In Conversation with Peter Beinart

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Join Jewish Currents Editor at Large Peter Beinart in a conversation with Kenneth Stern, Prof. Susan Neiman, and Prof. Saree Makdisi about how to define anti-semitism.
Date: Friday, April 16, 2021
Time: 9:00 am (PDT) / 12:00 pm (EST)
Location: On-line
Information: Event information here →
Tickets: Free, must register
Event Details

Jewish Currents Editor at Large Peter Beinart will be joined by several panelists to talk about how to define anti-semitism.

The first guest is Kenneth Stern, director of the Bard Center for the Study of Hate, who drafted the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-semitism, but has criticized its misuse. The second guest will be Professor Susan Neiman, Director of the Einstein Forum, one of the signers of the new Jerusalem Declaration on anti-semitism. The third guest will be UCLA Professor of English Saree Makdisi.

More information here →

Israel, Palestine & the Role of Congress: An Accelerated Learning Series

Co-hosted by FMEP’s Lara Friedman and MEI’s Khaled Elgindy, this learning series takes a deep dive into 8 key topics in the U.S. relationship with Israel and the Palestinians. 

By Foundation for Middle East Peace and Middle East Institute | Apr 9, 2021

The Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) and the Middle East Institute (MEI) and are proud to release “Israel, Palestine & the Role of Congress: An Accelerated Learning Series.” Co-hosted by FMEP’s Lara Friedman and MEI’s Khaled Elgindy, this learning series takes a deep dive into 8 key topics in the U.S. relationship with Israel and the Palestinians. These series – which ran during February to March 2021 – was originally presented exclusively for members of the House and Senate and Congressional Staff, and is now being released as an educational tool for the public at large.

You can listen to a podcast with Lara and Khaled introducing the series here.

Continue reading “Israel, Palestine & the Role of Congress: An Accelerated Learning Series”

William Barber preaches at Easter vigil service spotlighting Christian Palestinians

The Rev. William Barber II speaks during a virtual Easter vigil service April 3, 2021, titled “Easter in Jerusalem: The Sabeel Community Celebrates Holy Saturday 2021,” led by a Christian activist group in Jerusalem. (photo: Video screengrab)
Barber’s appearance served to recognize Christians in the Palestinian liberation movement, which some American evangelicals paint as an apocalyptic conflict between Christians and Muslims.

By Daoud Kuttab | Religion News Service | Apr 6, 2021

“Jesus, a brown-skinned Palestinian Jew, called us to preach good news to the poor, the broken and the bruised and all those who are made to feel unaccepted,”
— Rev William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign

(RNS) — In a display of solidarity with the Palestinian cause, the Rev. William Barber II participated in a virtual Easter vigil service Saturday (April 3) led by a Christian activist group in Jerusalem.

Though never mentioning Israel, he called on his listeners in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, “Get up, my Palestinian brothers and sisters, my Christian and Muslim brothers, we have work to do in his name.”

The webinar, attended by more than 700 people, was broadcast by Friends of Sabeel North America and Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, allied organizations that call attention to the plight of Palestinians.

Continue reading “William Barber preaches at Easter vigil service spotlighting Christian Palestinians”

The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism

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Strasbourg Chief Rabbi Harold Abraham Weill views the vandalized tombs in the Jewish cemetery of Westhoffen, west of the city of Strasbourg, eastern France, in December 2019. (photo: Jean-Francois Badias / AP)
Why the oldest hatred needs a new definition.

By Brian Klug | The Nation | Apr 1, 2021

People of goodwill look to the IHRA definition for guidance concerning a key question: When should political speech about Israel or Zionism be protected—and when does it cross the line into anti-Semitism? What they need is clarity. What they get is a matzah pudding.

Confronted with the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA), published on March 25, 2021, it is tempting—especially for Jews at this time of year—to ask: Why is this definition of anti-Semitism different from all other definitions?

