Faith floods the desert

(photo: Tucson Sentinel)

A response to the refugee crisis on the US-Mexican border.

By Rabbi Brant Rosen | Shalom Rav | Aug 3, 2018


According to the Torah, God provided for the needs of those who journeyed through the wilderness. The lesson this teaches us in our current political moment is all too obvious: the provision of humanitarian aid is divine work. Those who stand up to systems of state violence are not criminals — they are following a sacred imperative at the very heart of the Exodus story.


This weekend, I’ll be joining 60 faith leaders from around the country in southern Arizona to witness and respond to the suffering on our border though “Faith Floods the Desert” — a collaboration between No More Deaths/No Más Muertes, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, and the Unitarian Universalist Association. Representing communities of many faiths and denominations, we’re going to stand in solidarity with humanitarian aid workers and local residents by walking into the desert and leaving gallons of water along heavily-frequented migrant trails.

No More Deaths/No Más Muertes — a humanitarian organization based in southern Arizona — has documented how border enforcement pushes migration routes into some of the most remote, dangerous areas in Arizona’s deserts. As violence and hardship grow in parts of Latin America — in direct response to US foreign policy — and as pathways to asylum and other relief are cut off, growing numbers of people are crossing the border to reunite with their families and seek safety.

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Israel passes Jewish state law, enshrining “national home of the Jewish people”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with cabinet ministers at the Knesset plenum on Jul 18, 2018. (photo: Hadas Parush / Flash90 )

After hours of furious debate, Knesset narrowly approve quasi-constitutional Basic Law, which critics say discriminates against Arabs and other minority communities.

By Raoul Wootliff | The Times of Israel | Jul 19, 2018


“I declare with astonishment and sorrow the death of democracy . . . The funeral will take place today in the plenum.”
— Knesset member Ahmad Tibi


The Knesset overnight Wednesday passed into law the contentious nation-state bill that for the first time enshrines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” in its quasi-constitutional Basic Laws.

Lawmakers approved the bill in its second and third readings overnight, with 62 voting in favor, 55 opposed and two abstaining, after hours of heated debate in the Knesset chamber.

Similar to a constitution, the Basic Laws underpin Israel’s legal system and are more difficult to repeal than regular laws. The nation-state bill, proponents say, puts Jewish values and democratic values on equal footing. Critics, however, say the law effectively discriminates against Israel’s Arabs and other minority communities.

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The Episcopal Church decides to screen investments in Israel and Palestine

Palestinians in Gaza ask the Episcopal Church, “Will you bind up the broken-hearted?” (Isaiah 61:1-2). (photo: FOSNA)

A resolution to “end complicity” in the occupation fails to garner support among the bishops, but a second resolution succeeds in establishing investment screening criteria for human rights abuses.

Joint Press Release | Friends of Sabeel North America, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, and American Friends Service Committee | Jul 17, 2018


We congratulate the Episcopal Church for joining its ecumenical partners in aligning its investments with its values and taking action for justice in Palestine.


At its 79th general convening, the Episcopal Church considered several resolutions to support Palestinian rights, including multiple resolutions to take economic action. After 10 days of powerful organizing and lively debate, the Episcopal Church adopted six key resolutions affirming Palestinian rights, including resolution B016 calling for the adoption of a human rights investment screen on Palestine and Israel.

The resolution, adopted Friday, July 13, directs the Episcopal Church to follow a similar action adopted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, calling for the development of criteria to screen investments based on the church’s long-held stance against human rights abuses in Palestine and Israel, for investment in the Palestinian economy, and for continued corporate engagement. This resolution passed handily in both the Episcopal House of Deputies and House of Bishops.

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After Trump’s controversial embassy move to Jerusalem, other embassies are also relocating

Ivanka Trump hosts the dedication ceremony of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

As more countries move their embassies to Jerusalem, it comes with it the perception that more nations are recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, angering world powers who do not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Holy City.

By Edward Leano | The Christian Post | Jul 10, 2018


  • Countries with embassies in Jerusalem: US, Guatemala and Paraguay
  • Countries considering moving their embassies to Jerusalem: Czech Republic, Romania, Honduras and Slovakia
  • Countries with embassies elsewhere in Israel: Albania, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Belize (consulate), Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, Congo, Congo, Democratic Republic of, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, European Union (delegation), Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, South, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Mexico, Moldova, Myanmar, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vatican, and Venezuela

The move by the US to relocate its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has been hotly debated both before and after the dedication ceremonies, but several countries seem to have seen some merits in doing the same. Guatemala was the first to join the US embassy in Jerusalem earlier this May.

