Time’s Up Israel: Get Your Knee Off Palestine’s Neck

SAM BAHOUR, CounterPunch, July 16, 2020

The timer is now ticking on Israel. While Israel historically put Palestinians on the slow burner, gnawing at their lands and livelihoods, time was in Israel’s favor as the world turned a blind eye. Those days are over.

Israel must now choose, allow the state of Palestine to emerge, or have it imposed upon them. The traditional options of two-states vs. one state of Israel without equality for all its citizens have passed long ago. Israel can accept Palestine in all the occupied territory of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, or ultimately be forced to accept Palestine from the river to the sea.

For us Palestinians, like any normal human beings on this earth, it is natural for us to expect to be viewed as a people worthy of our rights, freedom, and independence. The days when this can be ignored are over too.

Today, all have been exposed to the naked eye. Thanks to decades of denial by Jewish Israeli citizens and the Jewish diaspora, US President Trump and his messianic entourage of Jared Kushner and David M. Friedman, Israel’s state-sanctioned settlement enterprise, financier Sheldon Adelson’s fanaticism, Christian Evangelicals bent on personally witnessing the Armageddon, and none other than Israel’s own extremist prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s annexation frenzy, a frenzy on steroids attempting to divert his path to jail on three corruption charges.

To force the timer to tick even faster, outgoing Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, in an interview with Stephen Sackur of the BBC Hardtalk program, proudly proclaimed, “I represent not only the people of Israel, I represented [sic] the Jewish people in the U.N.”. He went on, “We [Jews] do have biblical rights to the land. Whether you are Christian, Muslim, or Jew — you read the Bible, you read the stories of the Bible — it’s all there.” It got worse. He went on to say, “This is our deed to the land. That’s biblical.” This from Israel’s top international diplomat! Regardless of how one views the Bible, it’s a religious text, not a document that can be submitted in a case of international law.

The further back Israel goes in time, the faster today’s timer is ticking. Below I will touch on three momentous developments lubricating the timer.

Peter Beinart, Zionism, and the ‘Jewish State’

Enter Peter Beinart. A prominent and outspoken observant Jewish American columnist, journalist, political commentator, and professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, his parents were Jewish immigrants from South Africa. He is a self-defined Zionist, albeit from the flavor that most Israeli Jews would dismiss.

Earlier this month, Beinart penned a long-read essay titled, Yavne: A Jewish Case for Equality in Israel-Palestine, and then followed it up with a New York Times opinion piece titled, I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State. He makes a monumental shift from supporting a two-state solution, Israel and Palestine side by side, to arguing that Zionism does not require a ‘Jewish State’ at all and calls for his fellow Jews to come to this understanding.

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August 6, 2020
Lanterns for Peace

Join Physicians for Social Responsibility Wisconsin virtually on August 6 at 7:30 PM for activism, sing-along, and live lantern launch. This will be live streamed on PSR Wisconsin’s Facebook page or you can register to watch through Zoom.

Due to COVID-19 risks, the commemoration event for the lives lost 75 years ago in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be live streamed virtually. There will NOT be a public gathering this year.

BUT we want you and your family and friends to participate from home by creating paper decorations for the lanterns in a few easy steps! Our goal is to float 75 lanterns for the 75th anniversary so we need your help in decorating paper for the lanterns by August 1! Find out more info on how at Lanterns for Peace 2020.

July 27, 2020
Pandemic and the Creative Response

JULY 27
Pandemic and the Creative Response: How can art pave the way for justice?

In recent weeks, we’ve witnessed a global cry for justice in face of systemic racism. How can art be a catalyst for social change? We’ll hear from students and faculty of Dar al-Kalima as they share how art provides a social justice lens in which to critically reflect on reality while imagining new futures. Learn how the students are navigating the unique challenges and opportunities of a pandemic learning environment.

Join our Bright Stars team and friends in Palestine for a Virtual Summer Series: Palestine During Double Lockdown.

The series title, taken from Rev. Dr. Raheb’s latest book, speaks to the additional layer of oppression that the pandemic has inflicted on Palestinians. Hear from Bright Stars co-founder and Dar al-Kalima University President, Mitri Raheb alongside students, faculty, and scholars from the university.

We’ll be highlighting how our friends in Palestine are unlocking hope amidst this “double lockdown.”

Limited space available. Registration required. Free. For more information and to register, visit Bright Stars of Bethlehem.

Systemic Racism in the US and Israel

Institute for Palestine Studies, July 14, 2020

Recent police violence in the US has sparked anti-racism protests around the world and ignited a discussion of systemic racism within many societies and political systems. Despite major differences in the regimes of oppression and discrimination in the US and Israel, certain parallels exist and serve to shed light on both systems. In the case of the US and Israel, the connections go beyond analogies and extend to material links between the respective security states and policing practices, including what has been called the “Israelization” of policing.

The Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University and the Institute for Palestine Studies have invited a panel of scholars who specialize in these topics for an online discussion of these issues.

