St. Mark’s Mideast Focus Ministry presents


Please join this Saturday afternoon conversation about the current situation in Israel-Palestine.  Speakers will be Miko Peled, Israeli-American activist for justice and author of The General’s Son: Journal of an Israeli in Palestine, and Maya Garner, advocate for justice in Palestine and founder of Friends of Hebron, an American non-profit working with peace and justice advocates in the West Bank.
  Date: Saturday, May 20, 2023  
  Time: 2:00 PM  
  Location: Bloedel Hall at St. Mark’s Cathedral  & On-line  

No need to register for in-person participation;
to participate online join using this Zoom link.

  Tickets: Free  
Event Details

Following the conversation, Peled will sign copies of the new Tenth Anniversary Edition of The General’s Son, and the Saint Mark’s Mideast Focus Ministry will officially open the collection of resources now housed in the Bloedel “Center Stage” meeting room.

Hosted by Amnesty International: Campaign for Palestinian Human Rights [Pacific NW]; co-sponsored by Saint Mark’s Mideast Focus Ministry, The Bishop’s Committee for Justice & Peace in the Holy Land of the Diocese of Olympia, and Kairos Puget Sound Coalition.

Bringing Assistance to Israel in Line With Rights and U.S. Laws

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Credit: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace / Getty

Ensuring that Israel, the largest recipient of U.S. security assistance, complies with federal laws and international human rights standards will require closely tracking and monitoring its weapons use.

By Josh Ruebner, Salih Booker, Zaha Hassan | Carnegie Endowment for International Peace | May 12, 2021

Through FY2020, the United States has provided Israel with $146 billion in military, economic, and missile defense funding. Adjusted for inflation, this amount is equivalent to $236 billion in 2018 dollars, making Israel the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. assistance since World War II.

After many years of increasing U.S. military aid to Israel, members of Congress are beginning to debate the wisdom and morality of writing a blank check for weapons—some of which are used against Palestinians living under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in violation of U.S. laws.

A recent exchange between legislators shows the evolving debate. Congresswoman Betty McCollum introduced a bill on April 15—currently co-sponsored by seventeen representatives—to ensure that U.S. funding is not used for Israel’s ill-treatment of Palestinian children in its military judicial system, forced displacement of Palestinians through home demolitions and evictions, and illegal annexations of Palestinian land. In response, Congressman Ted Deutch produced a letter on April 22, signed by more than 300 representatives, arguing against “reducing funding or adding conditions on security assistance”—which essentially means disregarding Israel’s egregious policies and violations of existing U.S. laws aimed at protecting human rights. The fact that a bill restricting aid to Israel drew seventeen sponsors to date and a letter defending that aid was signed by three-quarters of members—as opposed to all of them—shows that the debate is slowly shifting.

Continue reading “Bringing Assistance to Israel in Line With Rights and U.S. Laws”

The sad truth behind Israeli ‘happiness’

People wear Israeli flags as they take part in celebrations marking Israel’s 71st Independence Day in Jerusalem, May 8, 2019. (credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90)
How can a country that administers constant violence and suffers deep inequalities be ranked the fourth happiest in the world?

By Asaf Calderon | +972 Magazine |  Apr 17, 2023

That there is a huge discrepancy between Israeli citizens and occupied Palestinians is no surprise…

Here’s a strange headline: in the 2023 World Happiness Report, Israel is ranked the fourth happiest country on the planet. We are bested only by the Finns, Danes, and Icelanders, and leave the Dutch, Swedes, and Norwegians in the dust. It is an impressive result at any time, and all the more so while hundreds of thousands of Israelis are on the streets showing just how unhappy they are with their current far-right government.

On the surface, it is remarkable that a country whose citizens are constantly exposed to (and administering) violence, suffering from deep economic and racial inequalities, and facing unprecedented instability — a country recently declared by its own president to be “at the edge of the abyss” — made it even into the top half of the list. So how do we explain this?

Continue reading “The sad truth behind Israeli ‘happiness’”

Shrinking the Conflict: Debunking Israel’s New Strategy

Protest against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan in Nablus, Palestine - 25 Nov 2022
November 25, 2022, Nablus, West Bank, Palestine: A Palestinian protester holding a flag argues with the Israeli soldier during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus. (Credit Image: Nasser Ishtayeh/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/APAimages)

By Walid Habbas | Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network | Mar 6, 2023

The “shrinking the conflict” approach falsely assumes that Palestinian resistance is apolitical and unrelated to the struggle for liberation from Israeli apartheid and occupation.


