It’s time to end America’s blank check military aid to Israel

Graphic: Avi Katz / Forward
Ensuring that the United States does not help Israel arrest a child, demolish a home or imprison a people is just about the most Jewish thing we can possibly do.

By Peter Beinart | Forward | May 20, 2019

Israelis re-elected Netanyahu because he showed them he could undermine the two-state solution with international impunity. Indeed, he made that accomplishment a central theme of his campaign.

Last month, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared that American aid to Israel is “something that can be discussed” in Washington. Her comments made news precisely because America’s policy of giving Israel billions in aid without expecting any policy changes in return hasn’t actually been discussed — or at least questioned — in either party in more than a quarter-century. That needs to change.

To understand why, ask yourself this question: Why did Israelis last month re-elect a prime minister who opposes a Palestinian state and — by championing settlement growth and vowing to annex parts of the West Bank — is working to make one impossible?

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Israel creates a new political normal

selective focus photography of black barbwire
Old City Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel. (photo: Cole Keister / Unsplash)
The new normal is a constant state of deceit with support from US political leadership.

By James M . Wall |  Wallwritings | May 16, 2019

To convince the world of its success, Official Israel lives in a constant state of deceit.

Adam Shatz, writing in the London Review of Books, described Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s legislative victory on April 9, as a “tribute” to his “transformation of the political landscape”. He wrote:

At no point were [the legislative elections] discussed in terms of which candidates might be persuaded by (non-existent) American pressure, or the ‘international community’, to end the occupation.

This time the question was 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 the Jewish state has mastered: killing Gazans, bulldozing homes, combating the scourge of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS), and conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism.

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Film: Wajib (Jun 7)

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

There’s a quiet warmth that runs like a current through ‘Wajib,’ a new film from the Palestinian director and writer Annemarie Jacir. The title is Arabic for “duty,’ and here the obligation is shared by father and son. Abu Shadi, an aging divorcee living in a Christian Palestinian community in Nazareth, is driving around his neighborhood and its outskirts all day at the beginning of the Christmas season — he’s got ‘Jingle Bells’ as his phone’s ringtone — hand-delivering invitations to his daughter’s wedding. With him is his son, Shadi, an architect who now makes his home in Rome.
— Glenn Kenny, The New York Times

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Foreign aid that costs an arm and a leg — literally

gaza-bombing-civilian-casualties-amputations
Palestinian amputees break their Ramadan fast at a community center in Rafah, which was destroyed by Israeli warplanes. (photo: Abed Rahim Khatib / Shutterstock)
The US funded Israeli military is shooting so many unarmed Palestinians that the UN is warning of an amputation crisis in Gaza.

By Phyllis Bennis | Foreign Policy in Focus | May 22, 2019

…the Trump administration has cut off funding for the very UN refugee agency that staffs health clinics in Gaza, even as it funds the Israeli military that’s filling them with gunshot victims.

My friend Andrew Rubin is an amputee. He’s lost his right hand, lower arm, right foot, and lower leg.

He used to be an avid runner and cyclist. He can’t do much of that anymore, although his walking is getting much better. Soon he might be able to run with his artificial leg.

Andrew is incredibly lucky.

The medical catastrophe that left his hand and foot so terribly damaged didn’t kill him. But when his limbs never healed even after a decade, he decided to undergo the amputations. It was his choice, and it was made much easier because he knew what lay ahead: the most advanced artificial limbs ever imagined. The kids call him Bionic Man now.

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Trump doesn’t want peace — he wants Palestinian surrender

Israeli soldiers stand guard as Israeli bulldozers demolish a Palestinian house in the West Bank village of Dirat this month. (photo: Al Hashlamoun / European PressPhoto Agency via Shutterstock)
From what we know so far, the administration’s peace plan is a non-starter.

