October 2021 Monthly Update

In This Issue

The Israeli on Palestinian Human Rights Organizations: Responses

  • Jonathan Kuttab
  • Palestinian Christians
  • B’Tselem
  • Front Page Ad in Haaretz
  • Free Mohammed Halibi

The New Sabeel Cornerstone Issue
Stay Informed on Palestine
Prayer


The Israeli Attack on Palestinian Human Rights Organizations: Responses

Oct - attack

Benny Gantz, former election opponent of Benjamin Netanyahu and current Israeli Minister of Defense, has named six Palestinian Human Rights organization as terrorist organization, making those organizations and those who support them subject to criminal prosecution including arrest, seizure of bank accounts, shutting the doors of those organizations and more. It is the next step in the Israel government’s suppression of the Palestinian people and an outrageous violation of international laws. Below are some of the initial responses to this indefensible threat to human rights in Palestine.

Jonathan Kuttab – Jonathan is co-founder of Al Haq, one of the six organizations named as terrorist, MennoPIN Steering Committee member and Executive Director of Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA). Jonathan’s full response is posted on the FOSNA website. Here are some excerpts, including ways you can respond:

I was…shocked, though not surprised, when Israel today declared Al-Haq, together with Addamir, Defence of Children International-Palestine, and three other human rights organizations to be “terrorist organizations.” This is a far cry from the polemical, false accusations thrown at us occasionally by Israeli propagandists like the NGO Monitor. It carries practical consequences, such as the seizure of assets, arrest of personnel, and the criminalization of anyone who donates to or cooperates with us in any way.

The fact that Israel is choosing now to attack all six human rights organizations is deeply troubling. It may mean that we are finally becoming effective and successful, that Israel realizes it has lost the public-relations war, and that the world now knows and acknowledges the reality that it is an apartheid state and a systematic violator of human rights and international law. The Defense Minister may be afraid that the day is approaching when he and other politicians and army generals may face prosecution before the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and he decided to silence these organizations and cripple their activities.

Another explanation, I am afraid, is that Israel no longer cares about its reputation and no longer fears international public opinion, or any sanctions by the international community. The fact that it has been successful so far in avoiding accountability, and that just a few months ago it ransacked the offices of Defense for Children International in Ramallah with little or no push back emboldened it to do whatever it wants without fear of repercussions. Its assault on civil society can go on unchallenged!!

For this reason alone, it is imperative that we must act now. Our churches, first and foremost, but also our elected representatives must hear from us immediately. Israel must know that its actions are monitored, noted, and will lead to consequences. At the very least, it can no longer claim to be a democracy and be part of the Western world. It can join the likes of Saudi Arabia and North Korea if it chooses, but as long as it pretends to be a democracy and lays claim to billions in economic and military aid from the United States and preferred trade treatment from the US and Europe, it must be made to abide by international standards, and at the very least, stop its attacks on human rights organizations. 

So please join with FOSNA and others in this action.

Learn More. Take Action:

Call now and urge your church, as well as your representatives in Washington, to take action and stop this assault on human rights activists and organizations.”

Palestinian Christian Organizations

Jerusalem, Palestine – Palestinian Christian organizations condemn and denounce in the strongest possible terms the decision of the Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz issued on 22/10/2021 against six Palestinian human rights organizations…The decision designates the six organizations as ‘terrorist organizations’ as a prelude to closing them and banning their activities. The use by Israeli occupation of its domestic political legislations in “fighting terrorism” to incriminate these organizations, came after years of systematic campaigns against Palestinian civil society organizations with the aim of silencing them and their supporters in international organizations and coalitions that stand for peace and justice.

This designation targets all Palestinian civil society organizations, particularly those working to defend Palestinian human rights, document violations against Palestinians, offer legal aid, and carry out international advocacy work on their behalf, urging the international community to safeguard the human rights of Palestinians, particularly their right to self-determination, and ending the Israeli settler-colonialism and its Apartheid regime.

