Informational Meeting: Tour of the Holy Land (Tomorrow)

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(photo: DeAgostini / Getty Images)
Please join our brothers and sisters this Sunday, Jan 5, at Bellevue Presbyterian Church to learn about an upcoming tour of the Holy Land where you’ll visit celebrated holy sites and meet with Israelis and Palestinians working to bring peace to the Holy Land.
Date: Sunday, Jan 5, 2020
Time: 12:15 – 1:15 pm
Location: Bellevue Presbyterian Church
1717 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, WA 98004
Room S-140
Information: Event information here →
Event Details
  • The tour is scheduled for April 25 to May 2 with an extension available from May 2 to May 5.
  • The BelPres Israel Palestine Impact Team has joined with our counterparts at University Presbyterian Church (Seattle) to organize the trip. We’ve worked closely with BelPres mission partner Churches for Middle East Peace to create the itinerary.
  • Professional Israeli and Palestinian guides along with staff from Churches for Middle East Peace will help lead the tour.
  • Our tour group will meet several times prior to our departure so we can get to know each other and gain useful historical and cultural background.

We’ll have more details about the trip and answer any questions at the meeting this Sunday at 12:15 PM in Room S-140, Bellevue Presbyterian Church, 1717 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, WA 98004.

If you’re interested in a Holy Land tour that also explores how Christians can respond to the heartbreaking conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, we urge you to join us Sunday.

More information here →

Informational Meeting: Tour of the Holy Land (Sunday)

780x438-n_cbea96a5d9cafa78ad6268fd984d267e
(photo: DeAgostini / Getty Images)
Please join our brothers and sisters this Sunday, Jan 5, at Bellevue Presbyterian Church to learn about an upcoming tour of the Holy Land where you’ll visit celebrated holy sites and meet with Israelis and Palestinians working to bring peace to the Holy Land.
Date: Sunday, Jan 5, 2020
Time: 12:15 – 1:15 pm
Location: Bellevue Presbyterian Church
1717 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, WA 98004
Room S-140
Information: Event information here →
Event Details
  • The tour is scheduled for April 25 to May 2 with an extension available from May 2 to May 5.
  • The BelPres Israel Palestine Impact Team has joined with our counterparts at University Presbyterian Church (Seattle) to organize the trip. We’ve worked closely with BelPres mission partner Churches for Middle East Peace to create the itinerary.
  • Professional Israeli and Palestinian guides along with staff from Churches for Middle East Peace will help lead the tour.
  • Our tour group will meet several times prior to our departure so we can get to know each other and gain useful historical and cultural background.

We’ll have more details about the trip and answer any questions at the meeting this Sunday at 12:15 PM in Room S-140, Bellevue Presbyterian Church, 1717 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, WA 98004.

If you’re interested in a Holy Land tour that also explores how Christians can respond to the heartbreaking conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, we urge you to join us Sunday.

More information here →

International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in Palestine

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Demonstrators outside the International Criminal Court call for the Israeli army to be prosecuted for war crimes, The Hague, Nov 2019. (photo: Peter de Jong / AP)
There is sufficient evidence to investigate alleged Israeli and Palestinian war crimes committed in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, the court has announced.

By Peter Beaumont | The Guardian | Dec 20, 2019

‘In brief, I am satisfied that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.’
— Fatou Bensouda, ICC Chief Prosecutor

In a landmark decision, the ICC said it saw “no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice.”

The announcement ended years of preliminary investigations into alleged crimes by both Israeli forces and Palestinians, and signaled that the court was preparing to open a formal investigation.

A statement published by the court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, on the court’s website on Friday said her office “has concluded with the determination that all the statutory criteria under the Rome statute for the opening of an investigation have been met.”
Continue reading “International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in Palestine”

Trump plunges into campus conflicts about Israel and Palestinian rights

A guest at the White House Hanukkah reception on Wednesday wears a “Make America Great Again” yarmulke. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)
A guest at the White House Hanukkah reception wears a “Make America Great Again” yarmulke, Wed, Dec 11, 2019. (photo: Tom Brenner / Reuters)
The executive order, like many of Trump’s policy moves related to Israel, drew approval from parts of his evangelical Christian base, while Jewish leaders were divided in their responses.

By Julie Zauzmer and Susan Svrluga | The Washington Post | Dec 11, 2019

The executive order ‘has been crafted carefully in a way to paper over the inherent flaw in directing federal agencies to use a definition of anti-Semitism that reaches speech plainly protected by the First Amendment.’
— Will Creeley, a senior vice president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

President Trump added new fuel Wednesday to a long-simmering fight about how colleges should handle activism around the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, signing a controversial executive order directing the federal government to penalize universities that allow anti-Semitism on campus.

