion in foreign and foreign military aid to Israel. Israel also benefits to about 8 billion of loan guarantee. It says right now I just look it up. So it’s a lot of money. And it’s you know, the occupation is taking place because of the support United States gives. So but it doesn’t mean their stories can be told. It doesn’t mean like people like Peter and me and you and Jewish voice for peace. Are going to stop, because our voices need to be heard, even though the odds are all against the Palestinian people. And, you know, the future doesn’t seem bright for them. But voices like ours, platforms like yours, Heather, maybe one day freedom will be here.
Heather Warburton 46:35
I hope so. I think it’s important to note, too, that Palestinian people don’t have the same criminal justice system that they that citizens of Israel, would.
Amal Awad 46:47
Heather Warburton 46:47
That Palestinians go through a military process?
Amal Awad 46:52
Yes, that’s correct. Because right now we have like, for instance, from the testimonies, I think it was over 700 Palestinian children detained by Israel forces by from the occupied West Bank. And in court between 2013 and 2018. The results are physical violence 95% were hand tied 86% of these over 700 Palestinian children. They were hand tied, they were blindfolded. 49% was detained from their homes in the middle of the night. 64% of them faced verbal abuse, humiliation, intimidation, 74% of them were not properly informed of their rights, which you know, here we have a Miranda rights, read to us right away. 96% were interrogated without even the presence of a family member, no mother, no father, that’s unheard of year 20% were subject to stress position, such as, you know, being being held upside down, or being held in a position in a certain way. So they can confess. 49% sign documents, in Hebrew that most Palestinian children don’t even understand the language. Since the year 2000, and estimated 10,000 Palestinian children have been detained by Israeli forces from occupied West Bank and held in the Israeli military detention system. There are some kids that literally said, Oh, you know, after they’re being, you know, tortured and stuff, that they don’t want to go outside anymore. They just want to be home. They don’t even want to go to school.
Heather Warburton 48:41
Amal Awad 48:43
They’re terrified. Yes, yes. Terrified, because they got them at such a young age. And, and they torture them cruel treatment, inhumane degrading treatment or punishment toward them. Some of them, I don’t want to go outside and I don’t want to see the outside world just leave me here.
Heather Warburton 49:03
They are being robbed of their childhood, essentially,
Amal Awad 49:06
Yes, because of this violence and this torture by the Israeli military and the police forces. And that’s what that’s why you have rumors going around that Facebook wants to shut down many Palestinian activists groups. They don’t want that. They don’t want their videos to be on online. Because it causes more and more people to hate Israel, it caused people to hate Jews, because a lot of people don’t know what happened in Palestine, and Facebook, and Twitter and all these social media outlets are showing what’s going on over there. So it’s causing an immense hate. And I don’t want anyone to hate Jews, I want people to hate people who are causing injustice, and oppression to innocent civilians. That’s what my goal is, I don’t want this to continue. I don’t want people to hate people. But if the videos have to show what you guys are doing, and these confession interviews by these young children that were once detained by the Israeli military, and these videos have to be shown. And these guys are saying, these guys or girls are saying what you guys did tell them, then let it be. I’m not into silencing the media.
Peter Lemish 50:21
Can I make two points real quickly.
Heather Warburton 50:24
Go ahead. I’ll give you the last word here, Peter.
Peter Lemish 50:28
Well, I dont want the last word but first, one of the things that Amal is describing here, which must sound very familiar to listeners, because you may not have associated this with Palestine. But these are exactly the same things that are happening in detention centers here in the United States. And there’s an interesting Israeli connection for that. Jewish Voice For Peace has an initiative, the National Organization Initiative called Deadly Exchange. And Deadly Exchange is the practice of the Israeli government supported by the American government to send security forces police departments, members of the military and the Border Patrol to Israel, to learn how Israel is managing what it calls terrorism. But it is exactly what Amal was just describing they’re finding out how it is that Israel, not only does in Israel, but it actually as a, it’s one of its major forms of business, is exporting this knowledge to the rest of the world. And it’s a vibrant business, because we can see the outcomes of this knowing the number of people and police department to come to Israel, but how it is the drill security for companies are spread up in involved with not only the detention purposes, but also strategic weapons, and other things. So it’s a major industry in Israel exporting the way in which they form their security forces so much, that one of the ways you can understand it, what Amal was just describing is that Israel, basically, uses Palestinians as guinea pigs, and part of this dehumanization process that Heather has been talking about, they actually try out new kinds of not only methods. But what will the world be willing to condone.