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS:
Nadia Abu El-Haj is the Ann Olin Whitney Professor in the Department of Anthropology, Chair of the BoD, SOF/Heyman Center for the Humanities, and Co-Director of the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University. She is the author of two books and several journal articles published on topics ranging from the history of archaeology in Palestine to the question of race and genomics today.

Johanna Fernández teaches at the Department of History at Baruch College (CUNY). She is the writer, producer of the film, Justice on Trial: the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Her Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) lawsuit against the NYPD, led to the recovery of the largest repository of police surveillance records in the country.

Maha Nassar is an Associate Professor in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona and the author of Brothers Apart: Palestinian Citizens of Israel and the Arab World (Stanford University Press, 2017).

Nahla Abdo-Zu’bi is a Palestinian-Canadian political activist and Professor of Sociology at Carleton University. She is the author of several publications, most recently Captive Revolution: Palestinian women’s Anti-Colonial Struggle Within the Israeli Prison System.

July 19, 2020
Candlelight Vigil and Community Education for Black Lives

Oscar Rennebohm Park, Madison
6 pm Vegan Food by JustVeggies
7 pm Community Education
8 pm Vigil

Vigil for all Black Lives lost to white supremacy and police brutality, and to support recent victims of racist violence in our community. Meet neighbors and learn multiple ways to support Black people in our community.

We are still in a pandemic, so this will be a socially distancing gathering. Make your own best choice about risk. Please wear a face covering. Bring a candle (in glass won’t blow out). Extra masks and candles will be provided.

Speakers include State Senate Candidate Nada Elmikashfi, pastor Jeffrey Jackson, and others!

Facebook event link

July 18, 2020
Beyond Connecting the Dots

A virtual summit on building a united racial justice movement from the U.S. to Palestine

Eyewitness Palestine (formerly Interfaith Peace-Builders)

JOIN US July 18 for a day of:

Powerful Analysis, to better understand the current places in our society where connections across movements can be made and where we should be acting in the US, now.

An exploration of justice-based frameworks so that we can make connections based not just on similarities but understanding critical differences and working at the systematic roots of change.

Connections with movement leaders to learn about actions you can take now to support justice movements from the US to Palestine, with an emphasis on how to show up NOW in the US.

Leave with a toolkit of actions you can take immediately to work towards Collective Liberation – freedom for all!

More information and registration

I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State

For decades I argued for separation between Israelis and Palestinians. Now, I can imagine a Jewish home in an equal state.


Israeli soldiers interacting in the West Bank last month with a Palestinian woman protesting the demolition of an unapproved animal shed. (Abed Al Hashlamoun/EPA, via Shutterstock)

Peter Beinart, The New York Times, July 8, 2020

I was 22 in 1993 when Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn to officially begin the peace process that many hoped would create a Palestinian state alongside Israel. I’ve been arguing for a two-state solution — first in late-night bull sessions, then in articles and speeches — ever since.

I believed in Israel as a Jewish state because I grew up in a family that had hopscotched from continent to continent as diaspora Jewish communities crumbled. I saw Israel’s impact on my grandfather and father, who were never as happy or secure as when enveloped in a society of Jews. And I knew that Israel was a source of comfort and pride to millions of other Jews, some of whose families had experienced traumas greater than my own.

One day in early adulthood, I walked through Jerusalem, reading street names that catalog Jewish history, and felt that comfort and pride myself. I knew Israel was wrong to deny Palestinians in the West Bank citizenship, due process, free movement and the right to vote in the country in which they lived. But the dream of a two-state solution that would give Palestinians a country of their own let me hope that I could remain a liberal and a supporter of Jewish statehood at the same time.

Events have now extinguished that hope.

About 640,000 Jewish settlers now live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and the Israeli and American governments have divested Palestinian statehood of any real meaning. The Trump administration’s peace plan envisions an archipelago of Palestinian towns, scattered across as little as 70 percent of the West Bank, under Israeli control. Even the leaders of Israel’s supposedly center-left parties don’t support a viable, sovereign Palestinian state. The West Bank hosts Israel’s newest medical school.

If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fulfills his pledge to impose Israeli sovereignty in parts of the West Bank, he will just formalize a decades-old reality: In practice, Israel annexed the West Bank long ago.

Israel has all but made its decision: one country that includes millions of Palestinians who lack basic rights. Now liberal Zionists must make our decision, too. It’s time to abandon the traditional two-state solution and embrace the goal of equal rights for Jews and Palestinians. It’s time to imagine a Jewish home that is not a Jewish state.

Equality could come in the form of one state that includes Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, as writers such as Yousef Munayyer and Edward Said have proposed; or it could be a confederation that allows free movement between two deeply integrated countries. (I discuss these options at greater length in an essay in Jewish Currents). The process of achieving equality would be long and difficult, and would most likely meet resistance from both Palestinian and Jewish hard-liners.

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