Join us in action to call on the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to end its deadly law enforcement exchanges between the U.S. and Israel.
Under the banner of “counter-terrorism,” the ADL’s police exchange programs send high-ranking U.S. law enforcement, FBI and ICE officials to train with Israeli police, military and intelligence agencies. These trainings transform Israel’s 70 years of dispossession and 50 years of Occupation into a marketing brochure for successful policing — reinforcing racist & militarized policing in Palestine/Israel and the U.S.
Our own Seattle Police participated in these programs in 2013 and 2015, and it’s time to make clear that these deadly exchanges must end. In Seattle, we need housing, services and support for targeted communities, not more militarized, racist policing. At the action, local activists will speak to these connections between the crisis of police violence here and Israeli occupation and apartheid abroad.
On the anniversary of Trump’s election, with highly visible white supremacist violence, islamophobia and antisemitism on the rise, let’s remind the ADL that it is time for everyone to choose a side — upholding the racist, violent status quo or fighting for a just future, in Seattle and in Palestine/Israel.
“I don’t think we celebrate the Balfour declaration. But I think we have to mark it because it was a turning point in the history of that area and the most important way of marking it is to recognize Palestine.”
— Emily Thornberry, UK shadow foreign secretary
The shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, is calling on the UK to mark the centenary of the Balfour declaration — which called for the creation of a Jewish national homeland — with a formal British recognition of the state of Palestine.
The Balfour declaration was issued on Nov 2, 1917, and took its name from a letter written by Arthur Balfour, the foreign secretary, expressing support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” to Lord Rothschild.
Although Israel was not established until three decades later, the declaration is still seen, not least by Israel, as a founding diplomatic initiative for a Jewish state. It is deeply resented by Palestinians.
“Often permits [to travel to Jerusalem] are issued for only some members of the family — the wife, or the children. Some permits are issued for dead people . . . even if people have permits, they often cannot travel because of closures due to military restrictions or Jewish holidays, when only emergency medical vehicles are allowed through the checkpoints.”
— Yusef Daher, secretary general of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Center
All was calm in Bethlehem’s Manger Square as I stood with my husband Fred among hundreds of Palestinian Christian and Muslim families while they gathered together around a 30-foot lighted Christmas tree to sing carols and enjoy the beginning of the Advent season in 2013. Throngs would come again and again over the next four weeks to share the spirit of Christmas as they prepared to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace. As visitors enjoying the festivities, we understood that many Palestinian Christians would not be allowed to come to Bethlehem to celebrate the birth of Jesus at the Church of the Nativity or able to travel to Jerusalem for Good Friday or Easter at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, revered as the site of the crucifixion and the resurrection.
Jerusalem is off-limits to most West Bank Christians unless a special permit can be obtained. In fact, many of the Christian holy places, such as Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee — the locations of churches that commemorate the Annunciation, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Feeding of the 5,000 — fall inside the boundaries of the State of Israel. Tourists can come and go, but without special permits, West Bank Palestinians are not allowed to enter or travel freely inside Israel. Continue reading “Christians in the Holy Land today, part 1”
In violation of her First Amendment right to free speech, Ms. Koontz was denied a professional opportunity based on her conscientious determination to preserve her right to boycott companies that profit from violent and repressive business endeavors.
Whenever we choose to work for peace and justice in the Middle East, we know this choice can be costly.
In August, Ms. Esther Koontz, a trainer of math teachers in Wichita, Kansas, and a member of the Mennonite Church USA, learned that she would not be allowed to participate in a professional program for which she was qualified because she would be required to sign a statement affirming she is not presently engaged in a boycott of Israel. When Ms. Koontz refused to sign that statement, she was informed she would be ineligible to receive payment as a state-contracted teacher trainer. Continue reading “I stand with Esther”
A unique dialogue between an Israeli-Jewish settler and Palestinian activist as they struggle to achieve understanding. Ali Abu Awwad is a leading Palestinian activist teaching his countrymen non-violent resistance, and reaching out to Jewish Israelis at the heart of the conflict. Ali has toured the world many times over, telling his riveting story of violent activism, imprisonment, bereavement and discovery of the path of non-violent resistance, a story of personal transformation. Hanan Schlesinger is an Orthodox rabbi and teacher, and a passionate Zionist settler who has been profoundly transformed by his friendship with Ali. Join Ali and Hanan as they tell their personal stories and of their efforts to build a better future for their peoples. They come with no ready peace plans in hand, but only with the conviction that human understanding and trust will be the prerequisites for lasting justice, freedom and peace on that tiny sliver of land that they both call home.
