Barbara Lubin

Barbara Lubin

: Photo from Creative Commons / Author of Photo: Rotary Club of Adliya


* Co-founder and Executive Director of the Middle East Children’s Alliance
* Places most of the blame for the Mideast conflict on Israel
* Supports the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel
* Endorsed a 1992 conference of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy & Socialism
* Co-sponsored a Communist Party USA fundraising event in 1999


Born to Jewish parents in 1941, Barbara Lubin grew up in what she called “a very right wing Zionist home” that “supported the policies of the State of Israel blindly.” She dropped out of high school in the 11th grade and subsequently started a family in Berkeley, California. In 1969 her third child, Charlie, was born with Down Syndrome. During the years that followed, Lubin became increasingly involved in advocacy work for special-needs youngsters like her son.

Launching a Career of Anti-Israel Activism

Impressed by Lubin’s community-organizing abilities, fellow activists in the disability-rights movement encouraged her to run for the Berkeley school board. Lubin won a seat on that board and proceeded to serve there from 1982-86. She would later recall that during her time as a school board member, Berkeley mayor Gus Newport “began to educate me about the Middle East,” and “gradually, I began to think about the situation [between Israel and the Palestinians] very differently from what I had been taught growing up in a Jewish household.” Before long, Lubin became a tireless activist for Palestinian rights and statehood.

In early 1988, shortly after the start of the First Palestinian Intifada, Lubin collaborated with human-rights attorney Jeanne Butterfield to organize a tour of the Palestinian Territories for a group of Americans. When her trip was finished and she returned to the Bay Area, Lubin reported that she had been “shocked by the conditions” in Palestinian “refugee camps with raw sewage running down the streets, demolished homes, and shortages of food, water, medical care, and sanitation.”

Founding the Middle East Children’s Alliance

Around that same time, Lubin met San Francisco Examiner reporter Howard Levine, who soon became her life partner. In 1988 the couple co-founded the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), and Lubin has been the organization’s executive director ever since. During her decades at the helm of MECA, Lubin has led nearly twenty delegations of North Americans to Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Iraq, and Lebanon — often with cargoes of food, blankets, and other humanitarian-aid supplies in tow. Lubin personally visited the Gaza Strip twice in 2009, and twice again in 2012.

Denunciations of Israel & Sympathy for Hamas

In August 2001, Lubin was a participant in the NGO Forum that preceded the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, a largely anti-Semitic, anti-American event that was held in Durban, South Africa. “There are a lot of people in the U.S. and Israel who are Jewish and who don’t believe in a Jewish state,” she said at that time. “A country which has a democracy for one group and not for the other cannot be a democratic state as Israel claims.”

In early January 2005, Lubin spoke out against an upcoming California exhibit that was scheduled for separate showings in Berkeley (January 16) and San Francisco (January 17), where a bus that had been blown up a year earlier by a Palestinian suicide bomber in Jerusalem would be put on public display. Lubin claimed that the exhibit, which was being organized by the local Israeli Action Committee in an effort to raise public awareness about the horrors of terrorism, would fail to convey what she viewed as the Israeli government’s culpability for the ongoing hostilities between the Jewish state and the Palestinian people. “My view is a wider view, that there is not only individual terrorism, but state terrorism.”

In October 2006, Lubin, who referred to Israel’s creation in 1948 as a Nakba — i.e., “Catastrophe” — for the Palestinians, was interviewed by The Electronic Intifada. Lamenting that the “people in Gaza have been suffering at the hands of the Israelis from the very beginning,” she accused Israel of: (a) trying to “mak[e] life so horrendous for [the Palestinians] that hopefully they’ll just leave”; (b) striving to make it “impossible … for the Palestinians to get any money to buy food for their families, to even survive”; and (c) aiming to ultimately “starve them out.” “It’s the same kind of tactic,” Lubin elaborated, “that the United States used for many years against the people of Iraq—sanctions killing children…. Don’t forget that during the 13 years of … U.S.-led sanctions against the people of Iraq, over a million people died. And 500,000 of them were under the age of five.”

In the same October 2006 interview:

  • Lubin stated that because Israel’s government had “certain laws for one person based on their religion, and separate laws for others,” it was “not a democracy.”
  • She defended the Islamic terrorist organization Hamas, claiming that “approximately 98 percent of all the money that Hamas has given and raised for Palestinians over the years has been for clinics and pre-schools and helping people financially when their homes are demolished [by Israel], so that only a very small percentage of the money has gone into the armed struggle.”
  • She claimed that “when Hamas was elected [in January 2006 to govern the Palestinians], Israel and the United States decided that they would do anything they could to turn the Palestinian people against Hamas” – a “folly” that resulted only in making Hamas “even stronger.”

Supporting the Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions Movement

In September 2011, Lubin accused opponents of the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement — a Hamas-inspired initiative aiming to use various forms of public protest, economic pressure, and court rulings to permanently destroy Israel as a Jewish nation-state — of seeking to “silenc[e] and shu[t] down anyone who wants to talk about what’s really happening to Palestinians.” In an interview the following year, she celebrated the fact that “the BDS movement is very important, and it is growing.”

