In This Issue
Kairos Palestine Christmas Alert
Is the U.S./Mexico Border Becoming Another Gaza?
Gaza on Fire
Airbnb Leaves West Bank Settlements
Trump Administration Threatens to Redefine Anti-Semitism
MCC Signs New Statement on Israel/Palestine
Careful What You Buy This Christmas!
Kumi Now!
Read More
Prayer

Kairos Palestine Christmas Alert

Kairos Palestine has just issued its Christmas Alert 2018. This year the Christmas Alert sheds light on the importance of restoring a new hope for Palestine, the Middle East and the world. The alert offers resources and reflections for each Sunday of Advent and inspires individuals and congregations to act to help make hope a reality in the lives of Palestinians.

Is the U.S./Mexico Border Becoming Another Gaza?

Maria Meza runs away from tear gas with her daughters at the U.S./Mexico border (Credit: The World News)

Fences and barbed wire. Tear gas and choking. Heavily armed border patrols and U.S. Army forces on one side of the fence. Desperate poverty and nonviolent presence of refugees on the other side, simply seeking a safer and better life. All very much like Gaza. Thankfully, no deaths so far, but President Trump has given the freedom to use lethal force.

On Sunday, November 25, 2018, as many of the refugees in the migrant caravan pushed to breach the border, U.S. forces, without warning, launched tear gas canisters on unexpecting refugees and would-be immigrants, including many children. The Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, of which the United States is a part, has banned the use of tear gas on the battle field, but the U.S. has consistently used tear gas on domestic populations to control crowds, like Ferguson, Missouri. Under both the Obama and Trump administrations, tear gas has been used on refugees at the U.S./Mexico border.

The aerosol chemical compound, containing 2-chlorobenzaldene malononitrile, causes nasal passages to run, eyes to uncontrollably water and breathing becomes short and painful with a burning sensation in the throat and nasal passages. It is especially dangerous for children who do not know to close their eyes and shut their mouths. As Robini Haar, a doctor with Physicians for Human Rights, explained about children and tear gas: “Most kids scream for their parents when they are in danger. That natural, reasonable reaction to pain is detrimental in this case.” She went on to say that tear gas has harmful effects on children in both the short-term and long-term.

One refugee, Maria Meza (pictured above with her three daughters) described their experience afterward (translated): “I grabbed my daughters and started running. At that moment, I thought I was going to die with them. We ran and we fell into the mud and struggled to get up amidst the gas…We never thought they were going to fire these bombs where there were children…It wasn’t right. They know we are human beings, the same as them. It wasn’t right that they did that to the children.”

Trump’s response to the tear gassing: “Well, I do say, why are they there? I mean, I have to start off—first of all, the tear gas was a very minor form of the tear gas itself. It’s very safe…But you really say, ‘Why is a parent running into an area where the tear gas is forming and it’s going to be formed, and they’re running up with a child.’”

Just a few days before the tear gas attack, a jury found Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz not guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of a 16-year-old boy, Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez in 2012, firing nearly a dozen bullets through a U.S./Mexico border fence. All but one of the bullets were in the boy’s back. It was Swartz’s second acquittal, the first time for murder. The boy’s crime: throwing a rock.

Gaza on Fire

 Israeli missiles bomb Gaza on November 12, 2018 (Credit: MennoPIN contact in Gaza)

On November 12-13, 2018 Gaza exploded for the third time in just a few years. After a botched incursion into Gaza by Israeli commandoes on the morning of November 12, Hamas (the governing authority in Gaza with both a social service and military component) begin exchanging missiles with Israel. Israel used aircraft fire, missiles and drones to bomb targets in Gaza while Hamas sent hundreds of missiles into southern Israeli city of Ashkelon. At least 12 Palestinians were killed and numerous people in Gaza and Ashkelon suffered wounds.

A MennoPIN contact within Gaza took the photo above on a cell phone and wrote this on November 12 amid falling Israeli bombs: “Israeli warplanes continue shelling areas in the Gaza Strip. The shelling lasted for many hours, targeting sites, houses and a news channel, and resulted in a number of martyrs and wounded. Explosions were heard all over the strip.” The next day, he wrote that “Israeli forces have completely destroyed six buildings in Gaza so far today,” including family homes, a television station and a hotel.

Fortunately, an earlier-planned, Egypt-brokered cease fire ended the hostilities by the end of the second day. The terms of the cease fire included expanding fishing rights to Gazans, provision of fuel, and money from Qatar to pay Hamas and many civil workers. While some have wondered if Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was turning a new leaf as a peacemaker, the truth probably lies elsewhere. By helping to keep Hamas in power in Gaza, Netanyahu keeps the two ruling factions in Palestine (the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza) divided, not just geographically, but also ideologically, lessening the ability of a united Palestine to apply effective pressure on his government. Amidst the power struggles, the people of Gaza continue to endure debilitating hardship after hardship.

