MennoPIN Monthly Update: June 2020
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MENNONITE PALESTINE ISRAEL NETWORK
June 2020 Monthly Update

In This Issue

In Memoriam
Israel and the Murder of George Floyd
Annexation
Part 1 – The Kairos Palestine Response
Part 2 – Annexation and the Bibi/Benny Election Tango
Part 3 – Can Bibi be Stopped?
Stay Informed on Palestine
Prayer

In Memoriam

 

Breonna Taylor   George Floyd    Ahmaud Abery        Iyad al-Halak

Breonna Taylor – a 26-year-old African American woman, an emergency room technician, was killed with eight bullets after Louisville, KY police, using a battering ram, crashed into her apartment, unannounced. Their warrant was for a location in a different part of the city from someone who had already been arrested. No charges have been filed.

George Floyd – a 46-year-old African American died by asphyxiation when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. His “I can’t breathe” pleas were ignored by the four officers involved, all of whom have been charged in Floyd’s death.

Ahmaud Abery – a 25-year-old African American man was jogging through his Glynn County neighborhood when he was shot by two white men with the assistance of a third man, thinking he was a burglary suspect. It took nearly three months for the police department to arrest the three men.

Iyad-al-Halak – a 32-year-old Palestinian man with autism was shot and killed by Israeli police outside his special needs school.

MennoPIN is an inclusive and anti-racist network. We stand opposed to Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, all forms of racism, and any other expressions of bigotry directed at any person or group

RIP Brionna, George, Ahmaud and Iyad. The work for freedom and justice will go on.

Israel and the Murder of George Floyd

  

Two young Palestinian men with knees to their necks and beaten by Israeli armed forces

For many, many years Israel has been exporting the brutal tactics they use against Palestinian citizens. In cities all over the United States, personnel from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have come to teach police in this country the very repressive measures they use in their occupation of Palestine.

The U.S. group Deadly Exchange describes the exchange of practices this way: “One of the most dangerous places where the regimes of Trump and Netanyahu converge is in exchange programs that bring together police, ICE, border patrol, and FBI from the US with soldiers, police, border agents… from Israel. In these programs, ‘worst practices’ are shared to promote and extend discriminatory and repressive policing in both countries. These include extrajudicial executions, shoot-to-kill policies, police murders, racial profiling, massive spying and surveillance, deportation and detention, and attacks on human rights defenders.” As the photos above show, constraint with a knee to the head/neck is one of the practices IDF uses against Palestinians.

In 2012 over 100 Minneapolis police officers attended a conference, led by IDF and cosponsored by the FBI, in which they received training in restraint techniques and other violent, repressive measures. It is unclear whether the four officers involved in the murder of George Floyd were involved in that conference, but it seems likely they had some knowledge of the knee-to-the-neck technique.

Some U.S. cities, including Minneapolis, have stopped the deadly exchange relationship with Israel, but the very same techniques of military occupation Israel uses against Palestinians have been and are being used against U.S. citizens, and especially people of color, like George Floyd.

The enormous, nation-wide opposition to militarized police forces coming from all sectors of U.S. society has potential for change never seen before. The decision by the Minneapolis City Council to dismantle their police force is a deeply encouraging sign. How they will do that remains to be seen.

Donald Trump would like military forces to “dominate” and “crush” those advocating for justice in this country. But a clear rejection of his hoped-for policy must also include a rejection of Israel’s use of military domination against the people of Palestine.

Annexation

Netanyahu overlooks part of the West Bank he promises to annex (Credit: Debbie Hill, Reuters File)

The Kairos Palestine Response
Christian Palestinian voices have issued an unambiguous consensus: “Stop Annexation!” The Kairos Palestine statement begins with these words: “Israel’s West Bank annexation policy, fueled by Trump’s ‘peace plan,’ may gratify extreme evangelicals, but is a mortal blow to the future of Christianity in the Holy Land.” And concludes with these: “Peacemaking is a blessing from God; oppression is a sin. But various U.S. officials are misusing the Holy Bible to justify policies of colonization and the annexation of occupied territory, a crime under international law. People around the world who believe in justice must say, “Enough!” and act accordingly.” You can read the entire statement here.

Annexation and the Bibi/Benny Election Tango
After three elections and 500 days of political instability, Israel finally formed a new government between Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz. Gantz ran on a platform that included annexation but only with strong international input. Citing COVID-19 as justification, Gantz abandoned many of his supporters and allies and agreed to the ruling coalition with Netanyahu and dropped his minimal hesitations about annexation. Netanyahu will continue as Prime Minister for the first 18 months, at which point Gantz is slated to become the head of state.

Netanyahu plans to push through the annexation vote through the Knesset, with Gantz’ support, on July 1. Affirming his intention to move forward with unilateral annexation, Netanyahu asserted at his swearing-in that “It’s time to apply the Israeli law and write another glorious chapter in the history of Zionism…These territories are where the Jewish nation was born and grew.”

Can Anyone Stop Bibi?
Probably not, but perhaps.

Substantial international opposition to annexation is building. Expressing clear opposition to annexation or deep concerns are the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League, Jordan, Russia, China, the Vatican, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Canada. With the United States set to recognize the annexation, it remains to be seen whether international opposition will have any impact.

But a new and surprising force questioning annexation has arisen—the settlements. Influential forces have recently expressed doubts about the annexation plan, that annexation will be the death knell to settlements. As Bezalel Smotrich, an outspoken settlement lawmaker, recently stated, “It’s either or…either the settlements have a future, or the Palestinian State does—but not both.”

But there is growing evidence that annexation will be pushed through expeditiously. On June 1, Benny Gantz, former Netanyahu opponent and current Israel Defense Minister, told the head of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) “to accelerate...preparations ahead of political steps on the agenda in the Palestine arena.” Most observers understood his instruction to mean that IDF should prepare for possible extensive violence by Palestinians as well as other possible difficulties in the region. Then on June 7, Speaker of the Israeli Knesset, Yariv Levin, said that Israel will move forward with annexation “within weeks.”

Stay Informed on Palestine

MennoPIN keeps you informed about Palestine through our monthly update, special alerts, calls to action, important resources and tour possibilities, all from an Anabaptist perspective. But there are additional excellent organizations and web publications that can keep you informed, some on a daily basis. We invite you to explore these groups and visit the web publications as another way to keep current and active for the people of Palestine. Here are some MennoPIN recommends:

Organizations

Web Publications

Prayer

Hundreds of protesters gathered in cities across Palestine/Israel on Tuesday, the 2nd of June, to remember recent victims of police brutality in the US and Israel. On the 25th of May, George Floyd, and African American, was arrested, handcuffed and suffocated by a US policeman in Minneapolis. On the 30th of May, Iyad Hallaq, a Palestinian man with autism, was shot dead by an Israelis policeman. Outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, protestors lit candles in front of a photo of Floyd and Hallaq and chanted, “Black Lives Matter, Palestinian lives matter.’ Sabeel Wave of Prayer


Mennonite Palestine-Israel Network
mennopin@gmail.com | mennopin.org | facebook.com/mennopin | twitter.com/mennopin

Steering Committee:
Anita Rediger (Emmaus Road Mennonite Fellowship, Berne, IN)
Bob Atchison (Manhattan Mennonite Church, Manhattan, KS)
Joe Roos (Peace Mennonite Fellowship, Claremont, CA)
Jonathan Kuttab (Palestinian lawyer and human rights activist, Washington, DC)
Jonathan Brenemann (Syracuse, NY)
Lydia Brenneman (Lima Mennonite Church, Lima, OH)
Rod Stafford (Portland Mennonite Church, Portland, OR)

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