Jewish Americans, from rabbis to college students, were deeply divided in their opinion of an order ostensibly meant to protect Jews. Advocates for Palestinian rights and for free speech on college campuses feared that the order might be used to punish students for criticism of Israel that they contend is political, not anti-Semitic.

On campuses across the country, including at George Washington University in the District, students and faculty are fighting over what constitutes bias against Jews and what is legitimate criticism of a foreign government. Continue reading “Trump plunges into campus conflicts about Israel and Palestinian rights”

No one in Israel knew they were committing a massacre

Palestinians mourn over the bodies of members of the same family who were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, Nov 14, 2019. (photo: AFP / Haaretz)
The Israel Defense Forces claims the target was an “unoccupied shack.”

By Gideon Levy | Haaretz | Nov 17, 2019

‘Why did they do this to us?’
— Mohammed Matar, who had worked in Israel for 30 years, and whose daughter, daughter-in-law and four grandchildren were killed in the bombing

The bomber pilot didn’t know. His commanders who gave him the orders also didn’t know. The defense minister and the commander in chief didn’t know. Nor did the commander of the air force. The intelligence officers who aimed at the target didn’t know. The army spokesman who lied without a qualm also didn’t know.

None of our heroes knew. The ones who always know everything suddenly didn’t know. The ones who can track down the son of a wanted man in a Damascus suburb didn’t know that sleeping inside their miserable hovel in Dir al-Balah was an impoverished family.

They, who serve in the most moral army and the most advanced intelligence services in the world, didn’t know that the flimsy tin shack had long since stopped being part of the “Islamic Jihad infrastructure,” and it’s doubtful that it ever was. They didn’t know and they didn’t bother to check — after all, what’s the worst that could happen?
Continue reading “No one in Israel knew they were committing a massacre”

Israel’s increasing violence against the media

Palestinian photojournalist Mu’ath Amarneh, seated on the left, moments after being shot in the eye by an Israeli soldier in Surif, West Bank on Nov 15, 2019. (photo: Palestinian Information Center)
2018 saw a 52 percent increase in the number of violations against Palestinian press.

By Delilah Boxstein | Mint Press News | Nov 25, 2019

‘I won’t stop being a journalist but now I feel unsafe. They could attack my other eye. It will be harder for me to continue what I am doing.’
— Palestinian photojournalist Mu’ath Amarneh

On November 15, Palestinian photojournalist Muath Amarneh covered a demonstration in Surif, a West Bank city where residents were protesting against the theft of their land by Israeli settlers. Wearing a press jacket and helmet, Amarneh was shot in the head by an Israeli bullet while taking pictures on a nearby hill — about 330 feet from the soldiers.

“Everything just changed. I felt the whole world was circling around me. And I felt my whole life flash before me. I felt like I was dying,” Amarneh said, describing his reaction when hit.

With blood dripping from his eye, Amarneh was taken to a hospital in Hebron, West Bank. He was eventually transported to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem where his left eye was removed. He remains there awaiting further operations to have the bullet removed from his head. Continue reading “Israel’s increasing violence against the media”

Trump crushes Palestinian hopes — again

A Palestinian boy sits on a chair as Israeli authorities demolish a school in the village of Yatta, south of Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, Jul 11, 2018. (photo: Hazem Bader / AFP / Getty Images)
The U.S. Middle East peace plan may be in a coma. But that hasn’t stopped Washington from handing major diplomatic victories to Israel.

By Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer | Foreign Policy | Nov 18, 2019

‘You now have a complete package of efforts to make a traditional solution . . . to the Israeli-Palestinian problem virtually impossible, at least for the remainder of the Trump administration.’
— Carnegie Endowment for International Peace scholar Aaron David Miller

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Monday that the United States no longer considers civilian Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands a violation of international law. The move represents a historic decision that reverses decades of U.S. policy and represents the latest in a raft of pro-Israeli moves that could effectively quash hopes for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The conclusion that we will no longer recognize as per se inconsistent with international law is based on the unique facts, history, and circumstances prevented by the establishment of civilian settlements in the West Bank,” Pompeo told reporters on Monday. He said that the decision does not mean the U.S. government is expressing views on the legal status of any individual settlement or “prejudging the ultimate status of the West Bank.”

Pompeo’s statement rolls back a 1978 State Department opinion that formed the bedrock of U.S. legal opinion on Israeli settlements, asserting that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.”

