April 2020 MennoPIN Monthly Update

April 2020 Monthly Update

In This Issue
Easter Saturday in Jerusalem (Virtually)
Kairos Palestine Easter Alert 2020
COVID-19 in Palestine
Part 1 – The Hard Reality
Part 2 – Notes of Hope
Part 3 – Some Things You Can Do
The Israeli Election Mess
Stay Informed on Palestine
Jesus of the Scars: A Song and Prayer for Good Friday

Easter Saturday in Jerusalem (Virtually)

Celebrate Easter Saturday live, hearing from our Palestinian elders in Jerusalem, sharing lessons of liberation and spiritual survival in the midst of colonization and COVID-19. Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) and Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theological Center will bring words of wisdom and hope desperately needed in these days. To register to participate in this special time of worship, click here.

MennoPIN wishes you a blessed Easter during very trying times!

 Kairos Palestine Easter Alert 2020

Kairos Palestine has issued its annual Easter Alert 2020 with compelling reflections from Palestinian Christian activists, theologians and leading clergy. Powerful essays and searching questions illuminate the meaning of the resurrection in a time of occupation and coronavirus. Easter Alert 2020 is available here.

COVID-19 in Palestine

Part 1 – The Hard Reality

A volunteer sprays sanitizing gel on the hands of a Palestinian man near the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem (Credit: AFP)

East Jerusalem
These times are extremely difficult, even for the fortunate ones…I think of the Palestinian prisoners, including hundreds of children, in overcrowded jails with no access to proper food, warmth, or anything resembling entertainment, save for the shouts of Israeli prison guards and military personnel. Many are held under, administrative detention without charge or trial.” – Mariam Barghouti

Bethlehem
Prior to the Corona virus the unemployment rate was a staggering 31%, and now it has skyrocketed. Fear, hopelessness, helplessness and despair, are overwhelming feelings of the mass of the population. People are worried…and fear about a bleak future. Many have lost their jobs, especially those previously employed in the tourism sector. Churches and mosques are closed.” – Zoughbi Zoughbi

Gaza
When the news of confirmed cases broke out, Gazans started taking precautionary measures to protect themselves and their family members from infection. However, with the lack of sufficient resources and equipment, Gazans had only one other way to cope with stress: cynicism and dark comedy. From Facebook posts to Twitter hashtags, Gazans reacted to the irony of being advised by the Palestinian Authority not to travel, whilst living under siege and prohibited from doing so for more than a decade. Others reacted with sarcasm to isolation notices to close down businesses and shops and go into confinement, wondering how they would provide for their children when there is little commercial activity in an ailing economy, even before the arrival of the virus in the first place.” – Omar Shaban

Part 2 – Notes of Hope

Two paramedics, working together to fight the coronavirus, pray outside of an ambulance, the Jewish man facing toward Jerusalem and the Palestinian Muslim toward Mecca (Credit: Magen David Adom)

Arab and Jewish Medics Work Together on the Frontline
At the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv, both Arab and Jewish doctors and other medical staffers have worked side-by-side for years, bucking the tensions between their communities. Palestinian Israelis comprise about 20% of the population of Israel, but a slightly greater percentage are health care workers within the Jewish state.

During this time of coronavirus, the collaboration between the two is critical. Rafi Walden is Sheba’s Deputy Director Emeritus. Walden recently explained how crucial the Arab medical population is to Israel: “We work together with Arab medical staff everywhere and not just in the time of coronavirus. Without them, the Israeli medical system would collapse.”

Ventilator Prototype Created at al-Quds University
The Abu Dis campus of Al-Quds University, located in East Jerusalem, is committed to educating Palestinian youth as a basic human right that should be exercised by all those who wish to pursue a higher education. Research plays a strong role in academic pursuits.

A team of engineers and doctors at al-Quds has recently developed a ventilator prototype to help treat Palestinians with serious cases of COVID-19. Hopefully, the ventilators will be able to address the severe shortage of ventilators in the West Bank and Gaza where, respectively, only 256 and 87 ventilators are now in use.

Gaza Clothing Factory Makes Protective Suits
A Gaza factory that makes children’s clothing has been converted into a factory producing protective suits for essential workers inside the strip as well as for others throughout Palestine. Producing more than 400 suits each day, medical workers can now treat the coronavirus safely. Explained the 20-something-old factory owner, Alaa Qreiqua, “We are in an emergency. I hope this nightmare will end.”

Part 3 – Some Things You Can Do

At this point the most helpful way to help with COVID-19 in Palestine is by donating money through reputable organizations providing relief. Here are two excellent examples that MennoPIN affirms:

Middle East Children’s Alliance
Manhattan (KS) Mennonite Church has developed a Twinning Congregation relationship with the Youth Vision Society (YVS) in Gaza. After several months of building relationship, Manhattan is supporting the YVS Hand-to-Hand project to distribute hygiene kits with cleaning supplies to slow the spread of the coronavirus as well as food baskets to vulnerable families. You can send a tax-deductible donation to support Hand-to-Hand through the Middle East Children’s Society here.

Mennonite Central Committee (Gaza)
The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has partnered with Al-Najd in Gaza to provide food baskets, hygiene supplies, blankets and school kits for Gazan families. Your tax-deductible donation can be sent here.

The Israeli Election Mess

Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu (Composite: Frank Hulley-Jones)

The third Israeli election within one year produced similar results as the previous two – stalemate. This time, Benny Gantz’ Blue and White (moderate conservative) party was given the first right to form a new government and to oust Benjamin Netanyahu’s (ultra-conservative) Likud party. But surprisingly, appealing to the coronavirus pandemic, Gantz decided instead to attempt to form a unity government with Netanyahu, something many in his party considered a betrayal. Under the new government, Netanyahu would serve as Prime Minister for one-year and Gantz as Foreign Minister. The following year Gantz would become Prime Minister. In the negotiations between the two, compromise was made on two key issues: (1) joint decision-making on all issues and (2) the movement forward to annex much of the West Bank. But as Passover approached, the two parties backed away from what they had compromised on and agreed to renew negotiations after Passover.

Out of the third election, the Joint List party, consisting of a coalition of Arab Israeli groups, came in third place behind Blue and White and Likud, its strongest showing ever. Even so, the Joint List will have essentially no political power in the new Knesset, Israel’s legislative branch.

The true losers in every Israeli election are the people of Palestine because whatever new government forms (by Gantz, Netanyahu or a unity government) or, as is a real possibility, a fourth election occurs, the so-called Deal of the Century, engineered by the Trump and Netanyahu administrations, will be implemented with no international opposition to stop it. Stay tuned in for the ongoing saga.

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

Jesus of the Scars
A Song and a Prayer for Good Friday

Jesus of the Scars is a poem written by Edward Shillito at the end of World War I. Garth Hewitt is a singer, composer and Palestinian activist. Hewitt put this poem to music, and you can listen to it here.

If we have never sought, we seek you now
Your eyes burn through the dark our only stars
We must have sight of thorn-marks on your brow
We must have you, Jesus of the scars

The heavens frighten us, they are too calm
In all the universe we have no place
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by your scars we know your grace

O Jesus of the scars we seek you now
O Jesus of the scars we seek you now
We must have sight of the thorn-marks on your brow
We must have you, O Jesus of the scars

The other gods were strong, but you were weak
They rode, but you did stumble to a throne
But to our wounds only God’s wounds speak
And not a god has wounds but you alone.


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

March 2020 MennoPIN Monthly Update

March 2020 Monthly Update

In This Issue
Deal of the Century – And Now What?
Part 1 – Bibi to Palestine: “Accept it or not, it’s going to happen”
Part 2 – Former Israeli Ambassador to South Africa: “No…to this new apartheid”
Part 3 – Jonathan Kuttab: “And now what”?
“I wasn’t sent to defend the state, I was sent to murder”
The Coronavirus and Palestine – Bethlehem in Lockdown
Sabeel Holds First Young Adult Gathering
Join Counter CUFI This June
Eye-Opening Tours to Palestine
Read More
Prayer

Deal of the Century – And Now What?
Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking to the presidents of American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem, explains how he plans to pound Palestinians into submission (Credit: Netanyahu Twitter Feed)

Part 1 – Bibi to Palestine: “Accept or not, it’s going to happen”

Addressing the presidents of American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem in mid-February, Benjamin Netanyahu spoke glowingly about the so-called Deal of the Century and his relationship to Donald Trump: “For the last three years I’ve worked very closely with a good friend of mine, President Trump, we’ve never had a better friend of Israel in the White House.”

