A Vengeful and Shortsighted Act

Palestinians waiting to cross the border to Egypt in May. (Adel Hana/Associated Press)

New York Times Editorial, September 1, 2018

The Trump administration has offered various explanations for cutting aid to the Palestinians and stopping all contributions to the United Nations agency that supports five million Palestinian refugees: They need to learn to help themselves. Other Arabs should pay. Most of them are not really refugees and should stop claiming a right to return to what is now Israel. This will push them to the negotiating table. They’re not grateful enough.

These excuses range from petty to downright dangerous. Does Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, who is supposed to be preparing an Israeli-Palestinian “deal of the century,” really believe that slashing assistance to the Palestinians and stripping them of their status as refugees will compel them to accept whatever one-sided plan he cooks up or teach them to show proper respect for Mr. Trump?

Most important, does Mr. Trump understand or care that his administration has effectively abandoned the critical role his predecessors have tried to fulfill as peace brokers in the Middle East, while remaining Israel’s major friend and ally? Does he recognize that depriving Palestinians of any hope of outside mediation or support, and making their lives more miserable, could well lead to another round of violence?

The decision to stop all funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, formally announced on Friday, goes far beyond questions of respect or negotiating tactics. It affects an agency that provides critical schooling, health, food and other services for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The United States finances about a third of the budget, or about $350 million a year. The planned cut to the agency, moreover, follows an announcement last week that the State Department is cutting $200 million in other aid to Palestinians in the West Bank, primarily intended for development and infrastructure projects.

Wishing away Palestinian refugees: End of US’ UNRWA aid explained

‘Doomsday scenario’ could unfold unless Palestinian agency replaces US funding within 30 days, spokesperson says.

Al Jazeera, 01 Sep 2018

The UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) has called the decision by the Trump administration to no longer commit funding “deeply regrettable” and “shocking”.

Chris Gunness, spokesperson for the United Nations Relief Works and Agency, said on Saturday Friday’s move would affect “millions of people” including “some of the most disadvantaged and marginalised on this planet”.

For nearly 70 years, UNRWA has provided lifesaving assistance to more than five million Palestinian refugees in the occupied territories, as well as Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

But over the past year, the US government has made it increasingly clear it considers the work the organisation does, and who it considers as refugees, to be an obstacle in the protracted Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

In January, a month after President Donald Trump sparked widespread international condemnation by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the White House decided to cut $65m in aid to UNRWA.

It was later reported that the Trump administration had withheld about $305m in funding, and only delivered $60m to UNRWA.

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She slapped an Israeli soldier and was sent to prison. Now a Palestinian teen is free — and in the limelight

“We can change people’s minds
by defending our cause”

She slapped an Israeli soldier and was sent to prison. Now a Palestinian teen is free — and in the limelight
Ahed Tamimi sits July 30 in the backyard of her family house in the West Bank village of Nebi Saleh, near Ramallah. (Nasser Nasser / Associated Press)

Noga Tarnopolsky, LA Times, Aug 02, 2018

Nebi Saleh, West Bank — Two days after her release from an Israeli jail, the 17-year-old Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi sat in her parents’ yard, wearing jeans and a tired expression, the front of her mane of blond curls tied in a bun atop her head.

TV crews from the United States, Turkey, Germany and Norway vied for on-camera interviews with her. Since her release, her representatives say, she has responded to questions from about 175 media outlets. She has six media advisors, one of them Israeli, and they have worked hard to make her the face of the Palestinian resistance.

In December, Israeli authorities detained Ahed, then 16, after she was filmed slapping and kicking a soldier. She had just learned that a cousin had been shot and wounded with a rubber bullet by Israeli soldiers. It was not her first time in the spotlight: She had been filmed confronting soldiers in 2012 and again in 2015.

Video of the 2017 incident went viral, igniting an international debate about the nature of nonviolent resistance, the behavior of the soldier — who did not react — and the legality of child arrests.

She is, by now, the most recognized member of the Tamimi family, whose 300-plus members populate the tiny West Bank hamlet of Nebi Saleh. Her family has gained fame and notoriety for the weekly Friday protests her father, Bassem, leads against encroachment from a neighboring Jewish settlement.

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Israel’s Unequal Citizens

Israelis marching at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem in May to mark the occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967 (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images).

Sayed Kashua, New York Times, July 30, 2018

We were driving our rental car out of Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv.

