American Jews have abandoned Gaza — and the truth

gettyimages-950746464-1524683810

(photo: Getty Images)

Israel controls Gaza in the way a prison guard might control a prison courtyard in which he never actually sets foot.

By Peter Beinart | Forward | Apr 26, 2018


The struggle for human decency, Orwell argued, is also a struggle for honest language. Our community’s complicity in the human nightmare in Gaza should fill every American Jew with shame. The first step toward ending that complicity is to stop lying to ourselves.


“In our time,” wrote George Orwell in 1946, “political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.” British colonialism, the Soviet gulag and America’s dropping of an atomic bomb, he argued, “can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face.” So how do people defend the indefensible? Through “euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.” By obscuring the truth.

So it is, more than 70 years later, with Israeli policy toward the Gaza Strip. The truth is too brutal to honestly defend. Why are thousands of Palestinians risking their lives by running toward the Israeli snipers who guard the fence that encloses Gaza? Because Gaza is becoming uninhabitable. That’s not hyperbole. The United Nations says that Gaza will be “unlivable” by 2020, maybe sooner.

Hamas bears some of the blame for that: Its refusal to recognize Israel, its decades of terrorist attacks and its authoritarianism have all worsened Gaza’s plight. Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority bears some of the blame too. So does Egypt.

But the actor with the greatest power over Gaza is Israel. Israeli policies are instrumental in denying Gaza’s people the water, electricity, education and food they need to live decent lives.

Continue reading

For Gaza protester, living or dying is the “same thing”

Palestinians gathered for a protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel on Friday. (photo: Wissam Nassar / The New York Times)

Hope is a scarce commodity in Gaza, which is little more than an open-air prison.

By Iyad Abuheweila and David Halbfinger | The New York Times | Apr 29, 2018


“It doesn’t matter to me if they shoot me or not. Death or life — it’s the same thing.”
— Saber al-Gerim


No one would ever pick out Saber al-Gerim from the crowds of Palestinians demonstrating against Israel along the heavily guarded fence that has helped turn the Gaza Strip into an open-air prison.

Not for his youthful appearance. At 22, he wears ripped jeans and white sneakers, has a modish haircut and carries a few extra pounds from too many months without work.

Not for his anger. Screaming “Allahu akbar!” and hurling stones with a sling, or straining to pull a cable hooked onto Israel’s barbed-wire barrier in hopes of tearing it apart, he is just one in a fevered multitude, a protagonist in nobody’s drama but his own.

Not even for his willingness to risk death, or his dream of going home to a patch of land he has never seen and cannot really visualize.

Continue reading

Feminism, Gaza, and life in Israel’s Knesset

Haeneen Zoabi speaks to the press in Nazareth, Jun 1, 2010. (photo: Ariel Schalit / AP)

Palestinian Israeli Knesset member Haneen Zoabi discusses her experience as a member of the Israeli Knesset.

By Dennis Bernstein | Mint Press News | Apr 23, 2018


“Equality and justice are strategic threats. As a member of the Knesset, I am asked to be loyal to racism, loyal to apartheid laws, loyal to my oppressor. In Arab schools, we cannot study our own history, our own literature. We cannot control our own textbooks. We learn that we don’t have any special relation to our homeland. We pay taxes so that our children can learn how inferior we are in our homeland. We must thank Israel every day for not expelling us in 1948.”
— Haneen Zoabi, Israeli member of the Knesset


Haneen Zoabi is a member of the Israeli Knesset and the first woman elected to the Israeli Knesset on an Arab party list. She’s an unrelenting advocate for equal citizenship rights for the Palestinian citizens of Israel, and despite repeated attacks of all kinds, she remains unrelenting in her call for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian Lands.

Zoabi considers herself a straight up feminist. She says “real feminism must acknowledge the discrimination against Arab women in Israel, and real feminism must know to identify with and struggle alongside them, at the national, civil and social levels.”

Zoabi joined forces with the Balad Party a year after it was founded in 1997. A key guiding principle of the Party is to maintain a one-third quota for women candidates. The party advocates for the rights of Palestinians, legally designated as ‘Arab Israelis’. Zoabi has been banned from the Knesset five times for taking strong stands in support of Palestinian rights.

Continue reading

Film: Disturbing the Peace (Tomorrow)

disturbing-the-peace-2

Pushing for Change: Mideast Focus Ministry Film Series V

“Disturbing the Peace” is a story of the human potential unleashed when we stop participating in a story that no longer serves us, and with the power of our convictions, risk and push to actions that create new possibilities. This film follows former enemy combatants who have joined together to challenge the status quo and say “Enough.”

