The Christian Exodus: Why are Christians leaving their homeland?

A letter from the Bishop’s Committee for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land, Diocese of Olympia, Western Washington calling for dignity and human rights for all who live in Israel and Palestine.

By Randolph Urmston and Mary Pneuman | Bishop’s Committee for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land  |  Feb 29, 2020

On January 28, 2020, the White House rolled out a ‘peace plan’ that heralds an inglorious end to Palestinian hopes for a viable state with contiguous areas and a fair share of natural resources, including water.

A visiting Palestinian Episcopal clergyman recently made the prophetic statement that he believed that soon the only evidence of a Christian presence in Israel and Palestine would be found in museums or on gravestones. Christians have lived in historic Palestine since the 1st century, but the Arab Christian population is now estimated to be 220,000 or below two percent, falling rapidly from about 20 percent when Israel became a state in 1948.

The Episcopal Church is one of ten denominations in Israel and Palestine. (These include Greek, Armenian and other Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and other protestant denominations.) in 2000, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia established the Bishop’s Committee for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land to support the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and its 24 parishes and 30 schools, hospitals, clinics and rehab facilities hospitals in Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Lebanon and to advocate for religious freedom and human rights for all peoples of the land. All 14 members have visited or volunteered in schools or medical facilities of the Diocese of Jerusalem, where services are available to all regardless of faith. We are compelled to speak up on their behalf.

Palestinian Christians cannot be regarded as a people apart from other non-Jewish people of the region. Today, the future for all Palestinians, be they Christian or Muslim, looks bleak. Israel is well on the way to becoming a state for Jews only. The new “nation-state” law (July, 2019) declares that Israel is the historic homeland of the Jews and that the “right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” This law implicitly excludes the 20% of the citizens of Israel who are Palestinian Arabs and invites discrimination against religious minorities. The estimated 660,000 Jewish residents of the settlements occupying nearly half of the West Bank and East Jerusalem are legal Israeli citizens with full rights and privileges. For Palestinians, at least 65 Israeli laws restrict freedom of movement, land ownership or residence, educational and economic opportunity, attendance at religious services, even the right for married couples to live together if one is an Israeli citizen and the other a Palestinian non-citizen.

Continue reading “The Christian Exodus: Why are Christians leaving their homeland?”

Where Have All The Christians Gone?

I was in Bethlehem in December of 2019 at a Sabeel gathering.  The Status of Bethlehem as a Christian presence in the Holy Land is being threatened.  When I first visited Bethlehem in 1983 the Christian population was above 80%. It is now below 20%.  87% of Bethlehem land has been confiscated by the State of Israel.  122,000 settlers live in 22 illegal settlements according to international law surrounding Bethlehem.  Bring a friend to see the film “The Stones Cry Out” and hear the story of Palestinian Christians.


Movie Night…St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

Where:  426 E. Fourth Plain Blvd. Vancouver, Washington 98663

When:     Sunday, March 8,…5:30 PM

 Movie:   “The Stones Cry Out”  Voice of the Palestinian Christians
Appetizers and beverages at 5;30PM followed by the film and conversation.   Questions?   contact Claudia at 360 624 3360….child care provided..
The Rev. Canon Dick Toll

Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ is a flawed, ahistorical plan with major health consequences

Patients at the MSF clinic in Gaza. (photo: Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières)
The convergence of political repression and instability, public health needs, high unemployment, and a lack of resources is leading to a massive breakdown for Palestinians.

By Dr. Alice Rothchild | Mondoweiss | Feb 26, 2020

Refugee, as well as non-refugee patients in the occupied territories, face a mushrooming fragmentation of their health care “non-system” with care provided by UNRWA, the Ministry of Health, NGOs, and private clinicians with duplications, gaps, and chaos complicated by the priorities of international aid groups and donor agendas.

The Trump administration plan for Israel/Palestine, ironically titled “Peace to Prosperity: a vision to improve the lives of the Palestinian and Israeli people,” is a flawed, ahistorical document that is basically a gift to the Israeli government, affirming and giving international blessings to much of the status quo. The document is framed in classic Israeli hasbara: Israelis are peace loving, Palestinians are plagued by violence and terrorism. The struggle is described as intractable, a clash of religions and cultures, that can only be solved by ignoring history and international law and proposing technocratic solutions to political problems and issues of social justice.

The release of the plan coincided with snarky comments from its authors clearly involving attempts to belittle Palestinians – White House senior advisor Jared Kushner told CNN, if Palestinians reject the plan, “they’re going to screw up another opportunity like they’ve screwed up every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence.” He also said on PBS, “Look, they played the victimhood card. Now, it’s like they want their rights. They want a state[…]Basically what we’re saying to the Palestinians is put up or shut up.”