With an arrogance of power matched only by Donald Trump, Netanyahu laid out to his audience the conditions Palestine must meet according to the ‘Peace Plan,’ for there to be peace, including:

  • Recognize Israel as the Jewish State
  • Recognize the united Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
  • Give up completely the right of return, completely
  • Stop paying terrorists
  • Disarm Hamas and demilitarize Gaza
  • Recognize our sovereignty in…the West Bank and Jerusalem

But, in his mind, whether Palestine agrees or not to these conditions for peace with Israel, it really doesn’t matter: “Whether they accept it or not, it’s going to happenWho’s to say that they fulfill these conditions? Two powers. The United States and Israel.”

Part 2 – Former Israeli Ambassador to South Africa: “No…to this new form of apartheid”

Alon Liel served as Israel’s ambassador to South Africa from 1992-1994 and was the Director-General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2000-2001. Liel had a front row seat watching the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa. Writing in the February 27, 2020 issue of Foreign Policy, Liel blasted the Deal of the Century as “Israel seeking to introduce and develop the new millennium’s version of the old South Africa’s deplorable policy.”

Comparing the plan to the South African government’s Bantustan, he described the Deal of the Century this way: “The details of the proposal, and the rhetoric used by both Trump and Netanyahu, made it clear that this was not a deal but rather the implementation of Netanyahu’s long-standing plan to further entrench Israel’s control of the West Bank by giving its residents disconnected enclaves of territory without granting them real freedom or basic political rights.”

He concluded the article with this indictment: “Trump believes he can disregard international law and legitimize a new 21st-century model of apartheid. This arrogant show of force must be met with a clear answer…No one must give even tacit approval to this new form of apartheid and the ideology undergirding it. Doing so would betray not only the legacy and efficacy of international resistance to South African apartheid but also the fate of millions of people living in Israel and what should be a truly independent Palestine.”

You can read the entire article here.

Part 3 – Jonathan Kuttab: “And now what”?

Jonathan Kuttab is a member of the MennoPIN Steering Committee, a prominent human rights attorney and founder of several Palestinian Human Rights organization. In the February 2020 issue of the MennoPIN Monthly Update Kuttab analyzed the 181-page so-called Peace Plan.

Earlier this month, Kuttab followed up his analysis with an article on the Middle East Institute website entitled, “And Now What? A Realistic Approach to the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.” He asks, “If a genuine two-state solution is truly dead, and an equitable one-state solution is even harder to achieve, then where does that leave us”?

Assuming the Deal of the Century becomes implemented, which Netanyahu full intends, Kuttab feels this “rude shock…also presents an urgent challenge for all those who reject it because they realize the dire implications of what it portends for the future of any peaceful negotiated solution.” Part of the agenda he proposes for the foreseeable future includes:

  • Ending the siege of Gaza, allowing people and goods to move freely in and out of the Strip.
  • Abandoning armed resistance by Palestinians, because armed resistance cannot help in their present situation.
  • Stopping collective punishment, including detention without trial, home demolitions and restrictions on travel.
  • Removing barriers, checkpoints and obstructions within the West Bank, allowing for freedom of movement for goods and persons.
  • Granting permission for Palestinians to build in the West Bank, returning planning authority to Palestine
  • Making all residents of the West Bank subject to the same laws, including Jewish settlers and administered by civilian, not military courts.

You can read the entire article here.

“I wasn’t sent to defend the state. I was sent to murder”

Snipers and locaters, perched on a shooting berm at the Gaza/Israel border, preparing to kill and maim (Credit: UPI/Alamy)

On March 6, 2020 the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published a summary from an interview they did with some of the snipers who have killed over 200 protesters at the Gaza/Israeli border since March 2018 and wounded and permanently maimed over 8,000 more. One was described as a “musician from a good high school,” and another as a “Boy Scout who majored in theater.” None of them expressed remorse or guilt about what they had done. Here are some of the blunt, chilling, matter-of-fact statements given by these young men:
  • The regular scenario is supposed to be that you hit, break a bone—in best case, break a kneecap.”
  • Let me just once take down a kid of 16, even 14, but not with a bullet in the leg—let me blow his head open in front of his whole family and whole village.”
  • I keep the casings of every round I fired. I have them in my room. So I don’t have to estimate—I know: 52 definite hits.”
  • On that day, our pair had the largest number of hits, 42 in all. My locator wasn’t supposed to shoot, but I gave him a break…He got around 28 knees there, I’d say.”
  • I wasn’t sent to defend the state, I was sent to murder.”

The Coronavirus and Palestine – Bethlehem in Lockdown

Palestinian police officers stand guard in Bethlehem outside the closed down Church of the Nativity (Credit: Mussa Qawasma/Reuters)

At the instigation of Israel and in coordination with the Palestine Authority, the city of Bethlehem, along with nearby Beit Jala and Beit Sahour, were placed in a lockdown in early March. According to Palestinian Health Minister, Mai al-Kaila, the total number of coronavirus cases read 25 with more expected. All government and private institutions, including churches, mosques, clubs, convents, coffee shop and restaurants have been closed indefinitely. It is uncertain how long the lockdown will last.

Sabeel Holds First Young Adult Gathering

The Sabeel Ecumenical Theological Center in Jerusalem announced its First International Young Adult Gathering, to be held June 17-25, 2000. This gathering provides an opportunity for young people from around the world, ages 18-35, to engage first-hand with local young Palestinians and hear their stories, learn more about current realities on the ground, explore and discuss together liberation theology, nonviolence, engaging Christian Zionism and to work together to take action.

MennoPIN encourages your participation at this unique and significant opportunity. To that end, MennoPIN is offering scholarships of $200 for each young adult deciding to attend. To apply for a scholarship, write us at mennopin@gmail.org. We hope you decide to attend this life-changing conference! Please pass this message on to friends, families and those in your church community.

Join Counter CUFI This June

The Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) has issued a call to action to counter Christians United for Israel (CUFI). On June 28-29 CUFI will be meeting by the thousands in Washington, DC. Hundreds of people who struggle for justice and freedom for the people of Palestine will also be there to counter CUFI’s pro-Israel anti-Palestine message.

In their call to action FOSNA states: “CUFI has quietly become the largest organization in the United States driving support for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people. With over seven million members, CUFI uses its political leverage to ensure ongoing U.S. support for Israel’s colonization and military occupation of Palestine, including imprisoning Palestinian children; bombing homes, schools, and hospitals in Gaza; massacring peaceful protestors; and confiscating Palestinian land. By its own admission, CUFI led the charge to have the U.S. recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and it continues to push for unconstitutional anti-BDS legislation and illegal settlement expansion.”

MennoPIN is a co-sponsor of this action and encourages you to consider joining people from the MennoPIN steering committee in Washington, DC to voice your in opposing all that CUFI stands for. If you would like to explore this possibility, please go to FOSNA’s Call to Action here.

Eye-Opening Tours to Palestine – Several Excellent Opportunities

Go beyond your head knowledge about Palestine and get some heart knowledge by going to Palestine on a tour that will take you to Holy Land sites but also give you the chance to meet Palestinians, hear their stories, visit organization working for an end to the occupation and listen to Palestinian and Israeli activists for freedom, equality and the end of the violence. Here are several coming up this year and then visit the MennoPIN website for more details.

  1. E3Collective: Nazareth and Bethlehem. May 8-May 25, 2020, led by Dorothy Jean Weaver, Professor Emerita, Eastern Mennonite Seminary and Craig Maven, Lead Pastor, Harrisonburg Mennonite Church
  2. Come and See Israel/Palestine Witness Trip. June 1-June 14, 2020, led by Kathy Bergen and Joy Lapp
  3. Christian Peacemaker Teams Delegations to Palestine/Israel. In 2020 CPT will sponsor four delegations to Palestine: February 12-March 2; Aug 3-17; October 17-31 and December 1-15
  4. Eyewitness Palestine. In 2020 Eyewitness Palestine will lead three delegations to Israel/Palestine
  5. Sabeel Solidarity Visit. October 13-October 21, 2020 led by Naim Ateek, co-founder of Sabeel, the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center
Read More
Prayer
The Palestinian Authority called a 30-day state of emergency throughout the West Bank after twenty COVID-19 cases were confirmed in a Bethlehem hotel. Alongside this, Israeli authorities as part of their public health restrictions, in agreement with the Palestinian Authority, have closed checkpoints only allowing people to leave if they have to travel directly to the airport or have special permission. Lord we pray for those in the frontline of treating this new virus. We pray for those who have been diagnosed with the virus. We also pray for those whose livelihoods have been affected by ongoing and constantly changing public health restrictionsLord, in your mercy…hear our prayer. Sabeel Wave or Prayer

February 2020 MennoPIN Monthly Update

February 2020 Monthly Update

In This Issue
Deal of the Century
Part 1 – Jonathan Kuttab – An Analysis
Part 2 – What Others Are Saying
Part 3 – What You Can Do
Christian Zionism and the Assassination of Soleimani
Eye-Opening Tours to Palestine – Several Excellent Opportunities
Become a Gaza Twinning Congregation
Read More
Prayer

Deal of the Century

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump agree to crush the people of Palestine (Credit: Public Domain)

Part 1 – Jonathan Kuttab – An Analysis

Even a casual reading of the 181-page Plan shows clearly that it is neither a Peace Plan, nor the outline of an “agreement” which can be used as a basis for further negotiations. Rather it is a series of disjointed declarations asserting right wing Israeli positions and interests, and granting US support for their immediate implementation, while dangling the prospect for some conditional “concessions” to Palestinians to be given, maybe, at some future point in time, if they are willing to accept the agreement and meet the conditions imposed on them in it to Israel’s satisfaction.