“Dad,” my oldest daughter said as we listened to the radio, “what’s the Nationality Law?”
“It’s a law that says Israel is a Jewish state,” I replied.
“But wasn’t it always that way?” she wondered, and rightly so.
“Yes. Bottom line, it’s always been that way.”
“I don’t get it,” my middle son said. “I thought you said we were citizens.”
“We are,” I answered.
“But we’re not Jewish, right?”
“No, we’re not.”
“Then I don’t get it,” my youngest son complained.
“It’s a little complicated,” I tried to explain.

And it really was complicated to explain the law that Israel’s Parliament passed earlier this month without using terms like “racial segregation,” “discrimination” and “supremacy.” How was I going to explain to a 12-year-old that he is a citizen of a state that holds that he is inferior because of his non-Jewish origins? “Not everyone in the country is Jewish,” I said. “At least 20 percent of the citizens are not. But it’s a country where Jews enjoy rights that others don’t have. Meaning, non-Jews are less equal than Jews.”

“Can’t we be Jewish then?” my youngest son asked, as if he’d instantly solved the inequality problem.

“Sorry,” I told him, “that’s not up to me. According to Israeli law, in order to be Jewish you have to have a Jewish mother. So it’s not my fault; it’s your mom’s.”

“Great,” my wife protested, “now you’re shouldering me with your children’s inequality?”

When Israel was founded on the ruins of the Palestinian people in 1948, it was defined as a Jewish state. The Israeli flag was always a Jewish one, bearing a Star of David; the national anthem invokes the “Jewish soul,” excluding anyone who is not Jewish from these national symbols. The Palestinians who became Israeli citizens when the state was founded — like my family — have always been viewed as an undesirable demographic burden and subjected to discrimination.

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July 22, 2018
Community Immigration Law Center Presentation

1:00 pm
First Unitarian Society
900 University Bay Drive, Madison

First Unitarian Society and Congregation Shaarei Shamayim invite you to attend a program on July 22 at FUS to learn how you can help members of our Madison community who have immigration difficulties.

Lawyers from the Community Immigration Law Center, which operates a free clinic for people in need, will be our guest speakers. There are all kinds of tasks volunteers can help with so that the attorneys are freed up to serve more clients. A light lunch will be served at 12:30 PM for program participants.

July 26, 2018
Palestine and Us: Grassroots Mobilization with Rev. Graylan Hagler

ONLINE from The Palestine Center
Washington, DC
12 noon – 1 pm Central

Pastor and activist Rev. Graylan Hagler will highlight the intersections between the Palestinian cause and other contemporary social movements. His work has focused on Black liberation, economic justice, community organizing, and mobilizing faith communities.

Watch the event live online.

Biography of Speaker
Rev. Graylan Hagler, an African-American pastor and activist, was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. Hagler received a Bachelor’s Degree in Religion from Oberlin College, Ohio, in 1976. Rev. Hagler is presently the Senior Minister of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, Washington, D.C., and the Immediate Past National President of Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice (MRSEJ). Rev. Hagler is a long-time social justice advocate and active in the Palestine solidarity movement. He recently returned from an all-Black delegation trip to Palestine consisting of Hip Hop and Spoken Word artists as well as an activist in the labor movement, and academic on Black Liberation and a survivor of the Rwandan genocide.

Democracy Now’s Yemen Report


Just Foreign Policy, July 19, 2018

This morning, Democracy Now had a hard-hitting report on the U.S.-Saudi war in Yemen. They combined highlights of the PBS Newshour series with an interview with Jane Ferguson, the PBS Newshour journalist who “smuggled” herself into Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen to report on conditions there.

You can watch [and share] the Democracy Now segment here:
PBS Report from Yemen: As Millions Face Starvation, American-Made Bombs Are Killing Civilians

What’s crucial about the Democracy Now report, compared to most other [far too infrequent] reports in the U.S. media, is that it squarely places responsibility for the war on the government of the United States, and highlights the need for political action in the U.S. to end the war now. The report makes clear that the war is perceived correctly in Yemen as a U.S. war, that the war would not be possible without the participation of the United States, and that the U.S. government can end the war anytime it wants, by cutting off U.S. participation and by pressuring its “allies” Saudi Arabia and the UAE to end the war and agree to a political resolution. The report also makes clear that if the war is not ended this year, millions more human beings will be pushed to the brink of starvation.