Continue reading “Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ is a flawed, ahistorical plan with major health consequences”

The Zionist colonization of Palestine


(photo: IDF)
Palestinians, who had no role in the European pogroms or the Holocaust, were the ones to be sacrificed on the altar of hate.

By Chris Hedges | Information Clearing House | Feb 24, 2020

…among themselves the Zionists clearly understood that the use of armed force against the Arab majority was essential for the colonial project to succeed.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the product of ancient ethnic hatreds. It is the tragic clash between two peoples with claims to the same land. It is a manufactured conflict, the outcome of a 100-year-old colonial occupation by Zionists and later Israel, backed by the British, the United States and other major imperial powers. This project is about the ongoing seizure of Palestinian land by the colonizers. It is about the rendering of the Palestinians as non-people, writing them out of the historical narrative as if they never existed and denying them basic human rights. Yet to state these incontrovertible facts of Jewish colonization — supported by innumerable official reports and public and private communiques and statements, along with historical records and events — sees Israel’s defenders level charges of anti-Semitism and racism.

Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said professor of modern Arab studies at Columbia University, in his book “The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonization and Resistance, 1917-2017” has meticulously documented this long project of colonization of Palestine. His exhaustive research, which includes internal, private communications between the early Zionists and Israeli leadership, leaves no doubt that the Jewish colonizers were acutely aware from the start that the Palestinian people had to be subjugated and removed to create the Jewish state. The Jewish leadership was also acutely aware that its intentions had to be masked behind euphemisms, the patina of biblical legitimacy by Jews to a land that had been Muslim since the seventh century, platitudes about human and democratic rights, the supposed benefits of colonization to the colonized and a mendacious call for democracy and peaceful co-existence with those targeted for destruction.

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Netanyahu announces new settlements days before Israeli election


Bedouin houses in the E1 area, with East Jerusalem behind, viewed from the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim. (photo: Jim Hollander / EPA)
Plan for 3,500 homes in West Bank is seen as barrier to any future Palestinian state.

By Oliver Holmes | The Guardian | Feb 25, 2020

‘I have given instructions to immediately publish … the plan to build 3,500 housing units in E1,’
— Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel Prime Minister

Benjamin Netanyahu has announced he will move ahead with a highly controversial plan to build settlements east of Jerusalem, in an apparent offering to hardline nationalist voters less than a week before a general election.

Israel’s prime minister said he would reopen the long-dormant project to build 3,500 homes for Jewish settlers in one of the most sensitive areas of the occupied West Bank.

The blueprint for the 12 sq km (4.6 sq mile) site, named E1, was drafted in 1995 but has been repeatedly frozen by successive Israeli governments after strong international condemnation. It would expand the large settlement of Maale Adumim to in effect connect it with Jerusalem.

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Meet the foreign policy teams shaping the Democratic Party’s views on Israel

Sen. Bernie Sanders (Courtesy of J Street), Joe Biden (Gage Skidmore/CC BY-SA 2.0), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Matt Johnson/CC BY 2.0).
Sen. Bernie Sanders (Courtesy of J Street), Joe Biden (Gage Skidmore/CC BY-SA 2.0), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Matt Johnson/CC BY 2.0).
The advisers of the Democratic candidates offer a deeper look into what their policies on Israel-Palestine would be once they enter the White House.

By Alex Kane  | +972 Magazine | Feb 24, 2020

…there is a big difference between who is advising the progressives in the race — Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren — and who is advising the establishment candidates, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders is doing something no American politician has done before: running as the Democratic front-runner for president while harshly criticizing Israel.

Just last Tuesday, Sanders slammed Israel’s “right-wing racist government” during a CNN town hall in Nevada, four days before he won a resounding victory in the state’s caucuses. On Sunday, he announced that he would not attend the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), stating he was “concerned about the platform AIPAC provides leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights.”

When Sanders criticizes Israel in this way, he is not merely expressing his own personal beliefs. His remarks are also the outcome of the work of a foreign policy team that is helping to hone Sanders’ thinking on Israel – and which, in turn, is dramatically reshaping the national debate on what U.S. policy toward the Jewish state should be.

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‘There’s been a huge shift’: breaking down Betty McCollum’s historic bill on Palestinian children

Brad Parker, St. Mark’s Cathedral-Bloedel Hall on September 17, 2016. (photo: screenshot / YouTube)
An interview with Brad Parker about how support for the rights of Palestinians has grown inside the halls of Congress.

By Michael Arria | Mondoweiss | Feb 18, 2020

We wanted to shift the burden away from the Palestinian rights movement and onto policymakers specifically.
— Brad Parker, senior policy advisor for Defense for Children International

After years of prodding members of Congress to act on their concerns over Palestinian human rights abuses, last year Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduced legislation that would prohibit militaries from using American funds to detain and prosecute children.