Immediately, there is recognition of Israel’s current annexation of Jerusalem, legitimization of all its settlements, recognition of its “moral and historic” right to annex further territory, particularly in the Jordan Valley, total rejection of the Palestinian Right of Return, and extermination of any claims or demands on Israel with respect to refugees. The plan calls  for immediate normalization with the Arab countries, assertion of Israel’s right to have “overriding security control” in the areas under Palestinian control, a specific rejection of UN resolutions and international law as a basis for any future agreement, and recognition of a Unified Jerusalem under full Israeli control.

As an inducement to Palestinians, the Plan suggests, without promising anything concrete, that if the Palestinians sign this “agreement” there will be a “path” in the future to an entity, which they can call a state, and a capital, which they can call Al Quds or East Jerusalem, if they wish, in a few disjointed neighborhoods outside the Wall currently surrounding Jerusalem. The Deal of the Century also outlines  a detailed Plan to provide economic assistance of 50 billion dollars, to be raised from Arab countries, that will alleviate the suffering of Palestinians, and provide assistance to neighboring Arab countries who will host many of them ( $9.1 billion to Egypt, $7.6 billion to Jordan and $6.1 billion to Lebanon). There is also an impossible list of demands before the people of Gaza can participate in this largess: control of Gaza by the Palestinian Authority, disarming Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad, and the total demilitarization of Gaza to Israel’s satisfaction.

If that were not enough, two new elements were added, that had not been previously mentioned in the long history of  negotiations, but which were unrealistic fantasies  for the Israeli Right: First, the demand for compensation to Jewish refugees who fled Arab countries into Israel. The Plan states these Jewish refugees who were settled in Israel were of equal number to Palestinian refugees, who now need to be settled anywhere but in Israel; and secondly, the idea that a number of densely populated Arab villages adjacent to the West Bank in the area known as the Triangle, should be transferred to the new Palestinian “state” and given Palestinian citizenship instead of their current Israeli citizenship, thereby ridding Israel of some of its Arab citizens, while pretending to compensate Palestinians for being forced to cede the lands which are populated by Jewish settlers in the West Bank who will now be formally incorporated into Israel.

In effect, this Plan is not an outline for a peace agreement, but a demand for Palestinian surrender of their positions, a confirmation of Israeli “realities on the ground,” an abandonment of international law, and the end of any attempt to reach a negotiated two-state solution. Instead it requires, whether with or without Palestinian approval, the acceptance of permanent Israeli control over all of historic Palestine, on the basis of inequality and apartheid.

While the timing of the announcement was clearly a political attempt to assist Trump and Netanyahu in their upcoming elections, the effect of the agreement is to make a strategic shift towards permanent acceptance of a new paradigm where Israel controls the entire area and provides a truncated, unequal disjointed existence for Palestinians within that entity, that would spare Israel the call for genuine equality that would be inevitable in the case of formal annexation of all this territory.

This utter rejection of a realistic possibility of a two-state position explains why many liberal Israelis and Zionists and their supporters are totally outraged by this Plan.

For us, however, it is a sobering reminder of the true realities on the ground, and that those seeking genuine peace and justice, need to come up with new ideas and not continue to pursue a moribund process and a solution that no longer applies. Painful as it is, we must start to think in terms of equality within a single political entity, rather than hold on to the dream of a state, which today is only an alibi for inequality and denial of genuine freedom.

Part 2 – What Others Are Saying

Kairos Palestine – “The position announced by the U.S. Administration regarding what they call the ‘deal of the century’ was in fact an insult to history humanity, the Palestinian people…President Trump did not offer anything towards…equality but rather consolidated further Israeli hegemony and Palestinians subjugation to it. This means that the conflict will continue, bloodshed will continue, hatred and inhumane treatment will persist.”

Jonathan Cook – “A U.S. map handed out on Tuesday showed Palestinian enclaves connected by a warren of bridges and tunnels, including one between the West Bank and Gaza…All of this has been dressed up as a ‘realistic two-state solution’…the Palestinians are being required to accept a state on 15 per cent of historic Palestine after Israel has seized all the best agricultural land and water resources…where Israel controls its security, borders, coastal waters and airspace.”

The Electronic Intifada – “The plan amounts to a permanent state of military occupation, apartheid and Palestinian suffering.”

Palestinian Authority – “A thousands nos…We’ve informed the Israeli side…that there will be no relations at all with them and the United States including security ties…Trump asked that I speak with him by phone, but I said ‘no,’ and that he wants to send me a letter, so I refused to receive it.”

The Arab League (including Egypt Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon) – The plan “ignored legitimate Palestinian rights in the territories.”

12 U.S. Senators (including three candidates for president: Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Chris Van Hollen, Sherrod Brown, Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich, Patrick Leah, Sheldon Whitehouse, Tammy Baldwin, Jack Reed and Tom Carper) – “Unilateral implementation of this one-sided proposal will risk eliminating any remaining prospects for achievement of a peaceful and viable two-state solution.”

Part 3 – What You Can Do

  1. Flood the White House and Congress with emails and phone calls to show your strong opposition to the “Deal of the Century.”
  2. Write Op-Eds for your local newspaper.
  3. Join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) and start boycotting.
  4. Start a No Deal of the Century group in your church.
  5. Link up with Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) to counter Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the largest Christian Zionist group in the U.S. who played a strong supporting role in the Deal of the Century.
Christian Zionism and the Assassination of Soleimani

Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo (Credit: U.S. Embassy)

Did Christian Zionism play a role in the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, the head of Quds, the external operations branch of Iran’s armed forces? Many think so. According to the Washington Post, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has been pushing President Trump for months on the idea. Vice President Mike Pence also voiced his support. And both are Christian Zionists. Pompeo claimed the assassination was a preemptive strike.

John Hagee, who is close to both Pompeo and Pence, heads up the Christian Zionist organization, Christians United for Israel (CUFI). Christian Zionism interprets some passages in the Bible to mean that before Jesus can return, Israel must reestablish itself as a nation and a massive war must take place. As far back as 2007, Hagee has held the view that part of that war will be against Iran: “It is time for America to consider a preemptive strike against Iran.”

When Pompeo spoke at last summer to a CUFI convention in Washington, DC, he compared President Trump to the Jewish queen Esther of the Persian Empire (now Iran) who saved her Jewish people from death by the powerful assistant to the king, who was assassinated. Now, it is Trump who supposedly saved Israel and others from Iran’s powerful assistant to the Ayatollah, Soleimani, risking a major war in the Middle East.

Did Christian Zionism play a role in the assassination of Soleimani? Who knows, but it may very well have factored into Pompeo and Pence’s thinking.

An interesting sidelight. ISIS’ weekly newspaper, al-Naba, expressed joy at the assassination, calling it “divine intervention” and an “act of God.” Strange bedfellows indeed.

Eye-Opening Tours to Palestine – Several Excellent Opportunities

Go beyond your head knowledge about Palestine and get some heart knowledge by going to Palestine on a tour that will take you to Holy Land sites but also give you the chance to meet Palestinians, hear their stories, visit organization working for an end to the occupation and listen to Palestinian and Israeli activists for freedom, equality and the end of the violence. Here are several coming up this year and then visit the MennoPIN website for more details.

