New York Rights Advocates Protest Hebron Settlement Fundraiser, 11/17/2008

 New York Rights Advocates Protest Hebron Settlement Fundraiser


New York, NY – Thirty-five rights advocates from Adalah-NY and Brooklyn for Peace rallied this evening outside the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square to protest a fundraiser held there by the Brooklyn-based Israeli settlement group the Hebron Fund. The fundraiser was held while tensions escalated in Hebron, as the Israeli Supreme Court ordered Hebron’s settlers to temporarily evacuate a Palestinian home they took over in 2007 with financial support from the Hebron Fund. The court would give the home to the Israeli government until ownership is determined. Palestinians usually lose ownership cases in Israeli courts. A settler leader responded that they would “go to war” rather than comply with the temporary evacuation order. It was unclear if the home was a focus of the Manhattan fundraising event.

Standing on 45th Street near New York’s Broadway theaters, the protesters’ chants included:

“Mamma Mia Marriott, you support a racist lot;” and
“Hebron’s settlers, Klu Klux Klan, racist groups go hand in hand.”

Aaron Levitt, an activist with Jews Against the Occupation-NYC who has spent time in Hebron as a human rights monitor, noted that, “We made a lot of noise, but I don’t know if the settlers heard us at the dinner. Some of them cast agitated looks in our direction as they entered, and I engaged a few in conversation. The subtext of what I heard from most when I described the settler attacks on Palestinians that I had witnessed in Hebron was that they see no equivalence in the moral worth of non-Jew and a Jew. This is racist in a deep and meaningful way. And it is a worldview that allows settlers in Hebron to throw stones at Palestinian girls every day as they go to school, and to drive Palestinian families from their homes.”

Marriott allowed the fundraiser to occur despite a letter from ten groups warning that by allowing it, "The Marriott Marquis will be facilitating activities that directly violate international law and US foreign policy, actively promote racial discrimination, and, at least indirectly, support brutal Israeli settler attacks on Palestinian civilians and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Hebron." In a phone call with Adalah-NY, Kathleen Duffy, a Marriott spokesperson in New York City, avoided responding directly to questions about seeming violations of Marriott's Human Rights Policy Statement which says that the Marriott endeavors to remain "from complicity in human rights abuses." All Israeli settlements violate international law. Duffy noted that previously the Marriott cancelled the event of a group linked with white supremacist David Duke. On the Hebron Fund webpage, clicking on the symbol that says "Give to Hebron" leads to a donations page on the website for the Jewish Community of Hebron that says, "keep Hebron Jewish for the Jewish people."

Roughly 700 Israeli settlers live amidst 150,000 Palestinians in the center of Hebron, a presence enforced by heavily armed Israeli soldiers. Both the settlers and the military force in Hebron impose severe hardships on Hebron's Palestinians. The settlers routinely attack and harass Palestinians in an effort to drive them from their homes. Israeli soldiers have systematically failed to protect Palestinians from settler violence, and impose severe restrictions on Palestinian movement in Hebron.

In addition to fundraising for the home currently slated for evacuation, the Hebron Fund has launched other fundraising appeals for settlement expansion. Because the Hebron Fund has non-profit status in the US— for educational, religious and medical purposes according to its incorporation documents—taxpayers who contribute to the fund get a tax exemption for supporting violence and defying international law. Settler-support organizations like the Hebron Fund maintain non-profit status though settlement expansion violates the US' "Roadmap for Peace," and though US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "has pressed Israel to cut its own financial incentives for settlers."

Photos of the protest:

Release Date: 

November 17, 2008

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