The historic bill, H.R. 2407, targets Israel’s army for arresting children as young as 12. It currently has 23 Democratic cosponsors, as activists throughout the country continue to pressure more lawmakers. An earlier version of the bill introduced in 2017 also by McCollum, is the first piece of legislation to seek safeguards for Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.

Continue reading “‘There’s been a huge shift’: breaking down Betty McCollum’s historic bill on Palestinian children”

Liberal Zionist’s teen son is – an anti-Zionist


Artwork that appeared with Eric Flamm post on Medium about his son becoming an anti-Zionist.  (photo: Image has been cropped / Used with permission of author)
A  father/son navigating a conversation about Israel where opinions are divergent but respected.

By Philip Weiss  |  Mondoweiss |  Feb 21, 2020

About a month ago my 15-year-old son told me he was an anti-Zionist because he couldn’t support the notion that in Israel the Jews received preferential treatment over Palestinians in all aspects of life, such as education, housing, employment, and access to justice.
— Eric Flamm, writer

I keep telling friends that before long a prominent liberal Zionist is going to say, I’m sick of what the Jewish state is doing in my name so I’m going to become an anti-Zionist, just like an American pol leaving one party for another. But it hasn’t happened. Peter Beinart hasn’t been able to take the plunge. My college friend Dan Fleshler is still with J Street. David Rothkopf and David Remnick and Roger Cohen haven’t made the break. The only real exception is Henry Siegmann.

The shift is surely happening inside many Jewish families, though, and writer Eric Flamm has published an important piece documenting the change. Flamm himself is dedicated to Israel. He moved there in his 20’s in 1994 and became an Israeli citizen and was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces and served in a combat unit as a reservist. Then in 2001, he moved back to his college town, Portland, Oregon, and emerged as a leading liberal Zionist. He chaired the J Street chapter there from 2012-2018 and wrote a book of stories titled “Portland Zionists Unite!”

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Trump-Kushner ‘Peace’ Plan ignores elephants in the room: Israel created this mess

Trump-Kushner “Peace” Plan ignores elephants in the room: Israel created this mess
Senior advisor and son-in-law of the President Jared Kushner (left), US President Donald Trump second from left, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (far right) are always accompanied by their shared comfort animal, the elephant in the room (second from right). (photo: collage by If Americans Knew.)
The Trump-Kushner “Peace” Plan is slick and businesslike, with an aura of objectivity and balance – but it is exactly the opposite, and something about it stinks.

By Kathryn Shihadah | If American Knew  | Feb 21, 2020

The basic premise on which the Trump-Kushner Plan is based shows disdain for fundamental facts: Palestinian society is languishing because of Israel’s policies – not some deficiency in Palestinians or their leadership.

There is a giant herd of elephants circling the Trump-Kushner Peace Plan, and they’re not going away. The fragrance of pachyderms is unmistakable, but Trump administration, the Netanyahu government, and Israel partisans have decades of experience in ignoring whatever is inconvenient to their agendas.

That unmistakable throng of elephants is the disenfranchisement and subjugation of the Palestinian people that has gone for a hundred years, and is presently so flagrant that numerous human rights organizations and experts have called it apartheid.

And while the Trump administration claims it wants a future of peace, this Plan will not bring peace.

Because, elephants.

Continue reading “Trump-Kushner ‘Peace’ Plan ignores elephants in the room: Israel created this mess”

Reconciliation is a lifestyle, not a quick fix solution

Musalaha gathering. (photo: screenshot Musalaha)
A Musalaha intern reflects on recent women’s group gathering.

By Sophie Rice | Musalaha| Feb 20, 2020

In this honest, raw space, the group was encouraged that it’s okay and it’s important to hold different perspectives, and that it’s also okay to disagree, but the true beauty of reconciliation is found in our shared humanity.

The journey of reconciliation isn’t always easy. The conflict in Israel-Palestine runs deep through history, society, and personal lives, and given the current political climate you can find yourself asking, “Do my actions really make a difference for peace?” At times, positive change can feel like a small drop in a very large bucket. However, over the past two weekends, two groups of Musalaha women gathered together, one a newly formed reconciliation group and one an alumni group where some had been on the journey with Musalaha for 30 years. As they shared life, meals, honest stories, debate, and laughter, I was profoundly encouraged to see that through genuine friendships and deep love for each other, grassroots change is happening, and hope for a better future is possible.

Our new women’s group gathering was held in Beit Jala where for most of the Israeli women, it was their first time traveling to the West Bank outside of military service. As one woman shared, “Before I came to Beit Jala I was scared because I didn’t know if it was safe for me to drive here alone or not. Now that I’ve been here I know it’s safe.” At this early stage in the reconciliation process there are many new realities, like this, to be exposed to and new perspectives to hear and learn from.

Continue reading “Reconciliation is a lifestyle, not a quick fix solution”