October 2022 MennoPIN Monthly Update

MennoPIN Monthly Update: October 2022View this email in your browserMENNONITE PALESTINE ISRAEL NETWORK
October 2022 Monthly Update

In This Issue
Did the WCC Silence Palestinian Voices?
A New Free Film called “Boycott”
Ben & Jerry’s and Book.com call out Israel
Google’s Complicity in Israeli Apartheid
Stay Informed on Palestine

Did the WCC Silence Palestinian Voices?Sep - wcc
The World Council of Churches (WCC), representing over 350 global denominations and church bodies from 120 countries, met in August 2022 for its 11th General Assembly since its founding shortly after World War II. Under the theme, “Christ’s Love Moves the World to Reconciliation and Unity,” it was not until the final day of the nine-day assembly that the issue of Palestine and Israel came up, but unity was nowhere to be seen. During the deliberations there was both the good and the bad.

The Good. The Anglican Church of South Africa brought forth a resolution naming Israeli apartheid and encouraging the assembly to stand with Palestinians as well as Israelis. The resolution was supported by 17 church bodies. But the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD) strongly opposed the use of the word “apartheid” in the resolution.

After vigorous debate, the resolution was edited to say, in part: “[N]umerous international, Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations and legal bodies have published studies and reports describing the policies and actions of Israel as amounting to “apartheid” under international law. Within this Assembly…We are not of one mind.” Even lacking unity on the use of the term “apartheid,” the WCC agreed to study the issue of Israeli apartheid, which could at some point have a positive impact.

The Bad. One of the primary objections to the edited resolution was the priority of unity over justice. Rev. Chris Ferguson, former General Secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, put it this way: “The German church leaders did not succeed in closing the door on the WCC’s study of apartheid, even though they effectively reframed the suffering of Palestinians as a question of church unity rather than justice.”

Emphasizing the priority of justice, Rev. Tyrone Pitts, General Secretary Emeritus of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, stated bluntly: “I was raised under Jim Crow laws in the U.S. During my time in Palestine, I saw Palestinians suffering under apartheid.”

An equally troubling question arose from the Kairos Palestine Solidarity Network in Germany: Were Palestinian voices silenced at the WCC assembly? There were only three opportunities for Palestinians to speak. One young Palestinian woman was disallowed because her remarks were deemed unacceptable because it included the word “apartheid.” She was offered a reworded statement that did not include “apartheid” and she, out of conscience, would not read it. She was then told she could not speak at all. One workshop on Palestine, led by biblical scholar and pastor Munther Isaac was held at a hotel outside the assembly area, attended by very few people. Isaac said that Palestinians were “disheartened” by the relatively week resolution wording: “What is happening is apartheid. The facts are on the ground.”
A New Free Film Called “Boycott”Voices from the Holy Land has just released a new film entitled: “Boycott.” They are promoting it as “A bracing look at the far-reaching implications of anti-boycott legislation designed to penalize companies and individuals that choose to boycott Israel due to its human rights record…Boycott is an inspiring tale of everyday Americans standing up to protect our rights in an age of shifting politics and threats of freedom of speech.”

To register to see the October 9 viewing of Boycott, register here.
Ben & Jerry’s and Book.com Call Out IsraelSep - ben and jerrys
PALESTINIAN ARTISTS PAINT A MURAL IN GAZA CITY TO HONOR BEN & JERRY’S DECISION TO BOYCOTT ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS. JULY 29, 2021.
(PHOTO BY YOUSSEF ABU WATFA)Airbnb backed down after promising to not have listings in Israeli settlements, but Ben & Jerry’s and Book.com are not letting up. Ben & Jerry’s is suing its parent company Unilever to block the sale of its Israeli business, stating that “we continue to believe it is inconsistent with Ben & Jerry’s values for our ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” The suit states that “the company’s core values of advancing human rights and dignity, supporting social and economic justice for historically marginalized communities…are integral to Ben & Jerry’s identity.

Bookings.com recently decided to display a safety warning on its listings in the illegally-occupied West Bank. It said it notify customers traveling to Israeli settlements that the areas are “conflict-affected or high-risk…and may pose greater risks.” Hopefully, Bookings.com will stick by its commitment.
Google’s Complicity in Israeli ApartheidSep - GoogleAriel Koren, a Jewish Google worker, was recently reassigned to Brazil after she registered a protest with the company for Google’s Nimbus Project, a joint effort with Amazon and the Israeli government and military. She charged that “Google systematically silences Palestinian, Jewish, Arab and Muslim voices concerned about Google’s complicity in violations of Palestinian human rights.” 700 coworkers signed a petition siding with her in Google’s act of retaliation against her.

On Democracy Now! Koren stated that she and other Google co-workers started to organize a group they called Jewish Diaspora in Tech. Google’s retaliation against her and others there, Koren said that Google is putting forward “false narratives of antisemitism that are designed to squelch folks who speak out for Palestinian rights. And this is a tool that Google is using to protect its business interests with Israel, and in this case, to silence opposition to Project Nimbus.” Koren chose to leave Google.
Stay Informed on PalestineMennoPIN 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:

OrganizationsFriends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center (Sabeel)Mennonite Central Committee Palestine and IsraelChristian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)U.S. Campaign for Palestine Rights (USCPR)Kairos PalestineKairos USAAmericans for Middle East Understanding (AMEU)Christian ZionismPalestinian Christian Alliance for PeacePalestine PortalWeb PublicationsMondeweissThe Electronic Intifada+972 MagazineB’TselemPalestine InSightPrayerPrayer
Religious leaders came together in the heart of Jerusalem to pray for peace in the Ukraine. Christian, Druze, Jewish and Muslim leaders met in Moscow Square and stood by the Russian Orthodox Church. They prayed beside a letter posted on the wall. It was written to the Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and asked him to bring his influence to bear on President Putin to take immediate steps to de-escalate the conflict.  Lord, we join with the faith leaders in Jerusalem and around the world in their prayers for an end to the hostilities taking place in Ukraine. We pray for the millions of refugees and for all those who are trying to support them. Lord, in your mercy…Sabeel Wave of Prayer— 
Mennonite Palestine-Israel Network
mennopin@gmail.com | mennopin.org | facebook.com/mennopin | twitter.com/mennopinSteering Committee:
Bob Atchison (Manhattan Mennonite Church, Manhattan, KS)
Dorothy Jean Weaver (Community Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg, VA)
Hannah Markey (Mennonite Central Committee Washington Office, Washington, DC)
Joe Roos (Peace Mennonite Fellowship, Claremont, CA)
Jonathan Kuttab (Palestinian lawyer and human rights activist, Manheim, PA)
Lydia Brenneman (Lima Mennonite Church, Lima, OH)
Rod Stafford (Portland Mennonite Church, Portland, OR)