Since 2021, a growing number of Israeli leaders have proposed new policies to manage their occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. These policies are rooted in the new concept of “shrinking the conflict” — an approach introduced in 2018 by Israeli historian Micah Goodman recommending the management of “the conflict below the threshold of war, while improving the fabric of life for the Palestinian population.”

The approach, which is a revised version of Benjamin Netanyahu’s “economic peace” model, aims to entrench the Israeli regime’s military occupation in order to prevent the establishment of either a Palestinian state or a one-state reality. Unlike the “economic peace” strategy, the “shrinking the conflict” approach is designed to reduce Palestinian “waves of terror and violent clashes” by purportedly broadening Palestinians’ freedoms within Israel’s system of apartheid.

Continue reading “Shrinking the Conflict: Debunking Israel’s New Strategy”

A mass wave of Israeli army refusal could be a transformative moment

Israeli reserve soldiers, veterans and activists protest outside the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, against the government’s planned reforms, February 10, 2023. (credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

Civil resistance against the government has put the Israeli military in an unparalleled crisis, presenting an opportunity for those fighting apartheid.

By Shimri Zameret | +972 Magazine | Mar 5, 2023

Internal army chat groups are reportedly flooded with rank-and-file soldiers stating they either refuse or will refuse to serve if the judicial coup succeeds.

During the Second Intifada, as the Israeli army was killing thousands of Palestinians in its effort to suppress the uprising, I was part of a movement of Israeli youth and soldiers who refused to serve in the army. From the age of 18 to 20, I spent 21 months under arrest and in prison, alongside many others, in protest of the occupation and its brutal policies. It was one of the largest campaigns of conscientious objection seen in Israel — one that, until recently, seemed very unlikely to occur at such a scale again.

Over the past two weeks, however, and for the first time in two decades, a new movement of Israeli army refusers has emerged in opposition to the far-right government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, as it advances a slew of anti-democratic legislation. The proposed laws, described as a “judicial coup” by opponents, will severely weaken the country’s courts, giving the ruling coalition almost unlimited power. While impacting the rights of women, LGBTQ people, secular people, and other minorities, it is Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line who will face the heaviest brunt of the legislation.

Continue reading “A mass wave of Israeli army refusal could be a transformative moment”

Another mainstream Israeli voice warns of Apartheid

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich in occupied East Jerusalem. (credit: from his Twitter feed, Dec 22, 2022)

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich published a shocking plan in 2017 to advance Israeli apartheid. Now that it is being put into action veteran journalist Ron Ben-Yishai finally recognizes the danger.

By Jonathan Ofir | Mondoweiss | Feb 22, 2023

 …Israel has so far been framing its deportations, its military crackdowns, its whole occupation, as a temporary state of emergency. Smotrich wants to do away with this: Drop the pretensions and say it like it is – that it’s a state of Jewish supremacy from the river to the sea, and that Palestinians need to accept it officially, or leave, or die.

Jimmy Carter is now approaching the end of his life in hospice, and we must remember all those who called Carter antisemitic when he published “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” in 2006. Abraham Foxman, the former head of the Anti-Defamation League, and Deborah Lipstadt, Biden’s special envoy on antisemitism, should apologize while they still can, Peter Beinart has said, reminding us that Nancy Pelosi, then chair of the Democratic Party, rebuked Carter by saying “it is wrong to suggest that the Jewish people would support a government in Israel, or anywhere else, that institutionalizes ethnically-based oppression.”

That was a really long time ago, and meanwhile, the human rights community has caught up with Carter’s appraisal. He got it right. Now, with a government that openly declares “exclusive” and “unquestionable” rights for the “Jewish people” in the “Land of Israel” (all of historical Palestine), Nancy Pelosi’s indignation appears as a very dusty statement, not to mention its disingenuous strawman accusation.

Continue reading “Another mainstream Israeli voice warns of Apartheid”

The drones never sleep

Palestinian protesters run from tear gas canisters fired by an Israeli quadcopter drone. (credit: Ashraf Amra / APA images)

Israeli drones have proven their lethality, with over 2,000 Palestinians killed by drone strikes in the past 12 years.

