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’”

Hundreds protest Bezalel Smotrich visit in DC

Jewish Voice for Peace activists protest Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich in Washington DC, March 12, 2023.  (photo credit: Jamal Najjab)

Hundreds of protesters greeted Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich outside an Israel Bonds convention in Washington, DC.

By Michael Arria | Mondoweiss | Mar 13, 2023

 “This is a moral emergency… We must name this deep pain that so many of us feel for what’s happening in Israel right now, a place that we love.”
— Sheila Katz, CEO, National Council of Jewish Women

Hundreds of protestors greeted Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, DC on Sunday, where he gave a speech to an Israel Bonds convention.

Last month, amid surging settler violence, Smotrich called for the Palestinian village of Huwwara to be “wiped out.” His remarks have received widespread condemnation. The U.S. State Department called them “disgusting,” but approved Smotrich’s visa.

Continue reading “Hundreds protest Bezalel Smotrich visit in DC”

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”

Why Europe sees Ukrainians as victims, but Palestinians as ‘the other’

Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff, ambassador of the European Union in Palestine, speaks during a visit to Palestinian families after an Israeli settlers’ rampage in Huwara on 3 March 2023. (credit: Reuters)

Unlike Ukrainians, who are recognized as belonging to the European ‘self’, Palestinians remain subject to stigmatising representations despite what they suffer at the hands of the Israeli occupation.

By Elena Aoun & Jeremy Dieudonne | Middle East Eye | Mar 6, 2023

There is no questioning here of the legitimacy of the Ukrainian struggle or the relevance of the support given to this besieged country, but rather, a questioning of European attitudes towards the Palestinians.

The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in the occupied territories has been sliding back into a new cycle of heightened tension and violence in the last few months, and more so since the beginning of 2023.

Whereas this development hardly comes as a surprise to most observers, what is striking is the increasingly unbalanced attitude of Western states, and especially the usually more “equidistant” Europeans. Though many examples can be derived from recent events, one instance is particularly illustrative of this trend.

Continue reading “Why Europe sees Ukrainians as victims, but Palestinians as ‘the other’”

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”

Eric Alterman on the history of the US debate over Israel

Peter Beinart’s Notebook this week is hosting Eric Alterman, who teaches at Brooklyn College, was for many years a columnist at The Nation and is author of the new book, We Are Not One: A History of America’s Fight over Israel. Beinart syas reading the book, he was struck by how often over the last seventy-five years the same pattern has repeated itself: An American president wants Israel to change its behavior, Israel and its American allies push back, the American president backs down. Are the political dynamics, especially in the Democratic Party, changing enough to break this pattern?
Date: Friday, March 3, 2023
Time: 9:00am PST / 12:00pm
Location: On-line
Information: Event information here →
Tickets: Subscription required for this event
Event Details

More information here →

Israel’s far-right government is at the heart of a surge in violence

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Palestinians clean a burned shop a day after the clashes between Jewish settlers and Palestinians in Huwara, West Bank, on Monday. (credit: Kobi Wolf for The Washington Post)

By Ishaan Tharoor] | The Washington Post | Feb 28, 2023

“The combination of a far-right Israeli government that is escalating confrontations with Palestinians in the West Bank and a Palestinian youth movement that is newly dedicated to terrorism and armed struggle as preferred forms of resistance will only ensure more such days.”
— Israel Policy Forum

When confronted by scenes of bloodshed and destruction in Israel and the occupied territories, there’s a tendency to talk of “the cycle of violence.” In this view, the entrenched enmities and existential imperatives that drive conflict between Israelis and Palestinians are so powerful that they create their own lethal logic, a tortuous chain of atrocity that winds its way back a whole century.

Continue reading “Israel’s far-right government is at the heart of a surge in violence”

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”