Israel Needs to Decide Its Own Policy

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Tzipi Livni, a leader of the opposition in the Israeli parliament, at a 2015 summit in London. (photo: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)

Q&A with former Israeli peace negotiator Tzipi Livni

By Ruth Eglash and William Booth / The Washington Post
December 6, 2016


We need to understand what we all are facing. This is against foreigners and Jews. Anti-Semitism is raising its ugly head in different parts of the world. All together we should fight terrorism, fight anti-Semitism, fight xenophobia and fight for our values. This is what makes Israel part of the free world. Instead of saying workers of the world unite, moderates of the world should unite.


The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fretting over what President Obama may or may not do in the waning days of his administration.

Will Obama endorse a U.N. resolution enshrining a rough outline for what a two-state solution to the long-running Israel-Palestinian conflict should look like — regarding future borders, the fate of the Jewish settlements and Palestinian refugees, the sharing of Jerusalem?

Or maybe Obama will give a speech.

Or send Secretary of State John F. Kerry to Paris to mull the “French initiative” to push for an end to Israel’s 50-year military occupation, a conference that appears to be stalled.

Or. Or. Or.

Continue reading “Israel Needs to Decide Its Own Policy”

Jared Kushner’s Foundation Donated to Settlements

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Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of President-elect Donald Trump, walks through the lobby of Trump Tower. (photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

By Carol Morello / The Washington Post
December 5, 2016


“I imagine this will be the end of State Department statements for 50 years calling settlements illegal to illegitimate, unhelpful or obstacles to peace. American foreign policy is about to be dramatically shifted. . . . It’s not about one check from Jared Kushner, but a broad threat to 50 years of bipartisan support for the proposition that settlements are an obstacle to peace. Now, that could be declared dead. I’m very alarmed.”
— Jeremy Ben-Ami, President of J Street


Jared Kushner, who may become a Middle East peace envoy in his father-in-law’s administration, is a director of a family foundation that has made charitable donations to West Bank settlements.

The gifts totaled $58,500 between 2011 and 2013, a small portion of the almost $8.5 million the Seryl and Charles Kushner Family Foundation gave away in that period, according to IRS records first reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and reviewed independently by The Washington Post. Kushner and his three siblings are directors, along with their parents, of the foundation.

President-elect Donald Trump has said he may make his son-in-law, who is married to Ivanka Trump, a broker for talks between Israelis and Palestinians, saying Kushner would be “very good” at working with both sides.

Continue reading “Jared Kushner’s Foundation Donated to Settlements”

East Jerusalem Brothers Forced to Demolish Their Own Homes

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Said Al-Abbasi, Silwan Neighborhood, East Jerusalem. [photo: MA’AN News]
By Middle East Memo
December 5, 2016


Demolitions of Palestinian structures and homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have seen an unprecedented surge this year, with the number of structures demolished in the first half of 2016 well exceeding the total number of demolitions carried out in all of 2015. At least 1,569 Palestinians have been displaced since the beginning of 2016 as a result of demolitions in the occupied territory, compared to 688 Palestinians displaced over the entirety of 2015, according to U.N. documentation.


Two Palestinian brothers in the neighborhood of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem were forced to demolish their own homes on Saturday in compliance with an Israeli court order.

One of the owners, Said Al-Abbasi, told Ma’an that he and his brother Nasser had built their homes in the Karm Al-Sheikh area of Silwan two-and-a-half years ago. However, before construction could be completed, the Jerusalem municipality delivered demolition orders for their homes.

During the court hearings, the Al-Abbasi brothers, who have 12 children between them, were forced to close the construction site with concrete until all legal proceedings had concluded. Said told Ma’an that the Jerusalem municipality threatened to imprison the pair if they tried to resume construction at the site.

Continue reading “East Jerusalem Brothers Forced to Demolish Their Own Homes”

Israel Votes to Authorize Illegal Settler Homes in Palestine

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Israeli settlers at Amona, near Ramallah in the West Bank. [photo: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters]

Passage of bill to evacuate one settler site while retroactively recognizing others meets with condemnation from U.N. and U.S.

By Peter Beaumont / The Guardian
December 5, 2016


“Today, the Israeli Knesset shifted from a path to establish a Palestinian state to a path of extending sovereignty to Judea and Samaria [as Israel calls the occupied Palestinian territories]. Let there be no doubt: the regulation bill is what will spearhead the extension of [Israeli] sovereignty.”
— Naftali Bennett, Israeli Minister of Education and Minister of Diaspora Affairs
“[The legislation] has the objective of protecting illegal settlements built on private Palestinian property in the West Bank. It is a very worrying initiative. I encourage Israeli legislators to reconsider such a move, which would have far-reaching legal consequences across the occupied West Bank.”
— Nickolay Mladenov, U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process


Israel’s parliament has voted to retroactively legalize thousands of illegitimate settler homes in outposts built on private Palestinian land, in a highly controversial move described by critics as a “land grab.” The measure, which passed in a stormy Knesset session late on Monday, has been met with international condemnation, and has already strained relations within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing rightwing coalition.

