Thursday, December 27, 2012
Friday, November 30, 2012
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Three interesting items:
- News story: Israel’s attack on Gaza comes just as a truce was being successfully negotiated with Hamas. The airstrike that killed Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari came just hours after he received the proposal, which was being negotiated by Gershon Baskin, an Israeli peace activist, who was also involved in negotiating the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit one year ago. He is interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now. Watch the interview: http://www.democracynow.org/2012/11/16/israeli_negotiator_hamas_commander_was_assassinated#.UKZv-K7OFmE.reddit Read his article in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/17/opinion/israels-shortsighted-assassination.html?_r=0
- March for Gaza – TODAY IN DENVER – 1 pm, starting at the Capitol. Details: http://billboards.webstarts.com/billboard_2.html?r=20121116013720
- Kai Staats, son of Linda Staats, who is part of the Rocky Mountain Synod staff, is working in Jerusalem with Bishop Mounib Younan and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land, as the Interim Communications Director for the ELCJHL and assistant to Bishop Younan, on a 3-4 month contract. Kai is a lay person with a background in business and web development. His mom describes him as a “general entreperneur/inventor ….a world traveler, creative thinker and writer.” She put me in touch with the blog he is writing about his experiences in the Holy Land and all he is learning. His recent posts tell his story of living in Jerusalem as rockets and fighter jets are overhead: http://www.kaistaats.com/blog/category/out-of-the-middle-east/
Sunday, October 28, 2012
One-third of Israelis want to deny Arab citizens the right to vote; about half of Israelis favor a policy of 'transferring' Arabs out of the country; and a majority says there is apartheid here. We need to finally give up on the hope that things will get better.
Nice to make your acquaintance, we're racist and pro-apartheid. The poll whose results were published in Haaretz on Tuesday, conducted by Dialog and commissioned by the Yisraela Goldblum Fund, proved what we always knew, if not so bluntly. It's important to recognize the truth that has been thrown in our faces and those of the world (where the survey is making waves ). But it's even more important to draw the necessary conclusions from it.
Given the current reality, making peace would be an almost anti-democratic act: Most Israelis don't want it. A just, egalitarian society would also violate the wishes of most Israelis: That, too, is something they don't want. They're satisfied with the racism, comfortable with the occupation, pleased with the apartheid; things are very good for them in this country. That's what they told the pollsters.
Until a courageous leadership arises here, the kind that appears only rarely in history, and tries to change this nationalist, racist mood, there's no point in hoping for change to come from below. It won't come; indeed, it can't come, because it is contrary to the desires of most Israelis. This fact must be recognized.
The world must also recognize this. Those who long to reach an agreement and draw up periodic peace plans must finally recognize that Israelis are plainly telling them, "No thanks, we're not interested." Read the rest of the article.....http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/meet-the-israelis-1.472137
Harsh words, but it also sounds a lot like what I am seeing here in the US as we plod on toward the election. I find that the Israeli media is often much more candid about what is happening there than our US news sources are.
Mayber part of my own darkness comes from reading Mornings in Jenin this weekend (by Susan Abulhawa), and the horrors of the early years of Israel's occupation--1948, 1967, the first Lebanon war, the massacres in Lebanon at Sabra and Shatila. Although it's a novel, the events in the novel actually happened--to hundreds of thoushands of unnamed Palestinians. The novel's characters have personalities, aspiriations, loving families, desires for wholeness and peace. The nameless victims are only statistics and Wikipedia articles and old photos of dead bodies piled in the streets.
This was in 1982. And Ha'aretz reports today.....would it be any different?
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
|Estelle crew approaching Gaza|
The Free Gaza movement has sailed to Gaza to break the blockade ten times. Five times they were able to enter Gaza. Then, in May, 2010, the Israeli military killed nine of the passengers on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship that was part of the flotilla. The Estelle, which attempted to break the blockade this week, was stopped in international waters off the shore from Gaza and towed into port in Israel at Ashdod. Although they were not attempting to enter Israel, this is what they will probably be charged with. They call it kidnapping, since they did not want to enter Israel.
They describe their mission:
"We sail as an expression of citizen nonviolent, direct action, confronting Israel's ongoing abuses of Palestinian human and political rights and will continue to challenge Israel's illegal siege on Gaza."
The ship carried: 2 olive trees; 41 tons of cement; wheelchairs; walkers; crutches; midwifery stethoscope; children's books; toys; 300 footballs; musical instruments; theatrical equipment; VHF radio (for a ship); 1 anchor (the last two items were for the Gaza's Ark project.) The ship was inspected at many ports. A video of the cement being loaded onto the ship is here.
The Estelle, the Finnish ship that sailed this week, carried 30 passengers, including three Israelis, and, among others:
Former Member of Parliament Manly James, Canada
Member of Parliament Hagen Aksel, Norway
Member of Parliament Britton Sven, Sweden
Member of Parliament Kodelas Dimitios, Greece
Member of Parliament Sixto Ricardo, Spain
Member of Parliament Diamantopoulos Evangelos, Greece
As of today, James Manly is still in detention, held by the Israeli military. Read more....
- Read the letter to Congress written by 15 Christian leaders
- Read the ELCA press release about the letter
- Mark Braverman’s response – he is an American Jewish supporter of an end to the occupation, who has repeatedly urged US Christians not to violate their principles of justice to support Israel in its current policies
- Some rabbis support the Christian church leaders’ letter
NYTimes has reported on the letter
- You can thank the church leaders via a petition on the website of End the Occupation.
