US Ambassador Friedman says “settlements are part of Israel”

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman during an interview with Walla News on September 28, 2017. (photo: Walla News)

David Friedman’s comments draw accusations of unilaterally changing US policy and “absolute ignorance of facts and laws.”

By Jacob Magid / The Times of Israel / Sep 28, 2017

“There was always supposed to be some notion of expansion into the West Bank, but not necessarily expansion into the entire West Bank; and I think that’s exactly what Israel has done. I mean, they’re only occupying two percent of the West Bank.”
— David Friedman, US Ambassador to Israel

[Ed note: Both US policy and international law recognize Israel as the occupying power in 100% of the West Bank.]

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Thursday that West Bank settlements “are part of Israel” and that the two-state solution “is not a helpful term” and “has largely lost its meaning,” drawing an angry response from the Palestinians.

Speaking in an interview broadcast on the Walla news website, Friedman was asked for his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to speculate on the Trump administration’s plans moving forward on the issue. Some of his answers largely contradicted long-held US positions.

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The Israeli Right’s “coexistence” in the West Bank

The separation wall near the Qalandiya checkpoint outside of Jerusalem. (photo: Maya Levin / Flash90)

The “colonialists” accept the status quo, the “apartheidists” want complete separation, and the “transferists” openly await a third Nakba.

By Naam Sheizaf / +972 Magazine / Sep 11, 2017

The Right’s imagined coexistence in the occupied territories is uncannily similar to the kind whites dreamed of in Rhodesia. That is, we can get our cars fixed for cheap, and they can come work for us, bereft of any rights. In the meantime, they can continue living in their crowded cities and squalid refugee camps.

There is nothing the Israel Right loves more than adopting the criticism of its rivals on the Left in order to justify its rule. Strangely, this criticism has turned into a main aspect of the language settlers use when describing their “coexistence” with the Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Their argument goes as such: while Tel Aviv is a bubble where rich, liberal Jews love Arabs in theory only, in the West Bank we truly see the Palestinians as humans and as neighbors. The Left fantasizes about peace agreements with people it doesn’t even know, but the Right’s version of coexistence includes real people — who are sometimes filled with hate and sometimes are not, who work and live together but want to keep their own culture, and who see each other as equals.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Continue reading “The Israeli Right’s “coexistence” in the West Bank”

BDS is the only lever against Israeli occupation and apartheid

A BDS poster in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on June 5, 2015. (photo: AFP)

Thinking that Israel can fix a colonial, apartheid regime without outside help is a dangerous illusion.

By Ruchama Marton / Haaretz / Sep 26, 2017

As long as Jewish Israelis who do not support BDS think it is possible to change from within, they are like the parable of the rabbit who wanted to change the lion from within. So the lion ate him. The rabbit did enter the lion but there his story ended.

In his article in Haaretz, Uri Avnery responds to what I said at my 80th birthday party. “Some of my friends believe the fight is lost, that it’s no longer possible to change Israel ‘from within,’ that only outside pressure can help and that the external pressure that is capable of doing this is the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. One of these friends is Dr. Ruchama Marton,” he writes.

“First of all, I profoundly reject the argument that there is nothing we can do to save the state, and that we must trust foreigners to do our job for us. Israel is our state. We are responsible for it,” says Avnery.

Here is my response to him.

Continue reading “BDS is the only lever against Israeli occupation and apartheid”

Trump limits refugee admissions at all-time low

A man displays a welcome sign near arriving travellers on the first day of the partial reinstatement of the Trump travel ban in Los Angeles on June 29, 2017. (photo: David McNew / Getty Images)

45,000 is lowest number since the caps were put in place in 1980. The previous low was 67,000 requested by Ronald Reagan in 1986.

By Oliver Laughland / The Guardian / Sep 27, 2017

“The U.S. refugee program was created in the aftermath of World War II. At that time, we rightly rejected antisemitic ideology and embraced our role as a beacon of hope and freedom for those in need. Since that time, US refugee protection has never been a partisan issue, nor a political one. Presidents from both parties have long recognized that the U.S. refugee admissions program is essential to global stability and our reputation as a leader on the world stage.”
— U.S. Representatives John Conyers and Zoe Lofgren

Donald Trump intends to cap America’s annual refugee admissions at a historic low, marking the administration’s latest crackdown on immigrants from some of the world’s most vulnerable groups.

A U.S. state department report seen by the Guardian shows that the administration has briefed Congress it will admit just 45,000 refugees in 2018, the lowest number requested by any president in over three decades and less than half the 110,000 cap issued in the last year of the Obama administration.

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Is it bad for Israel that Palestine joined Interpol?

86th INTERPOL General Assembly

Palestine’s membership shouldn’t pose a new concern for Israel.

By Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian / Foreign Policy / Sep 27, 2017

“Almost every country in the world is a member of Interpol, with the notable exception of North Korea. Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Syria, Yemen, Iran — these are all member countries I’m assuming that, for Israel, would be not particularly friendly countries.”
— Bruno Min, a legal and policy officer at Fair Trials

Interpol, the international police organization, has voted to accept Palestine as a member country — which will heighten fears in Israel that Palestine could use Interpol to target Israeli officials.

Interpol membership will bring several benefits to Palestinian police. They’ll get access to information that other police agencies around the world have shared about criminal activity and will be able to issue red notices, which function as international nonbinding warrants requesting the extradition of criminal fugitives.