By Ola Mousa  | The Electric Intifada | Feb 7, 2023

“Drones take videos, track and assassinate; they also direct bomber aircrafts”
— Yousef al-Sharqawi, a retired Palestinian Authority major-general

Atallah al-Attar, 35, gets anxious in the evenings.

He lives on his family’s farm in the town of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, close to the boundary with Israel.

Evenings are when Israeli drones most often fly overhead.

On this particular January afternoon, he softly explained why he has an acute fear of drones.

“The incident is very painful,” he said.

Continue reading “The drones never sleep”

The Trap of Palestinian Participation


An open letter considers the impossible choice facing Palestinians: Participate as a token in conversations premised on their oppression, or be branded rejectionists.

By Tareq Baconi | Jewish Currents | Feb 10, 2023

To be clear, I am not rejecting discussion in itself; rather, I am rejecting the terms of debate

Dear Ambassador David M. Satterfield,

I’ve been reflecting on your recent invitation to participate in the “Israel at 75” conference and accompanying “celebratory dinner” to be held at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy in April, which I declined last month. I must confess that I was initially perplexed by the offer. I would have assumed that my public statements and writings on the State of Israel would have precluded me from consideration for an event of this kind. Then I thought that my position might be precisely the reason I was invited—that the offer constituted a genuine effort to engage with my analyses. But once I examined the invitation and proposed agenda more closely, I knew I had to reject it. The same reasons that informed my decision also compelled me to compose this open letter: to voice my concerns publicly and explain not only why I declined, but how this entire performance of perfunctory offers and obligatory refusals serves to further undermine Palestinian voices.

Continue reading “The Trap of Palestinian Participation”

The US’s empty commitment to a two-state solution

A man walks along a road by Israel’s separation barrier between the occupied West Bank village of Nazlat Issa and the Arab-Israeli town of Baqa al-Gharbiya in northern Israel on February 1, 2020. (credit: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images)

An outdated policy stands in the way of efforts to defuse violence in Israel and Palestine.

By Jonathan Guyer | VOX | Feb 6, 2023

The US policy does not take into account how entrenched the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem has become.

It’s a particularly dangerous moment for Israel and Palestine.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in the Middle East last week on a previously scheduled trip after 48 hours of violence: a terrorist attack in East Jerusalem killed seven Israelis and an Israeli raid on the refugee camp of Jenin killed nine Palestinians, culminating a month in which Palestinians experienced the highest level of killings at the hands of Israeli forces and Israeli settlers in more than a decade. The situation called for US leadership.

Blinken was there to “urge de-escalation,” as the Biden administration described it, at a time when an extreme far-right Israeli government pushes for incendiary changes to the judiciary that contradict Israel’s stated democratic tenets, reorders the way the occupation of Palestinian territory is administered, and pursues a variety of policies that likely violate international law.

Continue reading “The US’s empty commitment to a two-state solution”

The US is right to show concern for the situation in Palestine-Israel but who’s listening?

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Palestinian stone throwers clash with Israeli border police in A-Ram town, north of Jerusalem, on January 27, as Palestinians all over the West Bank protested to condemn the killing of nine Palestinians in Jenin refugee camp during an Israeli raid on January 26. (Credit: EPA-EFE/ATEF SAFADI)

Many Jewish and other Americans are increasingly unable to ignore the reality of growing schisms

By Hussein Ibish | The National  |  Feb 1, 2023

The deepest tragedy is that the Israeli extreme right seems to be counting on Palestinian rage and desperation to provide them with the opportunity to go as far as they can in their twin goals of annexation and expulsion.

In the occupied Palestinian territories – especially East Jerusalem and the West Bank – 2023 is shaping up to be a volatile year. As a consequence, the normally sacrosanct US-Israeli relationship is headed into unusually choppy waters. The current flare-up of deadly violence will be hard to contain and the real question is, how bad will things get?

Last year was the most violent one in the West Bank since 2005, when the UN began keeping records of Palestinians killed there by Israeli occupation forces. Among the victims was the noted American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who had been infuriating Israeli authorities for decades with her coverage of the occupation.

Continue reading “The US is right to show concern for the situation in Palestine-Israel but who’s listening?”