Date: Friday, Apr 27, 2018
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Location: Bloedel Hall
St. Mark’s Cathedral
1245 10th Ave E
Seattle, WA  98102
Information: Event website
Admission: Free

Event Details

Our concern is to help balance the limited and confusing media coverage of the Holy Land. We use compelling films as an entry point for reflection and discussion. As Christians, we respond to Christ’s call to seek justice and love the oppressed. As Americans, we ask: Can we reconcile this calling with our government’s massive financial support of Israeli military operations? We hope the time will come when Jews, Muslims and Christians will again come together in harmony in the Holy Land.

In this series, we see how people pushed to bring about a safe country for the Jewish people, and how today others are still push- ing for safety and change. Do our efforts for change lead to peace and justice . . . or not?

More information here →

Gideon Levy: A voice of sanity from Israel

Journalist Gideon Levy speaks at a Seminar of the Communications Dept. at Ariel University. (photo: Flavio~ / Flickr)

In spite of a systemic policy of demonization against him, Gideon Levy continues denouncing the Israeli government crimes against the Palestinians.

By Cesar Chelala | Mint Press News | Apr 23, 2018


“The only place on earth that Donald Trump is beloved, admired, adored, and appreciated is Israel. The only place that Benjamin Netanyahu is admired, adored and beloved is the United States. If this is not shared values, what is shared values?”
— Gideon Levy speaking at the AIPAC Summit, Mar 2018


I first learned of Gideon Levy many years ago, during a casual conversation with an Israeli human rights activist. He told me that he had asked Levy why was he such a serious critic of Israel’s government and its policies with the Palestinians. Levy, whose own father was a German Jewish refugee who had settled in Israel, responded, “I don’t want Israelis to say that they didn’t know.”

Levy frequently travels to and writes about the Occupied Territories. As a columnist for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Levy wants to show the evils of the occupation and how it hurts not only the Palestinians but also the Israel that he loves so much. “I am an Israeli patriot. I want to be proud of my country. I want us to do the right thing,” he declared. His writing has gained him several prestigious awards, but also the hatred of many Israelis and several personal attacks.

Continue reading

Natalie Portman explains why she refused to accept the Genesis Prize

Natalie Portman speaking at the Environmental Media Association’s 27th Annual EMA Awards in Santa Monica, Sep 23, 2017. (photo: Jerod Harris / Getty Images)

It’s about Netanyahu.

By Staff | Jewish Telegraphic Agency | Apr 20, 2018


“Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation. I treasure my Israeli friends and family, Israeli food, books, art, cinema, and dance. Israel was created exactly 70 years ago as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust. But the mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values. Because I care about Israel, I must stand up against violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power.”
— Natalie Portman


Natalie Portman said she wouldn’t attend a prize ceremony in Israel because of her feelings about its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and “atrocities” committed on his watch, but emphasized that she would not shun Israel itself.

The Jerusalem-born director and actor, posting Friday night on Instagram, explained her decision not to accept in person the $2 million Genesis Prize, which calls itself the “Jewish Nobel,” after a day of speculation in the media that she was turning down the prize because she was joining the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel. The prize foundation had the day before announced Portman’s decision not to attend the ceremony.

“I chose not to attend because I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to be giving a speech at the ceremony,” said Portman, who in 2011 won a best actress Oscar.

“By the same token, I am not part of the BDS movement and do not endorse it,” Portman said.

Continue reading

Steven Mnuchin to lead delegation of 250 to embassy opening in Jerusalem

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin holds a press conference during the IMF/World Bank spring meeting in Washington, DC, on Apr 21, 2018. (photo: Andrew Caballer-Reynolds / AFP)

Group to include Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsay Graham, Jewish leaders and heads of pro-Israel evangelical Christian organizations.

By Staff | The Times of Israel | Apr 22, 2018


Trump, who formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced the embassy relocation on December 6, had mulled attending the inauguration, but reportedly decided against it.


Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is to lead a delegation of 250 people from the United States, including some 40 politicians, to the opening of the embassy in Jerusalem next month, Channel 10 news reported Sunday.

Mnuchin will be accompanied by US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, as well as 40 senators and representatives, the report said.

The Times of Israel first reported last week that Kushner and Ivanka Trump were likely to attend.

Continue reading