MENNONITE PALESTINE ISRAEL NETWORK
 
January 2021 Monthly Update
 
In This Issue
It’s Biden Turn Now – What’s Up for Palestine?
The Capitol Insurrection and Israel
B’Tselem Calls it Like it Is: Apartheid
Kumi Now – Rising Up for Palestine
Stay Informed on Palestine
Prayer

 It’s Biden’s Turn Now – What’s Up for Palestine


(Weather forecast for Washington, DC, from January 19)

Good riddance 45 and hello 46. There is a lot on the new president’s plate, but what will Joe Biden do for Palestine, and when? Here are two administration views into the crystal ball and a perspective from Palestine.
 
While campaigning in October, now-Vice-President Kamala Harris said that Biden and she would do this about Israel/Palestine: “Joe and I also believe in the worth and value of every Palestinian and every Israeli and we will work to ensure that Palestinians and Israelis enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity and democracy. We are committed to a two-state solution and will oppose any unilateral steps that undermine that goal. We will also oppose annexation and settlement expansion. And we will take immediate steps to restore economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, reopen the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem and work to reopen the PLO mission in Washington.”
 
However, Biden’s choice for Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, gave another less promising perspective in his recent Senate confirmation hearings. In fact, he spent a fair bit of time applauding Trump’s policies: “The Abraham Accords…push forward on normalization with Israel…It makes Israel safer.”
 
Regarding Jerusalem and the US Embassy move there, Senator Ted Cruz asked Blinken: “Do you agree that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and do you commit that the United States will keep our embassy there? Blinken responded, “Yes and Yes.”
 
And when Senator Lindsey Graham asked Blinken if he considered Israel a racist nation, Blinken replied: “I do not.” Graham patted him on the back: “Good start.”
 
It is likely that Biden will re-enter US funding for UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees) and reopen the Palestinian consulate in Washington, DC, but Blinken’s testimony is a far cry from Harris’ pledge.
 
What do Palestinians think of the prospects for positive change under the Biden administration?
 
Samia Khoury, co-founder of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in East Jerusalem, tells the following story: “The joy and relief at seeing an end to the Trump era reminded me of the story of the widow who was living in a very small and crowded house with her family. She sought the help of her parish priest and he advised her to get a goat. What a crazy suggestion she thought as I hardly have room for my children. But she took his advice hoping for a miracle, which the church keeps talking about. She got herself a goat, and God knows what she went through for two weeks until the priest checked in on her and advised her to remove the goat. Ah, she sighed in relief. The house seemed so spacious and she was happy and ever so grateful for the advice of the priest, although the house was the same.
 
Acknowledging her relief at Trump’s departure, Samia is realistic about what a Biden administration might do, given the disappointment of the Obama/Biden era: “Shielding Israel and turning a blind eye to all its violations in the occupied territories has always been the normal stand of the US.
 
Still, with a resilience characteristic of the people of Palestine, Samia dares to hope for change, that “Mr. Biden will launch a new dawn by realizing that justice for the Palestinians and ending the occupation will actually not only be the right thing to do but will also benefit Israel and grant it the security that it demands and which it constantly uses to justify all its violations.
 
It will be up to those of us in the US, who seek justice, peace, and freedom for the people of Palestine, to put the pressure on the Biden administration to make Samia’s dream, and the dream of all Palestinians, come true.
 
 The Capitol Insurrection and Israel


(Credit: Ali Abunimah Twitter Feed) 

The Capitol insurrection on January 6 was a frightening affair. Egged on by Donald Trump, hundreds of white supremacists took Trump at his word, barged through the Capitol, smashed their way throughout the walls and halls of Congress, assaulting police officers, killing one, in an effort to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden as the next president of the United States and possibly taking congressional women and men as hostages. “
 
Among the flags and signs being waved at the Capitol was an Israeli flag, as the photo above (lower center) shows. But there were others expressing clearly anti-Semitic attitudes. One participant wore a t-shirt with the slogan “6MWE” for “Six Million Wasn’t Enough.” Another wore a hoody saying, “Auschwitz Camp, Work Brings Freedom.”
 