  1. E3Collective: Nazareth and Bethlehem. May 8-May 25, 2020, led by Dorothy Jean Weaver, Professor Emerita, Eastern Mennonite Seminary and Craig Maven, Lead Pastor, Harrisonburg Mennonite Church
  2. Come and See Israel/Palestine Witness Trip. June 1-June 14, 2020, led by Kathy Bergen and Joy Lapp
  3. Palestine and Israel Learning Tour. June 1-June 14, 2020, led by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)
  4. Christian Peacemaker Teams Delegations to Palestine/Israel. In 2020 CPT will sponsor four delegations to Palestine: February 12-March 2; Aug 3-17; October 17-31 and December 1-15
  5. Eyewitness Palestine. In 2020 Eyewitness Palestine will lead three delegations to Israel/Palestine
  6. Sabeel Solidarity Visit. October 13-October 21, 2020 led by Naim Ateek, co-founder of Sabeel, the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center
Become a Gaza Twinning Congregation


A father bathing his daughters in Gaza City (Credit: Wissam Nassar)

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

The first step in the campaign is called the “Mennonite Twinning Initiative with Gaza.” This initiative will match Mennonite congregations with churches, mosques, hospitals, clinics and schools. Already, eight congregations have signed up and are on their way to being paired-up with Gaza!

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

Read More
Prayer
On Thursday, the 12th of December the Israeli authorities declared that Christians in the Gaza Strip would not be granted permits to travel to holy sites in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, or into Israel over Christmas. Only men over 45 wishing to travel abroad traveling through Jordan may be granted permits. We pray with our Christian brothers and sisters as they seek to challenge the decision of the Israeli government to ban permits for the people of Gaza to visit family and celebrate Christmas in Israel or the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Lord in your mercy…hear our prayer. Sabeel Wave or 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 2019 MennoPIN Monthly Update

December 2019 Monthly Update

In This Issue
Christmas Blessings
Gazan Christians Blocked from Bethlehem for Christmas
Kairos Palestine and Sabeel Hold Major Conferences
Palestine: A Year in Review
Thank You for Helping!
Become a Gaza Twinning Congregation
Tours to Palestine
Read More
Prayer

Christmas Blessings

The MennoPIN Steering Committee joins Sabeel in Jerusalem and all Christians in Palestine in wishing you many Christmas Blessings as we, together, look forward to a New Year of continuing solidarity with all the people of Palestine in their long struggle for peace, justice, reconciliation and healing. May 2020 be a break-through year for peace in the Holy Land!

Gazan Christians Blocked from Bethlehem for Christmas

The Old City of Bethlehem Today (Credit: Reuters/Musssa Qawasma)

An Israeli military liaison spokeswoman announced last week that Gazan Christians will not be allowed to travel to Bethlehem or anywhere else in the West Bank or East Jerusalem this Christmas. Some will be able to travel abroad, but, unlike last year when 700 travel permits were granted, no Gazan Christians will be allowed to travel anywhere within the occupation territories.

With a total population of about two million people in Gaza, only 1,000 are Christians and most of them are Greek Orthodox. An Israeli human rights group, Gisha, sees the ban in broader terms, calling it the “intensifying of access restrictions between the two parts of the Palestinian territories…a deepening of Israel’s separation policy” for the West Bank and Gaza.

While condemning the move, Christian leaders in East Jerusalem are making an appeal to Israeli authorities to reverse their decision: “Other people from around the world are allowed to travel to Bethlehem…Gaza’s Christians should have that right, too.”

Kairos Palestine and Sabeel Hold Major Conferences

From November 29 to December 7, 2019, two major conferences were held in Bethlehem, Palestine, one by Kairos Palestine and the other by Sabeel, with some people attending both. Kairos Palestine celebrated its 10th anniversary on November 29-30. Their founding document, A Moment of Truth, advocates for the end of the Israeli occupation and the establishment of a just peace in Palestine/Israel. The 10th anniversary conference issued a statement that begins with these words: “Since the launch of A Moment of Truth ten years ago, life in Palestine has rapidly deteriorated under the illegal occupation by the State of Israel. The oppression is more aggressive and brutal. Our imprisoned and besieged sisters and brothers in Gaza, non-violently gathering in the March of Return, were the targets of a bloody and deadly response. Settlements continue to expand. Threats of annexation of the Jordan valley and the settlements themselves grow without a word of condemnation from the major powers. We are experiencing the continued dispossession of our land, our freedom and our human rights.”

The statement affirms that prophetic voices within the global church are very helpful, but with many Christians, who misuse the Bible to unquestioningly support Israel, Kairos Palestine feels that “the global Church is failing us.”

The ending of the statement shows the courageous resistance to injustice the Christians in Palestine continue to demonstrate: “Know that ten years after the first call of Kairos Palestine, we resist fainting and becoming weary and falling exhausted. Empowered by the equal love of God and joined together with others in God’s community of grace—coming on earth as it is in heaven—we mount up with wings like eagle (Isaiah 40:31). We run and grow not weary. We walk and faint not. God’s design for universal justice, peace and provision may be delayed, but it will not be deterred.”

The Sabeel 1st International Gathering ran from December 1 – 7. Christians from 17 different countries heard numerous speakers, Christian, Muslim and Israeli, update the situation on the ground in Palestine. Sponsored by The Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, the gathering explored many pertinent issues including that of Jerusalem, Christian Zionism, Jubilee, Palestinian Christianity and the Bible. All the speakers were Palestinian and one entire day the presentations were mostly in Arabic.

Last year Sabeel launched the Kumi Now Palestine Initiative. Based on the story in Mark (5:21-34) of Jairus’ daughter, who Jesus raised from the dead with the words, “Talitha, kumi” or “Little girl, rise up. The Kumi Now initiative calls for Christians in Palestine to rise up in nonviolent resistance to the occupying forces.” At the December conference Sabeel launched the Kumi Now Global Initiative, inviting the global church to join in the struggle based upon the principles of inclusivity, justice (according to international law) and nonviolence. All those attending the conference pledged to take Kumi Now back into their home countries.

Palestine: A Year in Review

If Joseph, Mary and Jesus tried to immigrate into the United States today (Credit: Rev. Karen Clark Ristine)

2019 has been a devastating year for Palestinian rights, including:

  • U.S. funding for Palestinian refugees continues to be slashed
  • Blatant racism against Palestinians in the Israeli general elections
  • Continued killing and wounding of nonviolent protesters at the Gaza border
  • U.S. declaration that West Bank settlements are legal
  • Deportation of human rights activists by Israel
  • Ongoing killing and administrative detention of children and youths
  • And so much more

But there have been glimmers of hope in the darkness, including:

  • New voices in the U.S. Congress openly supportive of the Palestinian people
  • Democratic presidential candidates expressing justice for Palestine
  • Growing intersectional identification with the Palestinian struggle (Black Lives Matter, immigration and climate justice)
Thank You for Helping!
Last month MennoPIN asked for your help in raising $2,700 to support our work in challenging Christian Zionism. You not only sent in what we needed, but more! We will use the additional funds for other work we are doing, especially around the Gaza Twinning Initiative (see below). The committees of MennoPIN are made up entirely of volunteers, so every dollar you sent is going 100% toward supporting the struggle for justice in Palestine. Thank you very much!
Become a Gaza Twinning Congregation


A father bathing his daughters in Gaza City (Credit: Wissam Nassar)

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

The first step in the campaign is called the “Mennonite Twinning Initiative with Gaza.” This initiative will match Mennonite congregations with churches, mosques, hospitals, clinics and schools. Already, eight congregations have signed up and are on their way to being paired-up with Gaza!