“Our record [in Palestine] demonstrates that we [British] can be, and have been, as devious as any other people. A nation which only has room for national pride, and no room for honest reflection about its past has little claim to describe itself as either moral or civilized.”
— Peter Shambrook, Durham University historian
If the British Conservative Government of Teresa May represented the views of the people of Britain rather than the preferences of the state of Israel on the disastrous outcome for the Palestinian Arabs of the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, she would not be planning to celebrate this 100th anniversary with Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister. This will happen at a cosy London dinner party at the home of Lord Rothschild, heir to the recipient of that infamous letter from Arthur J. Balfour, Britain’s then Foreign Secretary.
As it is, her November 2 tete-a-tete with Mr. Netanyahu, Lord Rothschild and Lord Balfour, a descendant of Arthur J. Balfour who had no direct descendants, and a subsequent November 9, rally organized by Christian Zionists at the cavernous Albert Hall, in London’s Hyde Park, which Britain’s leader and Zionist and Israeli notables will also attend, are being pre-empted and countered by a host of events throughout the British Isles. These are not only highly critical of Britain’s disastrous legacy in its former Mandated Territory, but urge it to recognize Palestine as a state and work practically to grant the Palestinian Arabs their freedom and self-determination.
This was the duty, a “sacred trust,” the League of Nations imposed on Britain when it obtained the mandate to rule Palestine after the First World War — to prepare the people of Palestine for self-government. Where the Arabs were concerned, then 90 per cent of the population, it signally failed to do so, instead encouraging the Zionist movement to create a parallel government alongside the colonial one.
Only a small percentage of the American public has much understanding of the root causes of the conflict or the correlation between a peaceful resolution to this conflict and peace in the greater Middle East — indeed, the ultimate security of the United States and the West.
In reporting the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, American media has tended to focus on periods of intense military conflict between the Government of Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian faction in control of Gaza. In an effort to put an end to largely ineffectual home-made rocket fire from Gaza into Israeli towns and villages by Hamas militants, Israel launched three major military strikes deep into Gaza between 2009 and 2014. In these attacks, over 2,100 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians; 73 Israelis were killed, seven of them civilians (BBC News).
Since then, intermittent rocket launches from Gaza (pop. nearly 1.8 million) have prompted disproportional retaliations from Israel, most recently in May through October 2016, and February 2017, two of them resulting in civilian casualties. While Israeli airstrikes were reported by many British and Israeli media outlets (TheGuardian, Telegraph, Reuters, Israel Times,Ha’aretz, and Al Jazeera), US media reports were hard to find in an on-line search. In general, US news on the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where 2.9 million Palestinians reside, tends to highlight the military defense needs of the Israel and tarnishes the image of the Palestinians with a broad-brush of terrorist. In the West Bank, under the governance of the Palestinian Authority, no military actions have been seen. Continue reading “Promised land or the land of promise revisited”
I heard one young woman speak of entering into Israel through the Erez Crossing for the first time to travel to the West Bank for meetings. . . . She was eighteen years old and had never seen an Israeli Jew in person in her life. Up until that time, she said, she had only seen them as “helicopters, planes and bombs.”
I’ve written a great deal about Gaza for over ten years but until this past week, I haven’t had the opportunity to visit in person. I’m enormously grateful for the opportunity to experience Gaza as a real living, breathing community and I’m returning home all the more committed to the movement to free Gaza from Israel’s crushing blockade — now eleven years underway with no end in sight. . . .
It’s extremely rare for Americans to receive permission from Israel to enter Gaza through the Erez Crossing. Permits are generally issued only for journalists and staff people of registered international NGOs. Though I was technically allowed to enter Gaza as an AFSC staff member, I wasn’t 100% sure it would really happen until the moment I was actually waved through the crossing by the solider at Passport Control in Erez.