March 2022 MennoPIN Monthly Update

MennoPIN Monthly Update: March 2022View this email in your browserMENNONITE PALESTINE ISRAEL NETWORK
March 2022 Monthly Update

In This IssueIn This Issue
Jonathan Kuttab on Palestinian and Israeli Violence
Amnesty International Joins Apartheid Call
Targeting Elbit, Puma and Pillsbury
MennoPIN Online Christian Zionism Survey
Jonathan Kuttab and the Two-State Solution – April 5 Webinar
Become a Gaza Twinning Congregation
Stay Informed on Palestine
PrayerJonathan Kuttab on Palestinian and Israeli ViolenceMar - gunAs Easter, the Passover and Ramadan converge in the weeks ahead, violence in Palestine/Israel is a very real possibility according to Jonathan Kuttab, MennoPIN Steering Committee member and Executive Director of FOSNA (Friends of Sabeel North America). After the recent killing of eleven Israelis by Palestinians, while not condoning the violence, Jonathan writes: “The biggest problem, however, with those who decry Palestinian violence is not just their selectivity and the higher value they place on Jewish and Israeli lives, or even their failure to examine the socio-political context that led to violence in the first place. It is that their critique of violence is limited only to death and injury by individual actors who shoot, stab, or bomb their enemies.

He continues: “For Palestinians the violence perpetrated against them is not limited to Israeli guns and shootings, albeit significant. It is often more subtle and pervasive and covers all areas of their lives. The symbol of Israeli violence for Palestinians is often not the gun, but the bulldozer.

Read his entire article hereAmnesty International Joins Apartheid CallMar - Apartheid photoOn February 1, Amnesty International released a report titled Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity. Included in the report is documentation of the Israeli government’s human rights abuses and violations of international law. Additionally, the report highlights the U.S. government’s responsibility in perpetuating apartheid, as the U.S. continues to sell arms to Israel and ignore ongoing human rights violations.

Since the report was issued, it has received a wide range of responses ranging from praise to condemnation. Criticisms of the report largely include accusations of antisemitism and claims that Israel is wrongfully demonized. In a February 1 tweet, Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) stated that the label of apartheid further incites hatred and increases antisemitism. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) called the apartheid charge an “outrageous accusation”, suggesting Israel is unfairly and disproportionately targeted by the international community. These perspectives were similarly articulated by nine Democratic House members in a joint statement.

Pushback has also come from the Israel lobby in the U.S., although differing responses taken by lobby groups expose internal divisions. For example, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said the report was a “misguided and backward-looking effort to vilify Israel” and heighten antisemitism. J Street similarly rejected the label of apartheid; however, the organization cautioned against misplaced accusations of antisemitism, stating such charges “do a further disservice to the critical fight against the very real scourge of antisemitism.”

While the Amnesty report elicited condemnation from some members of Congress and lobby groups, it simultaneously fueled global efforts to speak out against Israel’s occupation of Palestine. In an opinion piece written by David Hearst for Mondoweiss, he applauds the report, stating that it demonstrates apartheid is not “an accident of history” but rather a systematic establishment of a Jewish majority state. Hearst argues that the Israeli government is losing support globally, in part due to reports like Amnesty’s and the advocacy efforts of grassroots movements. On January 29, Episcopalians in Washington, D.C. adopted a resolution to “oppose Israel’s apartheid,” offering another example of the global push to reject Israel’s apartheid regime.Targeting Elbit, Puma and PillsburyMar - Pillsbury
As private manufacturers continue operating in illegal Israeli settlements and further oppressing Palestinian people, global campaigns have arisen to boycott these companies and document their violations of international law. For example, General Mills produces Pillsbury products in the illegal settlement of Atarot, and therefore Pillsbury profits from the oppression and dispossession of Palestinians. In response to Pillsbury’s actions, congregations and faith-based coalitions have joined in the Boycott Pillsbury campaign. In November, Ainsworth United Church of Christ of Portland, Oregon pledged to be a Pillsbury-Free-Church in support of Palestinian human rights.

In addition to Pillsbury, Puma is complicit in normalizing Israel’s illegal settlements. Puma is the primary sponsor of the Israeli Football Association (IFA), which includes teams located in illegal settlements. Additionally, Puma has and continues to license with manufacturers located in settlements. Delta Galil, Puma’s former licensee, is listed in the UN database of illegal settlement companies.

Finally, activists continue to boycott Elbit, a defense and security company. Elbit is the Israeli government’s largest security contractor, producing the surveillance systems, drones, and ammunition used to oppress Palestinians. In the UK, activists have repeatedly occupied the Elbit subsidiaries to shut down production. Despite these efforts, Elbit’s stocks have risen by 40 percent since Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, as European nations have started updating and expanding their military operations.MennoPIN Online Christian Zionism SurveyOne aspect of our work is confronting Christian Zionism and offering resources for congregations to become more familiar with this issue. We aim to learn more about your congregation and how we can increase awareness around Christian Zionism. Please consider taking a few minutes to complete this survey.Jonathan Kuttab and the Two-State Solution – April 5 WebinarMar - WDC
On April 5, the Western District Conference of the Mennonite Church USA is interviewing Jonathan Kuttab about his book on the Two-State Solution to finding a solution to the seemingly intractable violence between Israel and Palestine. To register, send an email to wdc@mennowdc.org.Become a MennoPIN Gaza Twining CongregationYVS MennoPIN photo 1
In response to the MC USA “Seeking Peace in Israel Palestine” resolution, MennoPIN launched its Mennonite Twinning Initiative with Gaza, inviting congregations to participate. Since then, several congregations have joined with groups in Gaza to share relationships, tell stories, understand better each other’s context and to share together in mission.

Manhattan (KS) Mennonite Church has teamed with the Youth Vision Society (YVS) and, in addition to biweekly Zoom calls of mutual support with YVS staff, the photo above shows one way in which they teamed with YVS to provide food and medical supplies to needy families in Gaza.

Fellowship of Hope (IN) has teamed with the Gaza City YMCA with biweekly Zoom calls and was able to help support the YMCA after Israeli bombs in May 2021 did significant damage to their building

You, too, can become a MennoPIN twinning congregation and develop similar relationships of mutual benefit. Our experience so far shows that those in Gaza feel deeply supported by the congregation and the congregation is impacted by their partner in a deep and powerful way.