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

Go to Palestine: Tours
MennoPIN strongly encourages trips to Palestine to see upfront the struggle Palestinians endure on a daily basis. Established justice tours usually last about two weeks and offer both visits to Holy Land sites as well as experiences with Palestinians and those who actively work for justice and freedom for the people of Palestine. Or you may want to plan a do-it-yourself tour. To find out more about tours, visit the MennoPIN website and click on the Tours to Palestine tab.
Read More
Prayer
On Thursday, the 12th of December the Israeli authorities declared that Christians in the Gaza Strip would not be granted permits to travel to holy sites in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, or into Israel over Christmas. Only men over 45 wishing to travel abroad traveling through Jordan may be granted permits. We pray with our Christian brothers and sisters as they seek to challenge the decision of the Israeli government to ban permits for the people of Gaza to visit family and celebrate Christmas in Israel or the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Lord in your mercy…hear our prayer. Sabeel Wave or Prayer

November 2019 MennoPIN Monthly Update

November 2019 Monthly Update

In This Issue
Kairos Palestine Christmas Alert
Pompeo’s Proclamation – Settlements are Legal
Gaza – Ever in Netanyahu’s Crosshairs
How an Israeli Air Force Pilot Became a Champion of BDS
Become a Twinning Congregation
Go to Palestine: Tours
Read More
Prayer

Kairos Palestine Christmas Alert
Kairos Palestine has just issued its Christmas Alert 2019 https://kairospalestine.ps/images/kairos-christmas-alert-2019.pdf. This year the Christmas Alert sheds light on the importance of restoring a new hope for Palestine, the Middle East and the world. The alert offers resources and reflections for each Sunday of Advent and inspires individuals and congregations to act to help make hope a reality in the lives of Palestinians.
Pompeo’s Proclamation – Settlements are Legal
From Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, every US president has expressed disapproval of Israel’s illegal settlements in Palestine. Their rebuke, however, was never more than a slap on the wrist.  As recently as 2016, while Secretary of State John Kerry blasted settlement expansion as the greatest threat to peace in Israel/Palestine, Obama pushed a bill through a willing Congress for $38 billion dollars in military aid to Israel over the next ten yearsOn November 18, 2019 Donald Trump’s Secretary of State, the Christian Zionist Mike Pompeo, singularly declared Israeli settlements as legal when, in fact, they are a flagrant violation of international law and at odds with the international community. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention is unambiguous: “The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into territory it occupies.”

Ali Abunimah, Palestinian-American journalist and editor of the online Electronic Intifada, contends that Pompeo has simply made explicit what has been implicit all along, that this new proclamation “is merely a shedding of the fiction that the U.S. has ever opposed Israel’s land-theft colonies. It changes nothing but makes clear to all that the U.S. and Israel are partners in crime.”

This is now the third time Trump has emboldened Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his ever-increasing aggression toward Palestine. First came the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem. Then, affirmation of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights. And now opening the door for Israel’s unhindered and rapid expansion of settlements on Palestinian land.

Noura Erakat, Palestinian civil rights attorney, legal scholar and professor at Rutgers University, addressed the motivation behind Trump’s latest move in a recent interview on Democracy Now!: “The tragic part is that the U.S. administration is doing this in order to support Netanyahu in his own bid to consolidate power in Israel. Palestinians are pawns…to be moved around…What’s going on is a violation of human rights.”

Whether to strengthen Netanyahu’s hand or to placate Christian Zionists (or both), US policy now unequivocally affirms the rights of one country to occupy and establish permanent settlements on land in a neighboring country.

The losers, once again, are the people of Palestine. Will the international community stand by and allow Trump and Pompeo to rewrite international law? Will the churches remain silent?

Gaza – Ever in Netanyahu’s Crosshairs
The history of Gaza stretches back more than 4,000 years. Situated near the coast on a 200-foot hill and surrounded by a fertile plain with numerous wells, Gaza borders the desert between Syria and Egypt. In ancient times caravans and armies frequently passed near Gaza and it had periods of wealth and importance. It was also frequently besieged and destroyed by the likes of Sargon, the Philistines and Alexander the Great, among others. Setting Gaza in their crosshairs, they sometimes massacred and enslaved the entire population.Gaza’s appearance in the Old and New Testaments also extends back thousands of years. As early as Genesis 10:19, Gaza is described as on the border of Canaan, and it became part of Judah when the land was first divided into the twelve tribes. Many times Gaza is mentioned in the biblical histories of Israel, in Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings and Chronicles. It was in Judges that Samson went to Gaza, visited a prostitute and met and married Delilah. After Delilah’s betrayal, he was captured, blinded and imprisoned in Gaza, “grinding at the mill.” (Judges 16:21). It was also in Gaza that Samson met his death. The prophets Jeremiah, Amos, Zephaniah and Zechariah all railed against the sins of Gaza and its conquerors. And after the first Pentecost, it was on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza that Philip met and baptized the eunuch from Ethiopia.

Today, as it has been for over a decade, Gaza again sits directly in the crosshairs, this time those of Israeli snipers, drones and bombers. Blockaded by Israel in every way, Gazans suffer, “grinding at the mill” of poverty. Entrapped by barb-wired fences, 2,000,000 people languish in an open-air prison. By 2020, next year, Gaza may literally become uninhabitable.

On November 12, 2019, Benjamin Netanyahu placed Gaza in his crosshairs again. This time he killed Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu al-Ata in Gaza, along with his wife, Asmaa, four children and an adult neighbor. Following that, Netanyahu bombed the offices of the Islamic Jihad in Damascus. In retaliation, Islamic Jihad fired over 150 rockets into Israel, injuring dozens. Israel returned fire, killing 34 Palestinians, including 11 children, and wounding 111 others. Once again, violence begets violence begets violence.

Netanyahu is in deep political and personal trouble. For the first time in 10 years, he is unable to form a government and may lose his seat in power. He has also been indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, but he cannot face those charges while holding office. Many believe he initiated the assassination of Abu al-Ata and the subsequent bombing of Gaza as an attempt to rally the public to his side. Jonathan Cook, the Nazareth-based freelance journalist and critic of Israeli policy toward Palestine expressed what many inside and outside Israel fear, that “his instinct for political survival trumps the interests of stability in the regions.”

The word for Gaza means “strong.” Over millennia, the people of Gaza have shown strength and resilience in the face of overwhelming odds. Will they be able to do so once again?

How An Israeli Air Force Pilot Became a Champion of BDS

Yonatan Shapira (Credit – unknown)
Yonatan Shapira used to be a bomber pilot for the Israeli Air Force, but today he is a strong advocate for the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement. His powerful story is well worth the lengthy read.It’s 11 PM here in Oslo and I’m trying to write a few words about my support for the BDS movement. I’m looking for an interesting angle so that I don’t repeat what many other, better writers have already written. And then I recall that today is actually the Jewish New Year. I miss my family and friends in Israel, and I am so far from them in chilly Norway. It was exactly 16 years ago, on the eve of the Jewish New Year, September 2003, that I became a conscientious objector. We put our letter and declaration of refusal, with the signatures of 27 Israeli air force pilots, on the desk of the Air Force commander – a General and a mass murderer. These ranged from a Lt. General who almost became the air force commander to lower ranking pilots like me with the rank of captain. We felt brave and important and a bit scared. It’s not every day you find yourself accusing your commanders and leaders of sending you to commit war crimes. On the following day, the headlines in the Zionist media were “The Mutiny of the Pilots”.

Plenty of water has flowed in the Jordan River and Akerselva since then. A lot has changed, and not for the better. We thought we could shake up the system and fix it, but the massacres in Gaza have only intensified. One of the changes is that more and more bombings of the population of Gaza are carried out by drones. Why work hard to convince Israeli pilots to bomb an overcrowded ghetto of two million people, if the commander can just sit in the control room and push the button almost all by himself?

It’s midnight soon. I just received a Whatsapp message from 23-year-old Muhammad. He suffers from pain all over his body, and he’s trying to find a way to receive critical medical treatment to heal his wounds. He writes to me to ask if I have any ideas. I met Muhammad in 2011, eight years ago. He was 14 then, and was lying in a hospital bed, in critical condition after he and his 12-year-old cousin Ibrahim were hit by a missile fired from an Israeli drone. They were playing in the street next to their home in the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza, Ibrahim lost both arms and incurred a gaping hole in his belly and lung. With the help of an Italian NGO, the two were transferred to an Israeli hospital. Ibrahim succumbed to his wounds a few days later. Ronnie and Renen, two Israeli activists came to visit Muhammad. His whole body was wrapped in bandages, and numerous skin grafts were required to fill the holes in his body. Muhammad asked the visitors why the Israeli army was firing at children playing in the street – why did they shoot Ibrahim and him – and he said he wanted to speak to an Israeli pilot and receive an answer. He wanted an Israeli pilot to come and see his wounds.

That’s when I got a phone call. I was told there was a severely wounded boy from Gaza who wanted to see me and speak to me. I was on my way to visit my cousins, but then I was told that because I had just taken part in the Gaza freedom flotilla, I’m not welcome. My cousin’s husband did not want me near his children. For people in such a brainwashed society the struggle for peace and justice could be like a Contagious disease and he didn’t want me to infect his kids. So when I got this call, I turned straight to the hospital to meet the wounded Palestinian boy, who did want to see me. Since that visit, the life of my family has been connected to Muhammad’s life. My mom took it upon herself to solicit support from anyone who can help and has fought tooth and nail so that Muhammad can undergo more and more of the surgeries required to save his life. In the 2014 Gaza massacre, commanded by General Benny Gantz, the Israeli military bombed Muhammad’s family home, and since he turned 18, he no longer receives the Israeli military permits to come from Gaza to treatment in Israeli hospitals.