This last fact, what will happen to civilians in Yemen if the war doesn’t end this year, is crucial. There’s a lack of urgency in Washington right now about pressing for action to end the war, even though the fate of millions of human beings hangs in the balance. There are many causes for this lack of urgency, but one key cause is the political season in Washington. With mid-term elections approaching in four months, the foremost concern for many people in Washington about any issue now is: how will this issue affect mobilization for our team in the mid-term elections? If it’s not obvious how raising an issue would help the Democratic team or the Republican team mobilize for the mid-term elections, it’s hard to generate interest for it in Washington right now.

But millions of human beings in Yemen can’t wait until after the mid-term elections for action to end the war. They need action to end the war now.

Maybe the report by Democracy Now, which is watched by peace activists across the country, can help shake Washington from its complacency.

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July 24, 2018
Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb on “Hope in the Shadow of the Wall”

Tuesday, July 24 at 7 PM – 9 PM
First Unitarian Society of Madison
900 University Bay Dr, Madison, Wisconsin

Join us for a special presentation by Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, “Hope in the Shadow of the Wall” at First Unitarian Society of Madison. July 24, 7pm. Free and open to the public.

Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb
Rev. Dr. Raheb is President of Bright Stars of Bethlehem and founding President of Dar al-Kalima University of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem. Former Senior Pastor of Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem and the most widely published Palestinian theologian to date, Dr. Raheb is the author of 17 books most recently including, The Cross in Contexts: Suffering and Redemption in Palestine, and Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible through Palestinian Eyes. A civic leader and social entrepreneur, Dr. Raheb has founded numerous organizations and serves on many regional and international boards.

A sought-after speaker, Dr. Raheb has been widely featured on international media outlets including CBS, CNN, ABC, BBC, PBS, The Economist, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Newsweek, and 60 minutes. Dr. Raheb holds a Doctorate in Theology from Philipps University of Marburg, Germany.

SPONSORED BY: First Unitarian Society, Shaarei Shamayim Jewish Synagogue, Lake Edge Lutheran Church, Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church, and Bright Stars of Bethlehem Madison Area Representatives.

July 25, 2018
Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb and Pastor Everett Mitchell

Wednesday, July 25 at 7 PM – 9 PM
Christ The Solid Rock Baptist Church
1502 Parkside Dr, Madison, Wisconsin

Pastor Mitchell of Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church will present with Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb on “The Black Church and Palestinian Theologies: Intersections of Faith in the Face of Empire”.

Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb
Rev. Dr. Raheb is President of Bright Stars of Bethlehem and founding President of Dar al-Kalima University of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem. Former Senior Pastor of Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem and the most widely published Palestinian theologian to date, Dr. Raheb is the author of 17 books most recently including, The Cross in Contexts: Suffering and Redemption in Palestine, and Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible through Palestinian Eyes. A civic leader and social entrepreneur, Dr. Raheb has founded numerous organizations and serves on many regional and international boards.

A sought-after speaker, Dr. Raheb has been widely featured on international media outlets including CBS, CNN, ABC, BBC, PBS, The Economist, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Newsweek, and 60 minutes. Dr. Raheb holds a Doctorate in Theology from Philipps University of Marburg, Germany.

Pastor Everett Mitchell
Reverend Mitchell is the Senior Pastor of Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Madison, WI. He is also currently the Director of Community Relations for the University of Wisconsin Madison. He was formerly an Assistant District Attorney in Dane County Wisconsin. In the past, he served as the Associate Director of Madison-area Urban Ministry. Rev. Mitchell’s theological focus has been examining the relationship of the church to social issues, such as poverty, war, incarceration and immigration. He holds both a Masters of Divinity (M.Div.) in Christian Ethics and a Masters of Theology (Th.M.) in Social Ethics from Princeton Theological Seminary.

SPONSORED BY: First Unitarian Society, Shaarei Shamayim Jewish Synagogue, Lake Edge Lutheran Church, Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church, and Bright Stars of Bethlehem Madison Area Representatives.

Gay Liberation Network declares ‘We Stand With Palestine’ during Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade

(Photo: Gay Liberation Network)

Mondoweiss, June 24, 2018

Confounding many people’s expectations, our “We Stand With Palestine” contingent in the Chicago Gay Pride Parade Sunday, June 24th – with its huge 160 sq foot banner, “Israel: STOP killing Palestinians!” – was met with almost universal approval by the approximately 1 million people who lined the four-mile parade route.

(Photo: Gay Liberation Network)

With the recent killings of over 100 unarmed protesters by Israeli sharpshooters, including children and clearly identified medics and journalists, and the wounding of over 11,000 others, people in this country are waking up to Israel’s systematic deprivation of Palestinians’ rights.

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