We, the undersigned Palestinian Christian organizations, while reiterating the illegitimacy of this arbitrary decision and its grave implications to civil society organizations and human rights defenders, call upon countries, the international community, partners and donors in general and international Christian institutions in particular, to reject and condemn this decision, prevent the Israeli occupation state from moving forward with these arbitrary and illegitimate practices in violation of international laws, to pressure Israel to revoke the decision; and to continue to support the right of Palestinians to justice, freedom, and dignity. Diyar Consortium, Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, East Jerusalem YMCA, YWCA of Palestine, The Joint Advocacy Initiative (JAI), Arab Orthodox Union Club Jerusalem, Arab Educational Institute, The Palestinian Christian Initiative / Kairos Palestine, Bethlehem Bible College, and Wi’am: The Palestinian Conflict Transformation

B’Tselem (a leading Israeli Human Rights Organization)

Last Friday, Israel’s new government crossed a line that no Israeli government has dared to cross, designating six Palestinian civil society organizations “terrorist organizations.” The shameful declaration says nothing about these organizations—but speaks volumes about the violence, brutality and arrogance the Israeli regime has been routinely employing against Palestinians for decades.

B’Tselem stands in solidarity with our Palestinian colleagues. We are proud of our joint work over the years and of our shared struggle against the apartheid regime and the occupation…Whatever the outcome of the recent declaration, one thing is clear: the Palestinian struggle for human rights, liberty and equality will continue and B’Tselem will continue to stand in solidarity with our Palestinian colleagues—until apartheid is abolished.

Front Page Ad in Haaretz (by 20 Israeli civil society organizations in the Israeli daily newspaper)

The Minister of Defense’s designation of prominent Palestinian civil society organization, among them our colleagues in the Palestinian human rights community, as terrorist organizations, is a draconian measure that criminalizes critical human rights work. Documentation, advocacy, and legal aid are fundamental activities for the protection of human rights worldwide. Criminalizing such work is an act of cowardice, characteristic of repressive totalitarian regimes. Civil society and human rights defenders must be protected. We stand in solidarity with our Palestinian colleagues and call on members of the Israeli government and international community to oppose this decision unequivocally.

Free Mohammed Halabi!

Oct - Halibi
The Friends of Sabeel North America is inviting justice and peace-minded people to sign a petition to free Mohammed Halibi, imprisoned human rights working in Gaza and serving as World Vision’s Gaza Director. The petition reads in part:

We are asking for your help in seeking #Justice4Halabi. Upon returning home after a meeting in Jerusalem in 2016, World Vision Gaza Director Muhammad El-Halabi was arrested on the false charges of diverting millions of dollars of Australian aid money to Hamas, importing heavy metal rods for Hamas’ underground tunnels, and aiding in their military expansion. At his trial, no physical evidence was presented to support any of these charges. Likewise, World Vision conducted its own investigation into these charges. After multiple audits and investigations by both World Vision and the Australian government, they found no evidence that any money had gone missing. Israel, which had confiscated all of World Vision’s records and computers in Gaza and had access to all border crossing records, could not provide any evidence of Halabi, or even World Vision, having ever used the only crossing between Gaza and Israel that imports such materials. Despite there being no credible evidence by prosecutors, Halabi has been imprisoned for more than five years and also been denied bail.

You can read the full petition and sign here

New Sabeel Cornerstone Issue

cornerstone
Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center (Sabeel) has issued its latest publication, Cornerstone. You can read the issue, “Being Faithful Witnesses: Serving God in a Changing World” here.

Sabeel also offers two excellent opportunities to engage with Palestinian Christians on a weekly basis. Kumi Now connects activists around the world with organizations working on the ground in Palestine and Israel to bring a just and lasting peace based on international law and nonviolence. Every Tuesday morning (at 11:00 am Eastern time) a live online Zoom will let you engage Palestinian leaders and get up-to-the-minute reports on developments in Palestine. You can register here to receive information on how to join in.

Also, on every Thursday morning, Sabeel offers a weekly worship live online Zoom. The worship is led by Sabeel co-founder, Naim Ateek. His reflections on current lectionary passages illuminate scripture from the eyes of Palestinians. Participants also engage the scriptures with each other. You can be invited to the weekly times together by emailing your interest to prayer@sabeel.org.

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
“A Prayer,”
Mahmoud Darwish, Palestinian Poet

The goddess I pray to
isn’t from the world beyond.
Those who receive the loaf as a miracle
know who she is.
She sweats and bleeds with them,
she breaks her bread with them each day.

Blessed are you, justice,
among women and men,
so let your name be hallowed,
let your kingdom come.

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