You can explore becoming a MennoPIN Gaz Twinning Congregation by visiting our website here https://mennopin.org/mennonite-twinning-initiative-with-gaza/ or send an email to mennopin@gmail.com with Twinning Initiative in the subject line.Stay Informed on PalestineMennoPIN 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:

OrganizationsFriends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center (Sabeel)Mennonite Central Committee Palestine and IsraelChristian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)U.S. Campaign for Palestine Rights (USCPR)Kairos PalestineKairos USAAmericans for Middle East Understanding (AMEU)Christian ZionismPalestinian Christian Alliance for PeacePalestine PortalWeb PublicationsMondeweissThe Electronic Intifada+972 MagazineB’TselemPalestine InSightPrayerPrayer
On Monday, the 21st of March, religious leaders came together in the heart of Jerusalem to pray for peace in the Ukraine. Christian, Druze, Jewish and Muslim leaders met in Moscow Square and stood by the Russian Orthodox Church. They prayed beside a letter posted on the wall. It was written to the Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and asked him to bring his influence to bear on President Putin to take immediate steps to de-escalate the conflict.  Lord, we join with the faith leaders in Jerusalem and around the world in their prayers for an end to the hostilities taking place in Ukraine. We pray for the millions of refugees and for all those who are trying to support them. Lord, in your mercy…Sabeel Wave of Prayer— 
Mennonite Palestine-Israel Network
mennopin@gmail.com | mennopin.org | facebook.com/mennopin | twitter.com/mennopinSteering Committee:
Bob Atchison (Manhattan Mennonite Church, Manhattan, KS)
Dorothy Jean Weaver (Community Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg, VA)
Hannah Markey (Mennonite Central Committee Washington Office, Washington, DC)
Joe Roos (Peace Mennonite Fellowship, Claremont, CA)
Jonathan Kuttab (Palestinian lawyer and human rights activist, Manheim, PA)
Lydia Brenneman (Lima Mennonite Church, Lima, OH)
Rod Stafford (Portland Mennonite Church, Portland, OR)

January 2022 MennoPIN Monthly Update

MennoPIN Monthly Update: January 2022View this email in your browserMENNONITE PALESTINE ISRAEL NETWORK
January 2022 Monthly Update

In This IssueMennoPIN Online Engagement Survey
Sabeel/FOSNA Memorial Service for Desmond Tutu
MennoPIN Gaza Twinning Initiative
Jonathan Kuttab: “Anti-Semitism is a Sin. Period.”
Six New Booklets from Sabeel
Haaretz Publisher – Israel is an Apartheid State
Stay Informed on Palestine
Prayer
MennoPIN Online Engagement SurveyAs we reflect on the past year and look ahead to 2022, MennoPIN is eager to hear from you! What content do you want to receive from us in this new year? Would you like to see us active on social media? Please take a moment to complete this brief survey (less than one minute) and let us know how we can better engage with you. We greatly appreciate your feedback and thank you so much! 

Sabeel/FOSNA Memorial Service for Desmond TutututuSabeel (Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in East Jerusalem) and FOSNA (Friends of Sabeel North America) have teamed up to hold a memorial service in honor of Desmond Tutu and his strong and powerful support of Palestinian freedom and justice. Tutu said many times that Israel’s apartheid state was worse than that in South Africa. Tutu was a patron of both Sabeel and FOSNA.

Join Sabeel and FOSNA in this special service on Saturday, January 29, 2022, at 8 pm Jerusalem time/1 pm Eastern/noon Central/11 am Mountain/10 am Pacific. You can register here.

Become a MennoPIN Gaza Twining CongregationYVS MennoPIN photo 1In response to the MC USA “Seeking Peace in Israel Palestine” resolution, MennoPIN launched its Mennonite Twinning Initiative with Gaza, inviting congregations to participate. Since then, several congregations have joined with groups in Gaza to share relationships, tell stories, understand better each other’s context and to share together in mission.

Manhattan (KS) Mennonite Church has teamed with the Youth Vision Society (YVS) and, in addition to biweekly Zoom calls of mutual support with YVS staff, the photo above shows one way in which they teamed with YVS to provide food and medical supplies to needy families in Gaza.

Fellowship of Hope (IN) has teamed with the Gaza City YMCA with biweekly Zoom calls and was able to help support the YMCA after Israeli bombs in May 2021 did significant damage to their building

You, too, can become a MennoPIN twinning congregation and develop similar relationships of mutual benefit. Our experience so far shows that those in Gaza feel deeply supported by the congregation and the congregation is impacted by their partner in a deep and powerful way.

You can explore becoming a MennoPIN Gaz Twinning Congregation by visiting our website here or send an email to mennopin@gmail.com with Twinning Initiative in the subject line.

Jonathan Kuttab: “Anti-Semitism is a Sin. Period.Jan - anti-SemitismJonathan Kuttab is a member of the MennoPIN Steering Committee, Executive Director of FOSNA and a long-time human rights attorney in Israel, Palestine and in the United States. For FOSNA he recently pinned an editorial entitled: “Anti-Semitism is a Sin. Period,” in which he distinguished false charges of anti-Semitism from the all-to-resent acts of true anti-Semitism. You can read his article here on the FOSNA website. 
Six New Booklets from SabeelSabeel has recently published six new booklets written by Naim Ateek on Palestinian Liberation Theology. You can find brief review of each booklet here and write to purchase them here.  
Haaretz Publisher: Israel is an “Apartheid State”
Jan - HaartezAmos Schocken (Credit: Haaretz)Haaretz is one of the most respected newspapers in Israel and Adam Schocken is the third generation of his family to be its publisher. Recently, Schocken became one of a growing number of Israeli voices to call Israel an apartheid state. In response to a right-wing member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, Schocken made this statement:

The product of Zionism, the State of Israel, is not a Jewish and democratic state, but has instead become an apartheid state, plain and simple.”

Stay Informed on PalestineMennoPIN 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:

OrganizationsFriends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center (Sabeel)Mennonite Central Committee Palestine and IsraelChristian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)U.S. Campaign for Palestine Rights (USCPR)Kairos PalestineKairos USAAmericans for Middle East Understanding (AMEU)Christian ZionismPalestinian Christian Alliance for PeacePalestine PortalWeb PublicationsMondeweissThe Electronic Intifada+972 MagazineB’TselemPalestine InSightPrayerPrayer
Dozens of Palestinian Bedouins have been wounded in a crackdown by Israeli forces on a protest against continuing Israeli forestation work on land residents say they privately own near the southern city of Beer al-Sabe (Beer Sheva). The Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) use tree planting as a method of preventing Palestinians from accessing their land and to obliterate Palestinian villages. O’ God, we pray for all those injured as they protested against the unjust forestation on Palestinian lands. We pray that those responsible for the planting, will cease their actions and allow those who own the land to live in peace with full and unrestricted access to their lands. 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/mennopinSteering Committee:
Bob Atchison (Manhattan Mennonite Church, Manhattan, KS)
Dorothy Jean Weaver (Community Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg, VA)
Hannah Markey (Mennonite Central Committee Washington Office, Washington, DC)
Joe Roos (Peace Mennonite Fellowship, Claremont, CA)
Jonathan Kuttab (Palestinian lawyer and human rights activist, Manheim, PA)
Lydia Brenneman (Lima Mennonite Church, Lima, OH)
Rod Stafford (Portland Mennonite Church, Portland, OR)

October 2021 MennoPIN Monthly Update

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.