It comes in sharp defiance of a call on Sunday by the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, who urged Israel again to rein in the construction of settlements on West Bank land.

Israeli critics and Palestinians have described the legislation as a land grab that would further distance prospects for a two-state solution to end the long Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some high-profile political supporters, echoing that view, celebrated the vote by saying it opened the way to annexation of the West Bank and the end of any prospect of a Palestinian state.

According to estimates by opponents — including the prominent anti-occupation group Peace Now — the new law, if finally approved, would effectively annex 55 illegal outposts and approximately 4,000 housing units in settlements and illegal outposts.

Continue reading “Israel Votes to Authorize Illegal Settler Homes in Palestine”

Half of Americans Support Sanctions on Israel

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Palestinian women walk along Israel’s separation wall in the West Bank village of Abu Dis. (photo: Anna Kaplan / Flash900)

The Clinton campaign diverged from the party’s base on Israel-Palestine.

By Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man / +972 Magazine
December 3, 2016


Perhaps demonstrating how out of touch decision makers are with the electorate on the matter of Palestine and Palestinian rights, momentum in American government — local and national — seems to be toward limiting the tools Americans have to leverage their own economic and political power to end the occupation. At least 22 U.S. states have legislation that punishes companies for answering the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.


The number of Americans who support imposing sanctions on Israel over its defiant settlement policies has shot up to 46 percent, the same percentage of Americans who voted for Donald Trump in the presidential election.

That number has shot up nearly 10 percentage points over the past year, according to a national poll published by the Brookings Institute on Friday, on the sidelines of this week’s Saban Forum, “an annual dialogue between American and Israeli leaders.”

Among Democrats, a 60-percent majority “supported imposing some economic sanctions or taking more serious action” in response to Israeli settlements, the poll found. A much smaller number of Republican respondents (31 percent) support sanctions.

The United States, like most countries in the world, opposes the existence and expansion of Israeli settlements — both in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Golan Heights. Despite that opposition, however, Washington has rarely set any consequences for Israel’s settlement policies or actions.

Continue reading “Half of Americans Support Sanctions on Israel”

Don’t Forget: Human Rights Day Celebration!

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Artwork by Ethar Hamid

Please join our brothers and sisters at the Rachel Corrie Foundation for this important event.

Date: Saturday, December 10, 2016
Time: 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
(dinner and drinks)
Location: Abigail Stuart House
1002 Washington St SE
Olympia, WA  98501
Cost: $35.00 (includes dinner and two drinks) (register here)
Information: Event website
Questions: 360-754-3998
Contact the Foundation

Join the Rachel Corrie Foundation for the 2016 Annual Human Rights Day Celebration for an evening of food and knowledge. Gather together for an evening with friends and enjoy delicious food prepared by local Olympia chefs, wine and locally-brewed beer donated by Three Magnets Brewing Co., a musical performance by Benjamin SittingBull, a Plains Indian singer, flutist and drummer, and a discussion on environmental and political activism.

[Continue reading here . . . ]


Now is the time to talk about . . .

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Photo: Livio Mancini / Redux

. . . What we are actually talking about.

By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie / The New Yorker
December 2, 2016


Now is the time to resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just. Now is the time to speak up and to wear as a badge of honor the opprobrium of bigots.


America has always been aspirational to me. Even when I chafed at its hypocrisies, it somehow always seemed sure, a nation that knew what it was doing, refreshingly free of that anything-can-happen existential uncertainty so familiar to developing nations. But no longer. The election of Donald Trump has flattened the poetry in America’s founding philosophy: the country born from an idea of freedom is to be governed by an unstable, stubbornly uninformed, authoritarian demagogue. And in response to this there are people living in visceral fear, people anxiously trying to discern policy from bluster, and people kowtowing as though to a new king. Things that were recently pushed to the corners of America’s political space — overt racism, glaring misogyny, anti-intellectualism — are once again creeping to the center.

Now is the time to resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just. Now is the time to speak up and to wear as a badge of honor the opprobrium of bigots. Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism; it allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility. Hazy visions of “healing” and “not becoming the hate we hate” sound dangerously like appeasement. The responsibility to forge unity belongs not to the denigrated but to the denigrators. The premise for empathy has to be equal humanity; it is an injustice to demand that the maligned identify with those who question their humanity.

