“1984” in Israel and Palestine

Nablus, 1990. (photo: Alex Levac)

We must get the Israeli public to recognize this basic human truth: Occupation by a foreign government cannot be a substitute for sovereignty, just as slavery isn’t freedom, war isn’t peace and ignorance isn’t strength.

By Dmitry Shumsky / Haaretz / July 13, 2017

A Palestinian state that faithfully reflects the national yearnings of all parts of the Palestinian people, which deserves national freedom like any other people  . . . will only come about with the end of the Israeli occupation and liquidation of the lion’s share of the settlement enterprise.

In one of the most trenchant articles ever written here against the occupation, Prof. Shlomo Avineri wrote that any denials of the fundamental fact that Palestinian residents of the territories — who have been under Israel’s direct or indirect control since 1967 — are under Israeli occupation “recall George Orwell’s book ‘1984,’ in which the government declares that slavery is freedom, war is peace and ignorance is strength” (Haaretz Hebrew Edition, March 17).

A recent op-ed by former Defense Minister Moshe Arens (“Gaza, a failed Palestinian state,” June 26), which claimed that the Gaza Strip is a “sovereign Palestinian state,” is clear confirmation of Avineri’s diagnosis.

Continue reading ““1984” in Israel and Palestine”

Why the Occupation is No Accident

Ilan Pappé speaking at the conference The Israel Lobby and American Policy in Washington, DC, on March 24, 2017. (photo: Phil Portlock)

The Biggest Prison on Earth: A History of the Occupied Territories by Ilan Pappe, Oneworld Books (2017)

By Rod Such / The Electronic Intifada
September 18, 2017

Everything that followed the 1967 War, notes Pappe, follows the “logic of settler colonialism” and that logic in turn foresees the eventual elimination of the indigenous Palestinians. That outcome, however, is not inevitable. An alternative is possible, Pappe maintains, if Israel decolonizes and makes “way for the logic of human and civil rights.”

As early as 1963 — four years before the 1967 War — the Israeli government was planning the military and administrative takeover of the West Bank, according to The Biggest Prison on Earth, a new book by the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe.

The planning for that operation — codenamed Granit (granite) — took place over a month on the campus of Hebrew University in the Givat Ram neighborhood of western Jerusalem. Israeli military administrators responsible for overseeing Palestinians within Israel joined military legal officials, interior ministry figures and private attorneys to create the judicial and administrative decrees required to rule over the one million Palestinians then living in the West Bank.

These plans were part of a larger strategy for placing the West Bank under military occupation. That strategy was codenamed the Shacham Plan for the Israeli colonel, Mishael Shacham, who authored it, and was formally presented by the Israeli chief of general staff to the army on 1 May 1963.

Continue reading “Why the Occupation is No Accident”

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, October 12, 2017
Time: 2:30–4:00 p.m.
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.

Continue reading “Event: Reception for Naim Ateek, Liberation Theologist”

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, September 30, 2017
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
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.


Crusaders and Zionists

(image: Christianity Today)

By Uri Avnery / Antiwar.com
September 2, 2017

“When you were writing your book, did you ever think about the similarities between the Crusaders and the modern Zionists?” [the author inquired.]
“Actually, I hardly thought about anything else. I wanted to subtitle the book ‘A Guidebook For the Zionist About How Not To Do It,’ but my Jewish friends advised me to abstain from doing so.”
— British Historian Seven Runciman

A few days ago I found myself in Caesarea, sitting in a restaurant and looking out over the sea. The sunbeams were dancing on the little waves, the mysterious ruins of the ancient town arrayed behind me. It was hot, but not too hot, and I was thinking about the crusaders.

Caesarea was built by King Herod some 2000 years ago and named after his Roman master, Augustus Caesar. It once again became an important town under the Crusaders, who fortified it. These fortifications are what now makes the place a tourist attraction.

For some years in my life I was obsessed with the Crusaders. It started during the 1948 “War of Independence,” when I chanced to read a book about the crusaders and found that they had occupied the same locations opposite the Gaza strip which my battalion was occupying. It took the crusaders several decades to conquer the strip, which at the time extended to Ashkelon. Today it is still there in Muslim hands.

