Jews and Palestinians Working Together

To Bring Peace to the Middle East

By Jeremy Ben-Ami and Maen Rashid Areikat
The Seattle Times
October 16, 2016


“The time when one side can afford to deny the presence of the other is long gone. The stark truth is that there are two peoples living on the same land and dividing it between them is the only way to bury this long conflict once and for all.”


[Note: The authors will be speaking at Town Hall Seattle on Wednesday evening at 7:00]

For decades, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the larger Arab-Israeli conflict have cast a dark shadow over the Middle East. This conflict has cost human lives and drained vital resources. It has denied millions of people in the region the opportunity to prosper and grow away from the threat of confrontation, occupation and violence.

We know how this can and must end: a two-state solution ensuring that two states, Israel and Palestine, can live in peace and security, with both sides accepting and recognizing the national and legitimate rights of the other. This is not a zero-sum game — the fates of both peoples are permanently intertwined, and neither can truly flourish while the other suffers. [Continue reading here . . . ]

USAID Awards $800,000 TO Kids4Peace

Funding the Interfaith Jerusalem Initiative will expand the pro-peace community to 288 new families in the Jerusalem area

Kids4Peace and USAID
October 13, 2016


“In these difficult days, we are providing a place where youth from both sides of the conflict can meet each other, find a partner for peace, and take charge of their future.”


Kids4Peace is excited to announce a two-year, $800,000 cooperative agreement with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to strengthen and expand the constituency for peace in Jerusalem.

The Interfaith Jerusalem Project will connect youth and parents from East and West Jerusalem, and neighboring West Bank communities in programs that foster civic involvement, celebrate the religious diversity of Jerusalem, and encourage key populations to support a pro-peace agenda.

Project activities include cross-border dialogue groups; workshops about parenting youth in the midst of conflict; community service projects, and town hall meetings that connect youth with community leaders. Kids4Peace will also host community events during religious holidays and facilitate opportunities for Jewish and Arab residents of Jerusalem to visit each other’s homes.

“We are grateful to USAID for this opportunity to strengthen and grow the pro-peace community in Jerusalem,” said Fr. Josh Thomas, International Executive Director of Kids4Peace. “In these difficult days, we are providing a place where youth from both sides of the conflict can meet each other, find a partner for peace, and take charge of their future.” [Continue reading here . . . ]

Partnering for a Peaceful Resolution

To the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


How can Israeli and Palestinian leaders move toward a sustainable peace?
Is a two-state solution the answer?
Can the US and the international community help to bridge gaps and bring the two sides together?


Join us for a conversation with:

Presented by by J Street and The General Delegation of the PLO to the United States

Date: Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Town Hall Seattle
Cost: Free
More Information: Here

Join us for a conversation about the prospects for achieving peace, and why it matters so much to the US and the world with two leaders who know all about the topic: Maen Rashid Areikat (Ambassador of the PLO to the United States) and Jeremy Ben-Ami (Founder and President, J Street), moderated by KUOW Seattle’s Ross Reynolds. You won’t want to miss this exchange of ideas, where Ambassador Areikat and Jeremy Ben-Ami will share ideas and identify common goals in order to achieve two states for two peoples. [Learn more here . . . ]

Bank of Ireland Closes BDS Accounts

Talal Huesseini, Palestinian Square
October 11, 2016


“It is difficult to escape the conclusion that this attack on our ability to bank is a politically-motivated measure to silence a human rights organization that campaigns for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it fulfills its obligations under international law — a campaign the Irish Government views as entirely legitimate.”


On 27 September 2016, the Bank of Ireland (BOI) closed three accounts belonging to the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), deeming Palestine to be a ‘high-risk country’ and declaring that IPSC no longer met the bank’s “risk appetite.” IPSC, a human rights advocacy group that seeks to “build solidarity and mutual understanding” between the Irish and Palestinian peoples, held accounts with the Bank of Ireland since the organization’s establishment in 2001. The money that IPSC raises is primarily used to fund Palestinian solidarity projects in Ireland, such as: advocating for recognition of the occupation by the Irish government and European Union; and educating Irish citizens on the boycott of goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements. This kind of action epitomizes IPSC’s objective: to peacefully promote Palestinian rights and culture. [Continue reading here . . . ]

California “Assault on Academic Freedom”

California Scholars for Academic Freedom
October 5, 2015


“The UC Berkeley case is but the latest assault on academic freedom that has increased in intensity over the last fifteen years, overwhelmingly in the interest of one foreign government, namely Israel.”


On September 13, well after the school year had begun, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and Dean Carla Hesse cancelled a course entitled “Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis” that had been vetted and approved by all the appropriate committees and authorities. It was soon revealed that 43 Zionist organizations (some of these may be organizations in name only) had sent letters of protest asking for its suppression. Faculty and student protest forced the administration to reinstate the course.  But adding insult to injury, UC Berkeley administrators have refused to apologize publicly, and have continued to conceal the obvious reasons for their caving in to outside pressures behind a veil of administrative lingo and half-truths.

