Kerry harshly condemns Israeli settler activity as an obstacle to peace

Secretary of State John F. Kerry speaks about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the U.S. decision to allow passage of a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settler activity in the West Bank. (Andrew Harnik-Associated Press)

Carol Morello, The Washington Post, December 28, 2016

Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Wednesday offered a harsh and detailed assessment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, saying their growth threatens to destroy the viability of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that the United States was obliged to allow passage of a U.N. resolution condemning the activity in order to preserve the possibility of peace.

Kerry noted that the number of Israelis living in settlements has grown significantly and that their outposts are extending farther into the West Bank — “in the middle of what by any reasonable definition would be the future Palestinian state.”

“No one thinking seriously about peace can ignore the reality of the threat settlements pose to peace,” he said.

Kerry, in the hour-long speech delivered at the State Department, also condemned Palestinian incitement to violence as a barrier to direct negotiations. But his focus was on defending the Obama administration’s policies and highlighting Israel’s actions at a moment of high tension between the two governments, following the passage of the U.N. resolution.

U.S. Department of State

“Regrettably, some seem to believe that the U.S. friendship means the U.S. must accept any policy, regardless of our own interests, our own positions, our own words, our own principles — even after urging again and again that the policy must change,” he said. “Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect.”

He said the vote at the United Nations was about “Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living side by side in peace and security with its neighbors. That’s what we are trying to preserve, for our sake and for theirs.”

Although he did not mention Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by name, he addressed head-on the Israeli leader’s assertions that the United States had “colluded” and “orchestrated” last week’s U.N. resolution affirming that settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution.”

Kerry denied that the United States drafted or promoted the resolution, and took a swipe at the rhetoric coming from Israeli leaders.

“It will be up to the Israeli people to decide whether the unusually heated attacks that Israeli officials have directed toward this administration best serve Israel’s national interests and its relationship with an ally that has been steadfast in its support,” he said. “Those attacks, alongside allegations of a U.S.-led conspiracy and other manufactured claims, distract and divert attention from what the substance of this vote really was about.”

Kerry acknowledged that his vision is not shared and is unlikely to be followed by President-elect Donald Trump.

“President Obama and I know that the incoming administration has signaled that they may take a different path, and even suggested breaking from long-standing U.S. policies on settlements, Jerusalem — and possibly the two-state solution,” Kerry said. “That is for them to decide — that’s how we work. But we cannot, in good conscience, do nothing, and say nothing, when we see the hope of peace slipping away. This is a time to stand up for what is right.”

Trump has said he will move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, a move freighted with political significance in advance of any settlement, and his nominee to be ambassador to Israel, David M. Friedman, has said Jewish settlements in the West Bank are legal.

About two hours before Kerry started speaking, Trump tweeted his criticism of the Obama administration:

“We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but . . . not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (U.N.)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”

Netanyahu, in turn, promptly tweeted his gratitude: “President-elect Trump, thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support for Israel!”

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Rosary Sisters Catholic High School in Jerusalem, Palestine

Dabka dance to “My Blood is Palestinian”. Enjoy.

Shahir Hunaina, YouTube, November 16, 2016

My Blood is Palestinian (Dammi Falastini), translation by Sara Ba

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 
We stood for you, our homeland
With our pride and Arabisim
Al-Quds land called us
(As) The sound of my mother calling me
Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 
Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 
O mother don’t worry
Your homeland is a fortified castle
Which I sacrifice my soul for
And my blood, and my veins
 
Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 
I’m Palestinian, a son of a free family
I’m brave and my head is always up
I’m keeping my oath to you my homeland
And I have never bowed to anyone
Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 
Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

October 11, 2016
Online Panel: Against Israel’s Colonial Tide

Tuesday, October 11
12 noon – 1 pm Central

Listen live at http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/livestream

Online panel discussion presented by the Palestine Center in DC:
Against Israel’s Colonial Tide: Palestinian Initiatives to Shape Their Future
with

    Nur Arafeh, Policy Fellow, Al-Shabaka
    Tareq G. Baconi, Policy Fellow, Al-Shabaka
    Nadia Hijab, Executive Director, Al-Shabaka

This panel examines the intersection of Israeli policies of occupation and containment which prevent Palestinian self-determination, with a focus on the experience for Palestinians of living under occupation in Jerusalem and Gaza and the ways Palestinians and their supporters are organizing politically, economically and culturally to protect their human rights and work towards a different future.

The panelists are all contributors to Al Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network. Policy Fellow Nur Arafeh will examine Israel’s plans for Jerusalem and its “vision” for the city by mid-century, as well as the ways in which Jerusalemites are organizing and the support they need. This will be followed by Policy Fellow Tareq Baconi, who will address Israel’s siege of Gaza, the predicament of Hamas, and the role of regional actors, and also suggest ways forward. Executive Director Nadia Hijab will then discuss Israel’s measures against the occupied territories and the Palestinian citizens of Israel, including its draconian attacks on human rights defenders, and examine counter-measures by the Palestinian and international actors.

For more info see: http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/events/upcoming/israels-colonial-tide-palestinian-initiatives-shape-future

John Quinlan Interviews Sahar Abbasi Baidon

John Quinlan, Forward Forum
KSUN Channel 983, November 2, 2015

John Quinlan talks with Sahar Abbasi Baidon, a mother of four and Women and Children Activities Coordinator at the Madaa Silwan Creative Center in East Jerusalem.

Sahar came to Madison on a national tour of Room Number 4, a photographic campaign prepared by the Madaa Silwan Center and War Child Holland to illustrate the violations of Palestinian children’s rights in East Jerusalem.

She shares stories from her experience and the importance of improving the life of children and women. Kathy Walsh from Madison-Rafah Sister City Project also joins the show to build awareness of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and help bring understanding between the two communities.

November 1, 2015
Room No. 4 Photos and Speaker

room no. 4 handcuffed

Sunday, November 1, 2015
First Unitarian Society
900 University Bay Drive, Madison
1:00 – 2:30 pm

“They left me in the room for 5 hours with my hands tied behind my back and my legs tied to each other. When I refused to confess, they slapped me and tightened the hand ties more and more.” 15-year-old boy

Room No. 4 is a photographic campaign prepared by the Madaa Silwan Center and War Child Holland to illustrate the violations of Palestinian children’s rights in East Jerusalem. The 12 staged photos are accompanied by written testimonies from the children themselves. Room No. 4 is the name of the Israeli interrogation room at the Russian Compound Detention Center in Jerusalem. An additional 10 documentary photos of life in occupied East Jerusalem taken by Majd Ghaith will further demonstrate the violations of children’s rights from home demolitions to settler violence.

Come hear from Sahar Abbasi Baidon – Direct from Palestine! Sahar is a mother of four and the deputy director of MECA’s partner, Madaa Silwan Creative Center, in East Jerusalem. Born and raised in Silwan, Sahar and has worked at Madaa focusing on projects to improve life for children and women. She works directly with children who are arrested, and her interviews and research (“The Impact of Child Arrest”, a study published by Sahar and Dr. Kasahun) are the basis for the Room Number 4 photo exhibit.

Free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted to benefit the Madaa Silwan Creative Center in hiring a psychologist to help these children.

Sponsored by Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, and Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison. For more information visit MECA or contact rafahsistercity (at) yahoo.com.