And that’s what makes Israel nervous.

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Saturday: Welcoming the Stranger, Ways of Serving and Understanding

Syrian youth and children gather in a refugee camp in Jordan where the number of children exceeds 60 percent, hence its name “The Children’s Camp.“ Many have lost relatives or parents. (photo: IMB, 2013)

Please join our brothers and sisters at St. Mark’s for this important event about how to better serve the refugees among us.

Date: Saturday, Sep 30, 2017
Time: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Location: St. Mark’s Cathedral, Bloedel Hall
Information: Email questions here
Tickets: $15.00 (includes lunch and materials)
Tickets and more information here
Event Details

Inviting in the stranger, as Matthew’s Gospel directs, is central to our identity as Christians. But what does that mean in practical terms, right here on the ground in Seattle? This event, sponsored by Mideast Focus Ministry at Saint Mark’s Cathedral, will feature an array of guest speakers and workshops to help us understand how to better serve refugee populations here in Seattle and beyond. Featured speakers and guests include Dean Steve Thomason; The Rev. Pete Strimer, The Rev. Terry Kyllo, Mary Segall, Mideast Focus Ministry Chair; Olivier Santos, Saint Mark’s, Anne Lynn, President, American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem; Greg Hope, Refugee Resettlement Office; Talya Gillman, Jewish Family Services; Rizwan Rizwi, Muslim Housing Services; The Lutheran Refugee Program; and representatives from Catholic Refugee Services. Tickets are $15, which includes a catered lunch and workshop materials.

State of Palestine joins Interpol

Interpol’s headquarters in Lyon, France. (photo: Laurent Cipriani / AP)

Despite strong opposition from Israel, the international police organization approves Palestine’s membership by a vote of 75–24.

By Peter Meaumont / The Guardian / Sep 27, 2017

Israel campaigned to block the Interpol move and made a series of procedural moves in an attempt to prevent the issue coming to a vote. . . . After Israel blocked the last Palestinian attempt to join Interpol — at last year’s annual general meeting in Indonesia — the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said his country’s diplomatic efforts had secured a major victory. The Israeli foreign ministry made no immediate comment on Wednesday’s decision.

Interpol has voted to admit Palestine as a full member, dealing a significant diplomatic blow to Israel, which has strenuously lobbied against Palestinian admission.

In a secret vote of representatives of the international police organization’s members in China, Palestinian membership was approved by 75 to 24 votes, with 34 abstentions — exceeding the two-thirds requirement of yes to no votes.

“The State of Palestine and the Solomon Islands are now Interpol member countries,” the organization tweeted after the ballot.

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Muslim Ban 3.0 prohibits travel from 8 countries

Donald Trump answers questions after arriving in Washington on Sunday. (photo: Getty Images)

In a far-reaching move, President Trump orders permanent restrictions on travel from six Muslim-majority countries.

By Oliver Laughland / The Guardian / September 25, 2017

“Six of President Trump’s targeted countries are Muslim. The fact that Trump has added North Korea — with few visitors to the U.S. — and a few government officials from Venezuela doesn’t obfuscate the real fact that the administration’s order is still a Muslim ban. President Trump’s original sin of targeting Muslims cannot be cured by throwing other countries onto his enemies list.”
— Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union


On Sunday evening the Trump administration issued its third travel ban in less than a year, opening yet another chapter in the heated legal and civil rights battle that has dominated much of the president’s first nine months in office.

Trump’s ban has gone through many iterations, from a chaotically implemented first attempt that was blocked by a series of federal courts, to a streamlined version that was refined even further by the supreme court and eventually allowed to come into effect in June.

With all the legal challenges, policy revisions, and Trump’s own incendiary rhetoric on immigration, it has been hard to keep up with what has often felt like a set of ever-evolving restrictions. In the latest twist, the supreme court announced on Monday it had cancelled arguments on the ban set for 10 October, asking for updated briefings from the government and the ban’s challengers.

Here we answer some of the key questions about the new ban.

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Event: Reception for Naim Ateek, Liberation Theologist


Naim Ateek is a Palestinian priest in the Anglican Church and founder of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem.

Date: Thursday, Oct 12, 2017
Time: 2:30 – 4:00 pm
Location: Episcopal Diocesan House
1551 10th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98102
Information: Email questions here
Tickets: Free

Event Details

We are pleased to welcome the Reverend Naim Ateek, founder of Sabeel, and Tarek Abuta, Executive Director of Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), to Seattle. Rev. Ateek and Mr. Abuta will be in town to mark the launch of the Bishop Edmund Lee Browning Memorial Fund, honoring the former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Bishop Browning was instrumental in the founding of FOSNA and one of the strongest supporters of Sabeel.

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Event: Welcoming the Stranger, Ways of Serving and Understanding


Syrian youth and children gather in a refugee camp in Jordan where the number of children exceeds 60 percent, hence its name “The Children’s Camp.” Many have lost relatives or parents. (photo: IMB, 2013)

Please join our brothers and sisters at St. Mark’s for this important event about how to better serve the refugees among us.

Date: Saturday, Sep 30, 2017
Time: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Location: St. Mark’s Cathedral, Bloedel Hall
Information: Email questions here
Tickets: $15.00 (includes lunch and materials)
Tickets and more information here

Continue reading “Event: Welcoming the Stranger, Ways of Serving and Understanding”