By Saeb Erekat | The New York Times | May 22, 2019

Mr. Trump’s Middle East team claims that they want to boost the Palestinian economy and improve Palestinian lives, but economic growth can never be a substitute for the right to live in dignity, free from military occupation and oppression, in our homeland.

The Trump administration says it has a peace plan for the Middle East. Those behind it claim that they are offering a new approach to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one focused on an “economic vision,” and that it deserves a chance. Yet none of what has been revealed so far has addressed the real issues: the end of the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and the preservation of the internationally recognized inalienable rights of the people of Palestine.

Unless the Trump administration’s plan addresses these issues head-on, it is a non-starter for the Palestinians. It should be for the rest of the world, as well. Judging from the statements and actions that have emerged from the administration so far, there is no reason to believe that President Trump’s supposed peace plan will present a departure point for peace. On Sunday, the administration announced it will hold a meeting next month in Bahrain called “Peace to Prosperity,” replacing the historic concept of “land for peace.” Let us be clear: There will be no economic prosperity in Palestine without the end of the occupation. Notably, the Palestinian leadership was not consulted by any party on this meeting.

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German parliament smears quest for Palestinian rights as anti-Semitic

Hundreds of people march, some with signs that say
Activists in the 2017 May Day march in Berlin demonstrate support for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights. (photo: Keren Manor / ActiveStills)
BDS responds that this is a betrayal of international law and German democracy.

By Riri Hylton | The Electronic Intifada | May 21, 2019

More than 60 Jewish and Israeli academics critical of the move signed an open letter stating ‘we all reject the deceitful allegation that BDS as such is anti-Semitic.’

In a symbolic move on Friday, the German parliament condemned the BDS – boycott, divest and sanctions – movement for Palestinian rights as anti-Semitic.

The Bundestag passed the motion “Resisting the BDS movement decisively – fighting anti-Semitism,” brought by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, the center-left Social Democratic Party, the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats.

Inspired by the tactics of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, the BDS movement was founded by some 170 Palestinian civil society organizations in 2005 with the aim of pressuring Israel to respect Palestinian rights and international law.

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US complicity in Israel’s violations of international law

Nikki Haley and Benjamin Netanyahu (photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The United States bears responsibility for the disregard of international law and enabling of Israel’s settlements.

By James J. Zogby| Lobe Log | May 19, 2019

Successive American administrations’ attitudes toward Israeli settlements have gone from passive acquiescence to outright acceptance.

Last week, I addressed a United Nations Security Council meeting on “Israeli Settlements.” Because I knew that other speakers, experts, and diplomats would address the illegality of Israeli settlements, the economic and human rights impact on the Palestinian people, and the stated design of the entire settlement enterprise to eliminate the possibility of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state, I focused my remarks on my government’s role in enabling Israel’s settlements and its complicity in Israel’s violations of international law. This may seem like harsh language, but when nothing is done to stop an activity that violates international law, contributes to human rights abuses, and presents a clear danger to peace – then I don’t know any other way to describe American actions.

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EVENT: Israel, Zionism and the Jewish Community in 2019 (Tomorrow)

Peter Beinart. (photo: Center for American Progress Action Fund / Flickr)
Please join our brothers and sisters for this exciting evening with Peter Beinart.
Date: Thursday, May 23, 2019
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Location: Temple de Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St
Seattle, WA 98122
Information & Registration: Event information here →
Event Details

Join us for a discussion with Peter Beinart, a prominent columnist for The Atlantic and the Forward. He will share his thoughts on anti-semitism, the changing conversation on Israel in the Jewish community, the results of the Israeli election and more.

Peter Beinart is Associate Professor of Journalism and Political Science at the City University of New York. He is also a contributor to The Atlantic, a Senior Columnist at The Forward, a CNN Political Commentator and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Foundation for Middle East Peace. He has written three books, The Good Fight, The Icarus Syndrome and The Crisis of Zionism.

Beinart has written for The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, the Boston Globe and other prominent publications. Beinart became The New Republic’s managing editor in 1995. He became the magazine’s Senior Editor in 1997, and from 1999 to 2006 served as its Editor.

