GRALTA is an acronym for Grass Roots Awareness, Learning, Travel, and Advocacy. The “A-L-T-A” part of our name reflects a four-phase process for mobilizing the grassroots and converting them from being apathetic about Israel and the territory it controls into informed and critical thinkers who demand change by:
- Making people Aware of severe human rights disparities between the Holy Land’s Jews and non-Jews
- Offering them opportunities to Learn more about them
- Encouraging Travel to the region on balanced, eye-opening fact-finding missions
- Helping them to develop personal responses and Advocate for policy changes that will lead to durable Middle East stability.
In summer 2016, Lincoln, MA residents Barbara and Steve Low created the GRALTA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, because we care about the Jewish and the non-Jewish people living between “the River and the Sea.” (That’s the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, of course.) Also, of particular concern to us is how conditions in the region have been dividing America’s Jewish community—especially its younger generation from the old.
We also formed GRALTA because we know that human rights conditions in Israel and the territories it has annexed and/or occupies not only affected people living in that region; they affected all of us as Americans. Consider how our lives were changed by 9/11 and other terrorist attacks linked to America’s Middle East policies, our two Middle East wars, $3.8 billion/year ($4.8 billion in 2022) in U.S. military aid to Israel, and years of derivative Middle East instability. And too few people know of Israel’s quiet but significant role in militarizing our police.
GRALTA launched its “Lincoln Project” in August 2016 to test a community-based approach for raising awareness here and nearby of Israel’s human rights abuses. We positioned GRALTA as an educational—not an advocacy—organization, and worked hard not to impose our personal views on our neighbors and audiences, but instead to provide information and experiences to help them reach their own opinions at their own pace.
For years, the situation in the region has been referred to as “the Israel/Palestine conflict,” but that characterization changed in July 2018 when Israel’s Knesset passed the Jewish Nation-State Law. It is a so-called “Basic Law” with quasi-constitutional authority that codifies privileges granted exclusively to Jews and denying them to all others.
In June 2020, Israeli NGO Yesh Din asked Michael Sfard, a noted Jewish-Israeli human rights attorney, to review conditions in Israel’s occupied territories. His 58-page report bore the title The Occupation of the West Bank and the Crime of Apartheid: Legal Opinion. Seven months later, the pre-eminent Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem issued a report with even broader scope titled A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid.
Over the next thirteen months, additional comprehensive studies led to reports that confirmed Israel’s status as an apartheid state as defined by International Law. Authors included some of the world’s most-respected human rights authorities: Human Rights Watch, the United Nations, Amnesty International, the Habitat International Coalition—Housing and Land Rights Network, and Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Clinic.
International Law defines the crime of apartheid to mean “inhumane acts of a character similar to [crimes against humanity] committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime…when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack.” (https://www.icc-cpi.int/sites/default/files/RS-Eng.pdf)
Today, slightly more than half the people that Israel governs are non-Jews living without equal rights. Within Israel’s internationally-recognized borders, non-Jews who are citizens of Israel (20%) suffer discrimination under a Jim Crow system. Those living in Occupied Territory live under military law or under blockade in the Gaza Strip. Israel defines itself not as a state for all its people, but as a Jewish state—first by declaring and documenting Jewish Supremacy in its Nation-State Law and reinforcing it by refusing to adopt a constitution that establishes true democracy and a protective bill of rights. Propped and profiting from unconditional American support, Israel has neither the need nor the will to reform from within. America must intervene.
GRALTA believes that the time has come for America’s Israel policy to demand an end to Israeli apartheid. We believe that effecting a change in US Middle East policy can only happen if there is grassroots outcry loud enough to gain mainstream media attention that leads to parity with the powerful Washington lobbies promoting the interests of their corporate and sectarian sponsors.
For too long America’s Israel policy has responded to intense political pressure from the American defense industry, Jewish and Christian Zionist lobbies, and Islamophobes. Missing from that mix have been equivalently strong grassroots voices demanding and promoting human rights equality and justice for all people who live under Israeli control. A reformulated policy will not only improve lives for the region’s Jews and non-Jews; it will also advance America’s security.
 The Israel Apartheid Report Database (https://tinyurl.com/2p8tfmwd) contains a more comprehensive discussion of Israeli apartheid and contains links to confirming reports as far back as 2001, when the National Lawyers Guild concluded that Israel was an apartheid state.