March 2021 MennoPIN Monthly Update

March 2021 Monthly Update

In This Issue

Celebrate Easter with Sabeel and FOSNA
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights Lawsuit Dismissed
Biden Steps and Missteps Toward Palestine
Jonathan Cook on the Israeli Election
Kumi Now – Rising Up for Palestine
Stay Informed on Palestine
Prayer


Celebrate Easter with Sabeel and FOSNA

Mar - Easter in Jerusalem SM(3)

MennoPIN invites you to a special Easter Saturday resurrection celebration with the Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) and the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center (Sabeel). The celebration takes place on Saturday, April 3 at 9 am Pacific/noon Eastern Time/7 pm Palestine.

The first Easter celebration took place in Jerusalem. The Palestinian Christian community has kept the celebration going ever since. Every year on Holy Saturday Palestinians participate in a unique commemoration of the resurrection via a stream of candles from the Church of the Resurrection (Holy Sepulchre). Last year the pandemic didn’t allow this unique tradition. FOSNA and Sabeel Jerusalem created a virtual worship service to continue the spirit of the tradition in which Christians from around the world will join Palestinian Christians in their traditions and connect with their current struggles.

Like those living in the land in the time of Christ, Palestinians are under a brutal military occupation. Like the early Church, Palestinians find hope in Jesus’ message of liberation, his solidarity with the oppressed, and his resurrection. Our preachers this year will further the themes of interconnected liberation struggles. Palestinian Christian activists Nora Carmi and Jean Zaru will be joined by Bishop William J Barber II, of the New Poor People’s Campaign. Also, Sabeel co-founder, Naim Ateek, will lead everyone in a ceremony to bring together a community of care to work for collective liberation.

Register for this special Easter Saturday celebration here.  


A Conversation About Justice & Peace for Palestine/Israel
 Another upcoming event, sponsored by the Western District Conference (Mennonite Church USA) and the Palestine Task Force, will provide a safe space for informal dialog around current conditions in Gaza and the West Bank and MennoPIN’s Gaza Twinning Initiative. There is no cost to participate, and you can register with an email to wdc@mennowdc.org


US Campaign for Palestinian Rights Lawsuit Dismissed

Mar - jnp vs uscpr
(Credit: U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights)

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) recently brought a lawsuit against the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), accusing it of providing “material support for terrorism” through their use of language and with their support for the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). JNF is an Israel organization devoted to buying and developing Palestinian land for the purpose of building Jewish settlements in the West Bank. USCPR is a leading voice for Palestinian rights in the United States that has participated in the “Stop the JNF” campaign, an advocacy campaign seeking to challenge JNF for international law violations.

The kind of lawsuit filed by JNF is typical of a growing practice of suppressing activism in support of Palestinian rights. Palestine Legal is a U.S. organization seeking to protect the civil and constitutional rights of people in this country who speak out for Palestinian freedom. Palestine Legal has reported that between 2014 and 2020 there have been 1,707 incidents of suppression targeting supporters of Palestinian rights.

Federal Judge Richard Leon responded to a request to dismiss the lawsuit stated in his ruling: “While the plaintiffs make broad allegations that the US campaign provided financial assistance to Hamas, they fail to plead factual allegations sufficient to support these claims. The more specific factual allegations…are simply too removed from a terrorist act or organization to state a claim under the [Anti-Terrorism Act]…Plaintiffs’ argument to the contrary are, to say the least, not convincing.” 

Biden Steps and Missteps Toward Palestine

Mar Biden and Abbas
(Credit: AP/Bernat Armangue)
 The new Biden Administration is following through on some of its campaign promised toward Palestine, but also leaves much undone.

In a recently released US State Department memo, The US Palestinian Reset and the Path Forward, the administration is taking some positive steps forward. Immediately Palestine will receive $15 million dollars in COVID-19 assistant and there is the promise of reversing several of the Trump Administrations positions. The memo describes the US vision as one to “advance freedom, security, and prosperity for both Israelis and Palestinians in the immediate term, which is important in its own right, but also as a means to advance the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution.” The State Department memo includes the following:

  • A two-state solution framework based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps and agreements on security and refugees
  • Re-establishment of diplomatic contact with the Palestinian Authority both in the US and Palestine
  • Return to a full range of economic, security and humanitarian assistance programs through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency

The administration has also hinted that they are opened to taking a firmer stand against Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank. But nearly every president in the past few decades has expressed the same view, but never put teeth into their opposition and continued to fund Israel’s military to the tune of many billions of dollars per year. Will Biden be different?

And Biden has already stated that he will not return the US Embassy to Tel Aviv and that he fully accepts the normalization of Arab nations enhance relationships with Israel. Beyond that, Biden has also left no doubt that he opposes the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to Israeli war crimes against Palestinians. Perhaps worse of all, Biden has clearly embraced the definition of anti-Semitism espoused by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. As the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Kara McDonald: “The Biden Administration embraces and champions the working definition [of IHRA]. We applaud the growing number of countries and international bodies that apply it.”

We can affirm the positive steps taken by the Biden Administration, but there is much to push them on in the months and years ahead. 

Jonathan Cook on the Israeli Election
 Jonathan Cook is a freelance journalist based in Nazareth who writes extensively about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While the election is still unresolved (as has been the case in the past several elections), Cook is clear about who won: “The far-right is triumphant.” He goes on to say that extreme religious and settler parties hold a firm majority in Israel’s new parliament, holding at least 72 seats in the 120-member elective body. By comparison, the center-right parties, Blue and White and Yesh Atid, garnered a mere 25 seats; the center-left parties, Labor and Meretz took only 13 seats; and the remaining various parties could manage together just 10 seats.

Although the far right has a substantial majority, Cook believes they “could easily form a government – if it wasn’t mired in a now seemingly permanent crisis over the figure of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu. Despite perceptions abroad, in Israel, according to Cook, Netanyahu is actually one of the more moderate figures in the extreme religious and settler bloc, placing him closer to Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party as compared to even his own Likud Party.