The decision marks the latest way in which the Trump administration has undercut Palestinian claims of statehood in favor of its closest historic ally in the Middle East, handing another political victory to embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he struggles to stay afloat after failing to form a coalition government.
Continue reading “Trump crushes Palestinian hopes — again”

Zionism’s uneasy relationship with anti-Semitism

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The Israeli embrace of Christian evangelicals — whose plans for Jews are conversion or a fiery death — mirrors the warm relationship that Zionists had with antisemitic leaders in Germany and Italy.

By Alice Rothchild | Mondoweiss | Nov 19, 2019

[Herzl] would declare in his foundational pamphlet that ‘the Governments of all countries scourged by Anti-Semitism will be keenly interested in assisting us to obtain [the] sovereignty we want’; and indeed that not ‘only poor Jews’ would contribute to an immigration fund for European Jews, ‘but also Christians who wanted to get rid of them.’
— Columbia University professor Joseph Massad

I grew up with a deep love for Israel, the redemptive, out-of the-ashes, kibbutz-loving, feisty little country that could do no wrong, fighting for its life in a sea of hateful Arabs and Jew-haters. I learned that Jews were a people dedicated to worship and the study of Torah and this identity kept us alive during the centuries of antisemitism in Europe. If I was not able to dedicate myself to the religiosity of my davening grandfather, tfillin and all, I understood that as a people, we were deeply committed to healing the world and working for social justice, an equally virtuous and inherently Jewish task. After all, we were naturally good, or as my mother explained, Jews bore the responsibility of being chosen for a uniquely positive role in this world.

As the decades passed, this mythology shattered against the hard rocks of reality. One of the most difficult contradictions I now face is understanding the perverse relationship between Zionism and antisemitism. I was sold the story that political Zionism developed as a response to antisemitism and as a modern, liberating movement in the backward Middle East. But in 1897 as modern Zionism was born, it adopted the trope of the diaspora Jew as a pale, flaccid, yeshiva bocher, a parasite, an eternal alien, a nebbish. That Zionism embraced the idea that this pathetic weakling (who was often to be blamed for antisemitism) needed to be Aryanized into the bronzed, muscular Hebrew farmer/warrior tilling the soil in the Galilee is a chilling realization. The evolution of Jews as a people who lived by Torah and its commandments into a biological race with distinct characteristics, (the money Jew, the ghetto Jew, the swarthy, hook-nosed Jew) mirrors the worst canards of anti-Semites, European fascists, and white supremacists.

Continue reading “Zionism’s uneasy relationship with anti-Semitism”

Don’t legalize the illegal

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Israeli settlers clash with Israel Police in West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, Nov 10, 2019. (photo: Hillel Mier / TPS)
International law has determined that the West Bank is governed as a territory captured in war, which makes it defined as a “belligerent occupation.”

By Gershon Baskin | The Jerusalem Post | Nov 20, 2019

The continuation of the settlement enterprise is Israel’s clearest expression that it is not willing to make peace with the Palestinians in any kind of equitable fashion.

I have some news for US President Donald Trump, and he may not like it, but here it is: Donald Trump is not the point of reference regarding international law. No unilateral declaration of the president or secretary of state of the United States of America can legalize the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The Israeli settlements are not only illegal under international law, they have been and will continue to be one of the main obstacles to reaching a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It should be no surprise to anyone, but since at least 1977, when the Likud first came to power, Israeli governments have consistently stated that one of the main purposes of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, especially those in the heartland of the West Bank along the central mountain ridge, is to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state. From that perspective, the Israeli settlement enterprise has been extraordinarily successful.
Continue reading “Don’t legalize the illegal”

UN Security Council rebukes US on Israel settlements

The UN Security Council holds a meeting on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, Wed, Nov 20, 2019, at United Nations headquarters. (photo: Mary Altaffer / AP)
“If we abandon international law, it will be the law of the jungle.”

By Edith Lederer | AP | Nov 20, 2019

‘Israeli settlement activities are illegal, erode the viability of the two-state solution and undermine the prospect for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.’
— Joint statement from the 10 non-permanent Security Council members

In a sharp rebuke to the Trump administration, the 14 other U.N. Security Council members on Wednesday strongly opposed the U.S. announcement that it no longer considers Israeli settlements to be a violation of international law.

They warned that the new American policy undermines a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The council’s monthly Mideast meeting, just two days after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement, was dominated by negative reaction to the new American policy from countries representing all regions of the world who said all Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. Continue reading “UN Security Council rebukes US on Israel settlements”