Continue reading “Now is the time to talk about . . .”

Stand with your Muslim neighbors

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Photo: Jordan Goldwarg

If you have never visited a mosque, now is the time to do it.

By Jordan Goldwarg / The Seattle Times
December 1, 2016

[Jordan Goldwarg is the Northwest regional director for Kids4Peace International, a global movement of youth and families, dedicated to ending conflict and inspiring hope in divided societies around the world.]


In my work as the director of an interfaith-youth movement, I have had the privilege of visiting numerous mosques in Seattle and forming close friendships and professional relationships with many Muslims. Through these contacts, I have come to see Islam as a religion that espouses peace, compassion and tolerance.


On a recent night, I received a disturbing email informing me of vandalism that had damaged the main sign at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS), the largest mosque in the region.

The following day, I received a phone call from a Muslim friend telling me that if a national Muslim registry is created, she will fear for her children and move her family back to East Africa.

These two incidents dramatically illustrate the anxiety that American Muslims are feeling, driven in no small part by a 67 percent increase in hate crimes last year over 2014, according to the FBI.

The vandalized sign underscores the critical importance of non-Muslim allies to stand against Islamophobia and support our Muslim friends and neighbors.

We need to defend Muslims for two reasons. First, as friends, we can speak out against bigotry and lend our voices in opposition to those who say that Muslims who speak in their own defense are simply trying to protect their own interests.

Second, we have the ability to make members of a targeted group feel valued and accepted as members of our community. So many of my Muslim colleagues have told me that community support is what makes this time of fear and anxiety more bearable. Continue reading “Stand with your Muslim neighbors”

“Make this my dream as well”

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Photo: King’s University College

In historic appearance, Palestinian offers one-state vision to a N.Y. temple.

By Phillip Weiss / Mondoweiss
November 30, 2016


Our two tribes not only have separate and different narratives, but we also have separate and conflicting ideologies. . . . We cannot find a way to live together if we continue to hang on to the two ideologies that we started with. We must find a new idea that is worth working towards, and change our ideologies in such a way that acknowledges the other as part of us, as who we want to be. . . . It’s a tall order, I know. But you really must move away from what I call the false view of democracy, which says that if I have 51 percent of the population, I can totally destroy negate crush delegitimize disenfranchise the other. That’s not democracy. The tyranny of 51 percent simply does not work.


I can’t remember the last time I’ve cried in a synagogue, but last night was truly extraordinary: a suburban New York temple hosted a Palestinian leader making the argument for one democratic state between the river and the sea. And the Jewish audience did not contest his description of human rights atrocities. And his Jewish hosts thanked him for opening their eyes to new ideas.

If there is a glimmer of hope that the American Jewish community can be redeemed from a tragic course, and that the peoples of Israel and Palestine can be freed from a blind alleyway of history, there it was last night, at Temple Israel in New Rochelle.  Continue reading ““Make this my dream as well””

Interfaith Leaders Turn Conflict Into Trust

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Photo: Daniel Acker / The New York Times

By David Bornstein / The New York Times
November 29, 2016


Democracy is not just a place where you elect representatives; it’s a society where you can make personal convictions public. And diversity isn’t just the things we like. Diversity is also the things you don’t like. . . . What are ways in which I can understand my fellow citizens? What qualities do they possess that I would admire? And what are fundamental things that we can work on together?


This month, the F.B.I. reported that hate crimes against Muslims in 2015 reached their highest level since 2001. In New York City this year, hate crimes are tracking one-third higher than last year; against Muslims they have more than doubled.

The election of Donald J. Trump has highlighted religious tensions in America, particularly with Trump’s proposals to bar Muslims from entering the country and to create a registry of Muslims living in the United States. But these tensions did not begin with Trump. In America, virtually every form of faith or belief has at some point suffered unfavorable reception by others; the victims include Roman Catholics, Mormons, evangelical Christians, Jews and atheists, alongside Muslims.

Four years ago, I reported on the Interfaith Youth Core, which trains leaders to build relationships and respect between diverse faith communities. The work has expanded considerably. The organization now has more than 350 active campuses in its network, and more than 1,000 colleges have used its resources. This year its founder, Eboo Patel, explained in a book, Interfaith Leadership, what this type of leadership entails and why he considers it vital in today’s world. Patel, who is Muslim, recently spoke with me about democracy, the responsibilities of citizens, and his fears and hopes after this year’s election.

[Continue reading here . . . ]