Although Likud emerged as the largest party vote-getter, they still do not have a clear path to a 61-seat majority. While Netanyahu continues coalition negotiates to victory, President Reuven Rivlin will meet with all party leaders on Monday, April 5, before deciding which party leader to receive the mandate to form a government. 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 You can view the current week’s Kumi Now 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

Web Publications

Prayer

After twenty years of planning and construction a new wastewater treatment plant has been put into operation in Gaza, with help from German investment. The plant has been built in the town of Bureij and will process wastewater from eleven communities with one million inhabitants. It will be powered by a biogas plant and a solar plant on the same site…Lord, we are thankful that many families in Gaza will now have access to potable water. We continue to pray for those people who go for days without running water due to the low levels of freshwater in ground reserves. 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)

January 2021 MennoPIN Monthly Update

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)

December 2020 MennoPIN Monthly Update

December 2020 Monthly Update

In This IssueChristmas Greetings from MennoPIN
Inside the COVID Relief Bill – Half a Billion Dollars for Israel
A Hopeful Note on the Biden Administration
Turning Olives into Energy
A Poem from Noor Hindi
Stay Informed on Palestine
Prayer
Christmas Greetings from MennoPIN


(Credit: FOSNA/Maher Naji) 
We wish you a blessed Christmas, even as this devastating year draws to a close. Through the exhaustion and pain of 2020, we hope for the renewal of our spirits as we wait expectantly for the child Jesus to come once again into our needy world. We hope for replenishment and renewal in our labor of love in support of the people of Palestine amidst their ongoing suffering and pain. And we hope that a new administration will offer some positive steps forward for Palestinians as we hold their feet to the fire. Have a blessed New Year!
Inside the COVID Relief Bill – Half a Billion Dollars for Israel

If you thought the 5,593-page COVID relief bill was singularly designed to address the needs of people and small businesses suffering from the pandemic, you would be wrong. Three examples (there are more) that have nothing to do with COVID relief:

  • On pages 341 and 342, $500,000,000 to Israel for its Iron Dome defense system, short range ballistic missiles and more.
  • On pages 2630-2633, opposition to China’s interference in the education of Tibetan monks and the selection of future Dalai Lamas.
  • On pages 244, important classification of certain racehorses as three-year old property.

A Hopeful Note on the Biden’s Administration


Joe Biden introducing Antony Blinkin as his nominee for Secretary of State
(Credit: Mark Makela/Getty Images)

We all know that the Biden Administration will not do what Palestine deserves and needs – full freedom and justice. It is true that, during the campaign, Vice-President Elect, Kamala Harris, told The Arab American that “Joe [Biden] 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 hope that this is one campaign promise they live up to.

Biden’s cabinet picks bring a ray of hope to that direction. Secretary of State Elect, Antony Blinken, and National Security Adviser Elect, Jake Sullivan, have outlined a shift from the Trump Administration that will emphasize diplomacy and human rights which may revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and bring Israeli and Palestinian officials to the negotiating table with fewer concessions for the Israeli government. That’s not nearly enough, but at least a step in the right direction.
Turning Olives into Energy in Gaza


(Photo by Mohammed Talatene/picture alliance via Getty Images) 
Tamer Abu Mutlaq, seen above, is a trained engineer living in Khan Yunis is southern Gaza. Of course, there are very few paid jobs for engineers in Gaza, so Tamer was unemployed. Using his education, Tamer had an idea. Why not take olive waste and turn it into energy he wondered, and he figured out a way to do exactly that. Making environmentally friendly fuel pellets from olive skin, pits, and pulp, Gazans can now use the resulting pomace wood to warm their homes and cook their food.

The resilience and creativity of the people of Gaza and the West Bank under such oppressions conditions is remarkable and deeply inspiring!
A Poem from Noor Hindi


(Credit: Stephen Bivens Photography)
Noor Hindi is a Palestinian-American poet and reporter. Her poems and essays appear or are forthcoming in The RumpusjubilatGay magazine, American Poetry ReviewAndroit Journal, and elsewhere. Hindi is the equity and inclusion reporter for Devil Strip magazine. The following poem appeared in Poetry magazine, December 2020.
Fuck Your Lecture on Craft, My People are Dying

Colonizers write about flowers.
I tell you about children throwing rocks at Israeli tanks
seconds before becoming daisies.
I want to be like those poets who care about the moon.
Palestinians don’t see the moon from jail cells and prisons.
It’s so beautiful, the moon.
They’re so beautiful, the flowers.
I pick flowers for my dead father when I’m sad.
He watches Al Jazeera all day.
I wish Jessica would stop texting me Happy Ramadan.
I know I’m American because when I walk into a room something dies.
Metaphors about death are for poets who think ghosts care about sound.
When I die, I promise to haunt you forever.
One day, I’ll write about the flowers like we own them. 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

This Christmas we turn our eyes to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, and we see a suffering town. The pandemic has hit the economy of the town hard with over 7,000 people working in the tourism sector, now unemployed for over nine months. Some families are having to withdraw their children from schools, forced to make hard choices between education, food or medicine. Others can no longer afford to pay rent and are having to move back in with their parents and grandparents…Lord Jesus, you are the light of the world, (John 8:12). When we light our Advent candles remind us that we will not walk in darkness if we follow your light. When the darkness of poverty, oppression, illness and bereavement press in hard, lift our eyes to your light of hope. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers. Sabeel Wave of Prayer

November 2020 MennoPIN Monthly Update

MENNONITE PALESTINE ISRAEL NETWORK
 
November 2020 Monthly Update
 
In This IssueBiden/Harris: Will Palestine Be on Their Radar?
The United States of Arms?
Jonathan Kuttab on a Post Two-State Solution
Kairos Christmas Alert 2020
Sabeel and the COVID-19 Mental Health Crisis
FOSNA and Advent: Keep Awake!
Garth Hewitt – Troubadour for Justice
Help COVID-19 Suffering in Gaza
Stay Informed on Palestine
Prayer
 
 Biden/Harris: Will Palestine Be on Their Radar?


(Credit: Latuff 2020 – monsoweiss.net)
Their record is not promising. Both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have voted consistently pro-Israel in the Senate. Both consider themselves Zionists and have taken photo ops with the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Both consider conditioning military aid to Israel out of the question. Biden termed it, “absolutely outrageous.”
 
But while campaigning in Detroit in late October, Harris had some hopeful things to say to The Arab American News: “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.”
 
In another hopeful sign, the Israeli newspaper Haartez reported on November 24, 2020 that senior Palestinian Authority (PA) officials have opened talks with the Biden transition team for a phone conversation between President-Elect Joe Biden and PA President Mahmoud Abbas. A few days ago, Biden spoke with Jordan’s King Abdullah. After reaching a low during the Trump administration, the talks could begin what might become an important turn in US relations to Palestine.
 
Re-establishing relations with Palestine and returning humanitarian aid to Palestine and Gaza would certainly provide needed relief to the desperation felt by the people of Palestine. But even if they follow through on all the things Harris promised in The Arab American News interview, that would at best return to the pre-Trump status quo. Palestinian voices know that only too well:
 
Hanan Ashwari, Palestinian political leader, educator and activist: “We have no illusions. Biden is no savior…American policy has failed repeatedly…in protecting human rights…[He should] forge a new way ahead, not by going back to the way things were before…Palestine now is part of the American conversation, no longer taboo. We are part of a movement to respect human rights.”
 
