From George Floyd to Iyad al-Hallaq: Can the American church also engage with the Palestinian?

(photo: Twitter)
A challenge to evangelical pastors and leaders in the United States to listen to Palestinians just as they are listening now to their African American brothers and sisters.

By Wissam Al-Saliby | Arab Baptist Theological Seminary | June 18, 2020

‘Symbolically, we relate to [George Floyd’s] experience because we also ‘cannot breathe.’ The wall, the [Israeli] colonies and checkpoints suffocate us.’
—Munther Isaac, Academic Dean of Bethlehem Bible College

Amid the protests to the killing of George Floyd, many Evangelical pastors and leaders are speaking up and supporting racial justice, reconciliation, and public institution reform in the United States through Sunday sermons, peaceful protests, and social media.

I would like to challenge these pastors and leaders to weave the injustices in the Holy Land into their narrative for the following reasons.

Reason 1: There’s police and military brutality in the Holy Land.

Continue reading “From George Floyd to Iyad al-Hallaq: Can the American church also engage with the Palestinian?”

Chuck Schumer and 2 other key pro-Israel Democrats warn Israel against annexation

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, at mic, speaks at a news briefing at the Capitol, July 17, 2018. Left to right in the background are Sens. Ben Cardin, Jeanne Shaheen and Robert Menendez. (photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images)
As July 1st deadline approaches, 30 of the 47 Democrats in the Senate are warning Israel against annexation.

By Ron Kampeas  | Jewish Telegraph Agency | June 19, 2020

‘I understand that the Israeli coalition agreement stipulates that annexation will only proceed under ‘full agreement with the United States’ and, in my capacity as a U.S. senator, wanted to notify you that I must withhold my agreement at this time,’
—Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York

Three of Israel’s most stalwart boosters among Democrats in Congress are warning the country against annexing parts of the West Bank.

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, and Sens. Ben Cardin of Maryland and Robert Menendez of New Jersey released a statement Friday saying they were “compelled to express opposition to the proposed unilateral annexation of territory in the West Bank.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to launch the process to annex parts of the West Bank on July 1.

Continue reading “Chuck Schumer and 2 other key pro-Israel Democrats warn Israel against annexation”

Questioning the Covenant

The steeple of a Franciscan convent in the Aida refugee camp, near the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler)
Voices in the American evangelical community are seeing the reality of occupation and offering alternative theologies of the land and preaching Christian solidarity over Christian Zionism.

By Arianna Skibell | Jewish Currents | June 17, 2020

‘I literally thought Palestine was just a map in the back of the Bible…I knew nothing about the contemporary geopolitics.’
—Reverend Mae Elise Cannon

In 2009, Reverend Mae Elise Cannon, on her first trip to the Holy Land, stood on the Allenby Bridge waiting to cross into Jericho from Jordan, where she and her church group had just explored Petra. The evangelical pastor approached the Israeli border patrol agent, who asked if she intended to travel into the West Bank. Cannon was flummoxed. She knew she was headed to Bethlehem, where Jesus lived and ministered. But the West Bank?

“I said ‘no,’ because I didn’t even know what it was,” Cannon recalled.

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Trump is pushing annexation as political tool to cast Dems as anti-Israel, says J Street expert

President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, January 28, 2020. (Photo: Koby Gideon/GPO)
President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, January 28, 2020. (photo: Koby Gideon / GPO)
Annexation divides Democrats, providing Trump with a wedge issue.

By Philip Weiss | Mondoweiss | June 16, 2020

‘…it’s not so much a mobilization tool but a hard political tool to use against Democrats in a very tight election.’
— Neri Zilber, Israeli journalist

Israeli journalist Neri Zilber was on a J Street zoom session today and said that Donald Trump is pushing Israeli annexation of the West Bank to have a tool to divide the Democratic Party ahead of the election and paint the party as anti-Israel.