Continue reading “The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism”

How we speak about the failure of the PLO

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Yitzhak Rabin, Bill Clinton, and Yasser Arafat at the White House, signing the Oslo Accords. I(photo: Wikimedia)
A recent Foreign Affairs article gets history wrong and obscures a robust Palestinian discourse.

By Helena Cobban | Boston Review | Mar 31, 2021

One strong concern about the Oslo Accords was that they said nothing about what would happen if, after the five-year interim period prescribed therein, the two sides failed to arrive at a final peace agreement.

It is hard to believe that it has been fifty years since I used to sit on the floor of drafty college residences in Oxford with Hussein Agha, Ahmad Samih Khalidi, Ahmad’s cousin Rashid Khalidi, and other luminaries of the Oxford University Arab Society, listening to their discussions of the then-parlous state of the Palestinian freedom movement (and voicing an occasional interjection). During the previous year, Palestinian guerrillas earlier chased out of the West Bank by Israel had proceeded to challenge King Hussein’s rule in Jordan; and during “Black” September 1970, Hussein hit back at them hard. In Spring 1971 the guerrillas were still reeling from Black September and were struggling to regroup in the extensive Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. In Oxford we eagerly read any scrap of news we could get about their achievements there.

Continue reading “How we speak about the failure of the PLO”

St Marks Mideast Focus Ministry Film Series: ‘TIL KINGDOM COME

Screen Shot 2021-02-15 at 6.49.12 PMPlease join our brothers and sisters at St. Marks Episcopal Church (Seattle) Mideast Focus Ministry group for a series of films in spring 2021.  The next film:

‘Til Kingdom Come

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In this provocative look at strange political bedfellows, Israeli filmmaker Maya Zinshtein (Forever Pure, DOC NYC 2016) investigates the political alliance between American evangelicals and Israel’s right wing, and their influence on the Trump administration’s foreign policy. Why do American church leaders encourage parishioners to make donations to Israel, even from poor communities? Because they believe Israel’s expansion will play a key role in end-times prophecy, when Christians will be saved and others—including Jews—will perish.

The discussion will include special guests: Rochelle Watson and Jonathan Brenneman, of Friends of Sabeel North America

Date: Friday, April 9, 2021
Time: To get a link to watch the film at your convenience, send a message to seattlemideastfocus@gmail.com

You will get the link around 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 7 and have until 8 p.m. on Friday, April 9, to watch the film. Watch the film on your own and join the discussion on April 9 at 8 p.m. using this Zoom link.

Information: Additional information and list of all films here →
Tickets: Free, must register
Event Details

Summary:

  1. Send an email to seattlemideastfocus@gmail.com to get a link to the film
  2. Watch the film between Apr 7 –  April 9th at 8pm
  3. Join the discussion on 4/9 at 8:00pm via this Zoom link.

More information here →

On Land Day in Palestine: Our home is our land

A group of Palestinians hold Palestinian flags and shout slogans during a demonstration within the Palestine’s ‘Land Day’ commemorations on March 30, 2018 in Nablus, West Bank. (photo: Nedal Eshtayah / Anadolu Agency)
Palestinians mark Land Day on March 30th and it is personal.

By Yousef Aljamal | Politics Today | Mar 30, 2021

The relationship a peasant has with the land is like the relationship between a mother and her children. It is deep and interconnected in a way that a settler-colonial society can never understand.

When in 1948 Zionist militias invaded the village of Aqer, where my family is originally from, my great-grandfather was one of a few poorly equipped fighters who tried to stop the invading forces. The fighters took up posts at the village school, located nearly a kilometer from the village.

Soon after, and after some resistance, the invading militia took over the school, killing the fighters who remained inside, including my great-grandfather, who was found dead inside the building. My grandfather buried his father in the village graveyard only to become a refugee for the rest of his life in Gaza days later.

Continue reading “On Land Day in Palestine: Our home is our land”

Challenging Israel’s exceptionalism in American politics

An Israeli soldier keeps guard near a Palestinian woman standing by a Star of David graffiti sprayed by Israeli settlers near an army checkpoint in the centre of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on May 18, 2009 AFP
Hebron has a notoriously heavy military presence to guard the Israeli settler population, which is set to increase (photo: AFP)
A new book explores why many on the left in the US exempt Palestinians from their value set.