Slovakia is now among the latest of a group of countries mulling the idea of having an embassy in the Holy City, an idea that has become somewhat more accepted among other countries despite intense criticism from the United Nations, as Fox News reported.

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“Jesus wasn’t a refugee” — Trump’s spiritual adviser rewrites the Gospel

Televangelist Paula White during a National Day of Prayer ceremony in the White House, May 3, 2018. (photo: Bloomberg)

Paula White says Jesus’ three-and-a-half-year exile in Egypt did not make him a refugee because he had not “broken the law.”

By Haaretz | Jul 11, 2018


“Yes, He [Jesus] did live in Egypt for three-and-a-half years. But it was not illegal. If He had broken the law then He would have been sinful and He would not have been our Messiah.”
— Paula White, televangelist and spiritual advisor to Donald Trump


Paula White, an American evangelical pastor and one of US President Donald Trump’s spiritual advisors, has voiced her support for zero tolerance regarding border laws and has stated that Jesus’ three-and-a-half year stay in Egypt did not qualify him as a refugee during an interview with CBN, published on July 9th.

White preaches the “prosperity gospel,” a subset of the Christian faith popular in the United States, which advocates that donations given to the Church will come back around and make the donor richer. White was a guest of Trump at the US Embassy opening in Jerusalem.

Professor Anthony Pinn, religious studies professor at Rice University, has described the prosperity gospel as “as a way to religiously rationalize material acquisition.”

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Israeli Minister Planned Eviction of West Bank Bedouin 40 Years Ago

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel leading a tour in the West Bank. (photo: HaIhud HaLeumi / The National Union Party)

Now agriculture minister, then settler activist, Uri Ariel was already planning in the 1970’s the eviction of Bedouin living east of Jerusalem that is taking place now in Khan al-Ahmar.

By Amira Hass | Haaretz | Jul 12, 2018


“Since the area is used by the military and a large part of the industry there serves the defense establishment, the area must be closed to Bedouin settlement and evacuated.”
— Uri Ariel, writing in the 1970’s


Forty years ago Uri Ariel, now agriculture minister, was already planning the eviction of Bedouin living east of Jerusalem. This emerges from a document signed by him titled, “A proposal to plan the Ma’aleh Adumim region and establish the community settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim B.”

The document outlines a plan to turn some 100,000 to 120,000 dunams (25,000 to 30,000 acres) of Palestinian land into an area of Jewish settlement and develop it as a “Jewish corridor,” as he put it, from the coast to the Jordan River. In fact, a large part of the plan has been executed, except for the eviction of all the area’s Bedouin.

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Israel’s illegal settlements explained

Map of East Jerusalem in 2007 shows the separation wall (in red) and the Israeli settlements in purple on areas of the occupied West Bank illegally annexed to Jerusalem. (graphic: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)

The history of fifty years of land theft.

By Zena Tahhan | Al Jazeera | Nov 21, 2017


Why are settlements illegal under the Geneva Convention?

  1. To ensure that a military occupation is temporary, and to allow for a resolution to the conflict, by preventing the occupying power from acquiring long-term interests through military control.
  2. To protect occupied civilians from theft of resources by the occupying power.
  3. To prohibit a de facto situation in which two groups living on the same land are subject to two different legal systems, i.e., apartheid.
  4. To prevent changes in the demographic makeup of the occupied territory.

To the casual visitor or tourist driving through the occupied West Bank or Jerusalem, Israeli settlements may appear as just another set of houses on a hill.

The middle-class suburban style townhouses, built fast and locked in a grid of uniform units, stand like fortified compounds, in direct contrast to the sprawling limestone Palestinian homes below.

Settlement homes, mostly constructed of cement with a cosmetic limestone cladding, tend to fashion a similar look: American-style villas topped by red-tiled roofs and surrounded by lush, neatly trimmed green lawns.

The largest settlement, Modi’in Illit, houses more than 64,000 Israeli Jews in the occupied West Bank. The mega-settlement has its own mayor, as well as schools, shopping malls and medical centres.

Some settlements even have their own universities.

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