Ali Abunimah, Editor of Electronic Intifada: “Biden has already endorsed some of Trump’s signature pro-Israeli policies. He has welcomed normalization deals the Trump administration brokered between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain…Yet there is a slight shift in tone…Kamala Harris pledged that the Biden administration would restore humanitarian aid for Palestinians cut by Trump…But at best it would mark a return to a status quo where Palestinians are kept on life support while Israel continues to aggressively steal land and violate their rights with impunity.”
 
Noura Erakat, human rights attorney and Palestinian activist: “Palestinians understand that the election of Joe Biden is not a panacea that will ensure Palestinian freedom…While the majority of Palestinian Americans, and Arab Americans more generally, supported the Biden-Harris ticket, they did so understanding that they did not have — and have never had — a presidential candidate who represented their freedom dreams for Palestine. This is not to say that there is no daylight between President Trump and Biden on Palestine. The Biden administration, for example, could reinstate U.S. aid for Palestinian refugees, and it will allow the reopening of the Palestine Liberation Organization Mission Office in Washington; it also wants to include Palestinians back in negotiations…Ultimately, the path forward does not look for saviors in U.S. politicians but seeks strategic interventions within a broader set of tools, including the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and building solidarity with other social justice struggles.”
 
Voice from a café in Bethlehem: “Trump was horrible for us, that’s for sure. But do we honestly think Biden is going to be better for us than any other president, like Obama? I don’t think so…I think Biden is going to return us back to the days of Obama, where the US maintained a façade of being an honest peace broker, but in reality was still supporting fully Israel and the Zionist agenda…If Trump did anything positive, he lifted the veil off the false pretense that the US cared about Palestinian rights. But with Biden, we’d just be going back to that false sense of security.”
 
But maybe, just maybe, Biden will remember a fiery speech he gave in 1986 in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he passionately expressed his opposition to another apartheid state, South African: “Dammit, we have favorites in South Africa. The favorites in South Africa are the people that are being repressed by that ugly white regime…Hell, they’ve tried to compromise for twenty years. They’ve tried everything. Everything in their power! And look what’s happened to them. They’re being crushed…Our loyalty is not to South Africa, it’s to South Africans. And the South Africans are the majority black. They are being excoriated.”
 The United States of Arms?
  
For decades, the United States has been by far the largest exporter of arms around the world. Most of those arms are sold to authoritarian regimes. It is increasingly apparent that a central feature to the Abraham Accords normalizing relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain was the promise by the United States to a massive sale of arms. The Trump administration recently announced the $10 billion munitions package to the UAE, including 50 F-35s, 18 MQ-9 Reapers, MK 82 dumb bombs, guided bombs, missiles and more. The weapons will be used in the UAE’s war in Yemen.
 Jonathan Kuttab on a Post Two-State Solution

 
In addition to serving on the MennoPIN Steering Committee, Jonathan Kuttab wears many hats. He is a human rights attorney who has practiced law in the United States, Palestine and Israel; serves on the board of Bethlehem Bible College and is a co-founder of Nonviolence International. Jonathan has recently returned from a month-long observation trip to Palestine.
 
After the announcement of the Trump Administration’s support for Israel annexation of significant portions of the West Bank, Jonathan wrote a book, Beyond the Two-State Solution, on a way forward for a one-state solution now that the two-state solution is no longer viable and charts a path that challenges both Zionism and Palestinian nationalism. You can learn more about this possible solution by:
 Watching an interview hereOrdering a copy of his book here Kairos Christmas Alert 2020

 
Kairos Palestine describes their Christmas Alert this way: “This year the Christmas Alert shed light on the importance of restoring a new hope for Palestine amidst the new happenings worldwide that are affecting Palestine. We need new light and hope to come from the hearts of all believers in the Christmas message to encourage churches around the world to act Let us all together spread the message of Palestinian Christians around the world!” To read the entire alert, click here.
 Sabeel and the COVID-19 Mental Health Crisis

 
The Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, Sabeel, has published the most recent issue of their newsletter, Cornerstone, about the COVID-19 crisis in Palestine and its devastating impact. Articles include “Love Transcends Pandemic,” “Depression in Palestine During COVID-19,” and “Moving Forward: A Path to Liberation.” To read the entire issue, click here.
 FOSNA and Advent: Keep Awake!

 
This year the first Sunday of Advent and International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People coincide on November 29, 2020. The Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) is encouraging congregations to preach on Palestine this first Sunday of Advent. They have provided multiple resources from liturgies, hymns, sermons, children’s stories, artwork and more on their website here. Consider preaching Palestine either November 29 or any Sunday of Advent. Keep Awake!
 Garth Hewitt – Troubadour for Justice

 
Garth Hewitt is an activist, song writer and Anglican priest who regularly champions the cause of Palestinian justice and freedom. The Indian Center for Middle East Peace is hosting Hewitt in a live concert and conversation on December 6, 2020 at 2:00 pm Eastern time. Join ICMEP and Hewitt commemorating the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights here.
 Help Alleviate COVID-19 Suffering in Gaza 
The health crisis Gaza has been facing is made worse by the expanding COVID-19 suffering people there are facing now. One way you can help alleviate suffering in Gaza is to support a project with the Youth Vision Society that MennoPIN has been supporting in our Gaza Twinning Initiative. Please consider supporting this tremendous need in Gaza 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:
 
OrganizationsFriends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center (Sabeel)Mennonite Central Committee Palestine and IsraelChristian Peacemaker TeamsU.S. Campaign for Palestine Rights (USCPR)Kairos PalestineKairos USAAmericans for Middle East Understanding (AMEU)Christian ZionismPalestinian Christian Alliance for PeacePalestine Portal 
Web PublicationsMondeweissThe Electronic Intifada+972 MagazineB’TselemPalestine InSight 
 PrayerConcerns have been expressed at an international level over the way the Israeli government is expediting plans to build 1,257 settler homes beyond the Green Line in Giv’at Ha Matos Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem. There are fears that approval plans for this contentious project, as well as a number of others, will be rushed through before a change in the US administration in the New Year…Lord, we cry out to you for mercy as we see more plans for a massive expansion of settler unit building in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian Territories. We pray that governments around the world will speak out strongly over further breaches of international law. Lord, in your mercy… hear our prayers. Sabeel Wave or Prayer https://sabeel.org/2020/11/23/sabeel-wave-of-prayer-147/Sabeel Wave of Prayer

August 2020 MennoPIN Monthly Update

August 2020 Monthly Update

In This Issue

Israel/UAE/US Accord – Throwing Palestine Under the Bus
Annexation Update – Listening to Palestinian Voices (and a Jewish Voice, too)
The Biden/Harris Ticket and Palestine
Betty McCollum Strikes Again
Cry for Hope: A Decisive Call for Action
Stay Informed on Palestine
Prayer

Israel/UAE/US Accord – Throwing Palestine Under the Bus

Donald Trump after signing the Accord with participants from Israel and the United Arab Emirates behind (Credit: NYT)

President Trump, of course, wanted to call it the Donald J. Trump Accord, but it became formally known as the Abraham Accord. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) became the third Arab country to sign a peace agreement with Israel (following Egypt and Jordan years earlier). It is possible that other Arab states, like Bahrain and Oman, will soon follow suit. Trump tweeted that it was a “HUGE breakthrough” and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman called it a “geopolitical earthquake.” But was it really?

