A look into the birth and growth of Zionism in history and context in order to understand its aspirations and contradictions.
By Dr. Alice Rothchild | Brookline Chronicle | Oct 29, 2019
‘Political Zionism is a recent phenomenon. This is very different from my zayde’s messianic Zionism which was more a belief that the Messiah would come someday and everything would get better, but don’t hold your breath. This was often followed by a fatalistic shrug and more davening.’
Today I’m going to be discussing the recently published book, Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism: Stories of Personal Transformation. The book is a collection of curated essays by rabbis, students, academics, and activists, and includes my chapter titled: Choosing a different path. I am going to start with some definitions that I have gleaned from my own personal research and also from the excellent introduction written by Professor Carolyn Karcher who is the editor of this book.
I would define Judaism as a religion, centered on tikkun olam, on pursuing justice and loving the stranger. It is a body of sacred texts, rituals, and ethical precepts. This is very different from the definition of a Jewish macher (see Yiddish – big shot) in Boston who once said in answer to the question: “Can you be a Jew and not be a Zionist?” “You don’t understand, Israel is the religion.” Clearly I take issue with that.
Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg make the strongest statements linking human rights concerns to military aid to Israel.
By Jodi Rudoren | The Forward | Oct 28, 2019
‘If you want military aid, you’re going to have to fundamentally change your relationship’ to Gaza…adding that some aid money ‘should go right now into humanitarian aid in Gaza.’ — Senator Bernie Sanders
Democratic presidential candidates diverged on Monday over the question of whether to condition United States military aid on Israeli policy toward the Palestinians, which activists at the annual J Street conference here in Washington seem to be trying to make something of a wedge issue in the crowded primary field.
In separate appearances before the conclave, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg said the $3.8 billion a year should indeed come with some strings attached, while Secretary Julian Castro said using the aid as a pressure tactic “wouldn’t be my first move” and Sen. Michael Bennet said he would want to carefully weigh the impact on domestic politics both here and in Israel.
The Executive Council voted to adopt the recommended Global Human Rights Screen with ‘criteria for the Israel//Palestine conflict.’
By Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine Israel Network | Oct 22, 2019
Adoption of the Global Screen & Criteria puts in place an Episcopal Church Human Rights No Buy List, administered by CCSR, to apply to corporations that resist effective engagement on human rights.
Meeting in Montgomery, Alabama on 18-21 October the Council voted to receive the June 2019 Report of its Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility (CCSR) on resolution B016 and adopt the recommended Global Human Rights Screen (GHRS) with “criteria for the Israel//Palestine conflict.” The GHRS is modeled on the ELCA’s human rights screen and is consistent with policy adopted by General Convention or Executive Council over the last six decades. PIN lauds the clear criteria established by the GHRS for deciding if a corporation supports or benefits from denial of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). These are,
A children’s book expressing pride in being Palestinian is being used to create fear.
By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | Oct 22, 2019
A prominent local rabbi declared the book a travesty and threatened to evict a Manhattan bookstore selling it from the synagogue’s annual book fair.
A few years ago, Iranian author and Rutgers faculty member, Goldbarg Bashi, published a children’s alphabet book, P is for Palestine (now out of print). It is an abecedary for children, teaching them words associated with the Palestinian struggle for justice and national rights. Somehow the book has become a cause celebre for the pro-Israel community in the New York metropolitan area. A prominent local rabbi declared the book a travesty and threatened to evict a Manhattan bookstore selling it from the synagogue’s annual book fair. The bookstore caved to pressure and released a statement saying it opposed the book’s content, but continued selling it, hiding it behind the counter as if it was a banned substance.
Israel has ignored warnings by the United Nations that Gaza is about to become uninhabitable, acting as if Palestinians there can be caged, starved and abused indefinitely.
By Jonathan Cook | Americans for Middle East Understanding | Sept/Oct 2019
‘Without urgent, vigorous action, plagues and infections will break out that could cost a great many lives, both in Israel and in Gaza, and no fence or Iron Dome [Israel’s missile interception system] can thwart them.’ — Gideon Bromberg, the Israeli director of EcoPeace Middle East
The only way Israelis can be made to sit up and take note of the disaster unfolding next door in Gaza, it seems, is when they fear the fallout may spill out of the tiny coastal enclave and engulf them too. Environmental experts from two Israeli universities issued a report in June warning that the imminent collapse of Gaza’s water, sewage and electricity infrastructure would soon rebound on Israel.
Gideon Bromberg, the Israeli director of EcoPeace Middle East, which commissioned the report, told journalists: “Without urgent, vigorous action, plagues and infections will break out that could cost a great many lives, both in Israel and in Gaza, and no fence or Iron Dome [Israel’s missile interception system] can thwart them.” Israel’s liberal Haaretz newspaper paraphrased another of Bromberg’s comments: “If something isn’t done, the upshot could be political horror in the form of hundreds of thousands of Gazans fleeing for their lives toward Israel – for fear of catching disease.”
‘Having seen the experience of the evacuation of Gaza, I don’t believe that there is a realistic plan that can be implemented that will require anyone, Jew or Arab, to be forced to leave their home.’ — David Friedman, US Ambassador to Israel
The US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told Israeli news website Arutz Sheva on Thursday that he believed the US Embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem “promoted peace” and that “uprooting” Jews or Arabs in the event of a US peace plan in the region would be “inhumane.”