This event is co-sponsored by J Street, Kavana Cooperative, Temple Beth Am, Temple de Hirsch Sinai and Congregation Beth Shalom.

More information here →

EVENT: Israel, Zionism and the Jewish Community in 2019 (Thursday)

Peter Beinart. (photo: Center for American Progress Action Fund / Flickr)
Please join our brothers and sisters for this exciting evening with Peter Beinart.
Date: Thursday, May 23, 2019
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Location: Temple de Hirsch Sinai
1511 E Pike St
Seattle, WA 98122
Information & Registration: Event information here →
Event Details

Join us for a discussion with Peter Beinart, a prominent columnist for The Atlantic and the Forward. He will share his thoughts on anti-semitism, the changing conversation on Israel in the Jewish community, the results of the Israeli election and more.

Peter Beinart is Associate Professor of Journalism and Political Science at the City University of New York. He is also a contributor to The Atlantic, a Senior Columnist at The Forward, a CNN Political Commentator and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Foundation for Middle East Peace. He has written three books, The Good Fight, The Icarus Syndrome and The Crisis of Zionism.

Beinart has written for The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, the Boston Globe and other prominent publications. Beinart became The New Republic’s managing editor in 1995. He became the magazine’s Senior Editor in 1997, and from 1999 to 2006 served as its Editor.

This event is co-sponsored by J Street, Kavana Cooperative, Temple Beth Am, Temple de Hirsch Sinai and Congregation Beth Shalom.

More information here →

A Palestinian in Israeli military court: Issa Amro, the judge, and me

Palestinian activist Issa Amro arriving at the Israeli-run Ofer military court, Betunia, near Ramallah, West Bank, Jul 9, 2017. (Abbas Momani / AFP / Getty Images)
Nonviolent resistance is becoming an organizing principle of Palestinian civil society — which explains why Israel is so invested in criminalizing it.

By Batya Ungar-Sargon | The New York Review of Books | May 13, 2019

‘Israel is not afraid of violence. They immediately react with shelling and bombing. But when Palestinians use nonviolence, they don’t know how to respond, and they call it delegitimization.’
— Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of the PLO

‘You know what is the one thing that most terrifies the State of Israel? That people, without guns, would start to walk. Picture it: 100,000 Palestinians start walking towards Jerusalem. Walking — nothing else. What would the IDF do? Say they kill fifty, they kill a hundred, they kill three hundred. What would happen if they just kept walking?’
— Ami Ayalon, a former Knesset member and former head of the Shin Bet

I think Israel is afraid of nonviolent activists. Israel knows — thank God — how to fight terrorism and violence. But if a very large number of nonviolent demonstrators would have huge marches like they had in India at the time of Gandhi, I don’t know how Israel would be able to stop that. And then, maybe, it would be a turning point in the occupation.’
— Gaby Lasky, Israeli civil rights lawyer

Two roads lead to the two separate entrances of the Ofer prison and military court in the West Bank, where Palestinians living under Israeli military rule in that territory are tried and sentenced. One road comes from the Palestinian territories. It leads to an outdoor waiting area, where Palestinian defendants and their families wait for their names to be called over a loudspeaker. The other road comes from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It leads to a guard booth, where you hand over your passport and, if you are on a list, you are waved through to a security check. This entrance is used by lawyers, dignitaries, and, early in April, me.

I was at Ofer as a journalist to attend the trial of Issa Amro, a Palestinian activist from Hebron. I have been writing about Amro for five years with growing admiration, visiting him in Hebron, chronicling his work, and publishing his words preaching nonviolent resistance against Israel’s occupation, where so many choose either violence or submission. These efforts have brought him growing prominence both internationally and within his own community. Together with the Hebron-based organization he founded, Youth Against Settlements, Amro has become famous for the kind of civil disobedience developed by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. . . .

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