The insurrection did not go unnoticed by Palestinians and those who support justice in Palestine. Here are a few comments:
 
Ali Abunimah, Editor of the Electronic Intifada: “This is a story for me because of the Israel parallel. There were, of course, Israeli flags brandished at the Capitol Hill riot. And it’s no coincidence: Israel’s proudly stated principle of Jewish supremacy, higher Jewish rights to land and office, has long been a model for white supremacists [in the Unites States].”
 
Jewish Voices for Peace commented that: “Many white supremacist groups both hate Jews and love Israel. Depending on their specific ideology, they may admire Israel as a model ethnic supremacist state, share its Islamophobic and anti-Arab views, and/or want Jews to be corralled in their own state far away from the US.”
 
Hanan Ashrawi, a prominent figure in Palestine political circles, said: “While people in Palestine and in many other places in the world are struggling to achieve democracy, there are those in the US who are actively sabotaging theirs. Despots everywhere thrive on repression, oppression, and violence.”
 
A friend of MennoPIN in Gaza, whose organization we support through the MennoPIN Twinning Initiative, showed empathy in return when she wrote to us: “We feel sorry for what was happening in the USA a few days ago, though we are sure that every cloud has a silver lining, and the American people will come over this hard situation for sure. Our hearts, prays, and souls are with you and your people. Keep safe and in peace.”
 
 B’Tselem Calls it Like it Is: Apartheid

 

B’Tselem, the largest Israeli human rights organization, has designated Israel as an apartheid regime for its human rights violations in Palestine. It is the first time they have given that label in their 30-year history. In what many have called a ”watershed moment,” B’Tselem stated: “In the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, the Israeli regime implements laws, practices and state violence designed to cement the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians.”
 
Israel responded to the B’Tselem report by trying to prevent them from lecturing at schools, but B’Tselem said it would not be deterred and will continue giving virtual lectures on the subject to a school in the northern city of Haifa, stating that “B’Tselem is determined to keep with its mission of documenting reality, analyzing it, and making our findings publicly known to the Israeli public, and worldwide.
 
You can view the full B’Tselem apartheid report here and their illustrated website here.
 
Kumi Now – Rising Up for Palestine
 

The Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, located in East Jerusalem, has started Kumi Now to connect activists around the world with organizations working on the ground in Palestine and Israel to bring justice and lasting peace based on international law and nonviolence. Here is how Sabeel describes Kumi Now: “In response to our current situation and adhering to our principles of justice, inclusion, and nonviolence, Sabeel has been moved to act. After months of collaboration with local Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals, Sabeel is excited to introduce the Kumi (Rise Up) project. We wish to invite local and international individuals and organizations to join the Kumi project to work as a united force.”
 
To keep current on what is happening in Palestine and join others from around the world in support of Palestine, we encourage you to be part of Kumi Now by registering for weekly sessions here and visiting their YouTube channel here.

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
Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)
Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center (Sabeel)
Mennonite Central Committee Palestine and Israel
Christian Peacemaker Teams
U.S. Campaign for Palestine Rights (USCPR)
Kairos PalestineKairos USA
Americans for Middle East Understanding (AMEU)
Christian Zionism
Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace
Palestine Portal 

Web Publications
Mondeweiss
The Electronic Intifada
+972 Magazine
B’Tselem
Palestine InSight

Prayer

This week’s Kumi Now online meeting at 6pm (Jerusalem Time) on Tuesday, the 19th of January, will focus on the work of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolition, (ICAHD). Jeff Halper, the founder of ICAHD, will discuss the refusal of the Israeli authorities to grant building permits to Palestinians. Even if Palestinians wish to build on their own land, very few permits are granted. When Palestinians go ahead and build without the permits, their homes are demolished by the Israeli authorities. Many Palestinians are even forced to bulldoze their own homes to avoid paying demolition costs… Lord Jesus, we come before you with hearts full of grief as we think of the Palestinian families forced to watch the destruction of their own homes. Lord, you experienced a harsh life under occupation during your ministry on earth, with nowhere for you to lay your head, (Matt.8:20). We pray for an end to this deplorable practice of home demolition in the occupied Palestinian Territories. Lord, in your mercy… hear our prayers. 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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