A year ago, in some tortuous way, Muhammad managed to leave Gaza and receive a temporary visa to stay in Istanbul. The visa expires in two months, and he now faces the threat of detention or forcible return to Gaza. Muhammad is anxious to complete the required surgeries, so that he can return to a normal life, study and begin his adult life. And now, at midnight, I’m getting messages from him. He’s asking me if I have any ideas as to what can be done, how he can receive medical treatment, rather than go to prison. I’m reading his messages and my heart is broken. I wish all those obedient pilots and drone operators, and other indifferent people, would receive these messages every day from a wounded Palestinian boy, who is eager to have a normal life. I stay up all night, trying to come up with ideas how to help this young man. If only we could get him a permit to fly to anywhere in Europe and receive proper medical care. And Muhammad is just one in thousands upon thousands.

And how, how can this madness be stopped? What other choice do we have? What other way is there to fight? What else does the oppressed, weak, occupied, bombarded, shredded side have at its disposal? And we, whose eyes and ears are already open, we who long to help and long not to remain silent – what other choice do we have?

So, who among you still has doubts as to the necessity of the boycott movement? The non-violent BDS movement allows every person in the world to take part in a just struggle for freedom and equality. It’s time for you to join too. Among the supporters, you will find hundreds of thousands of Jews all across the world, among them more than 1,000 Israelis. I am just one of them.

And one small detail to cap this off: Some of the navigation and stabilization systems for these monstrous drones are being produced here in picturesque and peaceful Norway, at the Kongsberg plants. Polite Norwegian workers, who eat tacos on Fridays and wish for world peace, assemble them gently and skillfully. And this whole supply chain ends up in the hands of the Israeli military, or, to be precise, in the bodies of Muhammad and Ibrahim.

It doesn’t have to go on like this. It can be stopped. Are you going to join us or are you one of those who will keep silent?

As I almost finish writing these words, I read about a famous young Norwegian singer who wants to heal the world but is planning to sing to the prison guards of the Gaza Ghetto, when they come home for the weekend.

Dear Aurora, what should I say in order to help you open your heart and your eyes? I just watched a short recent interview with you. You seem to be a human being with a beautiful soul. They showed you recording different sounds and listening to the tiny little things we usually tend to miss.

Here is a sound you’re missing and what children in Gaza hear 24/7 – the constant buzz of Israeli/Norwegian predator drones.

Can you hear this buzzing? Can you hear the bombs? Can you hear their cries?

Please cancel your concert in Tel Aviv.

Let your music inspire love and hope in the hearts of those who struggle for freedom and equality. Singing to the ghetto prison guards will be something you will always regret.

Become a Gaza Twinning Congregation


A father bathing his daughters in Gaza City (Credit: Wissam Nassar)

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

The first step in the campaign is called the “Mennonite Twinning Initiative with Gaza.” This initiative will match Mennonite congregations with churches, mosques, hospitals, clinics and schools. Already, eight congregations have signed up and are on their way to being paired-up with Gaza!

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

Go to Palestine: Tours
MennoPIN strongly encourages trips to Palestine to see upfront the struggle Palestinians endure on a daily basis. Established justice tours usually last about two weeks and offer both visits to Holy Land sites as well as experiences with Palestinians and those who actively work for justice and freedom for the people of Palestine. Or you may want to plan a do-it-yourself tour. To find out more about tours, visit the MennoPIN website and click on the Tours to Palestine tab.
Read More
Prayer
On the 70th Great March of Return, 66 Palestinian civilians were injured due to the Israeli military’s continued use of excessive force against peaceful protests along the Gaza Strip’s eastern border. At least 20 children, 3 women and a volunteer paramedic were among those injured this Friday, August 16, 2019. Twenty-nine civilians were shot with live bullets; 2 of them were deemed in a critical medical condition. Each protest has its own theme with this one being titled “Palestinian Youth Friday” and involving activities such as speeches by political leaders and theatrical performances. Lord, we continue to pray for the right to protest peacefully in Gaza without the threat of injury or death by the use of live ammunition and dispersal methods by Israeli forces. We are grateful for those who continue to find new ways to protest in a creative and nonviolent way. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.  Sabeel Wave or Prayer

October 2019 MennoPIN Monthly Update

October 2019 Monthly Update

In This Issue
Become a Gaza Twinning Congregation
MennoPIN Can Use Your Help
Sabeel Jerusalem Hosting 1st International Conference
The Elections in Israel – Demonizing Palestinians
Take Action Now – Support H.Res. 496
Tours to Palestine
Read More
Prayer

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

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

The first step in the campaign is called the “Mennonite Twinning Initiative with Gaza.” This initiative will match Mennonite congregations with churches, mosques, hospitals, clinics and schools. Already, eight congregations have signed up and are on their way to being paired-up with Gaza!

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

MennoPIN Can Use Your Help

At the last MennoPIN Steering Committee meeting, we made the decision to focus our energies leading up to the MC USA 2021 Convention around two goals: (1) End the Gaza Siege and (2) Say NO to Christian Zionism. To effectively do both, we need volunteer help from you. Here is a brief description of each goal:

End the Gaza Siege – Through education and action, we hope to bring greater awareness to Mennonite congregations about the decade-long Israeli blockade that is devastating Gaza and its people and to inspire action toward freedom and justice there. The Gaza Twinning Initiative is the first step in that direction, but there is much more to do.

Say NO to Christian Zionism – One of the most potent forces in the United States today promoting unquestioning allegiance to Israeli policy toward Palestine is Christian Zionism. With the formation of this committee, we want to say NO to Christian Zionism. The most prominent group supporting Israel and the complete removal of Palestinians from their land is Christians United for Israel (CUFI), whose base of 5,000,000+ mostly evangelical members is by far the largest pro-Israel lobby in this country. We want to educate Mennonites about the dangers of Christian Zionism’s false theology and to develop actions to challenge and confront its goals.

If you have interest, energy and time to serve on one of these new committees, we would love to hear from you. Please write us at mennopin@gmail.com indicating your interest. Thank you for your prayerful consideration.

Sabeel Hosting 1st International Conference

Naim Ateek, Sabeel Co-Founder (left) and Omar Haramy, Coordinator of Sabeel are Conference Leaders (Credit: Joe Roos)

The Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, based in Jerusalem, will hold it’s first international gathering from December 2 to 7, 2019 in Bethlehem. The gathering will include organizations such as Kairos Palestine, Al-Liqa, Dar Al-Kalima and Bethlehem Bible College to demonstrate the wide variety of work being done within the Palestinian community. There will also be the opportunity to meet Muslim and Jewish brothers and sisters.

Omar Haramy, Sabeel’s Coordinator, says this about Sabeel’s hopes from this conference: “We want this gathering to be a time of fellowship, when our friends can update their knowledge of the situation, but more importantly, when they can explore new, effective and nonviolent ways to ‘kumi’ – rise up – so they can build on these new ideas when they return to their communities.”

For more information about the conference and how to register, please click here.

The Elections in Israel – Demonizing Palestinians
Counting election ballots in Jerusalem, September 17, 2019 (Credit – Olivier Fitousso)

In December 2018 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for snap elections after his ruling coalition began to fall apart. The resulting April 2019 elections pitted a coalition of religious and settler parties led by Netanyahu against his primary opponent, the Blue and White Party, headed by Benny Gantz and fellow generals who have led punishing military attacks against Palestinians for many years. That election came to a draw with both parties garnering 35 seats in the Knesset, Israel’s legislative branch. Because neither side could forge a ruling coalition, a new election was called for September 2019.

However, the ‘rerun’ election was also inclusive. This time Gantz gained 33 seats while Netanyahu’s total was 32. Whether either side can form a ruling coalition, whether they come together in some form of shared rule or whether an unprecedented third election will be called remains to be seen. But, as always, the people of Palestine are the big losers.