Airbnb Leaves West Bank Settlements

 A photograph taken last year from the Palestinian West Bank village Turmus Ayya shows the Jewish settlement, Shilo, where Airbnb had listings (Credit: Jaafar Ashtiyeh/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

In a victory for the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement and those working for justice in Palestine, Airbnb agreed to pull its listings out of the illegal Israeli settlements in occupied areas in Palestine. But their boycott is selective and applies to the West Bank but excluded East Jerusalem. A similar company, Booking.com, has not deleted its West Bank listings.

Airbnb’s press release states in part: “U.S. law permits companies like Airbnb to engage in business in [occupied] territories. At the same time, many in the global community have stated that companies should not do business here because they believe companies should not profit on lands where people have been displaced…When we applied our decision-making framework, we concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.”

In response to Airbnb’s action,Israeli government officials and its supporters have responded with condemnation and threats. Minister of Strategic Affairs, Gilad Erdan denounced Airbnb’s withdrawal as a “racist political stance.” Minister of Tourism, Yariv Levin, termed the decision as “the most wretched of wretched capitulations to the boycott efforts.” The pro-Israeli NGO, Jewish Human Rights, called it “anti-Semitism pure and simple” and called for a boycott of Airbnb. BDS is working.

Trump Administration Threats to Redefine Anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism is a serious problem in the United States. As defined by the Webster Dictionary, anti-Semitism involves: “hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or radical group.” Hate and prejudice against Jewish people has no place in our society whether as individuals, in government or in institutions (educational, religious or economic). MennoPIN stands firmly opposed to any expressions of anti-Semitism.

But the Trump Administration wants to take the definition of anti-Semitism one dangerous step forward. Kenneth Marcus is the Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights. Marcus has proposed expanding the legal definition of anti-Semitism to equate criticism of the government of Israel with anti-Semitism. Entitled the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act,” the proposed expanded definition has already produced a chilling effect on university campuses where, for example, a student or student group criticizing the demolition of Palestinian homes or killing of nonviolent Gaza protestors by Israel could be viewed as a violation of the act. Free speech on our campuses needs to be protected.

MCC Signs New Statement on Israel/Palestine
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is one of sixteen church-related organizations to sign a statement entitled, “Current U.S. Policy, Israel/Palestine, and the Churches.” The statement reads, in part:

“The current situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for most of the inhabitants is one of shattered hopes. Since President Trump took office in 2017, U.S. support for Israel over the concerns of Palestinians has become explicit instead of implied. As leaders of U.S.-based churches and Christian organizations with long ties and close connections with Palestinian Christians and churches, we are deeply concerned about these developments… As Christian churches and organizations in the United States, we strongly oppose this treatment of Palestinians. Most Palestinians have been peacefully protesting for 70 years in the hopes of gaining international recognition and their own state. We call on people of all faiths to stand up in support of human rights for both Palestinians and Israelis, including the right to self-determination.” To read the entire statement, click here.

Careful What You Buy This Christmas!

Kumi Now

The Sabeel Theological Education Center in East Jerusalem has created a bold new initiative to challenge the Israeli occupation of Palestine. In the face of overwhelming oppression and ineffective support from the international community, Sabeel “feels that giving up as a people on the margins is not an option.” Kumi Now (Rise Up) has just been launched and is inviting individuals, congregations, and local and international organizations to join the Kumi Now project to work as a united force for justice for Palestine.

Kumi Now is based on Mark 5:21-43 about two healing miracles, Jairus’ daughter and the woman with a hemorrhage. To Jairus’ daughter, Jesus says, Talitha Kumi, rise up! Just as the two were liberated from their suffering, so, too, says Sabeel, “We hear Jesus’ command to rise up in our own context…we say now is the time for action. This is why we are launching the Kumi Now initiative—a call to collectively rise up and act for liberation.”

MennoPIN is one of the Kumi Now partners and we encourage you and your congregation to become involved, too! To find out more about Kumi Now and how you can take action against the occupying forces, click here. To read their engaging Mark 5:21-43 Bible study, click here.

Read More
+972 Magazine
The Electronic Intifada
A Palestinian Theology of Liberation, Naim Ateek, Orbis Books, 2017
Why Palestine Matters
No Way to Treat a Child Campaign
HP-Free Church Campaign

Prayer
Fourteen Palestinians were injured by Israeli live ammunition during the 35th Friday of ‘The Great March of Return’ protests along the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip. Lord, we pray for all those who have been injured in Gaza. We pray that the international authorities would pay attention to their cries of anguish and would resolve to act to restore justice to the people of Gaza. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers. Sabeel Wave of Prayer

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