Continue reading “Trump is pushing annexation as political tool to cast Dems as anti-Israel, says J Street expert”

Congress must take a stand against annexation

Palestinians in Gaza protest against Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank in Gaza, Palestine on 11 June.
Palestinians in Gaza protest against Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank in Gaza, Palestine on 11 June. (photo: Yousef Masoud / Shutterstock)
There are several steps lawmakers can do to send a signal that they will stand by their values.

By Gil Kulick | The Jewish Week | May 26, 2020

It is urgent that responsible, pro-Israel lawmakers make clear that annexation would be a reckless step that would have damaging long-term ramifications for the region and for the U.S.-Israel relationship.

The stated intention of the far-right government of Israel to move forward with annexation of large portions of the West Bank has come as a shock to some — but it’s a step that has deep roots and is the virtually inevitable culmination of a process that began five decades ago and has advanced unimpeded by any effective opposition.

It began within a few months of Israel’s stunning victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, when several groups of young Israeli “pioneers” set up small agricultural outposts in the lightly populated Jordan Valley. Averring that these were temporary paramilitary installations that could be readily removed, they elicited little international attention.

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Minnesota cops trained by Israeli police, who often use knee-on-neck restraint

Israeli police officers detain a Palestinian protestor during scuffles outside the compound housing al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City March 12, 2019.
Israeli police officers detain a Palestinian protestor during scuffles outside the compound housing al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City March 12, 2019. (photo: Reuters)
The latest demonstrations in the U.S. highlight the influence of Israeli police training on U.S. City police forces.  Israel has been training law enforcement officers around the U.S. for many years and the following articles highlight how this contributes to the excessive force and racist approach often used by police.

By Alison Weir | Israel-Palestine News | June 2, 2020

The militarization of American law enforcement has been in a sense institutionalized through programs set up by the federal government and the states to train with Israeli police, a mentoring relationship established by Michael Chertoff when he was Secretary of Homeland Security.
—Philip Giraldii, excerpted from Unz Review

Over 100 Minnesota law enforcement officers attended a 2012 conference organized by the Israeli consulate in which Israeli police trained them. Israeli forces often use the knee-on-neck restraint on Palestinians…Israel has been training law enforcement officers around the US for many years, despite the fact that Israeli forces have a long record of human rights violations

The neck technique taught by Israeli trainers was in the Minneapolis police manual…

Groups organizing Israeli trainings of US police are the ADL, Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs (JINSA), and the American Jewish Committee (AJC)…

Continue reading “Minnesota cops trained by Israeli police, who often use knee-on-neck restraint”

Massacres as a weapon of ethnic cleansing during the Nakba

Ruins of homes left empty from the Deir Yassin Massacre, 1986. (photo: Deiryassinrembered.org)
From April 1st to May 14, 1948 — before Israel was declared, before the British left, and before any Arab soldier entered Palestine to save it — Zionist militias essentially conquered Palestine.

By Salman Abu Sitta | Mondoweiss | June 12, 2020

…young people are now discovering the truth about Al Nakba, that it is still going on, that they are its victims and will continue to be until they realize their Right of Return.

In May each year, Palestinians all over the world commemorate the ongoing al Nakba of 1948, in which they were dispossessed by Israel of their land, property and identity. This year, it was different. Thanks to the coronavirus, the use of video conferencing technology enabled them to cross borders where they were previously denied access, speak freely about their silenced history without censorship, blockade or defamation, virtually visit and communicate with their kith or kin even if they were deprived of passports or citizenship.

The main beneficiary of this revolution are the young people. I had an immense pleasure in mid-May to speak, at one event, to 600 young people in the US, students, activists and concerned citizens about the still-live history of Al Nakba.

This is refreshing. For decades the Zionist narrative dominated the Western mind. The unprecedented depopulation of two thirds of the Palestinian people by the Zionist militia (The Haganah, renamed IDF) in 1948 was explained away as ‘the Arab Invasion’ of Palestine, by Arab orders or an act of Israeli self-defense.

