Professor Bernard Avishai of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is an activist associated with the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement. He was quoted on a Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement brochure asking for donations as stating, “Solidarity is poised to become a transformative movement. Its young leadership instructs and inspires me. Here are the future leaders of Israel’s global democracy.”
On March 2, 2011, the Jerusalem Post published an article that quoted the Jewish Agency as claiming that the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement opposes the existence of Israel as “a Jewish homeland” and promotes an “anti-Zionist agenda.” Evidently, the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement put the Jewish Agency, along with the Jewish National Fund and the Israel Lands Administration, “on a list of entities that should be dissolved or fundamentally changed […] because it encouraged Jewish immigration to Israel.” According to Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement spokesmen Avner Inbar “Israeli policy allowing Jews to immigrate freely while denying similar rights to Arabs and Palestinians clashed” with his organizations “commitment to equality.” It is unacceptable that “any Jewish citizen can invite his aunt to come live here while a Palestinian citizen can’t even invite his sister to become a citizen.” The Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement believes that the situation in Israel today is comparable to South Africa under apartheid. Inbar claims that he is “concerned by the rise of fascism and racism in Israeli society and the possibility that Israel shall become an apartheid state, if it hasn’t already turned into one.”
On January 1, 2010, Avishai wrote an article entitled “Sheikh Jarrah: its happening.” In this piece, Avishai wrote that “the protest is a way of asserting that East Jerusalem should be the capital of a Palestinian state, that the annexations that have gone on since 1967 must stop, and that the only way either can come about is by international intervention; that Jerusalem is an international problem, not Israel's internal affair; that Jews who want a peace deal can at least demonstrate solidarity with our Arab neighbors...” To Avishai, this is the larger issue at hand, while the more pressing issue at hand for the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement is to help these Palestinian families return to their homes.
On January 30, 2010, Avishai wrote in his blog an entry entitled “Sheikh Jarrah: Ground Zero.” In this piece, Avishai claimed that while the protests have not grown in size, the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement was growing in moral prestige, for they received recognition for their work from J-Street and from CNN, who referred to Sheikh Jarrah as “ground zero.” Avishai also concluded: “little by little, Israel is turning the 230,000 Arab residents of Jerusalem into an unexploded bomb looking for a blasting cap.”
On April 10, 2010, Avishai wrote another blog entry entitled “Sheikh Jarrah: Common Decency.” In this entry, he describes the backgrounds of the following leaders in the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement: Assaf Sharon, Avner Inbar, Amos Goldberg, and Sara Benninga. Thus, it appears that Avishai knows each of these Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement leaders on a personal level. Evidently, the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement leaders invited Avishai to “gather at the homes of the” evicted Palestinian “families at 1:30 PM, where” they “conducted a kind of impromptu seminar for a couple of hours.” After this, at around 3:30pm, Avishai and some of the other Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement activists congregated behind the Israeli Police lines, which upset the Israeli Police, as could be expected. Soon after this happened, Assaf Sharon was arrested by the Israeli Police, which in turn prompted Avner Inbar, Amos Goldberg, and another Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement leader to decide that they wanted to get arrested as well. So the Israeli Police arrested all four of these Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement leaders. Avishai attempted to testify on behalf of the arrested Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement leaders, but was prevented from doing so by the Israeli Police.
On April 12, 2010, Avishai wrote an article in the Palestine Note entitled “Waving the flag of humanism at Sheikh Jarrah.” In this article, Avishai explains why in his opinion it is inappropriate to wave Israeli flags in Sheikh Jarrah. According to Avishai, “in the present situation, in the current balance of power between us and the Palestinians,” the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement understands “who is the weak side and who is obligated to show generosity, concessions and the willingness to swallow their pride and national honor. The Israeli flags seen today in Sheikh Jarrah are the ones waved defiantly on the homes of the settlers who heartlessly took over the Palestinian homes.” [...]The Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement activists “do not have to wave the Israeli flag anywhere. Each one of them is to me a waving flag of humanism, compassion and true loyalty to their country and people.”
On May 7, 2010, it was reported that Avishai signed onto “A Call to Investigate Political Bias of the Jerusalem Police.” According to this petition, Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement activists accused the Israeli Police of engaging in “illegal and inequitable actions […] in the context of the ongoing protests in Sheikh Jarrah.” [..] The Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement activists asserted that “events of recent months in East Jerusalem clearly reveal that the District Police has been acting illegally and in violation of decisions by the courts when the latter are not to their liking. Over the last months the Jerusalem Police have carried out a number of clearly illegal acts in the course of the legal demonstrations in Sheikh Jarrah. First of all, there have been large-scale illegal arrests and acts of physical violence directed against the demonstrators...”
On June 14, 2010, Avishai wrote a blog entry entitled “Sheikh Jarrah Movement in Crisis.” In this entry, Avishai wrote that he was disturbed to discover that after he came back from a trip to the United States, he found out that many of the leaders of the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement, many of whom Avishai claimed are graduate students with young children, are facing “crushing legal costs.” Avishai claimed that he donated money to their defense fund and called upon the readers of his blog to do likewise. He also published a short entry by Avner Inbar that detailed the financial problems faced by the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement activists.
On June 29, 2010, Avishai wrote an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post entitled “Raising the stakes in Silwan.” In this op-ed, Avishai claimed that the weekly Sheikh Jarrah demonstration was moved one week to Silwan due to a plan to raze Palestinian homes in that particular neighborhood in order to make room for an archeological excavation. Avishai, along with student Assaf Sharon, were both present at this demonstration and evidently conversed with each other about how excited Sharon was that this demonstration had such a large turn-out, despite the fact that Silwan is a far more dangerous area to be in than Sheikh Jarrah. Sharon asserted that his group was prepared to interfere with the demolition of Palestinian homes in Silwan.
As Avishai wrote in the Nation, that Boycott and Divestment would accomplish driving Israel into an even greater siege mentality but targeted sanctions, on the other hand, are something that Avishai supports "Foreign governments might well ban consumer products like fruit, flowers and Dead Sea mineral creams and shampoos produced by Israelis in occupied territory, much as Palestinian retail stores do. The EU already requires Israel to distinguish products this way. If Israel continues building in East Jerusalem, and the UN Security Council majority sanctions Israeli tourism, the US government might well choose not to veto the resolution. The Pentagon might sanction, say, Israel Aerospace Industries if, owing to continued settlement, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations break down.”