Israel and the UAE have never been to war with each other. In fact, relationship building between the two has been going on for decades, beginning as far back as the 1970s when they started sharing intelligence information. Over time, cooperation included economic and diplomatic ties, security concerns (including cyber-security) and, most importantly, opposition to Iran’s growing regional influence in the wake the U.S. failed invasion of Iraq in 2003. As Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said professor of Arab studies at Columbia University put it: “This was making overt a relationship that was already covert…making even more salient an alliance against Iran.”

Richard Falk, former Special Rapporteur to the United Nations on Palestinian Human Rights, assessed possible motivations for the accord by the three players involved: (1) Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, “to justify a delay in fulfilling his election promise to annex large portions of the occupied West Bank territory belonging to Palestine…[and] pressure to convince Israelis that he could be an effective leader…while under indictment for corruption and without making concessions to the Palestinians”; (2) For the UAE, “once ‘peace’ with Israel is achieved, the UAE will be eligible to buy advanced weapon systems from the United States…[and] to strengthen the anti-Iran coalition”; and (3) “as Trump has already claimed, this will be presented to the American people as a demonstration of the effectiveness of Trump’s deal-making diplomacy, as well as securing a victory for Israel in its efforts to achieving normalization with Arab countries without allowing the formation of an independent sovereign Palestine.”

In the process, the accord effectively throws Palestine under the bus. The announcement of the deal stated ambiguously that “Israel will suspend [emphasis added] declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the President’s Vision for Peace and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim World.” The critical word is “suspend,” and as Falk put it, “in order to reach a common understanding the parties agreed not to specify what was meant by the word ‘suspend’…There seems little doubt that the two parties want to …put forward divergent interpretations…The UAE to hide its abandonment of the Palestinians in their struggle for basic human rights…and Israel wants to convince especially its settler movement that the suspension is temporary, and when an opportune moment arises, annexation will go forward.”

Rashida Tlaib, the first female Palestinian U.S. congresswoman, blasted the accord on Twitter: “We won’t be fooled by another Trump/Netanyahu deal. We won’t celebrate Netanyahu for not stealing land he already controls in exchange for a sweetheart deal. The heart of the issue has never been planned, formal annexation, but ongoing, devastating apartheid.”

In Palestine, Samia Khoury, co-founder of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, spoke from her heart: “We hardly got over the shock of the explosion in Beirut on August 4, and the loss of so many lives…when we got another shock on August 13, with the breaking news of the United Arab Emirates’ recognition of Israel and the normalization of their relationship on all levels. Why would the Emirates do that at a time when the Palestinians are at their lowest ebb, and they need the support of all the Arab neighbors to sanction Israel instead of allying with it…The UAE is rewarding Israel…and further abandon the Palestinians…Once again the Palestinians are paying the price…In an era of power and domination, neither justice nor the United Nations resolutions seem to work…’Woe to the powerless’ could not be more true than in those times when our cry is not only the cry of the powerless but a cry in the wilderness, when even our closest friends are not listening…But amidst all this hopelessness, can I really lose hope? Of course not. History has taught us that no injustice or empire can last forever.”

Annexation Update – Listening to Palestinian Voices (and a Jewish Voice, too)


Apartheid map (Credit: GUE/NGL)

With the threat of annexation as real after the accord as before, Palestinian voices cry out ever more strongly, like that of the prophet Habakkuk nearly three millennia ago: “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see wrongdoing and look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.” (Habakkuk 1:2-3)

Our annexation coverage continues with three Palestinian voices from today and one significant American Jewish voice who just changed his mind.

Palestinian Voices
Jonathan Kuttab – An Analysis
“There has been a huge fervor over the threat of Netanyahu to annex portions of the West Bank…The outcry [in response]…hides the fact that a creeping form of annexation has been taking place the last 50 years…It is valuable…to remember why annexation is so roundly condemned…First, the entire fabric of international law and stability requires that…boundaries be respected and should not be altered unilaterally…Second…is that it puts the last nail in the coffin of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders…What most people miss is that Israel was perfectly happy to carry out its settlement and annexation activities as long as the world limited its response to verbal disapproval and did not take concrete steps to sanction it for these activities…It is therefore more important than ever that those of us who care about international law and the prospect of peace find ways to make our position known not by empty toothless proclamations and resolutions, but by seeking to make Israel to pay a price for its settlement and annexation activities. Where governments fail to take such actions, then we must turn to civil society activities like those proposed by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS).”

Yousef Al Khouri (Bethlehem Bible College) – The Sin of Annexation
“The Israeli government and its allies continue their plan to erase the Palestinian historical presence in the land of Palestine…The Christian biblical way to describe the plan is SIN…The Kairos Palestine Document, ‘Moment of Truth,’ states clearly that the occupation is a sin against God and humanity…Stealing of the Palestinian land from its indigenous people is an explicit breaking of God’s commandments to his people and the church…The coming of God’s Kingdom…is based on justice, peace, love and coexistence…The church…has the responsibility to be the prophetic voice of the Kingdom that speaks against the sin of occupation and annexation of the Palestinian people.”

An Open Letter from Christian Clergy from Bethlehem
“We are writing this letter in our capacity as spiritual leaders of various Christian communities in the Bethlehem area. The Israeli government is planning to annex more occupied Palestinian land….For…Bethlehem…the process of annexation will be particularly catastrophic…Soon after the occupation of 1967 Israel annexed over 20,000 dunums of land in the northern part of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour for construction of illegal settlements…One of the only areas left…for agriculture and simply for families to enjoy nature are the valleys of Cremisan and Makhrour, both located to the west of our urban areas and are under the current threat of annexation by Israeli authorities…Our biggest concern is that the annexation of those areas will push more people to emigrate. Bethlehem, surrounded by walls and settlements, already feels like an open prison. Annexation means the prison becomes even smaller, with no hopes for a better future…This is land theft.”

Peter Beinart’s Dramatic Change of Heart
For many years, the liberal American Jewish community has been firmly committed to a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict. But one of those voices recently shook up the liberal Jewish American community.

