Jared Kushner’s Middle East fantasy

Senior Advisor to the US President, Jared Kushner. (photo: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
In an interview with a Palestinian newspaper, the president’s son-in-law revealed himself to be either strikingly naive — or deeply cynical.

By Philip Gordon and Prem Kumar | The Atlantic | Jun 25, 2018

(Although almost a year old, this article remains well worth reading. — Eds.)

But the reality is that under present circumstances, with the current Israeli and Palestinian governments, at this point the two-state solution is itself a fantasy. Neither the Palestinian nor Israeli people, nor their leaders, are currently prepared for the compromises required for a deal, and accentuating this reality will only make things worse.

Jared Kushner, it seems, is feeling optimistic.

On Sunday [Jun 24, 2018], in his first-ever interview with a Palestinian newspaper, the US president’s son-in-law and Middle East peace envoy said that despite appearances to the contrary, “prospects for peace are very much alive” and confirmed that the administration is getting ready to release its long-awaited plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Asked how that plan is different from previous efforts, Kushner explained he has done “a lot of listening” and is convinced the Palestinian people are “less invested in the politicians’ talking points” than they are in seeing how a deal will improve their prospects for a better life.

Continue reading “Jared Kushner’s Middle East fantasy”

A brave school principal; A brave woman

Sunset in Hebron, Palestine. (photo: Wikimedia / Aseel zm)
A simple, quiet act of gathering the children speaks volumes.

By Christian Peacemakers Teams Palestine | Apr 19, 2019

…she had to bring her kids back to school and back to safety.

We were monitoring the Salaymeh checkpoint on a cold morning. Two soldiers, fully armed and wearing masks, walked past the checkpoint and went up on the roof of an adjoining building. As children started making their way to school, the two soldiers came down and started moving towards the school area. Ofer, a settler who shows up daily at the checkpoint to harass children and human rights monitors, made his daily appearance. Suddenly 3 sound grenades were thrown close to a small group of boys that had gathered outside the school. Within seconds children started throwing stones and throwing back the sound grenade canisters at the soldiers. Things quickly escalated. School teachers and school principals were out on the streets. Then, to everyone’s surprise, live ammunition was fired, 5 shots were fired in the air. I could hear teachers and community members shouting in disbelief saying “ They have never fired live ammunition before”. One teacher had videotaped the scene and was replaying the video as proof that live ammunition was fired.

Continue reading “A brave school principal; A brave woman”

There’s something rotten in Virginia: Israel is a malignant force in local politics

There’s Something Rotten in Virginia: Israel Is a Malignant Force in Local Politics
The Virginia-Israel Advisory Board partnered with Israeli company EPC to enable the building of a wastewater treatment plant in Virginia. L to R: Governor Terry McAuliffe, EPC Chief Jeremy Weissman, VIAB’s Ralph Robbins. (photo:  Virginia-Israel Advisory Board)
Virginia taxpayers providing state funding for Israeli companies, politicized textbooks and fighting BDS.

By Philip Giraldi | reposted from American Herald Tribune | Apr 9, 2019

This coziness often borders on corruption and inevitably leads to abuses that do not serve the public interest, particularly as American citizens are quite openly promoting the interests of a foreign nation.

One of the more interesting aspects of the relentless march of the Israel Lobby in the United States is the extent to which it has expanded its reach down into the state and even local level. Previously, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the hundreds of other Jewish and Christian Zionist organizations dedicated to promoting Israeli interests had concentrated on the federal government level and the media, believing correctly that those were the key players in benefiting Israel while also making sure that its public image was highly favorable. The media was the easy part as American Jews were already well placed in the industry and inclined to be helpful. It also turned out that many Congressmen and the political parties themselves had their hands out and were just waiting to be bought, so “Mission Accomplished” turned out to be a lot easier than had been anticipated. Continue reading “There’s something rotten in Virginia: Israel is a malignant force in local politics”

Outgoing French ambassador says Trump “Deal of the Century” is DOA, calls Israel an “apartheid state”

France’s Ambassador to the US, Gerard Araud, speaks during the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s annual Days of Remembrance Ceremony, Apr 16, 2015. (photo: Andrew Harnik / AP)
While Araud has been characterized for his “bluntness,” he is a member of the Western political elite that has long shielded Israeli apartheid from scrutiny.