Well-funded interest groups outside of the university, including AMCHA, Campus Watch, Louis D. Brandeis Center, Anti-Defamation League, Zionist Organization of America, the David Horowitz Freedom Center, the Canary Mission Website, the Middle East Forum, and the David Project Center for Jewish Leadership have kept up a continuous effort to silence open debate about a controversial issue: the Israeli occupation and Palestinian rights. It is worth noting that two of the main proponents of these organizations, David Horowitz and Daniel Pipes, were named as leading Islamophobes by the Southern Poverty Law Center. [Continue reading here . . . ]

The NY Times “Finally Realizes”

Netanyahu doesn’t care what Obama thinks

By Lisa Goldman, +972 Magazine
October 7, 2016


“For years, liberal American publications have been generally sympathetic to Israel, even when they are criticizing its governments’ policies. Now, in light of an unprecedented New York Times editorial, that attitude might be about to change.”


The New York Times editorial board has realized, about a decade too late, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not care what the Obama administration — or any U.S. administration, for that matter — thinks about his policies regarding the Palestinians.

According to the editorial published Friday, October 7, headlined At the Boiling Point With Israel, the catalyst for this realization was Netanyahu’s decision to approve the building of a new settlement deep in the West Bank, only three weeks after the U.S. finalized a package of military aid for Israel to the tune of an unprecedented $38 billion, spread over 10 years. Israel receives more military aid than any other country, by far: Egypt, which receives $1.31 billion per year, is the second-largest recipient of direct military aid from the United States. [Continue reading here . . . ]

At the Boiling Point with Israel

The New York Times Editorial Board
October 6, 2016


“The ever expanding settlements have poisoned Palestinian hopes and functioned variously as a spark, a target and an excuse for violence, intensifying the conflict.”


If the aim of the Israeli government is to prevent a peace deal with the Palestinians, now or in the future, it’s close to realizing that goal. Last week, it approved the construction of a new Jewish settlement in the West Bank, another step in the steady march under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to build on land needed to create a Palestinian state.

The Obama administration, with every justification, strongly condemned the action as a betrayal of the idea of a two-state solution in the Middle East. But Mr. Netanyahu obviously doesn’t care what Washington thinks, so it will be up to President Obama to find another way to preserve that option before he leaves office. [Continue reading . . . ]

State Department Condemns Israeli Settlements

October 5, 2016
Mark C. Toner, Deputy State Department Spokesperson


“Proceeding with this new settlement is another step towards cementing a one-state reality of perpetual occupation that is fundamentally inconsistent with Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.”


We strongly condemn the Israeli government’s recent decision to advance a plan that would create a significant new settlement deep in the West Bank.

Proceeding with this new settlement, which could include up to 300 units, would further damage the prospects for a two state solution. The retroactive authorization of nearby illegal outposts, or redrawing of local settlement boundaries, does not change the fact that this approval contradicts previous public statements by the Government of Israel that it had no intention of creating new settlements. And this settlement’s location deep in the West Bank, far closer to Jordan than Israel, would link a string of outposts that effectively divide the West Bank and make the possibility of a viable Palestinian state more remote.

It is deeply troubling, in the wake of Israel and the U.S. concluding an unprecedented agreement on military assistance designed to further strengthen Israel’s security, that Israel would take a decision so contrary to its long term security interest in a peaceful resolution of its conflict with the Palestinians. Furthermore, it is disheartening that while Israel and the world mourned the passing of President Shimon Peres, and leaders from the U.S. and other nations prepared to honor one of the great champions of peace, plans were advanced that would seriously undermine the prospects for the two state solution that he so passionately supported.

Israelis must ultimately decide between expanding settlements and preserving the possibility of a peaceful two state solution. Since the recent Quartet report called on both sides to take affirmative steps to reverse current trends and advance the two state solution on the ground, we have unfortunately seen just the opposite. Proceeding with this new settlement is another step towards cementing a one-state reality of perpetual occupation that is fundamentally inconsistent with Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state. Such moves will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from many of its partners, and further call into question Israel’s commitment to achieving a negotiated peace.

[Read the statement here. . . ]

Celebrating a New Jewish Diasporism

A Sermon for Rosh Hashanah 5777

Rabbi Brant Rosen
October 4, 2016


“While we appreciate the important role of the land of Israel in Jewish tradition, liturgy and identity, we do not celebrate the fusing of Judaism with political nationalism. We are non-Zionist, openly acknowledging that the creation of an ethnic Jewish nation state in historic Palestine resulted in an injustice against its indigenous people — an injustice that continues to this day.”


As I’m sure you know, Tzedek Chicago has received a great deal of attention — some might call it notoriety — for calling ourselves a “non-Zionist” congregation. But contrary to what our most cynical critics might say, we didn’t choose this label for the publicity. When we founded Tzedek Chicago last year, we used this term deliberately. We did so because we wanted to create an intentional community, based on specific core values. Our non-Zionism is not just a label. It is comes from our larger conviction to celebrate “a Judaism beyond nationalism.” [Continue reading here . . . ]

The Land That Remains: Photographing Nostalgia and Existence

Source: Palestine Square | ميدان فلسطين

The land has been swept away, her history has been broken by another’s reality.


Italian photographer Federico Busonero recalls an allegorical moment: Traveling along the West Bank’s Route 60, he came across a Palestinian man sitting on a cement block on the side of the road apparently waiting for a ride. Next to him were three bags; from one protruded an old-fashioned black wall clock. The man spoke neither Italian nor English, and Busonero speaks no Arabic. The photographer signaled to the man that he would like to photograph him by pointing to his camera. The man agreed to Busonero’s request. For 15 minutes, Busonero relayed, the man sat there with “his hands crossed on his legs, pensive eyes looking at me. Everything was halted (…). The man did not move.” Neither, of course, did the clock. [Continue reading here . . . ]