Founded in 2000, Ta’ayush—Arabic for “life in common,” “living together,” or “coexistence”—is an Israel-based NGO describing itself as a “grassroots movement of Arabs and Jews working to break down the walls of racism and segregation by constructing a true Arab-Jewish partnership.” The organization’s work, however, is founded upon the one-sided premise that Israel is “an armed fortress in the heart of the Middle East” that routinely subjects Palestinian civilians to “segregation, racism, and discrimination.” Moreover, Ta’ayush condemns “the oppressive and violent” measures by which the Israel Defense Forces allegedly abuse Palestinians—measures like “shooting and killing, serious injury, beating and threats, closures and curfews, and fear and intimidation tactics.”
A particularly egregious manifestation of Israel’s desire to dominate and demoralize the Palestinians, says Ta’ayush, is the separation barrier that the Jewish state erected in the West Bank as a means of thwarting the relentless wave of terrorist attacks that were originating from there during the Second Intifada in the early 2000s. Ta’ayush characterizes this barrier as part and parcel of the “walls of Apartheid, closure and siege encircling the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.” In 2004 Ta’ayush initiated a “Not In Our Name!” petition claiming that the barrier was “not the way to prevent suicide bombings, but rather to further aggravate the misery, despair and hatred, and to perpetuate the conflict for future generations.” The barrier’s construction, said Ta’ayush, was a “provocative act” whose “true objective” was to enable Israel to “annex” additional Palestinian land.
Today Ta’ayush focuses its efforts in a portion of the West Bank designated as “Area C,” which encompasses the South Hebron Hills, where, according to the organization, “constant harassment and violence by Israeli settlers and the army … aims to cleanse [the region] of its Palestinian population by compelling them to leave to [the more urbanized] areas B and A, and to seize [Area C’s] land for Israeli settlements.” “Preventing access to agricultural lands and water cisterns, house demolitions, setting fire to tents, and physical attacks,” says Ta’ayush, “are all common methods in the [Israeli] authorities’ and settlers’ attempts to push the Palestinian residents from their homes and towards the area’s urban centers,” where “a life of dire poverty, unemployment and distress awaits [them].”
Committed to organizing and participating in “concrete, daily, non-violent actions of solidarity to end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories,” Ta’ayush strongly supports the Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions (BDS) movement, a Hamas-inspired initiative that aims to use various forms of public protest, economic pressure, and court rulings to advance the Hamas agenda of permanently destroying Israel as a Jewish nation-state. Indeed, Ta’ayush has posted numerous articles on its Facebook page promoting and endorsing BDS. In August 2009, Neve Gordon—a Ben-Gurion University professor and a prominent member of Ta’ayush—published an article in the Los Angeles Times, stating that he had decided to support BDS in order to “counter the apartheid trend in Israel.”
Ta’ayush has also targeted the Jewish state with “lawfare” campaigns, a term connoting a war that is being waged against Israel not on the battlefield, but rather, in the courtroom. On September 9, 2015, for instance, Ta’ayush published an “Appeal for urgent assistance to fund a civil suit by Mahmoud Awad against the State of Israel.” Awad was a Palestinian man who in March 2011 had been stabbed and permanently disabled by a deranged Israeli settler in the southern Hebron Hills.
In 2014 as well, Ta’ayush partnered with Rabbis for Human Rights to bring “hundreds of volunteers to work side-by-side- with Palestinian farmers during Olive Harvest campaign.” “Our presence,” said the Ta’ayush website, “provides protection against possible settler intimidation, [and] enables farmers to pick within the limited number of days that they can safely do so.”
That same year, Ta’ayush leader Ezra Nawi was filmed, without his knowledge, boastfully telling four Palestinian landowners how he had entrapped and handed over, to the Palestinian Authority (PA), a number of Palestinians who had sold their property to Jews—an offense punishable by torture and execution under PA law. “I give their photos and their phone numbers immediately to the [Palestinian] Preventive Security Force,” said Nawi in the video. “The Authority catches them and kills them. But before they kill them they beat them up.”
In 2015 Ta’ayush collaborated with Breaking The Silence (BTS)—an Israeli NGO that routinely accuses Israel of “war crimes”—to organize a tour to southern Hebron. BTS tours are designed to “expose the Israeli public to the [harsh] reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories.”
Though Ta’ayush does not publish its financial information, the organization is fiscally sponsored by the Alliance for Global Justice. This arrangement enables Ta’ayush to receive tax-exempt contributions from donors in the United States.