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | Apr 22, 2019

‘[Israel] won’t make them [Palestinians] citizens of Israel. So they will have to make it official, which is we know the situation, which is apartheid. There will be officially an apartheid state. They are in fact already.’
— Outgoing French ambassador to the US, Gerard Araud

In an interview with The Atlantic last Friday, outgoing French Ambassador to the United States Gerard Araud made headlines after emphatically stating that Israel is already “an apartheid state” and that the Trump administration’s so-called “Deal of the Century” aimed at resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict is “99 percent doomed.”

Araud — whose first government post was in France’s Tel Aviv embassy, and who was the French ambassador to Israel from 2003 to 2006 — made the claim after being asked about his views on the Israel-Palestine “peace process.” After stating that he enjoys a “close” relationship with Jared Kushner — Trump’s son-in-law who has spent the last two years drafting a “peace plan” for the Trump administration — Araud noted that Kushner’s “proposal is very close to what the Israelis want.”

This outcome has long been noted by many media outlets based on Kushner’s close ties to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; his family’s role in funding illegal West Bank settlements; and, more recently, statements made by those familiar with the negotiations and the fact that the Palestinians have refused to negotiate with Kushner’s team since the Trump administration decreed Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital in December 2017.

Continue reading “Outgoing French ambassador says Trump “Deal of the Century” is DOA, calls Israel an “apartheid state””

Standing with Omar Shakir

(photo: AFSC / Mike Merryman-Lotze)
Israel’s decision to deport the Human Rights Watch staffer is part of a broader effort to silence people speaking out for Palestinian rights.

By Mike Merryman-Lotze  | American Friends Service Committee |  Apr 19, 2019

This decision could impact many international organizations like Oxfam, Amnesty International, the Carter Center, and Norwegian People’s Aid that advocate against Israel’s illegal settlement policy but do not formally endorse or engage in BDS.

Earlier this week, an Israeli judge upheld a May 2017 Israeli government decision to deport Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch Israel and Palestine director. Last year, the Israeli government revoked Omar’s visa after producing a dossier on him going back 10 years to his time as an undergraduate student and before he worked for HRW. The dossier alleged that Omar was biased and that he had supported boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) actions as a student.

It’s important to note that HRW does not support BDS. When Omar was first targeted by the Israeli government, HRW made a point of saying that the decision was not a sweeping targeting of the organization itself. But Israel’s legal response in defending its revocation of Omar’s visa pointed to HRW reports on illegal Israeli settlements and possible violations of international law by corporations doing business in settlements. Israel argued that HRW reports on violations by companies like AirBnB that operate in illegal settlements effectively equate to support for BDS.

Continue reading “Standing with Omar Shakir”

Anti-Zionists deserve free speech, too

Omar Barghouti, a permanent resident of Israel, last week was denied entry to the United States. (photo: Mohamad Torokman / Reuters)
The Trump administration bars a critic of Israel from returning to America.

By Michelle Goldberg | The New York Times | Apr 15, 2019

‘People who are confident in their beliefs do not censor others.’
— Donald Trump

‘Israel is winning the far right around the world, but it is losing its moral stature.’
— Omar Barghouti

The Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, was supposed to be on a speaking tour of the United States this week, with stops at NYU’s Washington campus and at Harvard. He was going to attend his daughter’s wedding in Texas. I had plans to interview him for “The Argument,” the debate podcast that I co-host, about BDS, the controversial campaign to make Israel pay an economic and cultural price for its treatment of the Palestinians.

Yet when Barghouti, a permanent resident of Israel, showed up for his flight from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport last week, he was informed that the United States was denying him entry. When I spoke to him on Sunday, he still didn’t know exactly why the country where he went to college and lived for many years wasn’t letting him in, but he assumed it was because of his political views. If that’s the case, Barghouti said, it was the first time someone has been barred from America for BDS advocacy. He has proceeded with his public events, but he’s been appearing at them via Skype.

Continue reading “Anti-Zionists deserve free speech, too”

USAID to lay off 85% of local employees on Palestinian projects

A Palestinian man walks near a USAID billboard in the West Bank village of Badhan, north of Nablus, last August. Since January, U.S. financing for humanitarian programs serving Palestinians has been suspended. (photo: Jaafar Ashtiyeh / AFP / Getty Images)
Withdrawal of aid may be a sign of things to come.

By Yumna Patel | Mondoweiss | Apr 19, 2019

…the majority of the staff to be laid off are Palestinians from the occupied territories and Palestinian citizens of Israel, while a smaller number are Jewish Israelis.