In an extensive interview with the news site, which covered topics from the 1967 war to Iran, Friedman was asked about President Donald Trump’s elusive peace plan, and the future status of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
By Yousef Munayyer | Foreign Affairs | Oct 15, 2019 (Nov/Dec 2019 print edition)
For nearly three decades, the so-called two-state solution has dominated discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the idea of two states for two peoples in the territory both occupy was always an illusion, and in recent years, reality has set in. The two-state solution is dead. And good riddance: it never offered a realistic path forward. The time has come for all interested parties to instead consider the only alternative with any chance of delivering lasting peace: equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians in a single shared state.
It has been possible to see this moment coming for quite a while. As he tried to rescue what had become known as “the peace process,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress that the two-state solution had one to two years left before it would no longer be viable. That was six years ago. Resolution 2334, which the UN Security Council passed with U.S. consent in late 2016, called for “salvaging the two-state solution” by demanding a number of steps, including an immediate end to Israeli settlement building in the occupied territories. That was three years ago. And since then, Israel has continued to build and expand settlements.
The arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump in the White House put the final nail in the coffin. “I am looking at two-state, and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump explained in February 2017. Policy wonks and seasoned diplomats rolled their eyes at the reality-TV celebrity turned commander in chief describing the options as if they were dishes on a buffet table. But the remark indicated a genuine shift: since the current phase of the peace process began in the early 1990s, no U.S. president had ever before publicly suggested accepting a single state. What Trump had in mind has become clear in the years that have followed, as he and his team have approved a right-wing Israeli wish list aimed at a one-state outcome — but one that will enshrine Israeli dominance over Palestinian subjects, not one that will grant the parties equal rights.
New legislation introduced in Congress would potentially destroy the ability of the Palestinian leadership to engage in diplomatic and legal channels to support Palestinian national aspirations.
By Kathryn Shihadah | If Americans Knew | Sept 25, 2019
H.R.1837 (and its twin S.2132) is written in such a way that undermines ‘the ability of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to engage diplomatic and legal channels to support Palestinian national aspirations and to seek accountability through international mechanisms.’ — Zaha Hassan, human rights attorney
In addition to the roughly two dozen Israel-related bills in various stages currently before Congress, new legislation would open the Palestinian Authority (PA) to disastrous lawsuits and quash any hopes of a negotiated settlement with Israel. The PA has its share of corruption, as it attempts the impossible task of ruling while under the thumb of Israeli occupation. Nevertheless, analysts say that a dissolution of the Palestinian government through U.S. legislation could be catastrophic.
Current legislation promoted by segments of the Israel lobby would do just that.
The latest bipartisan legislation would enable American victims of political violence in Israel to work through the American court system to collect damages from the Palestinian government. (Notably, it would not afford American victims of Israeli violence, such as this 16-year-old, the same opportunity.)
The following remarks are from presentation by Rev. Alex Awad at conference “A Response to Christian Zionism” held in Seattle WA Oct 5, 2019. These reflections are his experiences as a Palestinian meeting people who are Christian Zionists.
By Rev. Alex Awad | Kairos Puget Sound Coalition | Oct 5, 2019
The passion of Christian Zionists to bring Jews to the Holy Land and create a Jewish state and their success in achieving their goal was accomplished through piling layer upon layer of wars, massacres, bloodshed, ethnic cleansing, political manipulations and pain.
I am here participating in this symposium because millions of people have been severely and negatively impacted as a result of the political thrust of Christian Zionism. The passion of Christian Zionists to bring Jews to the Holy Land and create a Jewish state and their success in achieving their goal was accomplished through piling layer upon layer of wars, massacres, bloodshed, ethnic cleansing, political manipulations and pain. Millions of Palestinians, Jordanians, Lebanese, Syrians, Iraqis, Egyptians and Jews have suffered death and destruction. This has been in large part due to the theological convictions and political activities of Christian Zionist leaders combined with the political might of secular Zionists and the religious zeal of Jewish settlers. Were Christian Zionism confined to theology and theological assumptions alone, I wouldn’t be so concerned about it and I wouldn’t be as driven as I am in exposing the harmful consequences of its teachings.
Around the world, rich and poor countries alike are pulling up their drawbridges, slashing the number of refugees they are willing to accept, and denying asylum to those who might have been admitted in the past.
By Nanjala Nyabola | Foreign Affairs | Oct 10, 2019
Derived from the ancient Greek asulos, which roughly translates to ‘inviolable,’ the word ‘asylum’ first entered the English lexicon in the late Middle Ages, when it was understood to mean ‘an inviolable shelter or protection from pursuit or arrest.’ By definition, an asylum seeker was a person who sought a form of protection that could never be violated, broken, or infringed upon.
A small tent city is taking shape in Tapachula, on the Mexican-Guatemalan border, and its inhabitants are living proof of the systematic erosion of one of the foundational principles of the post–World War II international order. The residents are primarily refugees and migrants from African countries who fled political persecution, social upheaval, and economic uncertainty, taking one of the longest and most perilous migration routes in the world in the hope of reaching the United States.
Until recently, most would have been granted a 21-day grace period to either normalize their residency status in Mexico or continue on to the U.S. border. But since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in May that the administration of President Donald Trump can deny asylum to anyone who has crossed a third country en route to the U.S. border, Mexico has started denying Africans free passage through its territory. And so the migrants arriving in Tapachula have nowhere to go. They are trapped between hard-line U.S. asylum policies, Mexico’s acquiescence to those policies, and a growing global backlash against anyone seeking asylum.