After the war, I read everything I could about these Crusaders. The more I read, the more fascinated I became. So much so, that I did something I have never done before or after: I wrote a letter to the author of the most authoritative book about the period, the British historian Steven Runciman.

To my surprise, I received a handwritten reply by return of post, inviting me to come and see him when I happened to be in London. I happened to be in London a few weeks later and called him up. He insisted I come over immediately.

Continue reading “Crusaders and Zionists”

Senator Cantwell, Are You Listening?

Maria Cantwell (1)

Seattle activists challenge Maria Cantwell’s sponsorship of S. 720, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act.

By Alice Rothchild / Mondoweiss
September 10, 2017

According to the ACLU: The bill states that violators shall be fined in accordance with the penalties laid out in Section 206 of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. That section provides that violations are punishable by a civil penalty that could reach $250,000 and that willful violations are subject to criminal prosecution, which could result in a fine of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison.

Senate Bill 720, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, (and its twin in the House of Representatives, Bill 1697), are currently wending their ways through the national legislative process with all the usual front and backroom big money pressure from AIPAC, StandWithUs, and Co., as well as pushback from the less financially endowed citizenry. S. 720 is part of a host of national and state level legislation that seeks to suppress criticism of Israeli policy, to destroy BDS, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement (as anti-Semitic hate speech dangerous to Israel), and to erase Palestinian history and narrative. Washington Senator Maria Cantwell who claims to support freedom of speech and human rights, is a cosponsor of S. 720 and we have a problem with that.

Six constituents (including myself) met with [Sen. Cantwell’s] outreach staffer in Seattle on September 7. We are activist Jews, a Unitarian, an Episcopalian, and an Anglican; we are a building contractor, doctor, Palestinian educator, psychologist, and folks active on community and social justice issues. Most of us have had personal experiences bearing witness and working in Israel/Palestine. Dayna was welcoming, interested, but clearly not well versed in the topic, as that is the turf of the DC office. So we started with the basics. Continue reading “Senator Cantwell, Are You Listening?”

NGO Monitor harasses Israeli and Palestinian Peace Groups

Founder Gerald Steinberg at an NGO Monitor conference, June 20, 2016. (photo: Miriam Alster / Flash90)

For years, NGO Monitor has harassed anti-occupation groups in Israel-Palestine, spreading falsehoods in order to shut them down; now is the time to speak out.

By Michael Sfard / +972 Magazine (translation by Sol Salbe)
August 30, 2017

It does not matter what we say; only who we talk to. This is the guiding principle of the organization’s activity, the keystone of its work: guilt is not determined according to what you do (or what you say). No, guilt is predicated on those with whom you are in contact (“guilt by association”).

Around a decade ago, a new Israeli organization appeared out of nowhere. It had a name that sounded like a piece of medical equipment: NGO Monitor. The organization was founded by a Bar Ilan professor named Gerald Steinberg, as part of a right-wing think tank led by Netanyahu confidant Dore Gold. Since its establishment, Steinberg and NGO Monitor have been working tirelessly to dry out the funding of Israeli, Palestinian, and international human rights and peace groups.

Like a pesky fly, the Monitor sticks to anti-occupation civil society organizations, following their activity and their fundraising efforts and exerting great efforts to harm their ability to raise money. In order to realize this goal, NGO Monitor has created an industry of articles, data sheets, and posts which circularly cite one another and slander these organizations. It then systematically repeats and recycles those papers so many times that had they been academic papers, they would have been the hit of Google Scholar.

For years I have ignored Steinberg and his Monitor. He wrote about me endlessly, accusing me of every possible transgression, and dedicating countless paragraphs to me on his website. I never responded. After all, Steinberg does not address the content of my words and works to silence my community, so there cannot be a discussion between us. When I opened a Twitter account a few years ago, it took all but four minutes for a chilling message to be sent to me: “Gerald Steinberg is following you.” I immediately wrote to him: “And I thought you had been following me for years,” and for the first time in my life, I blocked someone on social media.

