The Electronic Intifada Podcast 24 June 2015
Two Jewish anti-Zionist activists are facing up to 18 months in prison after they nonviolently protested a fundraiser for the Israeli army in May.
As The Electronic Intifada reported at the time, Gregory Williams and Daniel Fischer were arrested after being forcibly restrained inside Temple Israel in Westport, Connecticut, where they had come to peacefully disrupt the event and read a testimony by a Palestinian woman at a luncheon for Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF).
About a month ago, Williams and Fischer first appeared in court. Williams pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges, and Fischer applied for accelerated rehabilitation, which, if granted, may result in community service before charges would be expunged. Their next court date is on 21 July.
There is a petition gathering signatures to urge Connecticut’s state attorney to drop all of the charges against the two activists.
In a recent interview with The Electronic Intifada, Williams said “it is really important for Jews everywhere to start to take these types of actions.” He and Fischer were charged with breach of peace and criminal trespassing.
Listen to the interview with Williams and Fischer via the media player above.
Silencing Palestinian women
The FIDF event was billed as an opportunity to show that the Israeli army is “a world leader integrating women in the armed forces,” Fischer said. He said that he spoke with women friends in Palestine before participating in the action, and asked them what he should do “as an American Jew who wants to stop the Zionist atrocities.”
He added that these conversations helped him realize that the claim that the Israeli army is good for women’s rights “is a way of silencing Palestinian women, of saying that they don’t matter.”
It was important, Fischer said, for him and Williams to read the testimony of a Palestinian woman living in the Gaza Strip, Nabila Abu Halima, during the protest to exemplify how Palestinian women are being silenced by an event to raise funds to support her occupier.
Abu Halima “watched her son be murdered by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead [in 2008-2009], and who had to flee her home during last year’s Gaza massacre,” the protesters explained in a letter to local media.
Williams said that he and Fischer were violently assaulted after they entered the temple and explained that they wanted to read the testimony. After they were violently restrained, the pair started to read their statement anyway and began to shout “Free, Free Palestine!”
There were false claims that the protesters were armed. Fischer said that attendees of the FIDF fundraiser also claimed that they saw men “wearing headgarb” or that they heard the word fatwa.
“This kind of delusional hysteria wound up being quite dangerous because they filed a false police report which prompted five schools to go into lockdown [and] endangered Greg and my life because there was a report that we were armed — and a SWAT team came and pointed guns at us,” Fischer said.
It was threatening, Fischer added, “not only for the Palestinians who they’re raising money to help kill, but also for people there in Westport.”
“We are winning”
Williams, a scholar of religious ethics and a longtime social justice activist, recently graduated from Yale University’s Divinity School — though he said that he was not allowed to walk the stage to receive his diploma because he was attending a disciplinary hearing.
In a recent blog post, Williams noted that members of the FIDF, “some of whom are significant donors to Yale, contacted Yale Divinity School and exerted serious political and financial pressure to convince Dean Gregory Sterling to defer awarding my Masters of Divinity Degree and initiate a disciplinary process to investigate whether or not to terminate me as a student and to withhold my degree.”
A prominent politician also helped attack Williams when she signed on to a letter alleging that Williams was a “terrorist.” Senator Toni Boucher of Westport, Williams told The Electronic Intifada, “together with a number of members of FIDF, wrote to Yale and to Duke, where I’m set to do my doctorate, and said that ‘you have a terrorist in your midst.’”
“The literal claim is that any assertion of Palestinian dignity and humanity is equal with terrorism, and that’s the claim that Yale was taking seriously,” Williams added.
Williams says that attempts at repression and criminal charges against activists who speak critically of Israel’s policies means that “the Zionist establishment in this country has taken notice of the fact that the younger generation looks a lot more like Dan and me than it does like them.”
He added, “these charges also send a message that we can [win] and that we are winning.”
Permalink Hon. Jos. A. Mustich replied on
What would Anne Frank say about Zionist Israel?
More Torah Desecration by Apologists for Racist Zionism
Permalink Zionism Is Not Judaism replied on
My or my, Temple Israel Westport (CT) seems less a house of worship and more like a branch office of the Mossad. What is going on there?
As to members of the FIDF contacting Yale Divinity School and exerting serious political and financial pressure to convince Dean Gregory Sterling to defer Gregory Williams being awarded his Masters of Divinity Degree and initiating a disciplinary process to investigate whether or not to terminate him as a student and to withhold his degree, absolutely disgraceful. Obviously they are not champions of free speech.
Concerning Senator Toni Boucher of Westport, it goes without saying that she is no friend of free speech either, besides being a horrible little woman and a liar. If there is any terrorist there it is she.
legality of withholding an earned degree
Permalink Rob Roy replied on
Yale cannot legally withhold an earned degree. They are smart enough to know that I hope. The people who are pressuring them also know this. Yale better do the right thing or will wind up with a lawsuit they can't win and the publicity to go with it.
I commend your efforts for
Permalink D. replied on
I commend your efforts for righteous calls in your community. There is one thing I must remind you of...and that is this:
Remember Steven Salaita a Palestinian who lost his promised job at University of Illinois over his tweets about the war on Gaza 2014. His voice to be silenced to future persons of conscience. And remember the incarceration of the many activists whether Palestinian or not by Israel (imprisoned without trial ). Remember the outcome of the Mavi Marmara. These are just the tip of injustices suffered on behalf of Palestinians and the occupation. So for you to become a true activist without hypocrisy...you will endure the same treatment. You will become intimate with the same lawlessness that rules, become strengthened with the same humiliation and be unified with the same indignity that has been oppressing Palestinians since 1948. Then you can speak and protest without hypocrisy.
injustice and the role of the free western world
Permalink peerzada replied on
WE ARE SURPRISED TO NOTE THE INJUSTICES DONE IN USA ESPECIALLY IN THE INCIDENTS MENTIONED ABOVE AS WITHHOLDING DEGREES, ALLOWING FUNDRAISING FOR ISRAELI ARMY AFFILIATED ORGANISATIONS, SUPPRESSING THE VOICE OF VICTIMS ESPECIALLY PALESTINIAN WEMEN AND CHILDREN ND OTHERS WHO WORK OR SUPPORT FOR THEM.
WHY THE WEST ESPECIALLY USA IS READY TO ACCEPT THREAT FROM STATE TERROR ALLOWING UNJUST OCCUPATION OF SO MANY INNOCENTS WEAK PEOPLE. WHILE EVERY ONE IS SUPPOSED TP STAND UP FOR INTERNATIONAL LAW AND WORLDWIDE JUSTICE USA TRYING TO SILENCE THE TRUE VOICE OF VICTIMS.