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Israel’s annexation of the West Bank will be yet another tragedy for Palestinians

Palestinians in Gaza protest against Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank in Gaza, Palestine on 11 June.
Palestinians in Gaza protest against Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank in Gaza, Palestine on 11 June.  (photo: Yousef Masoud / Shutterstock)
Benjamin Netanyahu’s threat will end hopes of a two-state system and probably result in expulsions and violence.

By Ian Black | The Guardian  | June 11, 2020

If annexation of any territory goes ahead it will flagrantly breach international law and countless UN resolutions. It cannot go unanswered. Israel should face sanctions, just as Russia did when it annexed the Crimea from Ukraine.

Unsurprisingly, Benjamin Netanyahu has now made things starkly clear. On 28 May the Israeli prime minister explained that when – not if – his government goes ahead with unilateral annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, thousands of Palestinian residents would be granted neither citizenship nor equal rights.Palestine says it will declare statehood if Israel annexes West Bank

Shortly before that, a group of Israeli settlers posted a photograph of themselves gazing at a map of what they, like Netanyahu, call by the biblical names of Judea and Samaria, prompting comments from Palestinians – and liberal Israelis – that the image captured the institutionalization of a formal apartheid system. It is hard to argue with that conclusion.

Continue reading “Israel’s annexation of the West Bank will be yet another tragedy for Palestinians”

Israel’s High Court strikes down West Bank land-grab law as ‘unconstitutional’

Israeli Border Policemen evicting a settler from the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona, February 2017
Israeli Border Policemen evicting a settler from the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona, February 2017.  (photo: Ilan Assayag)
The Law for the Regularization of Settlement in Judea and Samaria has been frozen since its approval in 2017 pending High Court ruling.

By Hagar Shezaf  | Haaretz | June 6, 2020

…the law ‘seeks to retroactively legalize illegal acts perpetrated by a specific population in the region whilst harming the rights of another.’
— Esther Hayut, Israel Supreme Court President

Israel’s High Court of Justice ordered on Tuesday to nullify a law that would legalize the status of settlements partially built on privately owned Palestinian land under the claim that it is “unconstitutional.”

The “Law for the Regularization of Settlement in Judea and Samaria” was approved in February 2017. It was meant to allow the use of privately-owned Palestinian land to build Israeli settlements and to legalize outposts and structures erected on such soil.

The law was frozen shortly after its approval in an agreement between the state and several petitioners against it until the High Court ruled on the matter.

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James Zogby: Palestinians are ‘being asked to hold the scalpel’ for their own amputation

James Zogby on UN Forum, June 4, 2020. (photo: Screenshot / Mondweiss)
With no accountability, there is no punishment for Israeli actions; accountability is key and requires that there will be a price to pay.

By Jonathan Ofir | Mondoweiss | June 9, 2020

‘What’s infuriating, is that Palestinians are being chided for not participating in this process, which is akin to a patient who is being forced to undergo, against his will, an amputation, being asked to hold the scalpel while the doctor begins to cut.’
—James Zogby, founder and President of the Arab American Institute

Last Thursday the UN held a video forum on “The Question of Palestine: Threats of Annexation and the Prospects for Peace”, hosted by the UN Palestinian Rights Committee. There were three panelists: Hanan Ashrawi, Member of the PLO Executive Committee and former member of the Palestinian team in the Middle East Peace Process; Yossi Beilin, former Israeli Cabinet Minister and participant in the 1993 Oslo Accord negotiations; and James Zogby, founder and President of the Arab American Institute.

While Ashrawi outlined the injustices against Palestinians, Beilin suggested that Palestinians accept the Trump plan, if only to stall the coming annexation. Zogby, who spoke last, put an “exclamation mark” under Ashrawi’s astute comments, yet had “questions” for Beilin’s pitch. Those questions were more rhetorical and indirect. Zogby’s 10-minute presentation was astounding, crystal clear, cutting through orthodox nonsense and accentuating the colonialist paradigm that all this falls under.

Continue reading “James Zogby: Palestinians are ‘being asked to hold the scalpel’ for their own amputation”