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Jewish Voice for Peace Urges Young Jews to Boycott Birthright Israel

Participants of a Taglit-Birthright trip. (photo: Taglit-Birthright)

Campaign declares, “It is fundamentally unjust that we are given a free trip to Israel while Palestinian refugees are barred from returning to their homes.”

By Allison Kaplan Sommer / Haaretz
September 2, 2017

“We will not go on a Birthright trip because it is fundamentally unjust that we are given a free trip to Israel, while Palestinian refugees are barred from returning to their homes. We refuse to be complicit in a propaganda trip that whitewashes the systemic racism, and the daily violence faced by Palestinians living under endless occupation. Our Judaism is grounded in values of solidarity and liberation, not occupation and apartheid. On these grounds we return the Birthright, and call on other young Jews to do the same.”

The controversial pro-Palestinian advocacy group Jewish Voice For Peace has launched a campaign to convince young Jews not to participate in Birthright Israel trips, just as college students are returning to campus and registration for the winter visits gets underway.

Under the slogan #ReturnTheBirthright, JVP is working to convince 18-to-26-year-old Jews eligible for the all-expenses paid 10-day tours to reject the tempting offer.

Birthright Israel sends Jewish young adults on a free ten-day trip to Israel with the goal of strengthening Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish state. The trips are funded through a partnership between the state of Israel and a group of North American donors. The original funders of the program were Michael Steinhardt and Charles Bronfman, but in recent years, Sheldon Adelson, casino billionaire, Republican mega-donor and supporter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has showered $250 million on the program, becoming the its largest benefactor.

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Trump team, Netanyahu renew talks on US embassy move to Jerusalem

L-R: Israeli Ambassador to the U.S.. Ron Dermer, U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell. and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman meet in Tel Aviv on August 24, 2017. (photo: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO)

Hot-button issue was “brought up by both sides” in discussions last week between the PM and US envoys Kushner and Greenblatt.

By Raoul Wootliff / The Times of Israel
August 28, 2017

[Ed. note: The U.N. Security Council has consistently maintained that East Jerusalem, captured in the 1967 War, is occupied territory subject to the Geneva Convention. The Security Council has declared Israel’s attempt to make Jerusalem the “eternal and indivisible” capital of Israel to be in violation of international law. There are 82 foreign embassies in Israel, none of them is located in Jerusalem.]

“Needless to say, the [U.S.] administration’s policy is ‘when not if.’”

Senior members of the Trump administration and Israeli officials renewed talks over the possibility of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a promise repeatedly made by the president in the 2016 election campaign, during high-level meetings in Israel last week, the Times of Israel has learned.

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, peace envoy Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday as part of a visit to the region in a bid to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

During that meeting, the embassy move “was brought up by both sides as part of a productive broad conversation about a number of issues,” a US source familiar with the discussions said Sunday, declining to reveal the specifics of discussion.

Trump backtracked on the pledge in June, signing a waiver which pushed off moving the embassy for at least another six months.

Continue reading “Trump team, Netanyahu renew talks on US embassy move to Jerusalem”

Finding a Voice Under Occupation

2016-12-13 youngpalestiniansspeak-72

Young Palestinians Speak: Living Under Occupation, by Anthony Robinson and Annemarie Young (2017).

By Fouad Moughrabi / The Electronic Intifada
August 28, 2017

This is a unique book showcasing the voices of young Palestinians who look and sound like other children throughout the world. They live in difficult conditions but nevertheless attempt to lead normal lives and dare to dream of a better future.

This book is a labor of love about young people who are born in the perpetual insecurity of a conflict zone. What does it mean to live under military occupation, when soldiers raid your home in the middle of the night and drag your brother or father to jail?

Words have limited power to accurately describe the fear that grips a child when soldiers come to detain him or her. Media accounts of the Israeli occupation, illegal Jewish settlements, checkpoints and Israel’s wall in the West Bank fail to give the reader a feel for what these words really mean or what they may entail for people in their daily life.

Palestinians as regular human beings are largely absent from mainstream media; they usually simply appear as statistics, or are portrayed as anti-Israeli or as terrorists.

Young Palestinians Speak is an attempt to correct this injustice.

Continue reading “Finding a Voice Under Occupation”