In the latest blow dealt by the American government to the Palestinians, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which was responsible for millions of dollars of aid projects in the occupied Palestinian territory, will be laying off some 85% of its local staff in the coming weeks.

A Thursday report from NPR citing U.S. government communications speculated that the Trump administration ordered the job cuts as part of the lead up to unveiling its peace plan, which is set to be released in the coming months.

USAID is expected to reduce its number of local staff from 100 employees to 14, NPR said, quoting an anonymous USAID worker who said they had “begun to take steps to reduce our staffing footprint.”
Continue reading “USAID to lay off 85% of local employees on Palestinian projects”

We Stand with Ilhan

Rep. Ilhan Omar. (photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
An open letter from JewsWithIlhan.org

By JewsWithIlhan.org

We thank Ilhan Omar for having the bravery to shake up the congressional taboo against criticizing Israel. As Jews with a long tradition of social justice and anti-racism, AIPAC does not represent us.

We are Jews who stand with Representative Ilhan Omar.

She has been falsely accused of anti-Semitism since tweeting that GOP threats against her and Representative Rashida Tlaib for criticizing Israel were “all about the Benjamins baby.” When asked to clarify who is paying members of Congress “to be pro-Israel,” Omar replied, “AIPAC!”

There is absolutely nothing anti-Semitic about calling out the noxious role of AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), which spends millions each year to buy US political support for Israeli aggression and militarism against the Palestinian people. As the NYC chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace summed up: “Accurately describing how the Israel lobby works in this country is not anti-Semitic. The never-ending smear campaign against Ilhan Omar is racism and Islamophobia in action.” Continue reading “We Stand with Ilhan”

Trump’s America, Netanyahu’s Israel

Adam Shatz. (photo: Yale University)
Ilhan Omar’s tweets signaled that the conversation about Israel is changing, as disadvantaged American minorities, including blacks and Muslims, overcome a range of inhibitions — including the fear of being called anti-Semitic — and begin to speak frankly on the Israel/Palestine question.

By Adam Shatz | London Review of Books | Apr 18, 2019

A significant portion of the anti-occupation movement in the US is Jewish, notably the group Jewish Voice for Peace, staunch supporters of BDS. [It] is only partly right to say that diaspora Judaism has ceased to supply the West with a critical conscience.

Israel’s legislative elections on 9 April were a tribute to Binyamin Netanyahu’s transformation of the political landscape.​ At no point were they discussed in terms of which candidates might be persuaded by (non-existent) American pressure, or the “international community,” to end the occupation. This time it was a question of which party leader could be trusted by Israeli Jews — Palestinian citizens of Israel are now officially second-class — to manage the occupation, and to expedite the various tasks that the Jewish state has mastered: killing Gazans, bulldozing homes, combatting the scourge of BDS, and conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

With his promise to annex the West Bank, Netanyahu had won even before the election was held. It wasn’t simply Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights that sped the incumbent on his way; it was the nature of the conversation — and the fact that the leader of the opposition was Benny Gantz, the IDF commander who presided over the 2014 “Operation Protection Edge,” in which more than 2,000 Gazans were killed.

Continue reading “Trump’s America, Netanyahu’s Israel”

Film: Naila and the Uprising (May 3)

Please join our brothers and sisters at the Mideast Focus Ministry for their First Friday Film series.
Date: Friday, May 3, 2019
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Location: St. Mark’s Cathedral
Bloedel Hall
1245 10th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98102
Information: Event information here →
Tickets: Free Admission
Event Details

When a nation-wide uprising breaks out in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, a young woman in Gaza must make a choice between love, family, and freedom. Undaunted, she embraces all three, joining a clandestine network of women in a movement that forces the world to recognize the Palestinian right to self-determination for the first time. Naila and the Uprising chronicles the remarkable journey of Naila Ayesh and a fierce community of women at the frontlines, whose stories weave through the most vibrant, nonviolent mobilization in Palestinian history — the First Intifada in the late 1980s.

Using evocative animation, intimate interviews, and exclusive archival footage, this film brings out of anonymity the courageous women activists who have remained on the margins of history — until now. While most images of the First Intifada paint an incomplete picture of stone-throwing young men front and center, this film tells the story that history overlooked — of an unbending, nonviolent women’s movement at the head of Palestine’s struggle for freedom. Continue reading “Film: Naila and the Uprising (May 3)”