Peter Beinart is one of the leading voices in the liberal American Jewish community and editor of Jewish Currents. Beinart has held out for a two-state solution for many years. But in July he published an article in which he declared the two-state solution dead and the one-state apartheid solution equally dead. His article included the following assertions about annexation and Israel’s future:

“Annexation is not the end of the line. It is a waystation to hell [for both Israel and Palestine]. Averting a future in which oppression degenerates into ethnic cleansing requires a vision that can inspire not just Palestinians, but the world. Equality offers it…The demand for equality—as manifested in the civil rights movement, anti-apartheid movement, and the Black Lives Matter movement—retains enormous emotional power.”

“For generations, Jews have seen a Jewish state as tikkun, a repair, a way of overcoming the legacy of the Holocaust. But it hasn’t worked. To justify our oppression of Palestinians, Jewish statehood has required us to see them as Nazis. And, in that way, it has kept the Holocaust legacy alive. The real tikkun is equality, a Jewish home that is also a Palestinian home. Only by helping to free Palestinians—and in the process coming to see them as human beings, not the reincarnation of our tortured past—can we free ourselves from the Holocaust’s grip. The Hebrew word for peace, ‘shalom,’ is connected to the word ‘shlemut,’ wholeness. Only Palestinian freedom—a precondition for true peace in Israel-Palestine—can make Jews whole.”

Beinart’s vision of a one-nation solution that is both a homeland for Jews and for Palestinians, where in a democratic Israel every Jew and Palestinian has an equal voice, has sparked a vigorous debate within the American Jewish community. Many, while opposing annexation, also disagree with Beinart. But criticism has also come from some who think he did not go far enough.

One of those is Rabbi Brant Rosen. While agreeing that Beinart’s article was “something of a milestone in American discourse on Israel-Palestine,” Rosen also argued that Beinart’s position “betrays a mindset that views the issue as a political conflict to be solved, not a moral injustice to be confronted.”

The Biden/Harris Ticket and Palestine


Joe Biden with Benjamin Netanyahu (Credit: Getty Images) Kamala Harris with Benjamin Netanyahu (Credit: Graystone)

Hopefully, a Biden/Harris win on November 3, 2020, will turn back the clock on the many horrendous policy changes made by the Trump administration on civil rights, immigration, the economy, the environment and so much more. But with Palestine, while their records and the words are not as damaging to Palestine as Trump’s cruelty, their expressed loyalty to Israel and near silence on the occupation and oppression of Palestine does not inspire hope. Indeed, no mention of Palestine was made in prime time during the Democratic National Convention.

A Biden/Harris administration will need to be pressed hard. As Rashid Khalidi told Democracy Now, “The people who are going to vote for the Democrats…strongly believe that Israel should be sanctioned for its violations of Palestinian human rights…So, a lot of work is going to be necessary to force the leadership to do what the people want.”

Here are just a few of their stated positions.

Joe Biden

  • ON SETTLEMENTS – “Look, I have been on record from very early on opposed to settlements, and I think it’s a mistake, and Netanyahu knows my position. But the idea that we would draw military assistance from Israel, on the condition that they change a specific policy, I find it to be absolutely outrageous.”
  • ON EMBASSY MOVE – “It should not have been moved…The move shouldn’t have happened in the context as it did, it should happen in the context of a larger deal to help us achieve important concessions for peace in the process.”
  • ON ANNEXATION (from an aide) – “Unilateral steps taken by either side that make the prospect of a negotiated two-state outcome less likely is something he opposes, and that includes annexation.”
  • ON BDS – “Firmly reject the BDS movement, which singles out Israel – home to millions of Jews – and too often veers in anti-Semitism, while letting Palestinians off the hook for their choices.”

Kamala Harris

  • ON DEMOCRACY IN ISRAEL – “Israel is a beautiful home to democracy and justice.”
  • ON PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS – When asked if Israel meets international standards of human rights, Harris replied, “Overall, yes.”
  • ON U.S MILITARY AID TO ISRAEL AND ANNEXATION – “My support for Israel’s security and the ten-year $38 billion Memorandum of Understanding is unwavering…I am deeply concerned by the warnings of some of Israel’s most prominent defense and intelligence leaders regarding annexation…and the disruption of peaceful relations between Israel and her neighbors, Jordan and Egypt.”
  • ON BDS – [The BDS] “movement is based on the mistaken assumption that Israel is solely to blame for the Israel-Palestine conflict…The BDS movement seeks to weaken Israel but it will only isolate the nation and steer Israeli’s against prerequisite compromises for peace.”
Betty McCollum Strikes Again

U.S. Representative Betty McCullom (Credit: Star Tribune)

Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN) is proving to be one of the strongest supporters of Palestinian rights in the halls of the Congress. Last year she introduced legislation (H.R.2407) to prohibit Israel from using U.S. funds to detain and prosecute children. Now she, along with six Democratic House member cosponsors (Rashid Tlaib {MI}; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez {NY}; Ayanna Pressley {MA}; Ilhan Omar {MN}; Mark Pocan {WI} and Andre Carson {IN}) has introduced the Israeli Annexation Non-Recognition Act.

McCollum is putting forth the legislation because, “Annexation…will fuel instability, injustice, and an abhorrent system of apartheid. I want Palestinians and Israelis to have their human rights respected, their right to self-determination realized, and a future with peace, security, equality, and justice…I reject Israeli apartheid. I condemn annexation. And I will work to ensure the U.S. does not support, defend, or legitimize any plan to annex Palestinian lands.”

Cry for Hope: A Decisive Call for Action

Israel police stand guard in front of Orthodox Christians on the Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross) in Jerusalem (Credit: Saeb Awad/APA Images)

Global Kairos for Justice is a coalition of concerned Christians from a broad spectrum who passionately seek to use nonviolent means to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine, but who also seek to support movements around the world to bring down structures of racism, ethnic cleansing, violations of human rights and the abuse of land and its resources.

In early July Global Kairos for Justice issued a Cry for Hope: A Decisive Call for Action to churches around the world. Asking denominational bodies and congregations to decisively act to end the oppression of the people of Palestine, the Cry for Hope issued a challenge with Seven Actions to be taken, including to engage in study and discernment, to participate in the nonviolent  Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), to strongly oppose anti-Semitism and to come and visit the Holy Land.

To read the entire document and the full list of the Seven Actions, click 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

Web Publications

Prayer

On Tuesday, the 18th of August the Gaza Strip’s sole power plant halted operations due to an Israeli ban on fuel, along with most other goods, entering the enclave which is under Israeli blockade and bombardment. The Israeli action came as part of the punitive measures enforced over the launch of incendiary balloons and rockets from Gaza. Hospitals, businesses, and homes in Gaza will have to rely on generators and solar power to make up for the power cuts. Lord, we pray for the people of Gaza as they try to survive under the crippling Israeli blockade. We pray that the Israeli authorities will have mercy at this time of pandemic crisis and allow the restoration of fuel supplies to Gaza, before a humanitarian crisis breaks out. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer. Sabeel Wave of Prayer

June 2020 MennoPIN Monthly Update

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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