Heather Warburton 52:21
Peter Lemish 52:21
The violence of not only here in Israel, in Israeli case, but it’s here in our detention centers, that we have only seen a brief amount of video in the last couple of days. But it was it was absent for four or five months. And therefore, this is really, really critical. I think the other thing that we asked about this is, what what is it that we’re going to do as activists here in New Jersey. We’re about a P is for Palestine event also the other aims of Jewish Voice for Peace like we talked about in the beginning. I must say that I just wanted to mention in Piscataway recently, where we had 100 people come to a public council meeting to protest hate speech that was used in the June 4 elections, that that is something that we really need to be considering to in Jewish Voice for Peace. How is it that we’re going to actively protest the way in which the Highland Park Public Library Board of Trustees is collaborating with the Jewish community with Israel centric narratives, giving into the threats of violence we’re seeing here, and we are going to be talking seriously about how we are going to continue this fight for not only P is for Palestine, but for all of these issues that we’ve been talking about, and be more than willing and happy to have any listeners who are interested in learning more about our activities, to contact us and at least come to a meeting or two and, and hearing about our activities.
Heather Warburton 53:56
All right, and you have a website or Facebook page,how can people get in touch with you?
Peter Lemish 53:59
Facebook page, Central New Jersey Jewish Voice For Peace will take you directly to our Facebook page.
Heather Warburton 54:07
All right, thank you. If you dont want the last work I will ask Amal. Would you like to have a last word today before we shut down this interview?
Amal Awad 54:16
I just wish love and peace to all children in the entire world. I know it sounds nostalgic. But I do wish everyone love and peace. But I just wish the Palestinian children, their voices, and their stories are told to those who don’t know it. Whether that be at Starbucks at a coffee shop, or waiting for your car to be washed. You would be surprised how humanity looks at you and says this is going on? How do you know this is true? And when you explain it to them, people are like that’s messed up? How come this is happening? Who has that right? To take your kid in the middle of the night and blindfold them in front of their parents and put them in a truck? Who has that right to do that? You just It’s unbelievable. When humanity comes together, and the people come together, I don’t care what religion they are, what background they are, what race they are. And they see injustice. And they also want to speak against injustice, that makes me happy. And I don’t care what the circumstances or who is, you know, going to, but just to see that and feel that, especially for the Palestinian children. I think that’s one of my goals is just to tell their stories.
Heather Warburton 55:40
And to encourage others to be a voice for the voiceless for people who don’t have the ability to get their message out there that we can all pick up that mantle we can all be a voice for are these Palestinian children.
Amal Awad 55:53
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And to be that voice for those who don’t have a voice. That’s correct.
Heather Warburton 56:00
Thank you guys, so much for this interview today. There was, we covered a lot, it was really a packed interview. And it’s emotional, you know that. And I appreciate all the work that you guys are doing to get that message out there. So thank you so much for everything you’re doing.
Amal Awad 56:16
Thanks for that. Thank you for having us
Peter Lemish 56:18
Thank you very much.
Heather Warburton 56:20
Thank you, my listeners, thank you so much for joining us, I think Amal said it perfectly is it’s all about being a voice for people that have no outlet. And that’s what we try to do here on New Jersey Revolution Radio. That’s why we created an independent media company, for people like Peter and people like Amal to get that message there that you’re not going to hear much on mainstream media. And if you do, it’s going to have a certain perspective to it. We’re going to cover a slightly different perspective here on New Jersey Revolution Radio. We appreciate that you guys listen to us. And we appreciate that you help keep us on the air. We take no corporate money on New Jersey revolution radio, we are funded entirely by activists and that’s how we want it. You do not want to get corporate money. We want to be able to be the voice for the people that really matter in this world. And we couldn’t do that without you. So if you can go on to www.njrevolutionradio.com Click on that Donate button. Even if it’s only a couple of dollars, it really helps immensely to keep this thing going. Thank you so much. The future is yours to create. Go out there and create it.
Amal Awad 57:27