Jonathan Cook, a freelance journalist based in Nazareth who writes insightfully about the Israel-Palestine conflict, offers these comments on the September election:

  • The more Israeli Jewish society reaches stalemate, the more the country’s marginalized community of Palestinian citizens – a fifth of Israel’s population – finds itself dragged on to the political battlefield. Israel’s 1.8 million Palestinian citizens have now been thrust into the heart of a national conversation among Israel Jews about a supposed threat the minority poses to the country’s political life.”
  • There has always been the subtext of Jewish politicians’ discourse that Palestinian parties have no role to play in shaping the country’s politics…Netanyahu went further still in the most recent election. Desperate to win a far-right majority…the prime minister turned the threat posed by Palestinian voters to his own political fortunes…claiming that ‘the Arabs’ – including Palestinian citizens – ‘want to annihilate us all – women, children and men.’”
  • Netanyahu has introduced new levels of incitement against the Palestinian minority in Israel. But paradoxically, [if Netanyahu is forced from power], it may be his departure from Israeli politics that heralds a period of even greater demonization of the country’s Palestinian citizens.”
Take Action Now – Support H.Res 496
Rep. Ilhan Omar introduces her pro-BDS resolution, H.Res. 496

In July the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to pass H.Res. 246, known as “Opposing efforts to de-legitimize the State of Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement Targeting Israel.” Although it was a non-binding resolution, it nonetheless put Congress on record as opposing BDS, a movement initiated by Palestinians as one nonviolent way to put pressure on Israel to end the occupation, allow the right of return for Palestinians and bring justice, freedom and equality for the people of Palestine. You can find out how your representative voted here. Although the text of the resolution does not mention Israel or Palestine, it has been interpreted as a response to the growing strength of the BDS movement.In response, Rep. Ilhan Omar has introduced a resolution, H.Res. 496, to “speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our first amendment rights in regard to boycotting.” You can read the text of H.Res 496 here. The resolution has 18 co-sponsors but needs more. Please encourage your congressperson to co-sponsor and vote for the resolution.

Go to Palestine: Tours

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

Read More

Prayer

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

 

August 2019 MennoPIN Monthly Update

August 2019 Monthly Update

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

When a Republican President Supported BDS


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

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

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

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

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

Is Kashmir the New West Bank?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go to Palestine: Tours

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

A New MennoPIN Steering Committee

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

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

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

Read More

Kumi Now. https://kuminow.com/
A Palestinian Theology of Liberation, Naim Ateek, Orbis Books, 2017
Why Palestine Matters http://new.israelpalestinemissionnetwork.org/70-study-resources-/publications/363-why-palestine-matters
No Way to Treat a Child Campaign http://nwttac.dci-palestine.org/palestinian_child_detention_bill
Mondeweiss https://mondoweiss.net/
The Electronic Intifada https://electronicintifada.net/
HP-Free Church Campaign https://www.fosna.org/free-your-church-hp

Prayer

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

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

June 2019 MennoPIN Monthly Update

June 2019 Monthly Update

In This Issue
MennoPIN Launches “End the Gaza Siege” Campaign
Challenging Christian Zionism in Washington, DC
The Farce Known as Trump Heights
Support Palestinian Children’s Rights Now
Palestinian Voices
Go to Palestine: Tours
Read More
Prayer

MennoPIN Launches “End the Gaza Siege” Campaign


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

The campaign will be launched at MennoCon19, the Mennonite USA convention in Kansas City, Missouri, July 2-6, 2019. The first step in the campaign is called the “Mennonite Twinning Initiative with Gaza.” This initiative will match Mennonite congregations with churches, mosques, hospitals, clinics and schools.

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

Further steps in the “End the Gaza Siege” campaign will be forthcoming.

Challenging Christian Zionism in Washington, DC
One of the most powerful lobby groups for Israel in the United States is Christians United for Israel (CUFI), an avowedly Christian Zionist organization. Claiming 6,000,000 adherents, CUFI has become the largest organization in the U.S. driving support for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people. CUFI uses its leverage to ensure ongoing support for Israel’s colonization and military occupation of Palestine, including land seizures, imprisonment of children, peaceful protest massacres and much more. By its own admission, CUFI “led the charge to have the U.S. recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

On July 7-8, 2019, CUFI is holding a conference at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. Speakers will include Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. On the final day, attendees will flood the halls of Congress, arguing for undying support of Israel and its oppression of the people of Palestine.

But they won’t be the only Christian voice in Washington, DC those days, and their message will be radically different. Led by the Christian organization, Friends of Sabeel North America, three other groups joined in solidarity to help sponsor the action: Jewish Voices for Peace; American Muslims for Palestine; and the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights. MennoPIN is among several organizations supporting the event.

On July 6-8, 2019, more than 150 Christians from across the country, including two people from the MennoPIN Steering Committee, will converge for the action entitled, “Rise Against Racism: Countering CUFI.” Through worship, panel discussions and engaging CUFI participants, another Christian voice relating to Israel/Palestine will be heard, one crying for justice, peace and freedom for the people of Palestine. To find out more about the action or how you can participate, click here.

The Farce Known as Trump Heights


Benjamin Netanyahu establishing Trump Heights in the Golan Heights (Credit: Jalaa Marey/AFP)

On a visit to Washington, DC earlier this spring, Benjamin Netanyahu gleefully rejoiced when President Donald Trump proclaimed U.S. recognition of the Golan Heights as part of Israeli territory. Trump’s support for the annexation of the territory in southwestern Syria, captured during Israel’s 1967 Six-Day-War, arguably helped Netanyahu during his election campaign.

Netanyahu returned the favor by naming a settlement-to-be after the president with great fanfare: Trump Heights. Critics have denounced the political stunt as an “obscene celebration.” Claiming the announcement as a “historic day,” Netanyahu later hinted that he might also annex the West Bank.

Historian and Middle East expert, Juan Cole, summed up the farce in his blog: “There isn’t any settlement there yet, just a sign, just as there isn’t any reality to Trump more generally, just an empty suit. Given that Trump is a narcissistic fraud, it is appropriate that his name be attached to the illegal Israeli theft of Syrian territory…Trump Heights is such a great name for a colony built on theft, since Trump’s whole life has been about being wealthy and powerful enough to escape the consequences of his crimes.”

Support Palestinian Children’s Rights Now
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) urges us to get busy and support Representative Betty McCollum (D-Minn) and her revised bill seeking to prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to support the military detention in any country, including Israel. The bill, labeled H.R. 2407, seeks to stop the systematic mistreatment and abuse of children, including torture, blindfolding and lack of access to legal counsel. MCC asks all of us to encourage our representatives to sign on as a co-sponsor.

Palestinian Voices


Rainwater harvesting pool in Jericho being filled with dirt by the Israeli military, 2015 (Credit: Al-Haq)

Kumi Now, an initiative of Sabeel Jerusalem, is an inclusive call for nonviolent action to achieve a just peace in Palestine. One chapter in their book involves Israel’s exploitation of natural resources in occupied Palestinian territory. The West Bank is rich in natural resources. A prominent part of Israel’s occupation is the control of water supplies, with abundant water given for the illegal Israeli settlements, but water deprivation for Palestinian communities. In fact, around 600,000 Israeli settlers consume six times as much water as the entire population of about 2.8 million in the West Bank.

Na’imah Mohammed Dabak lives in the West Bank village of Al-’Aqaba. His story is like many    Palestinian stories.

There is a water shortage in the village…The Israeli occupying authorities and the Israeli Water Company [Mekorot] have refused to install water pipelines…to supply the village with water…The trucks transport water to the village. The water is very expensive…This situation causes me great suffering and financial burden…I do my best not to waste a single drop of water. For example, I collect and use bathwater for irrigation…In light of the harsh economic conditions we experience in the village of Al-’Aqaba, I cannot afford the high price on a regular basis. Our income is too low. I store purchased water in a well near my home. We pump it to tanks on the roof using an electric pump, incurring further costs.

This discriminatory and inequitable allocation of water resources between Palestinians and Israelis has been described as “Water Apartheid.”