Supporter of Occupy Wall Street

In the fall of 2011, Lubin was hopeful that the nascent Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement would gain enough momentum to galvanize significant social change. But by August 2012, she was lamenting that OWS’s “encouraging” start had largely “faded out” already.

Explaining How the U.S. Should Change Its Policies

While visiting Gaza in August 2012, Lubin laid out her vision of steps the U.S. could take not only to help remedy the Middle East conflict, but also to make itself a more congenial member of the international community and a better place for its own people to live:

“Half of all our tax dollars go to military expenses that make our air and water toxic, while our roads crumble, our infrastructure rots, and we [don’t] know how to resist because we suffer from a deep poverty of isolation and apathy in the US.  So we need to focus our energies at home.  We need to stop giving U.S. foreign aid to these fascist governments in places like Saudi Arabia because they are of ‘geopolitical importance.’  We need to stop providing the entire world with weapons- over 90% of every bullet or bomb that flies through the air every day is made in the USA. We need to radically change our immigration policy.  We need to provide social services for our own people.  We need to study our own history and recognize what people in the women’s movement, suffragists, unions, disability rights and the civil rights movements fought for that is being stolen from us now.  We need to be pissed off enough to take real risks or nothing will change, at home or abroad. We need to be creative and decentralized and visionary and uncompromising.”

Describing the Suffering of Palestinians

In an interview with the Utne Reader later that month, Lubin lamented what she portrayed as the many sufferings of the Palestinian people. Some examples:

  • “I don’t know how Palestinians continue to struggle in the way that they do. I have a lot of respect for them. Life is very tough…. 99 percent of the Palestinian population has been struggling nonviolently forever. The fact that you would go to a checkpoint — one of the hundreds and hundreds of checkpoints — and stand there in the hot sun or the freezing cold winter with your children and have to wait for hours and hours and hours until some 17-year-old Israeli soldier says you can go to your home. And you do that. And you do it quietly. And you just stand there. That is nonviolent struggle. They have been doing nonviolent struggle forever.”
  • “They’re [The Palestinians are] angry, sometimes they feel furious and their hope isn’t there, but they don’t give up. And they will not give up. And there is not a Palestinian alive in the West Bank or Gaza or inside 1948 that doesn’t say, ‘This is our land, and we are not leaving, and we are not dying.’ And they use this one word–I’ve heard it for 25 years from the mouths of thousands of Palestinian people–the word is steadfast. Sumud. They use it and they mean it. ‘We are steadfast. We will not be moved.’ They’re incredible people.”
  • “These [Palestinian] children have never known anything else. These generations of kids in Gaza, this is all they’ve ever known. All they’ve known is occupation, oppression, lack of electricity, being beaten, their parents, their fathers in prison, children in prison. So this is all they’ve known. We look at it and say, ‘Well, how do they do it?’ They look at it and say, ‘Well it’s all we’ve ever known.’ And it’s very sad.”

Claiming That American Politicians Are Biased in Favor of Israel

In the same August 2012 interview with the Utne Reader, Lubin denounced what she viewed as the pro-Israel bias of many American elected officials:

“You know, almost every congressperson has been taken – U.S. congressperson – to Israel by the Zionists. And they’re shown all of the Jewish sites, and they’re told one side of this story. They never get to see Palestine; they never get to hear what the impact of the founding of the State of Israel has been on the Palestinian community. We need to do the same work. We need to get them there to go to Gaza, to go to the West Bank to see what life is like living under the longest occupation in history [by Israel]. But I don’t know how much time is left. I really don’t.”

Discussing A Child’s View from Gaza

In November 2012, Lubin appeared with Noam Chomsky at an MIT event discussing A Child’s View from Gaza, a book of Palestinian children’s artwork depicting Israelis as bloodthirsty killers who indiscriminately, and without provocation, bombed and murdered innocent Palestinians. The event was co-sponsored by American Jews for a Just Peace, the Boston chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, and the Cambridge-based Middle East Education Project. As The Canadian Jewish News observed in its coverage of the event: “Whether the drawings themselves are the genuine creations of nine- to 11-year-olds has been called into question. What is indisputable, however, is that the offensive text surrounding the sketches is certainly not composed by children. Rather, it is the work of skilled propagandists intent on portraying the Israel Defence Forces, and, by association, Israelis and Jews in general, in the worst possible light.”

Denying That Hamas Practices a “Dead Baby Strategy”

Also in November 2012, Lubin was outraged when Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz said the following about Hamas’s barbarous tactics of war: “Hamas was firing rockets in order to induce them [the Israelis] to kill the family. You know what it’s called in Gaza? It’s called the Dead Baby Strategy. It’s a strategy. They want — this sounds terribly brutal — but it’s absolutely true. They want their children to be martyred so they can carry them out, show them to the international media and thereby gain an advantage over Israel. It’s a double war crime and the media encourages it.” Reacting to Dershowitz’s remarks, Lubin said: “In my twenty-five years of traveling to Gaza and working there, I have never seen any such endangerment between Palestinian parents and their children. It’s insulting and obnoxious for him [Dershowitz] to make any kind of statement like this about Palestinians using children for some Dead Baby Strategy. It’s sickening.”