- Or leave a comment on the Peace Not Walls blog on the ELCA website.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
Here is Walid's daughter's appeal (you can read it on Sam's blog here: http://epalestine.blogspot.com/2012/07/letter-from-my-friend-walids-daughter.html) and read some background on Walid's case in his earlier blog posting: http://epalestine.blogspot.com/2012/06/epalestine-update-on-my-friend-walids.html
Mays Hanatsheh, 15 years old
Monday, June 11, 2012
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Sunday, May 6, 2012
As you no doubt know, the Equality Forum has chosen Israel as it’s featured nation this year, and for that reason I thought this was a good opportunity to talk a little bit about the state of gay rights in Israel/Palestine. Last January, I was part of the first lgbtq delegation to the West Bank – 16 of us, academics, artists, journalists, community leaders, and even a lesbian rabbi – visited Palestine and Israel in order to get a first hand sense of lesbian, gay, trans and queer politics in the region. While we were there Tel Aviv was voted in poll to be the “world’s best gay city.” Lesbians and gay men have been openly serving in the Israeli military for years, same-sex couples’ marriages have been recognized by the state for some time, and Israel has much better sexual orientation discrimination laws than we do. The Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren often notes that, in his words: Israel “provides shelter to Palestinian homosexuals seeking safety from Islamists in the West Bank.”
Given all of this, I was really curious to hear what queer Palestinians had to say about the struggles they face. I met with Israeli gay activists in Tel Aviv, as well as the members of Al Qaws, the Palestinian lgbtq group based in Ramallah, and Aswat, an organization of Palestinian lesbians who are citizens of Israel and is located in Haifa. What they told us, and what I witnessed, complicated the story of gay rights in the region considerably. Here are some highlights of what I learned:
While Tel Aviv may have a hot and hunky gay bar scene – the tolerance or acceptance of homosexuality is not as common elsewhere in the country. Israel, like the U.S. is a complex place, and is increasingly religiously conservative – in fact when I was in Jerusalem I saw that many of the public busses are now sex segregated, men sitting in front, women in the back, and in one Jerusalem neighborhood women are banned from walking on the main streets entirely so as to avoid men having contact with them. A recent report documented that almost half of the out gays and lesbians serving in the Israeli military have been sexually harassed by other servicemembers, and a member of the Knesset and Education Minister recently said that gays “are not people like everyone else,” that we are an abomination. Ambassador Oren was mistaken when he said that Israel gives asylum to gay and lesbian Palestinians. Israel does not grant asylum to any
Palestinians, regardless of their sexual orientation, and in fact won’t even let an Israeli who marries a Palestinian share their Israeli citizenship with their spouse. Tel Aviv may have a great gay scene, but most Palestinians will never see it since, regardless of their sexual orientation, because they are not allowed to pass through the checkpoints and the Wall to enter Israel from the West Bank.
What I learned from the queer Palestinians I met was that gay rights organizing in Palestine has to be understood within the context of the Israeli occupation.
The Occupation is a totalizing experience – permeating all parts of life for Palestinians. It is impossible for them to isolate their gay or lesbian selves for special legal and political treatment, but rather the fight for sexual rights is part of a larger struggle for Palestinian self-determination and freedom. Let me give you a particularly salient example: Since 2000 Shin Bet, the Israeli security service, has had a policy of blackmailing Palestinians who are gay or who are perceived to be gay and threatening to out them unless they become informants against their own people. For this reason, gay people in Palestine have a reputation as collaborators with Israel – so some of the homophobia gays and lesbians in Palestine experience is the direct product of the occupation itself. Read more….
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
For the 40 days of Lent, read my Lenten meditations--my thoughts on people I have met and the news from Israel/Palestine as I read the lessons for the Sundays of Lent. I am writing three posts--Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week. Read them here...
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Thanks for your support!
It appears that the Israelis have agreed to release Khadar Adnan and that he will end his hunger strike (although ending the hunger strike has not been officially confirmed at this time). Israeli human right organization Addameer has been supporting his case and reports: http://www.addameer.org/etemplate.php?id=444 Because of the settlement, the hearing scheduled for Tuesday afternoon was cancelled (Israel is 9 hours ahead of us in Denver, so as I write, it is 8 pm there.)
Thanks to Carol LaHurd for these updates---
From the Electronic Intifada: http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/deal-reached-end-khader-adnans-detention-17-april-no-confirmation-hunger-strike?utm_source=EI+readers&utm_campaign=d368898057-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email
Addameer posted the following message, in Arabic, on its Facebook page today, 21 February just after 11AM local time in Palestine. It has been translated by The Electronic Intifada:
A lawyer from Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association was able to visit the prisoner Sheikh Khader Adnan (34 years old) and on hunger strike for 66 days in Ziv Hospital in the Upper Galilee city of Safad, on Monday 20 February 2012, to review the latest developments regarding his health status. The lawyer conveyed from Sheikh Khader his intention to proceed with his hunger strike and that he is in high spirits, and that he will not back down until freedom.
The lawyer said that that the prisoner’s health condition has entered a critical stage, especially after medical tests were carried out on him, and that his hemoglobin level declined from 10.9 to 9.9 in a short period.
Today at 3pm the Israeli High Court will hear the petition against the administrative detention order for Sheikh Khader, despite the fact that Khader was prevented from attending the court. A lawyer from Addameer will be present at the court to bring you the latest developments about the hearing and his medical situation.
The prisoner Khader sent his greetings and thanks to all parties, institutions and individuals who have supported his cause and his hunger strike and all who are working toward his victory.
Friday, February 17, 2012
Read the rest of the story in The Independent (UK)....
Follow my posts through Lent on my blog: A Lenten Geography. I write meditations based on the three lessons for the following Sunday, remembering the people I have met in Israel and Palestine--peacemakers who are working for freedom, justice and a better life for their people.
Ash Wednesday's (February 22) post is already online because it is written about Khadar Adnan, a Palestinian prisoner being held in Israeli prison without charges since December 17. He will likely not be alive on Ash Wednesday.