By Khaled Elgindy | Responsible Statecraft | Mar 22, 2021

…not only are self-styled progressives silent on Palestinian rights, but many also actively support policies that perpetuate Palestinian suffering and dehumanization.

While support for Israel across the political spectrum remains strong in Washington, the traditional bipartisan consensus in favor of unconditional support for Israel has begun to fray in recent years. More than a half century of Israeli occupation, the rightward drift in Israeli politics, and shifts in the American political landscape, have led growing numbers of Americans, particularly left-leaning Democrats, to become more vocal in their support for Palestinian rights and in their opposition to unconditional support for Israel. This trend has been anything but uniform, however, as the bulk of American liberal and progressive politicians continue to adhere to the traditional pro-Israel orthodoxy.

It is this group that is the focus of the new book, “Except for Palestine: The Limits of Progressive Politics,” by Marc Lamont Hill and Mitchell Plitnick. “Except for Palestine” is a timely and compelling treatise on the moral failings of U.S. policy and American politics in relation to Israel/Palestine.

Continue reading “Challenging Israel’s exceptionalism in American politics”

Israel’s election ended in another mess. Could an Arab party break the deadlock?

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Mansour Abbas, in a mosque last month in the village of Daburiyya, Israel, could play the role of kingmaker in Israel’s election. (photo: Dan Balilty for The New York Times)
In the fourth attempt, neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor his opponents have a clear path to power. An Islamist party has emerged as a possible kingmaker.

By Patrick Kingsley and Adam Rasgon | The New York Times |  Mar 24, 2020

An independent Arab party has never been part of an Israeli government before, although some Arab lawmakers supported Yitzhak Rabin’s government from the outside in the 1990s.

JERUSALEM — After a fourth Israeli election in two years appears to have ended in another stalemate, leaving many Israelis feeling trapped in an endless loop, there was at least one surprising result on Wednesday: An Arab political party has emerged as a potential kingmaker.

Even more surprising, the party was Raam, an Islamist group with roots in the same religious movement as Hamas, the militant group that runs the Gaza Strip. For years, Raam was rarely interested in working with the Israeli leadership and, like most Arab parties, was ostracized by its Jewish counterparts.

Continue reading “Israel’s election ended in another mess. Could an Arab party break the deadlock?”

The Tormented Dance of the Colonizer:

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Mark Braverman on Peter Beinart, Liberal Zionism and the Battle for Palestine.

By Mark Braverman | Tikkun  | Mar 18 2021

 The “separate regimes delusion” has been a key element of the almost five-decades long “peace process” to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.

In January, 2021, Jerusalem-based journalist and analyst Nathan Thrall called out the Zionist left for promoting the fiction that as long as Israel refrains from annexing occupied Palestinian land, it does not cross the line into apartheid (“The Separate Regimes Delusion: Nathan Thrall on Israel’s Apartheid,” London Review of Books January 21, 2021). “The premise that Israel is a democracy,” he wrote, “rests on the belief that one can separate the pre-1967 state from the rest of the territory under its control.” The “separate regimes delusion” has been a key element of the almost five-decades long “peace process” to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. As Israel has continued to take land and impose a system of control and fragmentation that has made the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state impossible, liberal Zionists have clung desperately to the fiction of the “two-state solution” as all that stands in the way of the now undeniable reality that Israel and its occupied territories comprise a single apartheid state. Accordingly, a storm of protest erupted in response to the Knesset’s green lighting of the annexation of an additional 30% of the West Bank in early summer 2020. It was in the midst of this controversy that Peter Beinart’s “Yavne: A Jewish Case for Equality in Israel-Palestine” appeared in the July 7, 2020 edition of Jewish Currents. Cutting the Gordian knot of a Jewish and democratic Israel, Beinart endorsed the idea of a single state for Jews and Palestinians.

Continue reading “The Tormented Dance of the Colonizer:”