August 2019 Monthly Update

In This Issue
When a Republican President Supported BDS
Is Kashmir the New West Bank?
Become a Gaza Twinning Congregation!
A New Short Film About Youth in Gaza
Support H.Res. 496
Tours to Palestine
A New MennoPIN Steering Committee
Read More

When a Republican President Supported BDS

In 1948, Palestinians, forced from their homes by Zionist militia, become refugees.

The BDS movement would not begin until 2005, but President Dwight Eisenhower’s foreign policy toward Israel was, in part, shaped around principles central to BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions). Today, President Donald Trump, the Republican Party and most of the Democratic Party would have us believe that to be pro-BDS is to be anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. But Eisenhower would beg to differ.

Writing on August 22, 2019 on the American Conservative website (of all places!), Derek Leebaert detailed three instances in which the Eisenhower Administration censured the Israeli government for illegal aggression, violence and expansion against Israel’s Arab neighbors, including Palestine.

Leebaert described a 1953 massacre in the village of Qibya in the West Bank, a 1954 bombing of two US consulates in Egypt by a self-described Israeli “terror unit,” and a 1955 military assault against Syria. Following each attack, the Eisenhower administration reacted with censure resolutions at the United Nations (UN). Then, in February 1957, Eisenhower addressed the nation, declaring that he was ready to go beyond censure resolutions and threatened to push UN sanctions and to halt US private business dealings with Israel. Foreign Minister Golda Meir quickly back down.

Eisenhower used and threatened to use actions central to BDS today: sanctions and economic boycott. But today, supporters of BDS and congressional representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are roundly condemned by both parties as “anti-Semites” and “Israel-haters” who seek to destroy Israel. But a Republican president once used BDS tactics to help contain Israeli violence and injustice. And, it could happen today if Israeli lobbying dollars did not line so many congressional campaign pockets. “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.”

Is Kashmir the New West Bank?

India’s authoritarian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, seems to be taking a page from another authoritarian right-wing Prime Minister’s book, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. When Modi, a Hindu nationalist, was Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat in 2002, he oversaw, and was considered complicit in, a Hindu nationalist massacre of Muslims there.

Kashmir has long been disputed territory between India and Pakistan. For many years both India and Pakistan have abided by an agreement (called Articles 370 and 35A in India) in which each country would control portions of Kashmir near their borders, but the bulk of the territory would be self-ruling.

Recently, Modi declared those Articles void, making Kashmir a “union territory” of India. In addition to increasing tensions between Pakistan and India, Modi’s move allows Indians from outside Kashmir to buy land in Kashmir and create settlements protected by tens of thousands of additional Indian troops, leaving Kashmir’s dominantly Muslim population (about 96%) disenfranchised and with far less power. Is Kashmir the new West Bank? Will Modi follow the Israeli model?  Only time will tell.

Become a Gaza Twinning Congregation!
A father bathing his daughters in Gaza City (Credit: Wissam Nassar)

The current siege of Gaza has created severe restrictions on the availability of food, water, medical care, commerce and industry. A year after the March of Return, which resulted in hundreds of Palestinian deaths and tens of thousands of injuries, many peacemakers are feeling frustration and failure at our inability to focus attention on the condition of the people of Gaza. In response, MennoPIN is launching a new campaign among Mennonites to “End the Gaza Siege.”

The first step in the campaign is called the “Mennonite Twinning Initiative with Gaza.” This initiative will match Mennonite congregations with churches, mosques, hospitals, clinics and schools.

Please give prayerful consideration to your congregation becoming a “twinning” congregation with Gaza! To find out more about the initiative, the Gaza scandal, and guidelines for ethical relationships, visit the MennoPIN website and click on End the Gaza Siege tab at the top of the front page. Interested congregations can also send an email to with the Subject line “Twinning Initiative.”

A New Short Film About Youth in Gaza
Seventy percent of the population of Gaza, about 1.4 million people, are under 30 years of age. Half of Gaza’s population, living in a virtual open-air prison, are children. View this short film to see some of the challenges these young people face and how they are Gaza’s best hope for the future.
Support H.Res 496
Rep. Ilhan Omar introduces her pro-BDS resolution, H.Res. 496

In July the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to pass H.Res. 246, known as “Opposing efforts to de-legitimize the State of Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement Targeting Israel.” Although it was a non-binding resolution, it nonetheless put Congress on record as opposing BDS, a movement initiated by Palestinians as one nonviolent way to put pressure on Israel to end the occupation, allow the right of return for Palestinians and bring justice, freedom and equality for the people of Palestine. You can find out how your representative voted here. Although the text of the resolution does not mention Israel or Palestine, it has been interpreted as a response to the growing strength of the BDS movement.

In response, Rep. Ilhan Omar has introduced a resolution, H.Res. 496, to “speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our first amendment rights in regard to boycotting.” You can read the text of H.Res 496 here. The resolution currently has only 15 co-sponsors. Please encourage your congressperson to co-sponsor and vote for the resolution.

Go to Palestine: Tours

MennoPIN strongly encourages trips to Palestine to see upfront the struggle Palestinians endure on a daily basis. Established justice tours usually last about two weeks and offer both visits to Holy Land sites as well as experiences with Palestinians and those who actively work for justice and freedom for the people of Palestine. Or you may want to plan a do-it-yourself tour. To find out more about tours, visit the MennoPIN website and click on the Tours to Palestine tab.

A New MennoPIN Steering Committee

At the July 2019 MennoCon19 MC USA convention in Kansas City, a new steering committee was formed. Two of the founding MennoPIN members left the steering committee, leaving large shoes to fill. We expressed profound gratitude to Tom Harder and Joy Lapp. They both served MennoPIN with passion, dedication and skill for many years. They will be missed! Thank you, Tom and Joy!!

The new Steering Committee members are Anita Rediger, Bob Atchison (New), Joe Roos (Chair), Jonathan Kuttab, Jonathan Brenneman, Lydia Brenneman (New) and Rod Stafford.

Please feel free to bring your ideas, hopes and concerns for MennoPIN by writing us at We’d love to hear from you!

Read More

Kumi Now.
A Palestinian Theology of Liberation, Naim Ateek, Orbis Books, 2017
Why Palestine Matters
No Way to Treat a Child Campaign
The Electronic Intifada
HP-Free Church Campaign


On the 70th Great March of Return, 66 Palestinian civilians were injured due to the Israeli military’s continued use of excessive force against peaceful protests along the Gaza Strip’s eastern border. At least 20 children, 3 women and a volunteer paramedic were among those injured this Friday, August 16, 2019. Twenty-nine civilians were shot with live bullets; 2 of them were deemed in a critical medical condition. Each protest has its own theme with this one being titled “Palestinian Youth Friday” and involving activities such as speeches by political leaders and theatrical performances. Lord, we continue to pray for the right to protest peacefully in Gaza without the threat of injury or death by the use of live ammunition and dispersal methods by Israeli forces. We are grateful for those who continue to find new ways to protest in a creative and nonviolent way. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.  Sabeel Wave or Prayer

Mennonite Palestine-Israel Network | | | Committee:
Anita Rediger (Emmaus Road Mennonite Fellowship, Berne, IN)
Bob Atchison (Manhattan [KS] Mennonite Church)
Joe Roos (Peace Mennonite Fellowship, Claremont, CA)
Jonathan Kuttab (Palestinian lawyer and human rights activist)
Jonathan Brenneman
Lydia Brenneman
Rod Stafford (Portland Mennonite Church, OR)

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