Go to Palestine: Tours

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

Read More

Kumi Now. https://kuminow.com/
A Palestinian Theology of Liberation, Naim Ateek, Orbis Books, 2017
Why Palestine Matters http://new.israelpalestinemissionnetwork.org/70-study-resources-/publications/363-why-palestine-matters
No Way to Treat a Child Campaign http://nwttac.dci-palestine.org/palestinian_child_detention_bill
Mondeweiss https://mondoweiss.net/
The Electronic Intifada https://electronicintifada.net/
HP-Free Church Campaign https://www.fosna.org/free-your-church-hp

Prayer

The Friends of Sabeel North America, (FOSNA), are taking part in a joint action to counter Christian Zionism in Washington DC on the 7th and 8th of July. They aim to bring to light the influence of Christians United for Israel, (CUFI). This group has a membership of over 6 million in the US and it is the largest organization driving support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. Recently CUFI lobbied the US government to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, for unconstitutional anti-BDS legislation and promotes illegal settlement expansion. · Dear Lord, we pray for the work of FOSNA and for their deep concern for their brothers and sisters in Israel/Palestine. We pray for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.  Sabeel Wave or Prayer


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

Steering Committee:
Tom Harder (Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church, Wichita, KS)
Joy Lapp (Pleasant View Mennonite Church, Mt Pleasant, IA)
Jonathan Kuttab (Palestinian lawyer and human rights activist)
Anita Rediger (Emmaus Road Mennonite Fellowship, Berne, IN)
Joe Roos (Peace Mennonite Fellowship, Claremont, CA)
Rod Stafford (Portland Mennonite Church, OR)

April 2019 MennoPIN Monthly Update

April 2019 Monthly Update

In This Issue
MennoPIN Live Interview on April 30 on Christian Zionism
“My Name is Palestine” – A New Song by Garth Hewitt
Sabeel Helps Create a New Film on Jerusalem
In Israeli Election, Palestine is the Big Loser
May 15 Nakba Day Actions
Palestinian Voices (A NEW FEATURE)
Go To Palestine (Tours)
Read More
Prayer

 

MennoPIN Live Interview on Christian Zionism

MennoPIN Steering Committee members, Jonathan Kuttab and Jonathan Nahar, will be interviewed live by Jewish Voices for Peace on Christian Zionism on Tuesday, April 30, at 5:00 pm PST and 8:00 pm EST. Register to listen in here.

 

“My Name is Palestine” – A New Song by Garth Hewitt

Painting by Suleiman Mansour

 

Garth Hewitt has been a singer, song writer and author for over 40 years. During tours, he has visited areas of poverty, conflict and disaster throughout the world. The struggle of the people of Palestine for justice and peace holds a special place in his heart. He recently traveled to Bethlehem and visited Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel which has a gallery of Palestinian artists. There he saw a powerful and haunting painting by the Palestinian artist, Suleiman Mansour (above). The painting moved him so much that he decided to write a song sparked by what he saw. He entitled the song, “My Name is Palestine” and you can listen to it here.

 

Sabeel Helps Create New Film on Jerusalem

Omar Haramy, Coordinator of Sabeel, stands in a ‘ghost town’ in occupied East Jerusalem, where Israeli walls and borders have created empty neighborhoods that once thrived (Credit: Al Jazeera)
The Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in East Jerusalem worked with Al Jazeera English to produce a two-part documentary film that sheds light on Jerusalem today and the realities on the ground. The series is entitled, “Jerusalem: Rock and a Hard Place.” The first part explores Israel, Trump and the Future of Jerusalem while the second part asks, Can Jews, Christians, Muslims Live Together?” The films offer an excellent and needed perspective on Jerusalem for today and for tomorrow. Each part is 48 minutes long and can be used in a variety of educational ways. You can find the two parts of the documentary here and here.
In Israeli Election, Palestine is the Big LoserThe winner (barely) of the April, 2019 snap election in Israel was Bibi (Benjamin Netanyahu), but the real loser wasn’t Benny Gantz (his opponent). The big loser was the people of Palestine. Netanyahu squeaked out a win with the help of his buddy, Donald Trump. As the election campaigning drew to a close, Trump announced his support for Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, which Netanyahu gleefully cheered. Indeed, Netanyahu intends to name a city in the Golan Heights after Donald Trump. It took only hours for Netanyahu to announce that if he won, he would annex key portions of the West Bank. Although Bibi and Benny garnered the same number of seats, only Netanyahu was able to form a governing coalition with extremist on the political right, and Palestinians will pay the price.It is certainly true, as Noam Chomsky pointedly stated on Democracy Now, that “if Benny Gantz had been elected instead of Netanyahu, the difference would not be very great…in terms of policy [toward Palestine]. But Diana Buttu, Palestinian-Canadian lawyer and civil rights activist, put it more bluntly, “In effect, it’s giving Netanyahu yet another green light to continue to do what he has done against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, against Palestinians in the West Bank, against Palestinian prisoners, against Palestinians everywhere. The fact that we haven’t seen an international response against Israel has, in effect…allowed Netanyahu to turn around and say, ‘This isn’t costing me anything.’”

The support of Palestinians by people of faith is needed now more than ever.

May 15 Nakba Day Actions

Kairos Palestine and Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) are organizing actions around the country in support of Palestine on May 15, Nakba Day, commemorating the time in 1948-1949 when 700,000 Palestinian refugees were forced from their homes and villages into exile so that the State of Israel could be established.

Kairos Palestine has issued a statement “declaring as unjust and illegal the occupation policies and practices of the State of Israel over seven decades.” Thousands of people from all over the world has signed the statement. If you would like to add your name, click here.

FOSNA is taking the petition one step further by organizing actions around the country at the Israel embassy in Washington, DC, and consulate offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Houston, Chicago, Boston, Miami and Atlanta. To join a vigil/action in those cities, click here for current information and updates as May 15 approaches.
Palestinian Voices (A NEW FEATURE)

Elaine and Zoughbi Zoughbi (center) surrounded by their children

 

 

 

 

 

 

With this issue of MennoPIN we are introducing a new regular feature – Palestinian Voices. Short of visiting Palestine yourself, reading the voices of Palestinian people is a vital way to go beyond political and theological analysis and statistics to the lives of real people and what they experience as Palestinians under military occupation.

This story comes from Zoughbi Zoughbi, founder and director of Wi’am, the Palestinian Conflict Transformation Center in Bethlehem.

We are still in shock about the inhumane treatment of my wife who has been married to me since 1990, having raised our four children together during those years. Last week she arrived very early to the airport in South Bend Indiana, in order to fly through Chicago then to Newark, and finally, to Tel Aviv. Her children and I couldn’t wait to greet her, to welcome, kiss, and hug her…Our hearts were beating rapidly as we watched to see when the airplane would arrive in Tel Aviv, so we could talk to her on the phone and hear her voice…After initially being thrilled that she landed safely and joyfully in Tel Aviv airport, we stayed rooted next to the telephone, knowing that sometimes the Israeli Authorities will want to check our connection, to ensure she is related to us. After nearly thirty years, we know they already have profiles on all our family members. Even though all the information they need is available to them, the call is a subtle way for them to add extra humiliation. This is done in spite of the fact that we have always been a peace-loving family trying to live faithfully in the Holy Land. We refuse to hate.

“…Although she is an American citizen, they openly claimed she was a criminal because she married a Palestinian…For 29 years the authorities played a game around letting her into the country or not. My wife once said that she was honored to be treated as a Palestinian refugee, to live among those of us without a safe place, without a secure future.

“…This is not just a personal story only, but a story of my people. We refuse to be discouraged and decimated by the constant hurt and humiliation. Our commitment will not be any other manner, but a way of non-violence and the pursuit of legal restitution. We reject violence. But we will not give up even as our oppressors orchestrate new ways to push us away, out of our homes…[A]s [Jesus’] followers, we will not allow their attempts to crucify us be the final word. Those in power should have learned their lesson nearly 2,000 years ago. Our Lord was not defeated by pain and humiliation, but he was resurrected, in spite of the humiliating trials of the Via Dolorosa and the pain of Golgotha.  They forget He has won the victory already, in any struggle against injustice.”

Go to Palestine: Tours
MennoPIN strongly encourages trips to Palestine to see upfront the struggle Palestinians endure on a daily basis. Established justice tours usually last about two weeks and offer both visits to Holy Land sites as well as experiences with Palestinian people. Most tours also include visits to both Palestinian and Israeli activists who work for justice and freedom for the people of Palestine. Or you may want to plan a do-it-yourself tour. To find out more about tours, visit the MennoPIN website and click on the Tours to Palestine tab.Read More
Prayer – A Jewish Prayer for Peace
In the name of Elohim, the most merciful. May the Palestinian people receive the healing powers of our prayers. May they be granted safety, success, love, security, and hope. May they enjoy the fruits of freedom and equality that they—and all human beings—deserve. As Jews, we pray for their well-being. We remember that the Holy Land is a shared space and pray to see the day when Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, and all religions will live there together in peace. We hope for the day when Palestinian refugees may return. We pray that together with their Jewish neighbors they can rehabilitate their history and rebuild what could be the best place on Earth. A place of many cultures and true equality. We pray that Palestinians will be able to live lives free from violence and oppression. And we ask God to help us build bridges of peace with them. May we be the light that brings peace and hope to our Palestinian friends and to all the world. Amen. From ritualwell