Signing a Petition Endorsing Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

In February 2014, Lubin signed on to a petition titled “‘Jews For Palestinian Right of Return’ Endorse American Studies Association Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions,” which read as follows:

“We salute the American Studies Association’s courageous endorsement of the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli academic institutions, which are leading accomplices in more than six decades of ethnic cleansing, colonization, war crimes, and apartheid. As Jews, we refuse to remain silent as a so-called ‘Jewish state,’ armed by the U.S. and its allies, commits these injustices with impunity in our name.

“Contrary to baseless charges of ‘anti-Semitism,’ BDS resembles the boycotts that ‘singled out’ similarly racist regimes in Jim Crow United States and apartheid South Africa. Applying the same standards to apartheid Israel, BDS demands nothing more — nor less — than freedom and justice throughout all of historic Palestine, by calling for: [a] An end to Israeli military occupation of the 1967 territories; [b] Full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; [c] Right of return for Palestinian refugees, as affirmed by UN resolution 194.

“We call on Jews of conscience everywhere to honor our own proud heritage of resistance to oppression and injustice by standing with the Palestinian people, BDS, the ASA, and the growing international movement in support of these fundamental human rights.”

Other notable signatories of the aforementioned petition included: Max Blumenthal, Lenni Brenner, Hedy Epstein, Jeff Halper, Jennifer Loewenstein, Ilan Pappé, and Michael Ratner.

Urging Carlos Santana to Cancel His Concert in Tel Aviv

In June 2016, Lubin urged the famed musician Carlos Santana to cancel his scheduled July concert in Tel Aviv as a gesture of protest against what Lubin viewed as the human-rights atrocities that the Israeli government was inflicting each day upon Palestinian youths:

“Palestinian children are suffering under Israeli military occupation and apartheid policies. These children deserve Carlos Santana’s attention and support. Just a few miles from the Tel Aviv concert hall, there are Palestinian children whose homes were demolished by Israeli bulldozers and bombs, who have no clean water to drink, and who are suffering in Israeli jails. We call on Carlos Santana to cancel his upcoming concert in Israel to demonstrate his support for Palestinian children’s basic rights.”

Prolific Public Speaker

Over the years, dozens of schools, universities, religious institutions, community groups, and conference organizers invited Lubin to lecture about Middle East politics and the suffering of children in that region — allegedly at the hands of Israel.

Ties to American Leftists & Communists

Lubin’s activist ties are not limited solely to Israel-related affairs. Indeed, she has had longstanding connections to a number of American leftists and communists:

  • In August 1984, Lubin endorsed “Survival Fest ’84,” a Los Angeles event that focused on “electing progressive local candidates,” promoting a U.S. nuclear freeze, pressuring the Reagan administration to stop aiding anti-Communist rebels in Central America, and identifying ways in which leftists could use the Democratic Party as a vehicle for social change. Survival Fest ’84 was organized by the Coalition for a People’s Convention, a Communist Workers Party (CWP) front group. Another CWP front, the Federation For Progress, also participated in the event.
  • In July 1992, Lubin endorsed the national conference of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy & Socialism, held in Berkeley, California.
  • In September 1999, Lubin co-sponsored a Communist Party USA fundraising event in Berkeley.
  • In January 2002, Lubin endorsed the formation of an anti-Iraq War newspaper called War Times, which was established by a group of San Francisco leftists affiliated with such organizations as STORM, the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.
  • At the Republican National Convention in New York in August 2004, Lubin endorsed a protest against President George W. Bush and his agenda of “Endless War & Repression.” The demonstration was organized by Not In Our Name, an affiliate of the Revolutionary Communist Party.
  • In 2008 Lubin signed a petition circulated by the Partisan Defense Committee, an organization calling for the release of the Marxist icon, former Black Panther, and incarcerated cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.
  • In a 2009 interview, Lubin cited Allen Ginsberg, the late Beat Generation poet who served on MECA’s advisory board from 1988-97, as a voice of inspiration for her. In an October 2012 interview, she described Ginsberg — as well as the late Gore Vidal — as figures akin to “royalty.” Said Lubin: “And I’ve been really lucky to meet the people that I’ve met. I’ve met kings and queens. But most of all, I’ve met the real royalty, Allen Ginsberg (who did events for us [at MECA]), Gore Vidal.”
  • Lubin has been a longtime friend and political ally of Democrat Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
  • The walls of Lubin’s office in Berkeley, California have been adorned with dozens of photos and posters, some bearing the images of prominent leftists like Alice Walker, Pete Seeger, and Noam Chomsky.

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